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Drugs and Alcohol:
“I just found out that my mom smokes!”

Dear Annie,

My mother smokes and she hasn't told me. I found out and it hurts that she didn't trust me enough to tell me. I am 12, and have no desire to smoke or anything like that, but for some reason she doesn't trust me. She doesn't know I know, but I want to tell her I do. What should I do?

Freakin' Out

Dear Freakin' Out,

Did your mom just start smoking? Or is this an old habit that she's picking up again? Maybe you don't know the answer to that. Either way, it may be that she's smoking now because she's under a lot of stress and she doesn't know healthier ways to deal with it.

You should definitely talk with her about this because clearly it's bothering you. But before you have this conversation, you need to know exactly how you feel about it.

You say that it "hurts" that she didn't trust you enough to tell you. I understand that. But maybe the fact that she's hiding her nicotine habit has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with her concern that you might model her unhealthy choice and become a smoker yourself. She must know that smoking isn't good for her health, and I'm sure she'd never want you to smoke.

You say you have "no desire" to do that, and I'm really pleased to hear you say that because it shows that you have respect for your body and your health. But the truth is that if you've got a parent who smokes, you are more likely to become a smoker.

My suggestion is that you educate yourself about cigarette smoking. That includes the very real dangers of second hand smoke that comes from living with a smoker.

After you've gotten clear about your feelings and why smoking is such a bad habit, then talk to your mom about her smoking. Often, when kids say that they're worried about their parent's health that wakes up the parent and motivates her to change her behavior. I hope that happens with your mom.

In friendship,

Annie

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