My dad was the type of parent who wanted me to experience life and make my decisions about what was right and wrong.
As a child, I observed my mother smoking cigarettes on a daily basis. The media advertised smoking as the “cool thing to do.” Heck, they even had Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man looking “cool” as they smoked their cigs! As a child in the 80’s and 90’s, these cigarette advertisers found their audience–kids and teens like yours truly!
I was easily influenced and wanted to be seen as “cool,” so when I saw those ads, watched movies with smoking in them and had a parent who did it daily, it was no surprise I’d experiment at some point!
Now let’s fast forward to when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I lived with my father, two younger brothers, and our grandmother. At the time, my grandma was in her 90’s. We lived in an old farmhouse out in the country in Oregon. On the property was an old schoolhouse from the good ‘ol days when kids were attending school in one large building. I’m talking Little House on The Prairie days! Needless to say, as a teenager, I hated living out there and often felt bored and secluded from everyone.
What does a teenager who listens to Green Day, Salt-N-Pepa, and TuPac do when she’s bored and lives out in the country? Well, for me I would sometimes go down to the creek (across the street–Calapooia Creek) or down by the covered bridge (The Rochester Bridge) and smoke cigarettes! I know. Super rebellious, right!?
Apparently one day, after I rode my bike home up the gravel hill driveway and went on with my day, something happened to my cigarettes that I was not aware of.
My dad came home later on and said, “Kim! Come here!”
I could tell his voice was serious about something, which was unusual for my very laid-back, easy going, dad. I went to him and probably said something like,
“What’s up?” (Remember I thought I was super cool).
My dad went on to give me a bit of a spiel about smoking. He said something along the lines of, “Sis, I found these in the driveway. You know cigarettes aren’t good for your health. As an athlete, I would think you wouldn’t want to smoke since that will make it more difficult to breathe on the soccer field or basketball court. But it’s your health and your body, so if you’re gonna smoke… Just don’t do it anywhere where your brothers or grandma will see you.”
Then he handed me back my pack of cigarettes. He gave them back to me! I remember thinking, “That’s it!? I’m not grounded. He didn’t take them from me?” I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
What I learned from this lesson was my dad was the type of parent who wanted me to experience life and make my decisions about what was right and wrong.
Was this the best way to respond as a parent? I don’t know. I’m not sure I’d have the response now that I’m a parent. However, it did show me that my father was a very observant man. He probably knew that if he kept them from me and told me to never smoke again, I’d just rebel and ignore his wishes. I was stubborn like that!
Is there anything as a child your parent reacted to that surprised you? Or as a parent have you responded to anything your child(ren) have done in a manner in which is very different than the norm? If so, please comment below. I’d love to hear what story you have and the message or lesson you got from it.
Photo: Flickr/ Ed Yourdon