Home Skillet Advice Column

Today marks the third posting on my new advice column. What you need to do is read the problem and then offer your thoughts.


Mary and Jeff had three children. Their ages were 7,9 and 12. Both parents thought they had a hassle-free family. They were all loved in the community. They attended church regularly on Sunday mornings. The kids got good grades in school.

In fact, Jeff was a school teacher at the two younger kids school. He thought this was so cool that his kids waved to him in the hall and asked dad if he could go on school trips with them.

Mary was home one evening and was doing laundry. She was sorting clothes into different piles and checking pockets for anything that shouldn’t be washed. When she came to the 12 year old’s pockets, she pulled out a beaten up pack of cigarettes.

Her mouth gaped. Totally astounded, she put them in her pants pocket, and after starting a load of clothes she took the pack and showed it to Jeff. He didn’t know what to think. He said nothing for a moment.

Then out of his mouth the words came. ” I don’t think we should make a big deal of this Mary. What would people think if they knew one of our kids was smoking? Let’s just keep quiet and watch and see if we notice any more cigarettes.”

Mary said, ” Absolutely not. We need to nip this in the bud right now. We need to teach our children that smoking is bad for their health. Let’s call our 12 year-old in here right now and get to the bottom of it.”

Friends, what do you think?


11 thoughts on “Home Skillet Advice Column

  1. Well I would not make a huge thing out of it but talk to the kid in private and tell him about the dangers and show pictures what could happen in years to come. Health is most precious. Also talk about peer pressure and that it is ok to say no.


  2. Possible Detection of Estrangement or Unsuccessful Parenting Behaviour or anything else too:
    – The 12-year-old is in another school. What does that boy feel, when Jeff goes to school trips with his other two? Is there emotion of jealousy in the 12-year-old? If, it is, then how frequent does Jeff spend quality time with him?

    – As the boy has moved from pre-adolescent period towards the initial stage of adolescence, the boy could be affected by observing cultural mores around him. In this latency period, school environment and peer-group have an upper hand, also the ego-centric behaviour has to be considered over here.

    – Jeff has a tendency to worry more about ”what others would think” and that may create further problems in understanding the boy. Yet, he is ready to wait for further signs. That could be a positive note.

    – Mary is more tensed, and in a way, she could create an uproar in the boy, by chiding him for this habit of his. It is not clear yet that the boy is using cigarettes. There is no concrete evidence. However, mother too wants to see the root cause–a problem through which the boy might have picked up the habit and something more on top of that.

    – They both have positive and negative points, yet a balance needed for openness can be seen.

    – It is possible that the beaten-up pack could mean that he has bought it from one of his friend for the sake of seeking attention from his schoolmates. They do feel cool about it. So, parents must wait for another such event, when the boy comes back with another pack of cigarette. Whatever the possible event brings, either cigarette pack or no, his parents must consciously aware themselves about issues that school-children face at this age. They must keep an open channel of communication. It must be handled well, as too much care could possible ignite a rather different behaviour. However, they must first create a free zone for communication.

    – Before even doing any act of change, relationship between the parents and the boy must be strengthened. There should be solidarity in sharing openly with the young boy, as well as taking his thoughts into consideration. This would create an active process of sharing and observing different perspectives. Parents would know about school tantrums and adolescent behaviour. While being open to receive his thoughts, parents could rejoice and learn more about his dreamy years. This child-centred approach can provide a better means to educate themselves as well as regulate and understand feelings of the boy. It is firm regulation and not over-bearing attitude towards the boy. Parents must also learn about different types of parenting styles, so as to not fall into an abyss of disconnected moments in their family.

    – The socio-cultural lifestyle of parents can also provide a picture of different attitudes and behaviours that come along with each person that they share an habitual and once in a while, encounter.


    • I really like your point of view. I feel as if the father is much more interested in himself and how he looks to his peers. The mother is way overboard. You make a valid point. Why accuse when the truth is unknown. A family that has love and sharing and openness from the beginning would have handled this situation in a much different way. Thank you very much for commenting. I love it. There will be another Home Skillet post on Friday


    • I think the father is more interested in how people see him, even when it involves his own children, don’t you? I would definitely take the child aside and have a private talk teaching him all the negative in smoking, but in the end once he is 18, I guess we would have to hope he makes the choice we would wish for him, Great comment Dennis, thanks!


  3. Both parents need to confront their son together. They need to speak reasonably with him, and if he will talk, they need to find out when he started smoking (if he is indeed smoking) and how he’s paying for the cigarettes. They’re expensive. They need to reassure him of their unconditional love for him.

    And then they need to lower the boom. He will be closely watched. They will check his breath and his hair. He is only twelve. He will not be allowed unsuperivised activity late into the night. He will bring his friends home and introduce them to his parents. His clothing and his bedroom are open to being searched, in his presence.

    I told my own sons once that I love them too much to let them turn into criminals, and I would do whatever I needed to do to make sure they followed the house rules while they lived in our house.

    If there are underlying issues of anger on the boy’s part, he should be encouraged to (respectfully) talk about those issues. But he is the child, not the parent. He doesn’t get to make the rules.

    I have had too many teens in my office telling me in one way or the other that they wished their parents cared enough about them to make rules for them, and to enforce those rules. It’s our job as parents to protect our kids. Whatever that takes.

    Oh, and by the way? If he does actually get caught with cigarette breath or the stink in his hair or clothing, I like what one parent did. He had the boy smoke as many cigarettes as he wanted, one right after the other, until the kid turned green and vomited everything in his stomach.

    He never wanted to smoke again. I know, because the kid told me the story when he was in his 50’s.


    • Love your comment . I have heard of parents making the kid smoke until they were sick. Talking to the kid together is good. I disagree with the mom as there is no proof as of yet my parents kept close tabs on us kids. I am a better person for this . Kids need love and rules and a good set of listening parents . Thanks for an awesome comment

      Liked by 1 person

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