Dear Mr. Dad: I just found out that my 14-year-old is smoking. I was stunned. She accused me of “freaking out about nothing” and says she “can quit any time.” Then the big one: “Everybody is doing it.” Is it just a phase, or should I be concerned?
A: Be concerned. Be very concerned. While experimentation and line-crossing are a completely normal part of adolescence, smoking is a serious health issue that you can’t ignore. Let’s take a look at your daughter’s claims one at a time:
First of all, you are not “freaking out about nothing.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, smoking kills over 430,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. That hardly falls into the “nothing” category.