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Newsflash:
Saturday, 01 January 2000

Q & A: Smoking Son

Written by  Toby Klein Greenwald

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QI have a 15-year-old son who smokes. Not much but it's only the start. We don't know how to make him understand the situation. His two grandfathers and one grandmother died from heavy smoking and he knows it. We (parents) were also smokers in the past but not now and he doesn't get it. Please help us.

- Marcia

AI hope some of these ideas will help you.
It is not easy to explain the concept of mortality to a teenager. Remember that song from the TV series, "Fame"? There was a line in the song, "I'm gonna live forever." I think that's the way most teenagers look at life.

You say that his two grandfathers and one grandmother died from heavy smoking and "he knows it." He may know it, but did he see them in the last stages of their lives?

I have a suggestion that is somewhat drastic but it may work. Find out through a friend who is a nurse or doctor if it is possible for you to get him a volunteer job a few hours a week in a terminal cancer ward, preferably lung cancer. You can also include an ICU or CCU, i.e., a ward with serious heart patients. Offer him some kind of reward in return, something that will be meaningful to him. One month in a ward like that might do the trick.

Alternatively, find some literature that shows graphically or that describes in text what happens to a person's lungs when he smokes.

Look also for other parents who are willing to be part of a support group to help their kids stop smoking. You can also speak to his guidance counselor at school. They may have already dealt with this problem. And who knows -- there may be other kids out there who want to stop and don't know how. Why not a support group for kids?

Lastly, but perhaps what you should do first, send your son to Wyatt in our Teen Center. He has an article there called "Wyatt on Smoking." Wyatt speaks your son's language.

Let me know if any of this works.

Good luck,
WholeMom

Last modified on Sunday, 30 October 2011 16:59
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Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.

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