Do you talk to your young children about smoking? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 05-02-2006, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds is 5 and we've been talking about cigarettes/smoking for about a year or so, I think. I started talking with him about it the first time he asked about it and we talk about it now pretty much whenever he sees someone smoking. We talk about the health problems that come from it, about the reasons people do it, etc.

Today I was standing outside our favorite coffeeshop while he was running around with some other children and there was a man smoking a small cigar a few feet away. We struck up a conversation and, after a few minutes, ds ran over to me. He smelled the smoke and covered his nose, making a face. He asked the man, "Why are you smoking? You know that can kill you?" (We're having ongoing discussions about tact, too. )

Anyway, when he ran off again the man asked me how he knew about smoking. I said we talk about it. He said something to the effect that it's strange that a 5-year-old would be talking about things like that. I couldn't tell if he was making a sort of "sign of the times" statement or trying to tell me I was being inappropriate with my son.

So, do you talk about these things with your young kids? Am I jading him too early?
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#2 of 25 Old 05-02-2006, 10:38 PM
 
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I'm sorry but that's great! Out of the mouths of babes, right...?

And I think it's absolutely appropriate to be talking to your son at this early age.
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#3 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 12:26 AM
 
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OMG my ds used to do that all the time. It got to the point that I would run past ppl that were smoking so he would not harrass them!

Just this past weekend we were waiting in our van to get on the Ferry to NY. This guy gets out of his nice Jaguar to smoke a ciggie. Well ds says to me and his brother " Oh that's lovely, he gets out of his nice car to pollute the air I I am breathing, NICE!" My other ds says " You think that's nice???" Ds 1 says " No, that is being sarcastic! " OMG I love this kid. Then he wanted to get out and have a word with the man, and others that he saw smoking. I told him that would not be happening.

I started talking to my sons early because my mother and both my brothers smoked and I needed them to know that I didn't think it was ok, that it could make you sick, and that I didn't want them around it. My mother eventually stopped smoking because I told her we could not stay at her house anymore as even her smoking in another room was too much for us with the boys.

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#4 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 12:45 AM
 
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i do talk about smoking w/ dd 6 and have been since she was 3 or 4. her stepdaddy smokes and alot of our friends do as well. i have always talked about how it is bad for you. when peter jennings died we talked about smoking causing lung cancer.

but we also talk about how it is a grownups decision to make and that while we would like for them to stop it is up to them.

i was so proud of her today when she said " i'm gonna do everything like not smoke just like you when i grow up!"
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#5 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 01:10 AM
 
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Dh's Mom died on Christmas night, 2002, from lung cancer. She'd smoked since she was 15 and quit only when he was born, in 1998. She was diagnosed two months to the day before she died. It was incredibly quick spreading and an awful end.

He knew that smoking caused her lung cancer. My Dad smokes 3 packs a day and is in poor health (he has congestive heart failure and we all hope that when he dies, it is quick and not lingering). Ds knows this, but also knows that people DO have free will to do what they want and that smoking tobacco IS legal, so he says nothing to my Dad. He knows it wouldn't do any good anyway.

Having someone you dearly love die from smoking is a pretty good way to be educated about what it does.

Ds, too, says he'll never smoke and will do everything he can do to put tobacco companies out of business and make it illegal to have tobacco.
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#6 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 01:22 AM
 
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My Dh smokes so we definately have talked to the kids about it. How could we not? I think talking to children at a young age about all kinds of things is great.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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#7 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 01:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaBug
OMG my ds used to do that all the time. It got to the point that I would run past ppl that were smoking so he would not harrass them!

Just this past weekend we were waiting in our van to get on the Ferry to NY. This guy gets out of his nice Jaguar to smoke a ciggie. Well ds says to me and his brother " Oh that's lovely, he gets out of his nice car to pollute the air I I am breathing, NICE!" My other ds says " You think that's nice???" Ds 1 says " No, that is being sarcastic! " OMG I love this kid. Then he wanted to get out and have a word with the man, and others that he saw smoking. I told him that would not be happening.
that is priceless!

I talk to dd about smoking among many things....dont get why that would be odd

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#8 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 01:46 AM
 
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I talk to my son all the time. He knows how bad it is and how it can make you sick. He is allergic to smoke and it is so bad for his asthma. Whenever he sees someone smoking he tells them "that is stinky." He is 2.

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#9 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 06:10 AM
 
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No. They know what it is, but not much else. Neither dh nor I smoke, and personally I think it's a vile habit, but I hate the way mainstream society has turned it into a moral issue. I think my dd knows that it's bad for your health, in the same way that candy and fast food are bad for your health. But I'm not going to pound it into their heads as a moral issue the way the public schools do.

We have talked about how in our family we make certain health choices, and other people make different choices. And that health issues are matters of personal choice, not morality.
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#10 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 08:49 AM
 
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Yes, we talk about smoking. My gma died last year. She had an oxygen tube the last few years of her life, as a result of years of smoking. Certainly, we discussed that tube a lot.

We also talk about the addiction of smoking, because dd needed to understand why people smoke when it is so unhealthy. So, while she still comments loudly when she smells smoke ("yuck! I can't breathe!!!" (coughcough), she also understands that many people would like to quit, but find it difficult to do so.
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#11 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfly
.......the man asked me how he knew about smoking. I said we talk about it. He said something to the effect that it's strange that a 5-year-old would be talking about things like that. I couldn't tell if he was making a sort of "sign of the times" statement or trying to tell me I was being inappropriate with my son.
That's typical...this guy was more than likely upset because he got told by a 5 year old how stupid he is for smoking, therefore he had to take a shot at your son.

DS is just 16 months, but I plan on telling him as soon as he is old enough to understand. My cousin is a heavy smoker; she smoked through both her pregnancies. I've seen her 4 year old DD, pick up her pack of smokes and play with them and "pretend" smoke....kids are so susceptible to influence, I wish she would realize this, but she says "well it'll be her choice if she wants to smoke" as if smoking were like eating red meat, or choosing a religion. I hate smoking (can ya tell). It killed my father and my MIL. It also gave me asthma growing up in a smoke filled household. Smoking should be illegal till you are age of majority; it should be treated like alcohol, or something worse - because quite simply - it is.
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#12 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 11:10 AM
 
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I think it is great that your 5 yo ds knows that already!!! The man was probably just upset at being told the truth, kwim? I have always been a smoker and am trying to quit now, am down to 3 smokes a day, but my hubby wont quit so it is hard. My kids have always known smoking is bad, that is why we do not smoke in the house, they picked up on that... my 12 year old is very very much against smoking and has been on me since he was 7 to quit... I think the earlier a value is instilled in them the better...
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#13 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 12:47 PM
 
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My ds is 5 and sometimes spends time with our neighbor who smokes (outside) I have talked to him about the health risks and how hard it can be to stop. Our neighbor has told him about that to.

I have a friend who started smoking when he was 7 so I don't think it's ever too early to talk to them about not smoking.

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#14 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 05:55 PM
 
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Oh yeah we talk about it for sure. He knows that it's dangerous and not a smart choice to make. Once we were sitting in the window at a coffee shop and he was smiling and waving at a woman sitting outside. Then she lit up a cigarrette and he got a scowl on his face, pointed to the cigarrette, shook his head and waved his finger at her. I laughed so hard, actually so did she then she immediately put it out. Maybe she'll think about quitting after being scolded by a 5yo.
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#15 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 06:00 PM
 
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I have always spoken to mine about smoking. Why I don't, the health problems, what your lungs and skin look like after long term smoking, etc.

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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#16 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 07:39 PM
 
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My five year old knows that our next door neighbor died from lung cancer that was most likely caused by him smoking. I've told him that people can have a hard time stopping and the thing to do is to not start in the first place.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#17 of 25 Old 05-03-2006, 08:36 PM
 
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I've been talking to dd about smoking since she was 2 or 3. When she was about 4, I told her very plainly that smoking killed her Opa (grandpa in German) and that if he hadn't started smoking when he was a kid he probably wouldn't have died before she was born. He died a horrible death from lung cancer. If--God forbid--dd ever seems to be thinking of smoking or starts smoking, I will tell her about it in excruciating detail.
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#18 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 03:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigianna
No. They know what it is, but not much else. Neither dh nor I smoke, and personally I think it's a vile habit, but I hate the way mainstream society has turned it into a moral issue. I think my dd knows that it's bad for your health, in the same way that candy and fast food are bad for your health. But I'm not going to pound it into their heads as a moral issue the way the public schools do.

We have talked about how in our family we make certain health choices, and other people make different choices. And that health issues are matters of personal choice, not morality.
Me too. My mom used to say things like, "Smoking looks trashy," "Smoking is gross," "Smokers are repulsive." It didn't work. And saying that it causes cancer sounds so cliche when you hear it from school, parents, everyone. I'm not saying that's not a serious issue. I just don't think kids can properly appreciate the health aspects of it. I mean, you can tell them how horrible McDonald's is for your health all the time but they still want to eat it. My dd already knows it's "bad" because she's been in school and, you know, in society. I just don't feel the need to talk to her about it until she's older. I want her to be able to understand addiction and marketing and all the aspects that cause people to smoke. I don't want her to see it so simplistically, like, smoking is bad and if you smoke, you'll die.
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#19 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 09:31 AM
 
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We've definitely talked about it with my 3 1/2 year old. For a while, she insisted that we go through the various negative effects of smoking over and over again. My husband has asthma and allergies, so he cannot be around smoke without having immediate health problems. I guess I see it as different from eating at McDonalds or similar health choices because it affects people besides the smoker.
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#20 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 11:15 AM
 
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My kids are 3 and 18-months, I've already started talking to them about smoking. Usually something along the lines of, "that person is smoking near us, that's gross and deadly... we'll move. By the way, don't ever smoke." I fully plan on making it very clear that smoking is unaccebtable in our home, ever!

My father's parents smoked, my grandfater died from emphysema and it was horrible seeing him waste away. My grandmother still smokes and it just makes me so angry and sad for her.
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#21 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 11:18 AM
 
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My kids know the health risks they are 7 and 4 . I told them I tried it, didn't want to lie. They are not allowed to go into neighbors house where people smoke. It is our job to educate them. But make sure they know the cigarette is bad not the person.
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#22 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papayapetunia
Me too. My mom used to say things like, "Smoking looks trashy," "Smoking is gross," "Smokers are repulsive."
Well, I do say, "Smoking is gross," but our conversations are usually a lot more complex than that. I wouldn't say the other two because those are person-oriented judgments and I try my best to stay away from those (sets a poor example, IMO, and is not at all effective).

Quote:
It didn't work. And saying that it causes cancer sounds so cliche when you hear it from school, parents, everyone. I'm not saying that's not a serious issue. I just don't think kids can properly appreciate the health aspects of it. I mean, you can tell them how horrible McDonald's is for your health all the time but they still want to eat it. My dd already knows it's "bad" because she's been in school and, you know, in society. I just don't feel the need to talk to her about it until she's older.
Maybe I have a weird kid. He doesn't eat fast food. We've always talked about what it does to your body and he's developing an awareness about it - about how he feels when he eats something unhealthy. That doesn't mean that he doesn't still want junk sometimes, but when other kids have McDonald's, he'll point it out and talk about how unhealthy it is, how it doesn't help you grow, etc. We talk about marketing a lot, too - about how advertisers try to make things look better/more appealing than they are because they want you to buy them so they can make lots of money. He's had firsthand experience with spending his own money on things he really wanted only to have them be a big disappointment, so he gets it from that angle, too. We also talk about addiction (primarily because his dad is majorly addicted to soda and we don't drink them).

Ds had never been in school until this past fall, and his school isn't one of those "public service messages" sorts, so he gets it from me and the rest of his family. I think most messages can be put in age-appropriate terms and, so, we're starting early to develop the foundation that will allow us to get to the more complex aspects of the issues when he's ready for them.

Quote:
I want her to be able to understand addiction and marketing and all the aspects that cause people to smoke. I don't want her to see it so simplistically, like, smoking is bad and if you smoke, you'll die.
I do, too. But I'm glad that, for now, he's learning that people he sees smoking are doing something very harmful to themselves and to the people around them. I don't want him to go on for years thinking it's an okay choice to make and then have to try to explain it basically from scratch (as I agree that the mass messages aren't all that helpful) when he's a contrary teenager. Besides, he has a very intense, natural curiosity about death and dying right now, so our discussions usually get much deeper than "you smoke, you die."
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#23 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 11:35 AM
 
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Dragonfly,

I could have written your post. I don't tell dd that smoking is "bad" or "gross" or "immoral." We haven't discussed addiction yet, but we will. I don't want her to think that smokers are weak or immoral, but I do want her to know that they are doing something that is terribly bad for their bodies and for the bodies of those around them.

I would never say to her "if you smoke, you will die." However, I have said to her, "Your grandfather died from a disease caused by his smoking. If he hadn't smoked, he might not have died before you were born and you would have gotten to know him." We then usually have a long talk about FIL and what a great guy he was.

I also have not white-washed the fact that her great-grandmother, whom dd absolutely adores, is tied to an oxygen machine, slowly dying, in large part because she smoked for decades.

I don't think that telling dd these things is relying on meaningless cliches or on scare tactics. These things are the truth. The tragic, horrible truth.
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#24 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 12:37 PM
 
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Yes, I've talked to my kids about smoking since they were old enough to know what smoking is. My mother died from lung cancer, and my 53 year old SIL recently had a stroke brought on by smoking, so it is certainly a topic of conversation in our house.
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#25 of 25 Old 05-04-2006, 08:01 PM
 
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My kids (9 and 5) have known for years about smoking, and they act quite comically around smokers in public. You would think that these people were blowing acid into their faces or something!
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