Sunday, August 1, 2010

Not as I Do

I'm a firm believer that actions speak so much louder than words. I remember being told as a child when I wondered aloud to my mother why there were perks and privileges others enjoyed, generally adults, particularly her, when I had to follow, in my estimation, dumb rules. Her reply was, do as I say, not as I do. Pretty lame explanation, I thought. I recognize now that there are so many things reserved as allowed, or even earned, when one attains a certain age or level of maturity. I think I did a pretty consistent job with my own kids giving reasonable explanations regarding activities and effects reserved for adults. I do believe that the examples we set for our children make a bigger impression on them than we might think, no matter what we might tell them. Case in point, smoking. A couple of weeks ago I was out for a beer with a friend and ran into a wonderful and beautiful young woman whom I have known since she was born. She was smoking, and it was heartbreaking for me to observe her indulging in tobacco use. Yes, she's an adult and is free to make that choice. And I'm not here to harangue and browbeat those of you who smoke. My point is that since the day this girl was born, nearly every woman influential in her young life was a smoker. Her mother. Her older sister. Grandmothers. Aunts. Friends of the family. What you observe growing up becomes an example of normalcy. It's no surprise to me that she smokes cigarettes. She may already be addicted to nicotine. I know she was told not to smoke. Do as I say, not as I do. But actions speak louder than words. I grew up in a household where both parents smoked, but their behavior had the opposite effect on me. I was so turned off by the smell and the mess I was never tempted to try even one cigarette. I guess that I'm lucky. And I'm glad I'm not a smoker. While I applaud and support anyone who makes an effort to quit, and resist passing judgement on those who continue to smoke, sometimes I'd like just the teensiest bit of credit for having the sense never to start. It was a conscious choice that I have never regretted. Particularly when I became a mother.

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