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protectmyfuture
protectmyfu... asks:
Q:

How should I punish my child for catching him with cigarettes?

my child,is my 16 year old brother who i have had custody of since he was 12. he is in the honor society. 3.5 gpa doesnt party plays sports is well known in his small school. we live in a big city. I recently opened his front pocket on his bookbag and found a pack of cigarettes half gone. he admitted to trying to smoke and gave out the rest. I believe his curiousity, but i am afraid of what is next. he has a class trip to six flags theme park for his junior class tripcoming up . Should i not let him go for punishment my wife thinks we should or my idea of making him do a research paper around 2000 words about addiction and teens and first timers who didnt live to try again. history in my family. I am the oldest of 6 never have done drugs or smoked drink socially. 2 younger brothers over 21 have substance problems and i am afraid of an addictive nature in my family. father was an abusive,to my mother, alcoholic.he is out of the picture completely.any advice would be appreciated. THANKS
In Topics: Teen alcohol and substance abuse, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
May 27, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

First of all, you should be commended for helping to raise your brother into a successful teenager.  The fact that you are taking his cigarette smoking seriously also shows your level of commitment to raising him to be a responsible, healthy young man.  
In addition to the paper that you are thinking of having him write, it will also be important for him to build up some trust with you and your wife again. Be open with him about your feelings of mistrust and prepare him that as a result of his behavior you will now  need to check his activities out more carefully.  If he goes out with friends, check him for the smell of cigarette smoke when he gets home.  You can also occasionally have him show you the contents of his book bag, jacket, etc. on request.  Let him know how important to be able to trust him in order to feel comfortable continuing to let him do things with his friends in the future.  
Letting him go on his trip can show him that you care about him and are willing to give him another chance, and having him do the paper will provide him a consequence and educate him at the same time.
You are definitely on the right track, keep your lines of communication with him open and honest.  While there are things that might be more serious that smoking, it is important for him to follow your rules and understand your expectations!  
Best wishes,
Boys Town National Hotline
an Education.com partner
1-800-448-3000

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Additional Answers (7)

KidAngel
KidAngel writes:
Hi!
I don't know too many 16 years old that have not tried cigarettes. Its part of the "right of passage" for most teens. He seems like a very together young man. I would be proud of all that he is accomplishing. The smoking is such an "everyone does it" thing. Peer pressure and all. I would allow him to go to Six Flagg provided that he agreed to write the research paper on "addiction and teens". Because he is very academically inclined he would get allot more out of the research paper than he would be held back from going to his class trip. Plus he deserves the class trip for all the work he has put in his studies to make the honor roll. He is a bright young man trust that he is smart enough to understand that cigarettes, kill! That's a fact that he will read over and over again as he researches the addition. Do not let the knowing that there is an addiction history in your family label him. Thank you for being so invested in your brother/child. You and your wife are his earth angels and he knows it.
This too will pass!

Barbara Antinoro
Educational Counselor
Kid Angel Foundation

> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hi,

I think as parents we all live in fear of our kids engaging in behavior we know can (or will) be harmful.  And it must be especially scary for you considering your family's history of addiction.  I understand why you and your wife are considering severe punishments and I know you're just trying to give him a "wake up call" and keep him from continuing this behavior (smoking) or going further down the path of substance abuse.

But I think if you take away the trip, you'll push him away from you when really, what you want at this stage in his life, is to get closer to him.  He sounds like a really together kid and he owned up to the cigarettes being his and to having tried them.  Even if that's not the "whole truth" (i.e. if he smoked more of them himself than he said he did), it's still a lot more of the truth than many kids would have given.  

I think a great start here would be a serious heart to heart talk.  If you haven't already, maybe it's time to share some of your family's history and to tell him why you're taking this pack of cigarettes so seriously.   Talk to him about some of the terrible consequences the family experienced as a result of drugs and alcohol.  Explain that addiction really does "run in families" and that he's at much higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol than someone who doesn't have addiction in their family - that other kids may be able to try drugs, or even use regularly for a while without losing control, but that he probably can't.  Let him know why you don't smoke or drink and maybe share any negative experiences you had if you did those things in the past.  Make sure he knows that he's not being "blamed" for the actions of his elders, just that he has an opportunity to learn from their troubles and mistakes.

That's where I think your research paper comes in (GREAT idea!).  But maybe instead of sending him off to do it on his own, you could sit together to do the research.  Believe it or not, Phillip Morris has a wonderful resource center (http://www2.philipmorrisusa.com/en/prc/activities/activities.asp) to help parents and kids learn more about the harmful effects of smoking.   Make sure he understands that nicotine is a drug - that it affects the brain and is addictive - just like harder drugs.   It's especially important that he understands the negative impacts smoking can have on his body NOW as teens are prone to not thinking about, or caring about, life when they're "Old" (like in their 30s!).  The threat of permanent bad breath today can be more frightening to a teen than the threat of lung cancer tomorrow.  While your conversations should be broad and cover all substances, this project should probably focus just on smoking since, as far as you know, he hasn't tried other substances.

You also want to come out of that research process with some tools he can use to avoid peer pressure.  Even at 16 it can still be pretty intense.

And maybe rather than a "research paper", maybe you could have him write a letter to himself as his "punishment".  Ask him to write a few pages to himself about what he loves about his life, what he wants to accomplish in it, and how cigarettes could take away his ability to achieve those goals.  You probably shouldn't make him show it to you but he may want to.

You should be really proud of the kid he is now - it has a lot, maybe everything, to do with you and your wife.

Good luck and please let us know how you're all doing.

Kat
Education.com Community Team
> 60 days ago

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dad of two
dad of two , Parent writes:
Give him the benefit of the doubt this time.Idont know of anyone that started smoking cigrettes and opened up a door to more serisous drugs.Ask him what he nows about the long term effects of smokeing.Let him no the door is open.Dont slam it in his face over smokes this way if some other drug pops up he will be more apt to talk to you before it goes to far.
> 60 days ago

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New'New
New'New , Student writes:
I can see how hard it might be, what my mom does with me is she thinks of what she has done when she was 16, and compares it even though times are different. Just think of it! Talk to him about it let him know how disgusting it is... if he still does not give and keeps going, maybe find a hobby that he and you could do TOGETHER me and my mom start watching movies and hanging with each other. If he is in to sports let him know that smoking can make the heart weaken, and will not allow lots of energy to go through the body. If you take the trip to Six Flags away, it would only make things worse. Talk to him... he did say he just tried it, that is what teenagers do. Talk to him guide him to the right place. They listen you just have, to listen to them as well. I see he is a good kid, try to find that again! (I know I'm just 14 but, I know a lot for my age.)
> 60 days ago

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Vamp_girl6
Vamp_girl6 , Student writes:
Well, maybe he's not smoking; maybe he is giving them away instead. You could try talking to him or some of his friends to find out which one it is. Maybe it's stress or life situations... that's how it is with me...and I'm 16 as well as him. My mom told me that if she ever catches me smoking that she was going to make me smoke an entire carton by myself back to back nonstopping. She thinks that that will make me quit, but I think that it will make me even more addicted to smoking, but I don't know because she hasn't caught me yet.


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> 60 days ago

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JohnAppleseed123
JohnApplese... writes:
Oh God... I remember when i caught my son smoking. My 12 year old son Ryan and I were having an airsoft war like we usually do on Sundays. I thought i could smell cigarette smoke, yet i smoked earlier that day and it was nowhere near where we were in the field. Then, a little bit away, i could faintly see the "cherry" (the ember on the end of a lit cigarette). I happened to have the sniper rifle type airsoft gun and, seeing as i hunt atleast once a month, decided to take a shot at the cigarette. I moved up maybe so i was about 15-20 yds. away. BAM!!! Shot the damn thing right out his mouth. (Oh and by the way, my son, who was smoking, is 15.) scared the living hell outta Bryan (his name). I sat down with him and we talked about him smoking. Thank God he wasnt addicted. After having a DISCUSSION, not a lecture, i told him jokingly but firmly enough so it would be hard for him to completely tell if i was actually serious or not, that if i saw him smoking again i would aim for the filter instead of just the cherry. (And to all the people who are thinking- oh my God, he's shooting his kids with airsoft guns! I go down to the range once a week, have been trained by a Navy SEAL sniper (my cousin), and besides- we have airsoft wars all the time and the guns are the low FPS kind and shoot the soft plastic BBs not the metal kind). Well, hope this entertained ya'll, but seriously- DONT GET MAD. Well get mad but dont let your emotions take control of you. Have a DISCUSSION, not a sermon. God bless you all and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
> 60 days ago

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LILDGK
LILDGK writes:
keep an eye on him check his stuff evryay dont let nun get past yhu his bizniz is ur biz niz 2 ; - ) welcome
> 60 days ago

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