Today my 26 month old son was doing something rather odd with his crayons. He was putting them, one by one, into his mouth & sucking on the very end. After sucking for two or three times, he would pull it out, puff out his cheeks & blow. He would repeat a few more times before moving on to another crayon. I asked him what he was doing.
“‘Toking,” he replied with a grin. Now, in toddlerese, not all consonants are formed, so ‘toking means smoking.
I snatched the crayons from his mouth & said in a shocked, but what was an attempt for stern tone, “No! Smoking is very bad & very yucky!” He laughed at this, while pulling another crayon from it’s box, and informed me that Daddy was in trouble & in time out. I agreed. Yes, Daddy would be in trouble, because yes, Daddy is a smoker. Then he started to gleefully list off all the people that he knew who smoked. It turns out that there’s a lot of them!
How is a mother to raise a child to make healthy life choices, when that child witnesses those he loves making poor ones? How could I tell him not to be a smoker when his father, neighbors & role models do? I know I can’t shield him from most of these things; sex, drugs and rock & roll will enter his life at some point. But how can something be perceived as “wrong” or “bad” or “unhealthy” if so many people around him are doing it? I do try to keep my boys away from my husband when he smokes, but it isn’t always possible & doesn’t always happen. All in all, the kids are aware of what Daddy does.
I know I will have a tough battle ahead of me when comes to smoking. The general public doesn’t make as big a stink over it as they should. This YouTube video shows a two year old in Indonesia who smokes four packs a day! While I realize that this is the extreme & in no way the norm, the number of people who have viewed this video, “liked” this video, & who have commented with things like “this baby is awesome” & “so hilarious” really scare me. If the general public is going to have a laid back attitude towards smoking, how can I convince my kids that the dangers are real?
There are plenty of studies that have linked second and even third hand smoke to various health issues in children, teens & young adults. They have also concluded that a child is more than twice as likely to smoke by the time they are 21 if a parent smokes. And I can agree with that statement. My mother never smoked after I was born & my father smoked an occasional pipe or cigar. I have smoked maybe 6 or 7 cigarettes in my whole life & can’t stand them! My husband’s mother always smoked & he was always around it. When he became a teenager (17 or so) he started smoking on a daily basis. Because he’s now been smoking for over 10 years, it’s nearly impossible for him to quit. Are my children destined to be teen smokers?! The only way I can see nipping this in the bud is to get the adults to give it up.