What should I do if I catch my teen smoking?
Real Mom Problem
“I found cigarettes in my son's room and I was beyond devastated.”
- 1. Talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking
- 2. Lead a healthy lifestyle as an example for your kids
- 3. Encourage them to get involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities that might deter them from smoking
- 4. Always keep the lines of communication open
Real Mom Solutions
Smoking might seem "cool" when you're a teenager, but it's an unhealthy habit that's hard to quit. See what these moms suggest you do if you catch your kid smoking.
Teach Your Teen the Dangers of Smoking
My daughter was caught at school with a pack of cigarettes and was suspended. (They have a no-tolerance policy.) As part of her punishment, I signed her up for an alcohol and tobacco class. She had to attend once a week for six weeks straight. (This class was separate from her school and cut into her social time with her friends.) At the end of the six weeks, I sat her down and asked her if she had learned anything. She said she did and thanked me for making her go. She said it opened her eyes to things she did not know or understand before. I believe hearing the information from someone else, seeing the videos, and listening to a speaker (who has a tracheotomy due to throat cancer) really made an impression on her. We have not had any problems since and I honestly believe she has quit.
What I'd do is take your son to help cancer patients who smoked and show him the long-term health effects of smoking. I'd try just talking to him, without arguing, and in a public place so he can't walk away from you.
I would make your kids volunteer somewhere that requires them to see the effects of smoking. I grew up with a smoker and she is living with me now, so fortunately my kids see how it is for non-smokers to be around smokers and what it does to your life, your car, your clothes, and your belongings. Even though she is not allowed to smoke in the house, her belongings and room reek, and they get to see and smell it.
I would be showing them what smoking is doing to their body. See if you can find an organization that may have samples of a smoker's lung and a healthy lung. Maybe enlist an elderly person at a retirement home to discuss the ailments they face due to smoking. I think with teens, just talking isn't enough for most of them. I think they need reality in their faces. I saw my grandfather get one of those voice box things due to cancer from smoking. That is scary to see someone go through. I never touched a cigarette.
I didn't say anything to my son; I just left a note in the box of cigarettes to let him know I found them. His dad and I continuously tell him not to smoke and how bad it is for him.
Just Say No -- and Talk About the Cost
We caught my stepson smoking and made him throw the cigarettes away. I told him as long as he lived under our roof and is under 18, it is not allowed. When he turns 18 and is NOT living under my roof, he can do whatever he wants.
Your son should be paying all his own bills and that way he has less money for things like cigarettes. The harder he has to work and the more he has to pay for his ride and phone and whatever else, then he will have to make up his mind.
Since he can afford buying cigarettes, now he is responsible for his cell phone bill and his car insurance. Until he gets his life on track, there will be no more money from us. He works about 30 hours a week and will need to pay for those things.
Older Teens Make Their Own Choices
My daughter told us she started smoking when she was 16, almost 17. At that point we didn't feel there was much we could do about it. She would do it regardless of any punishment we put on her. And soon she would be legal to smoke them, although not to buy them. Weird, I know! But that's how our great laws go. We just don't allow it in the house and we're not buying them. She has a job for that.
If you can catch it in the early stages then punishment and consequences might work, but after teens are hooked, they are no different than an adult with a bad habit. It is an addiction that must be dealt with as such, and typically the only way teens or adults can quit is when they have made the decision to do it on their own.
Sorry, as much as you want to, you just can't make decisions for your son. He will stop smoking only if he chooses.
My son knows the risks, the downsides, and my feelings about his smoking, but I also know that the choice to stop has to be his.