Apparently I’ve blown it.
After fourteen years of present parenting.
After sacrificing much personally to provide a stable environment.
After careful explaining, boundary creation, ethical role-modelling, unconditional loving…well… as I said…
apparently I’ve blown it.
The doctor looks at me and states the obvious.
‘Research shows parents who smoke are more likely to have kids that smoke. ‘
Yes ,Mr 14s taken up smoking.
No, I didn’t want him too.
Yes I smoke. As a matter of fact I think he’s started because a few of his friends do now. But blame me. I’m sure I was an influence and my shoulders are broad….ish
Oh the looks I get from parents though, the condemning glances! Bloody holier than thou! I find my inner teen alive and well and wanting to, well you know, say rude things. And as far as the Doctor goes, well, Doctors are getting darn full of themselves if ya ask me!
As a parent I chose my battles. And smoking aint one of them.
I’m much more interested for example that he learns to control his knee jerk emotions; that he takes responsibility for his own actions; that he fess’ up to his own mistakes and cops it on the chin when the consequences follow.
I’m much more concerned that he doesn’t smoke pot…which he has asked about…which many of his friends do, even at such a young age. Crikey that one scares me. And lets not even look beyond pot!
I’m much more concerned that whilst I still have some semblance of control I can show him the potential of life if he has a go.
But most of all I am deeply grateful that my son chooses to stay honest with his mum. To talk over this stuff, to seek my opinion and listen to the reasons I’ve reached these conclusions.
My point is, there is no way in hell I’m gunna have a tantrum about this choice to smoke despite it being touted as the sin of the twenty-first century.
I don’t like it mind. He’s my precious boy and I tease him without mercy when he coughs as he lights up. I’ve demanded he stick to two a day, I insist those two are in a socially appropriate situation (ie not at school, at the bus stop with littles, etc). I’ve also told him he’s much more likely to get lung disease than I as he had viral asthma as a kid thus having a weakness there. And additionally I am more enthusiastically growing wild tobacco acknowledging the lack of carcinogens.
But frankly I don’t give a flying you know what at the end of the day. And even more frankly; to the medical profession, to the parents who look down their noses:
If you act like that because your teen smokes how the hell are they going to talk to you about the more serious temptations out there? Excuse my for answering my own question, but they won’t!
I had a teenager in a psych unit explain to me once why she never told mum and dad she was cutting herself.
Her inner thigh was a combination of scarring and fresh wounds. Two years after her attempt to talk to her folks she sat with me after having accidentally cut too deep. These are the realities I’ve seen in drug clinics, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, adolescent units and on the streets.
This may seem extreme but one action leads to another to another to another…to places that at least for me, looking at my son, don’t bear thinking of. But I do think some parents need to think of it.
When my lads friend was picked up my his mum a couple of days ago she said to her boy;
“You better not have had a smoke!” Now she seems a good mum and all but what she may have been unaware of is that she really just said;
“I’ll go off my head at you if you did“. How the hell will he talk to her about it if he ever needs too?
Parents sometimes think if they crack down on something like smoking then the more heavy stuff won’t happen. Sorry. Absolutely not true. Might have worked in the fifties, maybe even the seventies and eighties but no longer. Twenty-first century teens are a another thing, at least here in Australia. They know their rights, they know they can survive without you, they know there are a trillion experiences to be had.
I can’t think of anything more important in parenting teenagers than keeping the dialogue going. And I’ve watched his face as adults react. Less and less will be said to his Doctor, adults labelled ‘over-reactors’ become those whose opinions are null and void.
So yeah, I’m sorry he’s smoking. But I’m even sorrier for the judgements continuing to be handed down.
As Mr 14 says with a tone of dripping sarcasm and disdain that, really, only a teen can pull off:
“oh and you adults are all doing so well!”