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Two Sides to Every Story, Even From a Cigarette

Our family was outside today throwing around a Frisbee. The trailer  next to ours was demolished this past week, so there were splinters and  other leavings to dodge as we played. Amongst the debris I picked up as  we played were a couple of cigarettes, left behind by the construction  workers that had been working there. Wyatt, our five year old, asked us  what they were. We soon found ourselves in the middle of a conversation  on what smoking is and why it's not good for our bodies. Not really  expecting this, I found myself thinking fast as my husband and I  explained both our own stance on smoking and why people do it.

This  was not a topic Oliver and I had ever discussed previously, so I was  happy to see that our impromptu explanations meshed. Jointly, we made  the point to him that smoking was enjoyable to people, and that's why  they do it, even though they know it's bad for them. Because sometimes  what feels good is not the right thing.

Our explanation  was very different from the one I received as a child. My parents, when  teaching such things as abstinence or Word of Wisdom rules like not  smoking, never addressed why people would choose to do these things.  Instead, they filled my head with all the evils of it, why it's  terrible/unhealthy/wrong/would send me down the wrong path.

I  have always felt as if this didn't exactly prepare me for the real  world. When I met people who loved to smoke, or didn't think sex needed  to stay in the bounds of marriage, or even did something as common as  drink coffee, I would have to puzzle past the dire warnings of my  childhood as I considered my friends' decisions and how I wanted to live  my own life. It always seemed strange that these great evils seemed to  be enjoyed so much by others.

I'd prefer not to leave my own children so unprepared  to deal with these issues. Yes, we have strong standards and draw lines  much tighter than many in the world. However, it doesn't mean the world  is full of miserable people simply because they have chosen something we  have not. There's a reason why coffee is a must-have in the morning.  It's not because people wake up every morning dreading the taste. And  sex, well, if it was miserable, do you think so many of us Mormons would  have popped out so many kids?

I think my parents had  good intentions. Looking back, I believe their dire warnings were partly  borne of a fear that if they told me the truth, I wouldn't make the  right choices. I don't believe that following this path will help my own  sons. There are two sides to every story. I believe they will have the  best chance of making the right choice if we seize the opportunity to  teach them the truth. I also think our own points will be made much  clearer if we don't force them to learn these things from others who  will not be sensitive to the values we hope they absorb and follow for  themselves.


Ana is a  restless soul who would love to keep moving around the world the rest  of her life. This is probably why she married a submariner in the U.S  Navy seven years ago. They have two energetic little boys, and  currently live in the Bahamas. She blogs about life in paradise at Sunrise on the Water.

Pic from Flikr.

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