Concerned child might be smoking - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-25-2012, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've smelled his breath twice so far, and both times it's smelled like cigarette smoke. He doesn't hang out with friends (he lies a lot so it's hard to trust him outside of home) and my husband checks his backpack for homework (he missed three weeks worth of assignments because he said "I don't have any"). I don't know how he would be getting a hold of cigarettes. Is there any other way aside from smoking that would cause a child's breath to smell like cigarettes?

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Old 10-25-2012, 07:29 PM
 
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None that I can think of. It is likely that he is smoking. Some kids pick up butts off the ground. They are very available because so many kids have parents that smoke. Sorry :(
 


 
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:31 PM
 
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How old is he? If kids want to smoke, they will find cigarettes. Some kids even pick them up out of ashtrays after theyve been put out. 


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Old 10-25-2012, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He's only 13. My mother-in-law has quit smoking, and the guy downstairs from us smokes but he cleans up his cigarette butts. He's in 7th grade, with grades K - 8. My husband's friend is over a lot, and he smokes, but he's the type of smoker that saves his cigarette butts to roll the tobacco and smoke later. I just have no idea where he'd get cigarettes from. Neither of us smoke, so it's pretty baffling. It just recently started, since we moved to a higher-class school district only 10 minutes away from the one he was going to.

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Old 10-25-2012, 09:37 PM
 
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"Higher class district" means nothing when it comes to smoking/drugs etc.  Well. maybe it means the kids have access to more money to buy those type things.  I am inside a k-8 school on a weekly basis as staff and you would not believe what goes on - what some of the the kids are up to outside of school hours.  

So you smelled his breath, you check his backpack.  I'm just being honest but that sounds like a great way to alienate your kid.  Many kids would just go and get some breath spray and make sure their bag is cleaned out.  You are going to find yourself in a power struggle with DS. 

While I agree that smoking is a negative and has major health concerns, I don't agree with what you've done so far.  Kids can get cigarettes from anywhere.  Older kids will buy them, clerks sell them illegally, theft, there are a million different ways to obtain what you want. 

I would keep an open dialogue with DS about smoking and just life in general.  You went to xyz, great- what happened, who was there, what was the best thing about xyz,  what was the most exciting about the outing.  How was school, what was the art project today, did you like lunch - why not?    Hey DS, you went to xyz with friends 2 weeks ago, lets all go as a family this weekend and you can show us around.  ETC.   If he claims to be going to xyz, there is nothing wrong w. stopping by to make sure he is actually there.


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Old 10-26-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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Have you asked him why his breath smells of cigs?
 

ETA... When my son came home from a friend's smelling of smoke, I came right out and asked him. Granted, it wasn't his breath.

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Checking his backpack wasn't because we felt he may be smoking. Checking his backpack was because he claimed for three weeks straight that he had absolutely no homework... which, come to find out, he did have homework every day for those three weeks from each class he was taking. Checking his breath was another thing that wasn't done because we felt he may be smoking. My husband has been helping him train for MMA, and when you get that close to someone's face, it's really hard not to smell their breath. They wrestle all the time and my husband shows him how to do choke holds, etc. My mother-in-law won't let him go over to friends houses unless she knows the parents and trusts the parents. He's lived with us for about a year and has only gone over to a friends house two or three times (it'll be a full year December 29th). I was 13 not that long ago and I know that when I hung out with friends, we always did stupid things. I share my experiences with him in hopes that he'll learn why what I did was stupid so that he won't make the same mistakes. My husband has friends who have done stupid things and we've shared their experiences as well. We've tried to show him as much as we can to allow him to have new experiences without actually doing the stupid things himself.

 

We've showed him pictures of what people's insides look like when they smoke. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people who are so addicted to cigarettes that they walk around the city just to find butts to smoke, despite the fact that they have no clue who the last person to smoke off of those butts is. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people that are addicted to drugs and alcohol, who drink so much that they starve themselves, who do so many drugs that they've been hospitalized for it. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people that have had sex so much that they have no idea who the father to their baby is, have STDs, people who are now having a hard time finding meaningful relationships because no one respectable wants to be with them. We've showed him how people live when they have all these problems. We've brought him to relatives houses who had nothing because they were willing to sell everything they owned to get money for beer and cigarettes.

 

I mean, we've exposed him to so much that I just don't know what else to do. I'm at a loss here. If he is smoking, I just don't get how to stop him from doing it. I know he's got to make his own mistakes, but lung cancer and heart disease really aren't mistakes that you want kids to make.

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We have tried asking him. He always just says "I don't know". My mother-in-law hasn't really done much in the way of figuring it out, so my husband and I are trying.

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Old 10-26-2012, 01:15 PM
 
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Checking his backpack wasn't because we felt he may be smoking. Checking his backpack was because he claimed for three weeks straight that he had absolutely no homework... which, come to find out, he did have homework every day for those three weeks from each class he was taking. Checking his breath was another thing that wasn't done because we felt he may be smoking. My husband has been helping him train for MMA, and when you get that close to someone's face, it's really hard not to smell their breath. They wrestle all the time and my husband shows him how to do choke holds, etc. My mother-in-law won't let him go over to friends houses unless she knows the parents and trusts the parents. He's lived with us for about a year and has only gone over to a friends house two or three times (it'll be a full year December 29th). I was 13 not that long ago and I know that when I hung out with friends, we always did stupid things. I share my experiences with him in hopes that he'll learn why what I did was stupid so that he won't make the same mistakes. My husband has friends who have done stupid things and we've shared their experiences as well. We've tried to show him as much as we can to allow him to have new experiences without actually doing the stupid things himself.

 

We've showed him pictures of what people's insides look like when they smoke. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people who are so addicted to cigarettes that they walk around the city just to find butts to smoke, despite the fact that they have no clue who the last person to smoke off of those butts is. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people that are addicted to drugs and alcohol, who drink so much that they starve themselves, who do so many drugs that they've been hospitalized for it. We've talked to him about and introduced him to people that have had sex so much that they have no idea who the father to their baby is, have STDs, people who are now having a hard time finding meaningful relationships because no one respectable wants to be with them. We've showed him how people live when they have all these problems. We've brought him to relatives houses who had nothing because they were willing to sell everything they owned to get money for beer and cigarettes.

 

I mean, we've exposed him to so much that I just don't know what else to do. I'm at a loss here. If he is smoking, I just don't get how to stop him from doing it. I know he's got to make his own mistakes, but lung cancer and heart disease really aren't mistakes that you want kids to make.

You've exposed him to all this stuff, but his own dad smokes, so he can look right at home and see that it's an acceptable behavior. 

 

 

FWIW, by 7th grade, I knew peoples parents who would give us cigarettes. By 7th grade, a kid can get cigarettes if he wants them. Some kid on the bus might have a whole pack that he stole from his mom. 


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Old 10-26-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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You've exposed him to all this stuff, but his own dad smokes, so he can look right at home and see that it's an acceptable behavior. 

 

 

FWIW, by 7th grade, I knew peoples parents who would give us cigarettes. By 7th grade, a kid can get cigarettes if he wants them. Some kid on the bus might have a whole pack that he stole from his mom. 

I think she said his dad's friend smokes.

 

This is really hard, but I do agree with others; kids will share cigarettes that they get from various sources. Would it help to try a more loving approach, rather than talking about the bad stuff that's gonna happen? Kids always think that the bad stuff will happpen to everyone else, NOT them!!


 
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Old 10-26-2012, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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His dad and mom are both out of the picture. His aunt raises him financially and my husband (his cousin) and I are mainly responsible for everything else. I'm just at a loss for what to do right now. I was interested in a lot when I was 13, but both of my parents smoked, I always got picked on for the way my clothes smelled when I was around the smoke, and I never smoked a cigarette because to me, it was just completely disgusting. Both of my husband's parents smoked, and he never had any interest in smoking either. I'm not sure about the loving approach, because I'm really new to the whole mothering thing.. I mean, I'm a 19-year-old helping my husband raise a 13-year-old.. We haven't had the whole thirteen years to do this, we just knew it was the right thing to do in helping.

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Old 10-26-2012, 08:18 PM
 
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I think she said his dad's friend smokes.

 

This is really hard, but I do agree with others; kids will share cigarettes that they get from various sources. Would it help to try a more loving approach, rather than talking about the bad stuff that's gonna happen? Kids always think that the bad stuff will happpen to everyone else, NOT them!!

 

 

Oh, I just read that wrong, I totally read it as that they both smoked. 

 

It's great of you guys to be helping so much! Since you guys are pretty close in age, is there a way to just ask him. Tell him about how you were made fun of for smelling like cigarettes, and you never tried it, but you don't judge people who have tried it? When I was smoking at 13, Id have totally had that conversation with a 19 year old- especially if it was started out by saying that I was not going to be in trouble if I talked to them about it. 


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Old 10-27-2012, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've done that with a couple of other things, smaller things, but I felt like smoking was a pretty serious thing and wasn't sure if it should simply just be discussed... plus, what on earth do I do if he admits to me that he is smoking ?? I mean, I feel the responsible thing at that point would be to find a way to stop him from doing it, but I know when I was even 16, most of the younger kids I knew were drinking, having sex, smoking, doing drugs... so it's nothing new, really... but.. I feel like more of a mother-figure to him than a friend... so I'm pretty unsure of how to help him in a way that makes sense.

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Old 10-27-2012, 07:11 PM
 
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You have a very difficult situation to deal with... most of us are thinking of this in terms of what we would do with our own kids. We have a lot of automatic authority with our own kids, even if they challenge it. We have a lifelong bond with them. They love us like a parent and we love them. You don't have any of that going for you, and plus this kid is probably going through a lot more in his mind/life than most of our kids, because he hasn't had a stable living situation with mom and dad. (I don't mean to paint everyone else's family as identical, or brush off anyone's unique circumstances, just highlighting OP's unique circumstances).

 

Is there anyone you can find to help you navigate this situation? Some areas have support resources for family members caring for children, usually grandparents, but I'd check around. Even counseling for some/all of you would be helpful. I don't think you are going to be able to "make" him make the right choices in any of these big, important areas. I think you're going to have to step back a lot more than most people who are in charge of a 13 year old, and realize that you can't be responsible for a heck of a lot at this point. You can say stuff like, "I'm legally responsible for making sure you get your education, plus I care about you and want to see you succeed. So from now on, I'm going to be checking in with your teachers to make sure you're doing your work, and you and I need to come to an agreement about getting your homework done". But you can't do the same thing with smoking, because you guys just don't have the kind of bond to withstand that kind of thing. If it was heroine, maybe that would be different.

 

I guess what I'm saying is, you can enforce the things you're legally responsible for, but for the stuff that falls into more of a "moral upbringing" grey area, all you can do is offer information, caring, and support. No-one in their right mind is going to blame you if he ends up not making good personal choices!


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Old 10-28-2012, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To be technical, I'm not legally responsible for any of it, my mother-in-law is... but he refers to her as "aunt" and me as "mom". I don't care who gets blamed if he makes bad personal choices.. I just know that looking back on my early teenage years, a lot of it I regret now.. Most of what I did was incredibly stupid. I made a lot of really bad personal choices. I don't want him to look back on what he did as he gets older and think that he really messed up somewhere. Mostly, I want him to make good personal choices for himself, because he'll be a much happier, healthier person. I don't want to see him die of a heart attack at a young age either, or end up getting into drugs and committing suicide (had a friend who did that).

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Old 10-28-2012, 01:58 PM
 
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I wonder if you might want to have a read of the Love & Logic book for parents of teens. You know how bad these choices are, but of course you can't make choices for him. You can tell him that his options might be limited in terms of freedom of social life, etc. if you know he is making bad choices--then you could say he knew and chose to limit himself if he continues to make bad choices. The teen years are rough, because yes, we know how bad these choices are and yet many of us made the same bad choices at the time despite the fact that we knew they weren't good choices for us. So logic doesn't really prevail. Worry doesn't work. It has to be about kids knowing enough to have the ability to make good choices and knowing we've got their back and will support them in that. If they don't make good choices, their life will unfold in a negative direction, but it is their life and at some point they need to take ownership of it. At his age he won't be ready for the fullness of that discussion but it can be a good guidepost for you as you try to help him.

 

Here's a link to the book if you've never heard of it:
http://www.loveandlogic.com/ecom/p-145-parenting-teens-with-love-and-logic-book.aspx


 
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll have to take a look at it. Thank you.

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Old 10-30-2012, 09:47 AM
 
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If you truly want to know if he's smoking, smell his hands. You can mask it on your breath but kids forget to wash their hands and the hand he holds the cigarette with will smell like smoke. Also, kids can buy cigarettes from the store if they know of one that will sell to them. I did.

 

I can't stand smoking. I don't understand why anyone would want to, even though I did smoke some in H.S. Peer pressure can be a bitch though. And constantly badgering him to see if he smokes is only going to make him want to more. Its a hard thing to stop in teenagers. If I knew how, I would've tried harder with my younger cousins. It sucks and I'm sorry you have to go through this!


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Old 10-31-2012, 02:53 PM
 
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Not sure if this will help but... I've always told my daughter that smoking is something that a lot of young people do...and that it's sad because usually people smoke because they're feeling very insecure and want to look more cool, or look older, or fit in with a certain group.  It helped that I could tell her that I smoked in high school because I desperately wanted to fit in. I went on to tell her how insecure I was.  I wanted her to associate smoking with being awkward and willing to do anything to fit in.   

 

I used to point out young people who were smoking and say things like 'oh, look at that girl--she's trying so hard to hold that cigarette as if she's been smoking a long time.  She looks so insecure.  I hope she figures out soon that it doesn't make her look older or more interesting.'  

 

You'd be surprised --when you start looking for the young people who are smoking they really are the ones who look very awkward and ill-at-ease with themselves. 

 

I would kind of downplay the whole thing for now...say something like 'I think I smelled smoke on you the other day.  I can understand why people start smoking...  It does seem like something that will make you look older or more interesting.  Sometimes when people are feeling very insecure about themselves it seems like smoking might help.  The problem is when you get hooked on the nicotine and it becomes a habit.  I'm sure you know all the dangers of long-term smoking....'

 

If you come out and say "I forbid you from smoking' it probably won't help. And kids that age aren't worried about the health implications of smoking.   But if you de-mystify it, and can somehow make it look uncool that might help...  Good luck...

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Old 11-19-2012, 08:02 AM
 
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As a long time smoker, I know how terrible it is and what a nasty awful habit.  But once someone is addicted to cigarettes it's no different than any other addicition.  Talk to him, do some research with him, and give him all the education you can.  At the end of the day if he is hooked he will not quit until he wants to himself.  Believe me I know how you feel and it's upsetting when you see your young child smoke, but he is not the first teen to smoke and he won't be the last. 

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Old 11-21-2012, 02:02 AM
 
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I would just ask him about it. All he can do is lie, tell the truth or get upset with you. He is under age and a minor and you have the right to ask.


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