January 18, 2011,
D.L. asks from Chicago, IL on October 24, 2006
12-Year-old Son Caught Smoking
I recently found out that both my 12-year-old son and my niece (she is also 12) have been smoking with some of the other kids in my niece's neiborhood. This apparently has been going on for a couple months. Both my son and niece were grounded for a month after my sister and I found out. Yesterday I found out that my son was smoking again!!! I confronted him and he said he was sorry and wouldn't do it again. I don't believe him. What do I do? I am a single mom and I feel my son just walks all over me. Has anyone else had this problem????
T.S. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
Wow, that's so discouraging to read. I'm firmly against smoking, I've never even tried it (or any drugs) and neither has my husband. So, we both stand firm on it being unacceptable. That being said, we aren't idiots either and know it could very well happen when our son gets older. I have a 15 year old sister whom I am very close to, so I'm trying to think about how I would feel about that. First of all, I would have to ask where he and your niece were able to get the cigarettes? Then, I would explain to him in as graphic detail as possible the effects of such a bad habit to start. There are websites to help you gather information, I think one is www.thetruth.org. Not 100% sure though.
Do you smoke? Anyone close to your son smoke? If so, maybe his exposure to seeing that should be limited - very limited. It's hard to say, "don't do this" if you or someone close to him is doing it. One of those cases where do as I say and not as I do, really doesn't work. He could be looking for some attention by acting out. You mentioned that you're a single-mom...is Dad in the picture where you could team up and deal with this?
I think honest, direct communication with your son regarding this is very, very important. Talk to him, tell him why it's wrong (besides being illegal) and why it hurts you to see him do this.
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K.B. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
I would definately take a multi-pronged approach. First of all, if possible, try to keep him away from that group of kids. Get him busy in an afterschool group or a sport where he can find more positive friendships. Then I'd make him do a ton of internet research on the damages that smoking can do, the financial costs of smoking(it's amazing how much money a smoking habit can cost), etc. Have him write a couple of pages of paper on the facts about smoking. Then, I'd take away privileges to let him know that it is not acceptable. I have already made it clear to my daughters that their right to privacy is a right that is given by me. If I feel that they have lost my trust, I will have no problem snooping into their personal things to look for evidence that they are not towing the line. I think that sometimes, tough love is the only thing to do for our children.
1 mom found this helpful
R.K. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
Scared straight is probably the best deterrent for any negative behavior. Find some of the most disgusting pictures and literature that shows just how nasty smoking is and I'll bet that it will scare his 12 year old behind into stopping. Many people now don't want to scare their children, ut believe me, sometimes as a parent, especially a single parent, it's the best way to manage your children. Also, take them to a doctor's office and ask them to speak to your son. See if that works.
V. answers from Chicago on October 25, 2006
good luck. You've gotten pretty good advice and I hope you can find a way to get through this. Be strong. Don't forget to be straight with your son. Yes, he's grounded, did you spell out why? I know he should know, but your words are powerful, even though they seem to go in one ear and out the other. Tell him straight out--I don't want you to smoke, EVER. Not once. and be strong and stick to your word. don't let him out if he's grounded. he is going to be a stubborn insensitive kid. but you know better and can stick it out. However you decide to deal with this, go all the way and be strong. I'm rooting for you.
D.S. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
HI! D. I HAVE NOT BUT BELIVIE ME YOU NEED TO HAVE HIM TALK WITH A MAN WHO HE DEEPLY CARES ABOUT AND LOOKS UP TO BECAUSE HE NEED A MALE FIGURE IN HIS LIFE IT IS IMPORTANT CAUSE WHEN HE NEEDS TO TALK AND WANT TALK TO YOU HE WILL TALK TO HIM AND HURRY UP DO NOT PUT IT OFF . PRAY ALSO AND ASK GOD TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR SON BECAUSE THE DEVIL IS REALLY BUSY AT THAT AGE IN A KID LIFE AND I WILL BE PRAYING ALSO MY SON DIED IN THE STREET BECAUSE HE DID NOT HAVE A MALE FIGURE TO TALK TO VERY SMART BUT I WAS NOT ENOUGH FOR HIM THERE ARE THINGS BOYS NEED TO TALK TO A MALE ABOUT AND NOT US WOMEN SO PRAY AND DO NOT OVER ACT TO MUCH BECAUSE THAT MAKES IT WORSER D. HE MITE BE LOOKING FOR SOME ATTECHEN FROM YOU TRY SPENDING MORE TIME GO TO THE MOVES OUT TO DINNER AND BOWLING PLAY POOL WITH HIM . GOD BLESS!
H.L. answers from Chicago on October 25, 2006
My oldest is about the same age as your son and I'm sorry to say that I'm not as shocked as many of the other parents. I know you are disappointed right now and you've made your opinion known to your son. I did notice that you are from the Crown Point area and am aware of a program that St. Anthony's Medical Center offers for smoking cessation.
http://www.stanthonymedicalcenter.com/DesktopDefault.aspx...= You'll have to contact them for class information, to see if they have a class specifically for his age group. That would be ideal since all the information would be geared to his developmental level. I do hope that this is helpful and I wish you the very best.
K.K. answers from Chicago on October 25, 2006
Just be careful about banning from seeing the group of smoker friends. Just like punishing him for smoking may push him to do it more, so may banning the friends. Try to be sly about it. Like...planning those activities or finding other things for him to do.
I know when my parents told me not to do something, I did the exact opposite! Be open and caring and talk to him as if he were an adult...I know he is not, but show respect. I taught middle school Learning and behavioral students for 9 years. Talking to them with respect always got me further than yelling. Be fair and consistent.
A.S. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
Your son probably cannot stop smoking on his own, so punishment alone just will not work. Because of his age, I would take him to the pediatrician for some help in quitting. (For example, I'm not sure if 12-yr-olds are able to buy or use Nicorette or the other otc stop smoking aids. Any doctor should be very interested in helping your son stop smoking.
I agree to get him away from those friends for awhile. I also agree that he probably will switch to something else like alcohol if you are able to prevent him from smoking. Get him professional help now, so that he can kick the habit. It will only help the both of you down the road.
M.P. answers from Chicago on October 25, 2006
I'd like you to know you and your son are in my thoughts and prayers. At this point in his life he is the only one who can make the decision on weather he's going to smoke or not, drink or not, do the right thing OR NOT. Unfortunately as I'm sure you know smoking is just one of the things him and his peers are dealing with at that age.
My advice to you is crawl up his ass. My mother wouldn't let me out the house unless she KNEW (literally she had to know them personally) who I was with. If I was going to someone's house she had to know their parents. I had to call her when I got there and give her the number. She had to be able to call me there. I had the earliest curfew of all my friends. Granted i'm a girl (I 've heard from friends that parents tend to be stricter with girls vs. boys I'm an only child so I don't know) but I have a son (4 yrs.) I'm terrified of your exact situation. And I plan on him hating me due to me being so strict at the same time you want them to know and feel comfortable talking to you about these exact situations. So there's a thin line there I don't think anyone knows how to walk.
Children/youth will always find a way to sneak and do something they shouldn't do.
Does he have a lot of self confidence? Ask him, does he really like the taste of cigaretts? I don't smoke they taste horrible to me. Does it make him feel good? Why does he like it? Is he doing it just to be cool or "grown up? If he's doing it a lot he could get addicted and then stopping is even harder? It's so hard being a kid don't forget that. The pressure to fit in, make friends, please parents, succed in school, chores, siblings, sports.
Good luck. Don't lose your baby to this nasty world.
A.L. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
My sister started smoking when she was 12 and all of the punshiments just made her do it more and also start drinking.
I think you need to sit down with him and have a serious talk about what smoking can do to you. The Phillip morris website has ways to talk to your kids about smoking.
I also agree with everyone else and get him away from that group of kids. Get him into something else a sport or club of some sort that would keep him busy.
My daughter is only 3 but watching my sister ruin her life was enough to keep me straight and narrow and I never tried smoking or drugs. The more my father tried to discipline her the more she did and the more bad stuff she tried. Every child is different, but you definitely need to talk to him.
R.T. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
I agree about a male figure, but you need to deal with this. There are several ways to go at it, here are some suggestions.
1. The one MY dad did to me was sit me down and make me smoke a whole pack. It made me sick, I puked.
2. I'd tell him about the things it'll do to him - stunt his growth, cancer, bad teeth and breath, girl won't dig it, he'll stink - it's a filthy habit but millions of us do it. I have ONE cigarette every great while, and I still can't believe I do that.
3. Standard punishements - you need to monitor him, after of course expressing your concerns, and love. If grounding doesn't work, start taking away the things that matter to him - cell phone, tv, home phone, games, etc. If you don't nip this in the bud NOW, much like drinking or drugs, he'll probably get hooked for life. I'd also consider warning him that if his behavior doesn't change, he won't get to hang out with those guys. I"d also contact your neice's parents, and all of the other kids' parents too. If you ALL get behind this together, you MAY stand a chance.
I started drinking at 14. I wish my parents had been harder on me. I can't believe I drove drunk SO MANY TIMES. I turned out to be an alcoholic. Been sober going on 6 years now, but went through a lot of BS first, all of my own doing.
Your son will most likely do whatever his friends are doing. May be time for new friends, or maybe you can get him interested in something ELSE after school that would occupy his time - sports, clubs, groups, etc.
Best of luck, and please keep me posted on how it is going.
D.B. answers from Asheville on January 18, 2011
Hi D., I am a single mother too and I have just discovered that my 12-year-old son has started smoking. I am at the same stage as you of not knowing what to do. I am writing to you to sympathize with you as it often helps to know that youa are not alone with your problems. I have read through all the answers you've received already and am sure those people are right who say if you try to forbid smoking, he will just start drinking or taking drugs. Some of the advice is unrealistic - you can't stop him seeing his friends, he will just do it behind your back and if your son is not sporty, you will not be able to persude him to take one up. Finding him a male role-model is not as easy as it sounds. In my case, my son's smoking is absolutely heart-breaking as he is an exceptionally talented footballer and understands intellectually that sport and smoking don't go together. He knows that I smoked in the past but gave it up for good when I got pregnant with him. We've looked at pictures of black lungs and brown teeth and fingers on Google pictures and all he could say is 'Click on that one!', pointing at a picture of a monkey with a cigarette in his mouth. I agree with the people who say that it's a teenage thing for children to defy their parents and experiment with illegal things. I hope our children and all those other under-age smokers will realize in time that there is absolutely nothing good about smoking. Try to stay strong and do your best. That's all any of us can do.
M. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
I know of somebody who found beer bottle under her daughter's bed and said absolutely nothing, but lined them up on her dresser!
I think we've all done this before, and I think it's important to talk with him about his curiosity, but also the seriousness and long term affects of it. Maybe do a little research first. Let him know this is wrong, but don't come down too hard, and let him know that he can talk to you about thisand all issues.
K. answers from Chicago on October 24, 2006
Speaking from experience I know this is hard. I started smoking and still do today when I was about 12. I tried to hide it from my parents, thinking they were stupid. They did the normal talks, the grounding etc. NOthing worked. I think they actually tried to hard honestly. They "took" away all my friends, phone, privileges etc and it just made me more defiant. Of course now I wish I would have listened, but i didnt. Peer pressure is huge. Is it possible to get him involved with other activites so he doesnt see specific peers? Is it possible that a trip to the doctors office to show him what bad lungs look like and the effects would work? My daughter is only 7, but already I am worried about her starting and do not know how to handle this myself. I do know from personal experience, the more my parents yelled, grounded and took stuff away the more defiant I became. I am NOT auggesting let him do it, but I do not know the correct answer either. ...K.
S.V. answers from Atlanta on October 25, 2006
I agree with Richard and Amy. Getting him away from that group of friends may be a great idea. The idea of joining him in an extra curricular activity like Karate, Tennis, Football, etc will give him a new direction, the discipline he needs, and a way to use the obvious extra time he seems to be having. I've heard another parent as well sit their child down and make them smoke as much as they can in front of them- that kid kicked the habit as well.
Good luck and God bless!