It is often said, and felt, that parents want what is best for their children.  Whether the focus in on the clothes the children wear, the school they go to, or their healthcare provider, parents work to do what is right for their kids. Parents will go to great lengths to jump through whatever hoops necessary to provide for their children. Despite their best efforts, however, parents are human. The human nature allows for mistakes and, at times, allows for children to be put in harms way without the intention of their parents.

In my experience in working in the healthcare field, there are many examples of well-meaning parents that are doing more harm than good to their children. The most common example of this that I have seen is parents that smoke despite their children’s respiratory problems. Regardless of their children’s diagnoses, the parents give explanations of why their bad habit does not affect the condition including, “I never smoke around my kids,” “I only smoke when the kids are with other members of the family,” and “I only smoke outside, never in the house.” While I am not proposing that children being exposed to an adult smoking cigarettes in the sole cause of childhood asthma or upper respiratory infections, my experience and education have shown how the smoke is a contributing factor to the conditions.

When a person is confronted with an abrasive smell, such as cigarette smoke, logic dictates that they are breathing in a toxin. Beyond the physical characteristics of a smoker- holding a white stick in his/her hand, yellowed teeth, wrinkles around the mouth, stained fingers- the distinctive smell is often present on the smoker’s body, clothes, car, and home long after the last cigarette is put out. Typical parent/child interactions, such as hugging or other types of affection, require touching or at the very least close quarters between the two. As children’s bodies are constantly developing throughout adolescents, they are susceptible to any impurity or irritant that enters their system. In the case of children with respiratory difficulties, irritants to the lungs are even more potentially dangerous. Therefore, the lingering effects of the cigarette on the parent’s body to the child can be detrimental even though the parent never actually smokes in front of their child. Typical childhood activities such as playing sports or an instrument with constant respiratory infections or asthma become a struggle for those affected. Addicted parents need to ask themselves if they are willing to put their children at risk for this struggle. Beyond this, however, the financial costs associated with a child constantly struggled to breathe can be daunting. With the financial costs of health car plus the cost of the cigarettes themselves in collaboration with the risk of the children, the benefits of lighting up hardly seem worth it.

            I am not suggesting that in order to have health children, parents must be perfect- far from it. Even medical professionals with children have been known to smoke on a regular basis. I do believe, however, that by not smoking, you give your children one extra advantage towards their health, and that your children will thank you in the future.