DR. WALLACE: I'm 15 years old, and my mother is going to have a baby soon. Before she got pregnant, mom smoked and drank alcohol (not a lot, but occasionally). Now mom has stopped her drinking completely, but sadly, she still smokes cigarettes, about 5 or 6 of them a day. This worries me a lot. Mom has cut back from a pack a day to about a quarter of a pack a day, but I think even one cigarette is too many. Please tell me the danger to unborn babies who have mothers who smoke. Maybe if my mom sees something in print, it will get her to at least consider stopping her smoking habit. — Worried About My New Brother or Sister, via email
WORRIED: Women who smoke while pregnant have a higher percentage of stillborn babies, miscarriages and premature deliveries than pregnant women who do not smoke. Mothers-to-be who smoke are more likely to have low birth weight babies who are at a greater risk of having health problems after birth.
Your mom should aim to give up her nasty habit after she reads your letter and my response. Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug, and it's quite difficult to kick. But if anything could motivate a mom-to-be, it's the prospect of giving birth to a healthy, happy baby! I hope your mother is able to see your heartfelt letter here in this column.
MAKE THE TOUGH MOVE
DR. WALLACE: I'm 14 and living with my mother and stepfather. My parents divorced three years ago, and my mom remarried a year ago. My father has also remarried, and he lives now in northern Georgia.
My stepfather and my mom do not see eye to eye on much of anything lately. He is also very rude and has a horrible temper. I feel bad telling you that I actually despise him and have wished that he would die or run away, even though I realize this is a terrible thing to admit. Every moment I'm around him is pure torture for me. I warned my mom that this guy might have a severe mental problem even before they got married, but she wouldn't listen to me and just ran right into his arms and down the aisle.
The only good thing that has happened to me since this guy moved into our house is that I've lost 10 pounds because my nerves are shattered, and I've lost most of my appetite, especially with meals at home.
I've talked to my birth father about all this, and he wants me to move in with him. I've talked this over with his new wife, and she encourages me to make the move to their house also. My mother even also thinks it might be better for me to live with my father, especially since she can see every day how much I disapprove of my stepfather.
The problem is that I'm in the 10th grade and enjoy my teachers and school friends. If I move out of state, I will really miss all of them. What do you think I should do? — Unsure, Tallahassee, Florida
ANONYMOUS: You do indeed have a tough choice to make. Leaving the known world of your friends and favorite teachers to start over in another town is a big leap, but based upon the information you have provided me in your letter, I think you should do it. I offer this advice only after reading your letter several times and sleeping on my answer overnight. Sometimes, moving out is the course of least trauma, and in your case, you have a loving father and willing stepmother who are anxious to take you in and provide you with a stable, loving home. You also mentioned that your mother even approved of your potential move. Perhaps she subconsciously knows this might be best for you, and never forget that she loves you very much, too.
Should you remain with your mom, your relationship with your stepfather will likely deteriorate even further going forward. Since everyone is amenable to your making the move, doing so would stabilize your home life. And if you move now, you'll have enough time left in your high school career to bond with your new school and classmates.
Just make sure you remain in close touch with your mother, and let her know that you are there for her if she ever needs help or moral support. She is sure to miss you. Perhaps you can arrange occasional visits back to Tallahassee to see your mother and your favorite friends there from time to time.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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