DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, and so are all my friends, both girls and guys. I've been invited to a party at a friend's house. My friend's parents will be on vacation for three weeks at this time. In fact, that's why my friends have set up the party. I understand that the grandparents are supposed to watch these teens while the parents are gone, but they live a mile or two away, so after dinner, they go home and expect the teens to watch a movie and then go to bed.
When I was first invited to this party by my friend, she told me not to tell my parents about it because no parents will be there. I want to go to this party because it sounds like fun, and all my friends will be there. But I'm torn over this situation; do I tell my parents that there will be no adults there? — Interested but Worried, via email
INTERESTED BUT WORRIED: Be totally honest with your parents. That's absolutely the right move for you and the right thing for any teen to do. Let them know you really want to attend your friend's party because many of your good friends will be there. Be sure to explain that the grandparents live a mile or two away and go home after dinner. This may be a deal breaker for your parents, but you owe it to them to be completely honest here.
Let them know that if alcohol is available at this party, you will not be drinking it. If you are allowed to attend, tell your mom and dad that you will call them to pick you up if something unexpected arises. If your family forbids you to attend, don't make a big issue of it; simply let this idea go. There will be many other parties you can attend in your lifetime, and you'd be much better served at your present age to always have the blessing of your parents while you are a minor.
SEEK HELP IN QUITTING
DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and have been smoking now for five years. Yes, I'll confess I started at age 14 and have been smoking two packs of cigarettes a day since then. I'm starting to have a steady cough, and at times, I have pains in my chest. I don't think I have cancer at my young age, but still, the pain and cough do bother me.
How long would it take me to overcome my smoking habit 100% if I stop smoking the day I read your answer? I'm very serious about thinking of ending this brutal habit. I'm so hooked that I even light up cigarettes unconsciously — sometimes literally one right after another.
Also, many girls avoid hanging out with me because they say I smell like a moldy chimney. I'm actually pretty chill and funny, but I do reek of cigarette smoke 24 hours a day. — Hooked but Wishing to Escape, via email
HOOKED BUT WISHING TO ESCAPE: You are making a very wise decision to seriously think about quitting ASAP. You will not only feel better but also improve your financial situation by saving the money you currently spend on expensive, unhealthy cigarettes.
The American Lung Association indicates that smokers will start feeling physically better within two weeks of quitting a smoking habit.
My advice is to take your current desire to improve yourself seriously. Know that it won't be easy, especially given your massive, two-packs-per-day habit. You'll need emotional strength and fortitude to succeed here. Willpower alone often is not enough. I suggest you find someone you can relate to who has quit smoking permanently. Ask around your circle of family and friends to find such an individual, and ask if he or she would be willing to help you. I'll bet you receive a positive reply if you ask sincerely and politely. This "sponsor" can give you insights into what did and did not work during the journey to becoming a nonsmoker. You'll also have someone to hold you accountable. Have this person call or text you every day to ask you if you've smoked. Be honest, and do your best to make him or her proud — and to make you proud of yourself!
The great news for you is that if you can escape the clutches of nicotine, your lungs will gradually clear, and there may not be any lasting damage. The odds are in your favor now, but another five or 10 years from now, this may no longer be the case.
I wish for you the gift of being able to quit — immediately or very, very soon. You took the time and effort to write to me here, so you are obviously seriously considering taking this step. Build upon that momentum, and find a person who can help you right now. Good luck!
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.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay