Yes, tobacco is a big, bad habit that yellows teeth and sours breath, and yes, smoking around kids not only exposes them to secondhand smoke but also sets a bad example. However, you can stop glaring at every mom with a pack in her purse like she is single-handedly ruining the nation.
Not all moms who smoke are worthy of the hostile looks and harsh attitudes they receive. In fact, most smoking moms are more than capable of keeping their little habit well away from their kids. Instead of villainizing cigarette-loving moms, we should learn more about their situations. Still, it is worthwhile to devote some effort toward protecting little ones from tobacco, which may entail helping smoking moms quit.
Protecting the Next Generation
A smoking mom isn’t inherently a bad mom, but it is difficult to hide such a major habit from curious little ones. Most moms are plagued by fear that their kids will discover their secret ― perhaps by recognizing the omnipresent odor or finding a pack of cigarettes in a purse ― and consequently begin to associate smoking with adulthood. Thus, closeted moms who smoke are often lying and scheming against their children in attempts to sneak away for another cigarette.
It is always best to be honest with children, especially when it comes to bad habits. Moms should feel confident explaining their dependency on cigarettes, highlighting the dangers associated with tobacco. Ideally, this will inform kids that smoking is risky, dissuading them from copying their mothers’ habits. Though every mom wants to be a good role model for her children, a smoking mom must accept that her children should see her habit as a major flaw.
Meanwhile, it is crucial to strictly segregate children and cigarette smoke. Moms should never smoke in places shared with little ones, to include the car and the home as well as outdoor spaces nearby children. Lighting up outside, far from entryways, is best, but moms should remember that no amount of secondhand smoke is safe.
How to Help Moms Drop the Habit
Surprisingly, children are perhaps the most powerful tools to help moms get away from tobacco. Little ones who know about their mothers’ habits should be encouraged to speak truthfully with their parents about their fears and doubts. Though all moms have heard the research and statistics before, learning about their kids’ stress due to smoking is usually enough to start moms on the path to ending their association with cigarettes. Conversely, if that doesn’t work, most moms will experience such trauma seeing their little ones play-act smoking that they will toss out their cigarettes the very next day.
Still, getting away from smoking isn’t easy. In the beginning, many moms may need to seek a community of quitters who can provide hope for a smoke-free life. Some may be able to get away from the tobacco, but still need a nicotine fix. Those mothers should look into alternatives that still provide them with nicotine, like patches or e-cigarettes, but lets them worry less about harming their children with secondhand smoke.
Often, attempts to convince a mom to quit are ineffective if they come from outside the family. Though fellow parents may only mean well by disapproving of smoking moms, the manner in which they demonstrate their feelings can be hurtful toward quitting efforts in the long run.
Why Moms Still Smoke
Like any smokers, moms retain their habit for varied reasons. To many moms, cigarettes still feel glamorous and indulgent, and unfortunately, most moms usually feel drab and dull. Plus, cigarettes tend to feel like personal treats, and moms who feel unappreciated can reward themselves with a smoke break to feel content. Perhaps most importantly, nicotine provides the sensation of stress relief, which every parent needs now and then. Studies show that the psychological addiction to nicotine is dramatically stronger than the physical addiction, which is why most moms feel such an emotional pull toward their habit.
Nearly all smoking moms have horror stories of the terror they feel when someone new discovers their affinity for tobacco. Unfortunately, these anxiety-inducing emotions only cause moms to cleave closer to cigarettes, as the nicotine soothes their nerves after stressful situations. Instead of casting shame upon smoking mothers, you should strive to learn more about their experiences and help them however they need.