by Joy Robyn Dembo, married, with an 18 year old son and a 25 year old daughter.  Addicted to the www, particularly Twitter. Recruitment Response Handling Consultant and Freelance Copywriter, vegetarian and animal lover.  Here’s her blog.

For about a year I suspected that my son smoked. His clothes often smelled of smoke and I found cigarettes and lighters in his pockets, from time to time.

But, when I asked him about it, he always replied that he had been with people who were smoking and/or one of his friends had asked him to hang on to his cigarettes and he had forgotten to give them back.  For a while I believed him, but those nagging suspicions kept returning.

To be honest, I would rather he didn’t smoke as he is damaging his lungs, but he is 18 and, I feel I cannot forbid him from smoking at this age.  So, the real issue was whether he was lying to me, not whether he was smoking.  But, since it wasn’t high priority I didn’t devote too much time to worrying about it.

Anyway, about 2 months ago, I found a packet of cigarettes and a lighter in his bag when he came home from one of his chef practical shifts.  I was looking for his apron, when I cam across the pack.  Now I knew for certain that he smoked.  So, I challenged him, and realising he had really been caught red handed, he confessed.

My hubby made a bit of an issue of it, but I just reminded him that he was screwing up his health and left it at that.

I think he was relieved that it was out in the open and that he could smoke in the garden at home, when he felt like it.

He isn’t a heavy smoker, but as anyone who has smoked knows, when the craving hits, you can climb the walls if you don’t have any cigs.  So, when he had to use his last R100-00 to retrieve his cell phone after it was confiscated by a teacher, when it rang in class, he was very agitated because he had no money for cigarettes.

Seeing how uptight he was, and understanding how he felt since I was a smoker myself many, many years ago, I was faced with a terrible dilemma.  Do I buy him a pack, and feel guilty because I am aiding and abetting him in destroying his lungs or do I let him suffer and feel guilty because he is suffering?  A no win situation, indeed!

Eventually, I bought him a pack of 10, but didn’t give them to him right away. I was waiting to see how he reacted when I fetched him from college.  Not having smokes for about 48 hours was taking its toll on him, and he begged me to lend him some money to buy cigarettes.  After trying to talk him out of smoking all the way home, I eventually gave in and gave him the pack.  His eyes lit up and he hugged me and thanked me repeatedly.

Did I do the right thing?  I would be interested to hear what other moms and dads think.

6 Responses to “My son smokes!”

  • Arthie Moore says:

    Hi Joy,

    Thank you for opening up and sharing so honestly, a story which obviously impacted you deeply enough to write about it.

    My thoughts are simply this. You love your family and especially their well being and their health.

    What seems to have hurt you the most, is that your son did not confide in you and lied to you about the cigarettes. It is difficult when you feel as if you have lost some control or say in your childrens lives, but there is a time to let go. Understanding, caring and loving him through this process is what will get both of you through. At this stage, he is considering the pressures of adulthood, lifestyle etc and wanting to fit in. His respect for you is what prevented him from openly confiding in you.

    Let it be, as all things come to pass, with guidance, understanding and love. Love him for him and understand that the smoking is an action that you do not really approve of. Talk to him about how you feel and then Listen to his side of how cigarettes help him cope.

    You never know..he might feel less stressed and slowly let go of it all together.

    As for buying him the cigarettes…you were not encouraging a habit…rather understanding where he was at in terms of frustration. The mum in you, felt for him and you did what you felt was right. So don’t let anyone judge you or tell you otherwise.

    You are the parent..he is your child…You connected and showed your caring in a way that he needed. Now listen to him and find out how you can make the journey he is embarking on easier…so that he does not have to depend on a stimulus to reduce his stress..

    until the next time…take care and have fun!

    Arthie Moore

    • Joy says:

      Hi Arthie! Good to hear from u hon! It’s been a while.

      thank u for your wisdom & caring. I really appreciate your comments.

      Hope all is well with u & your family.

      Take Care

      J

  • lisa says:

    Hi really don’t think u should have given him any cigs. In that way he would understand smoking comes with 2 costs finance & death!!!!!!

  • Dawn says:

    My hubby has smoked since the age of 12, and has been trying to quit smoking since the age of 25 (he’s now 35). When he has the sif phlegmmy lungs and regrets it he’ll know that you’re right.

  • Angel says:

    I’m faced with that dilemma over and over again.
    My son smokes too. If I buy him some, I’m an enabler. If I don’t, he drives everyone around him insane with frustration.

  • Tania says:

    Hi Joy,

    Thanks for sharing. @ Arthie, thanks for your very calm response. I got all flustered just thinking about ‘what if it were me’. I agree mostly with Arthie’s response. However, (being a recovered smoker myself) I would not have bought him the ciggies. I’ve been very open with my son regarding smoking and the dangers thereof. I quit when he was 5/6 years old, after he asked me to. I am sure that your son is well aware of the dangers of smoking. With your support and love (and if he wants to) he can quit. Tough love usually reaps the greatest rewards.

    Warm regards, Tans

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