Tuesday, July 17, 2007


My 15 yr. old son quit smoking. I know what some are thinking after reading this: he should never have started in the first place. This is true, and I make no excuses for him. I don't smoke and I had drummed into him the dangers of smoking since he and his brother were little. I would point to celebrities and family members whose health declined from the ravages of smoking. Despite all my best efforts, he had his first cigarette when he was thirteen. I was devastated when I found out, but I was also frustrated at his lack of sense and embarrassed at what I perceived as my own failure as a parent.

My son had a few frustrations of his own. He hated wasting his allowance on cigarettes, and he hated the time it wasted when he had to leave the house to have a smoke. He wanted to quit, but he knew how bad he felt "between cigarettes" and was a bit frightened to experience that torture magnified. He mentioned that he might try to quit after school let out for the summer. I crossed my fingers, but didn't say anything more than "You can do it." Two days after summer vacation began, he came to me and said that he hadn't had a cigarette in two days. I hadn't realized that his desire to quit had hardened into a resolve.

It hasn't been easy for him. Like most smokers, he had a routine which he has had to forgo. There have been days that have truly been awful - he says that the cravings can come out of nowhere. When we went on vacation, he felt a terrible pressure and gave in to "just one cigarette." Luckily it made him feel, in his words, "stupid and not worth it," so he has gone another two weeks without another one. I am really very proud of him.

I have learned a few things myself. I feel that I cannot take credit for his strength and determination, so I shouldn't feel guilty about his smoking either. Both starting and quitting were entirely up to him. Also, I have learned that the addiction to nicotine cannot be taken lightly. As a never-smoker, I did not realize how hard it is to quit. Realizing that, I feel even prouder of my son for quitting on his own.

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