I smoked in high school because it made me feel connected to people. I felt like a total loser in high school. I lived with my grandparents. I struggled with depression. I felt really lonely and left out of a lot of things. Smoking gave me a rush and made me feel more outgoing in social situations. It was a conversation starter. It even made me feel more edgy and cooler than I actually was. What if my grandma had asked me WHY I was smoking? What was going on in my life that was leading me down a path to do destructive things? That would have been a completely different conversation between the two of us, especially if she had been able to approach it from a place of calm, of curiosity.
What this means for me as a parent
I’m reflecting on my adolescence as I fold laundry for my daughter. She turns five next month. Though she’s far away from the stresses of high school, I’m certainly aware of what the future might hold for her. I smell the soft scent of dryer sheets and think to myself that I would have literally no clue if she came home from an evening of vaping. The odorless clouds are scentless, making it almost undetectable, meaning that if vaping is still a thing when she’s in high school we’re going to have to have a proactive discussion about the dangers of inhaling nicotine into your lungs before I even know she’s interested in or has picked up the habit.
So, what’s a parent to do these days? Yell, scream, get worked up? That worked great for all of us, right? I’d like to approach the situation differently when the time comes and am grateful that there are resources already available to help me approach this hard topic when the time is right.
Talk Vaping With Your Teen
My colleagues at Hopelab, All Mental Health, and the American Heart Association recently released Talk Vaping With Your Teen, resources that help parents have conversations about ending teen e-cigarette use. These research-backed tools help parents navigate the often difficult conversations that surround the teen vaping epidemic. The resources provide a framework for parents to have a calm, respectful conversation with their teen while providing accurate and straightforward information to help their teen quit. The resources are free and available in two formats: a one-month emailed course and a web app.
If you’re dealing with this as a parent right now, I encourage you to check out this amazing guide. And if you know someone who might be struggling with how to talk to their teen about vaping, please check it out and send it their way. https://www.allmentalhealth.org/vaping
Together we can all learn how to communicate effectively with our teens about vaping and create a generation that knows the facts, feels supported, and will ultimately be healthier because of these efforts.