Smoking Teen

My 14 year old son recently started smoking. When I first smelled it on him I had a rather lengthy chat with him and thought that would be the end of it. It seems, I thought wrong. I don’t want to nag him about the habit as I used to smoke myself. My husband feels that it’s a health issue and therefore we have the right to nag and take away his allowance until he stops, but I’m worried that this will cause him to rebel even more. Is there anything we can do to help him see sense and give it up before it becomes a ‘pack a day’ habit?

What would have worked with you? Why did you smoke? Why did you quit?

It is in the nature of teenagers to resist control by their parents. If you nag your son about it, he is likely to resist whatever you suggest.

Instead, ask him about why he took up smoking and just listen. Tell him that you used to smoke. Share with him about your own experience with smoking. Is he part of a crowd who all smoke, and is smoking “cool” and necessary to be part of the group? Has he become addicted because of a lot of second-hand smoke?

I imagine he is aware of most of the health issues. Kids do get taught about it in school. But in case he isn’t, perhaps you and your husband can look up websites which give information about what smoking does to health, and send them to your son in an e-mail. In that e-mail tell him that you promise to stop nagging about it if he promises to go to the websites and find out the information so he can make an informed decision about smoking.

It is not a good idea to remove your son’s allowance on this basis. He needs to learn to handle money; that is what an allowance is for. Presumably his allowance isn’t enough to buy cigarettes and do the other things he wants to do, like go to movies. Give him a limited allowance, and he will have to choose what he spends it on. If he’s spent it on cigarettes, he won’t have enough for other things. That’s a reality he can discover. Don’t “bail him out” with more money if he’s spent it all on smokes, which are pretty expensive.

This may well just be a phase of experimentation, part of normal teenage development. It’s best not to make a big deal of it, but tell him you have confidence in his ability to make a good decision if he has all the facts. He will likely stop on his own

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