Hand crushing cigarettes over white background

Hand crushing cigarettes over white background

This might be an odd parenting tip but I want to speak about smoking. It is a parenting issue because most smokers start as children, and half of those who do will die from it. Around the world about 100,000 children will have their first cigarette today, and about 60,000 others will transition from occasional smokers to every day smokers. That’s children doing something that will kill most of them that do it.

Mum and Dad and all my siblings were smokers, and my parents and three brothers are now dead and I am sure nicotine robbed them of many years. I remember when I was fifteen rolling a cigarette in front my mother, and lighting it. My dear Mum said, “Don’t do that,” walked across and took it from me, and smoked it herself. I am very reluctant to say anything negative about my late dear mum who did so much right but I’d have to say that her message was right but the example did make it a pretty ineffective antismoking measure.

First tip – it is so hard to give a message to our kids about anything if we don’t consistently model the message. Not impossible but much harder. I am so reluctant to load guilt on you because I was a smoker myself for many years and I know how hard it is.  I tried and tried to quit – nearly half of all smokers try to quit every year – and I had plenty of guilt and knowledge but what finally did it was love: standing next to my Dad’s bed as he was dying from cancer I decided to quit out of love, to honour him, and I haven’t had a single puff for 30 years.

Whether you are a smoker or not, could I urge you to add lots and lots of love to every rule you make about smoking for your kids, to every message you give them about nicotine. “Kids, I love you far too much to let you do this. When you harm yourself, you harm me!” It takes years for health warnings to soak into their growing brain, but a parent’s love bypasses the brain and goes straight to their heart.


By John Cowan, The Parenting Place

Improving and equipping families to thrive.

Read more from John and The Parenting place here.