Questions about smoking? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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We are lucky that nobody in our family smokes, but dd has one friend whose mom is a smoker. She only smokes outside, not in her house (she has a four-year-old and a baby), so it isn't too often that dd witnesses it, especially since the playgrounds in my area have a no smoking rule. But she is aware that this friend's mom smokes - she's seen it enough times.

The first time dd saw someone (not the friend) doing this, I explained that it is something some grown-ups do and that it is an unhealthy choice. I have told her that the smoke goes into the person's lungs and makes it harder for them to get the oxygen they need to be healthy, and that the smoke has chemicals in it that are unhealthy to a person's body. She understands all that.

My problem is how to answer questions dealing with WHY a person would choose to smoke. Lately, when dd witnesses someone doing something unsafe (like riding a bike with no helmet), she'll say, "I guess that person isn't very smart." I'm not always sure how to respond to this, and usually say something along the lines of, "Well, we don't know that person, so we don't know how smart she is, but she is not making a good choice about her safety." I guess I could say the same thing in response to questions about smoking, that the person is making poor choices about her health, but I still don't think this addresses the question of WHY a person would choose to do something unhealthy. And those are the kinds of questions she has asked me about this friend who smokes. She seems concerned, too, because she cares about this person!

How would you answer?
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#2 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 11:29 AM
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I think you could choose your answer to incorporate something about peer pressure and how sometimes people do things because other people do or because they want to be like someone else and then you could use it to remind her that she knows it is unsafe and unhealthy so that should be her reason not to and that if a friend of hers chooses to do this she would still want to refrain because she knows it would harm her.
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#3 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 01:33 PM
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I would say, "sometimes, people make a decision that isn't the healthiest. Have you ever wanted something like a cookie instead fo fruit? That wasn't the healthiest choice." I would also consider adding in something about smoking being an adiction. It is something that is very hard to quit and this is very different than not wearing a bike helmet.

You could also talk directly to the mom and say " dd has been asking me why people smoke. I know you go out of your way to not smoke around your children, and I appreciate that, but can you help me with an explaination about why people smoke?" It is very clear, direct and maybe this will help you understand it and explain it to your dd. I think you need to approach it carefully so not to offend the other mom, but since she goes to the trouble not to smoke around kids, you know that she is concerned about it.
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#4 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 01:38 PM
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i think that it is probably also a good idea to include that when people make choices we don't think are healthy that they often do not know hoe to change their behavior...that the smoking makes your body and mind feel like you need to keep doing it and that makes it hard for someone to stop. we have a hard time with our oldest saying stuff to my mom about smoking or the rest of our family about eating meat or drinking milk. i think it is pretty powerful when a young child just asks someone why they smoke without any judgments or statements about how it is stupid or unhealthy because the smoker must come up with a response that doesn't sound rude or harsh or defensive...because, afterall, it is a child asking. my mom may NEVER quit, but she has to think about it every time my oldest son asks and in a different way than when we bug her to stop. he doesn't want her to stop as much as he really wants to know. DS understands that people sometimes LIKE really gross stuff and that we don't like those things. he'ss ask my MIL "why are you eating that baby pig?" and suddenly there is less pork in her diet. KWIM?
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#5 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 02:06 PM
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Tell her the truth. People smoke because they like the way it makes them feel. WE believe that those good feelings are not worth the health risks and the yucky smell, but some people disagree and make a different choice. Other people don't really want to be smokers anymore but can't stop because they're addicted; it's very sad that the bad decision they made a long time ago has turned out to be one that's so hard to change.

Encourage her to ASK people why they smoke without criticizing them. This is likely to give her plenty of information to satisfy her curiosity and motivate her never to take up smoking (because most smokers will tell kids it's a bad idea and express regret for ever starting it themselves) and it will be more credible than anything you can say about it if you have never smoked.

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#6 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 03:00 PM
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I'm not sure if this would work for your DD, but when I was a child, my dad smoked. I knew smoking was bad, and I knew my dad didn't want to do it anymore, and I knew it could make him sick. I couldn't understand why he didn't just stop.

Well, around this time (I was probably 6 or 7) I was trying to stop sucking my thumb. It was babyish, and I didn't want to do it anymore, and I knew that I would have to get braces if I didn't stop. My mom and dad compared smoking to thumb sucking -- which sounds weird, but it really helped me understand at that young age why my dad couldn't just stop.

Actually, shortly after that, my dad and I made a pact. We both stopped our "habits" for one month - and at the end of the month we got a special treat (we went to an amusement park together).

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#7 of 7 Old 05-15-2003, 11:13 PM
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You also might want to explain that tobacco is addictive. That smoking, like alcohol and certain drugs, makes some people feel good but it is addictive so they can't stop. That might help her understand why somebody would smoke when they know it isn't good for them.

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