I have an 18 year old daughter who will be going off to college in the fall in another state. She is bright and talented, and I know that she will succeed. There is one problem. Recently, I discovered that my daughter had begun smoking cigarettes. I’ve tried to confront her but we get into a screaming match and nothing is accomplished. How do I address my concerns when she is so close to complete independence?
Smoking is for Quitters
As an 18 year old woman, your daughter has the right to make decisions about her own body and health. That does not mean that you have to accept these choices, and you are well within your rights to express concern. While your daughter is a woman, she is also still a very young one, and yelling at her for her habit will only push her away and cause her to rebel. The next time you want to talk to your daughter, begin by asking for her audience to talk about an important issue. Do not yell, but explain to her that you love her and want her to live a healthy life. Rather then rehashing the commonly known dangers of smoking, tell her about the lesser known aspects, like premature aging and complications smoking can create with birth control. Also remind her that it may be difficult to sit though her longer classes, and that she may miss material while taking a smoke break.
Then, set down some rules. Explain that you will not tolerate her smoking in your home, your car, or around your family. Tell her that if she leaves any cigarettes out in the open (the kitchen table), that you will throw them away (putting dish soap on them for good measure). Do not give her money for cigarettes. This sends the message that she is an adult responsible for her own actions, and that you won’t put up with her habit. Remind her in an adult manner of your disapproval regularly, and offer support if/when she decides to quit.