“My daughter has started smoking and I am really worried” the mother was distraught
“What is making you upset about that?”
“How can a girl smoke and admit to it?”
“What is the reason you think smoking is wrong? Are you worried about her health?”
“Health is one thing but if any of my folks come to know about it, what will they think of her?”
“You are not worried so much about her health but think it is some kind of a reflection on her character?”’
“That is correct”
“Does anyone else in your house smoke? Your husband, your son?”
“My husband does not smoke and I don’t know about my son.”
“Would you be equally concerned about it if you knew your son is smoking?”
“I would not like it but wouldn’t be concerned about it so much” she admitted honestly.
“Are you worried that her smoking will be viewed as a reflection on your parenting?”
“Wouldn’t it be? My folks will say I did not parent her well.”
“Children often do things that their parents did not teach them. They absorb a lot from their peers. Don’t you think so?”
“That is true. The kind of language she uses, the dresses she wears, we don’t do any of that”
“So as a parent you are not the only one who has an influence on her”
“From the looks of it, I don’t seem to have any influence on her at all”
“You mentioned that you were concerned about smoking, reflecting on her character. What do you mean by that.”
“I don’t really know how to put it across but doesn’t the world believe that if a person smokes it is a reflection of their character”
Is smoking and drinking alcohol a reflection of someone’s character? Are people morally depraved if they indulge in these habits?
Don’t we know of people who indulge in these habits who are wonderful human beings? Don’t we know of caring fathers, mothers, brothers, husbands, sisters who are addicted to this? Smoking and drinking have not made them into lesser human beings in any way.
It is 2021. We cannot still be in the moral rigidity of the earlier century. Smoking and drinking are habits that can become addictions. Yes, it can be bad for health in the long run. That should be our only concern when we find someone indulging in the habit. It is not a reflection on someone’s character and morality irrespective of the gender of the person. Think of all the things we do that our parents did not do. Our parents are not the only influence in our lives. So if you find the younger generation indulging in harmful habits, it is okay to advise them on the harmful nature of the habit and caution them about the possibility of addiction. You can even talk to them about doing these things responsibly (Not doing them at home, in front of seniors/children, not drink and drive, setting a limit etc.). But parents should neither think of it as an indication of their children’s character nor a reflection on their own parenting.