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I feel so bad. My eleven year old daughter is starting to smoke and I don’t know what to do. I don’t even feel I can tell her not to. After all, I started smoking when I was eleven and I can’t stop smoking. So, how can I tell her not to smoke? I would feel like such a hypocrite if I tried."

I’m a smoker too and yet, I was appalled when I heard a close friend of mine say these words. Friend,I know how hard it is to quit. I’ve been to the classes, used the patches, chewed the gum, been hypnotized and suffered the shame of feeling like a person of weak character when all my self-control proved useless in kicking the habit. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will always be a smoker but that I am a good person anyhow.

But, like you I am still a mother and I still have the responsibility of setting the standards for my child. I’ll tell you what you can do. Tell her not to smoke! Insist that you forbid her to do it and that if she does she will be directly disobeying you. Tell her that you will not tolerate it and that if she does there will be consequences. And, stick to it. You are still the mother no matter what your faults are. Tell your child that you love her and don’t want her to suffer as you have. Tell her that you want her to have a better, cleaner, healthier life than you have had. Explain to her what you missed out on socially and economically by smoking. Tell her about your fears of a painful lingering death from cancer. Admit that it is too late for you but that you want your grandchildren to breath clean air. Point out that in our country parents have always hoped to see their children have a better life than they had and that you do too. Ask your child to be the person who breaks the cycle and becomes, perhaps, the first non-smoker in the history of your family.

Above all be a parent. Set the rules for children in your home.

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