Walking and Talking Your Teen through the Vaping Epidemic

Laura Quinn
What parents can do to help their child navigate the dangerous trend.

Vaping and e-cigarette use is growing rapidly among younger generations. In the first part of this series, "What Parents Need to Know About the Rise of Vaping & E-Cigarettes Among Teenagers," I discussed the facts so that parents can help their children make wise choices. In one of my favorite passages, Deuteronomy 6:5–9, the Bible gives us valuable insight into how we are to instruct; not in punctuated moments of hysteria, but in the day to day context of life. First, we commit our ways to the Lord, and then we spend the time walking, talking, sitting, and doing life with our children. As we do, we model the behavior and have the conversations that allow us to guide and influence our teens. In the crazy busy lives we lead, this means we have to be intentional, very intentional, in making consistent time for our relationships and conversations with our children.
Parents, we have to be intentional in making consistent time for our relationships and conversations with our children.
In our Christian school community, we often respond to cultural trends with “Yes, but not here, not at CCA.” As a High School administrator, teacher, and parent of two CCA alumni, I can, unfortunately, confirm that the vaping epidemic is real, right here in our halls. Joe Wilson, CCA Middle School Principal shares his concern, “There is a lot of misinformation out there when we encounter a student that vapes, or has vaped. The biggest misconception is that it’s safe, especially compared to tobacco. The students ingest more of it because they see it as safe and non-addictive. I also encounter parents that don’t fully understand the risks and many times don’t know their child is vaping.”

The urgency is tangible, but panic and parental hysteria is not the best response. Refrain for just a moment the urge to storm into your student’s bedroom and ransack their book bag, desk, and closet. While I still support the random room and backpack check, this is the time to exercise your “don’t-freak-out” face. Believe me, I know, it is hard, but we can do this, parents. Our relationship with our kids depends on it.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there when we encounter a student that vapes, or has vaped. The biggest misconception is that it’s safe, especially compared to tobacco."
So, what do we say and how? Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
 
  • Start with the Lord. Pray, and ask for wisdom, grace, timing, and the right words. A humble spirit helps, too.

  • You might try doing something your child enjoys to break the ice, something that also allows for conversation like going to a favorite coffee place, a round of Top Golf, ice cream and a walk on the beach, etc.

  • Use examples from their world. Maybe it is a friend or a situation at school, or maybe it is a YouTube video personality, a sports figure, or favorite music personality. These are the people and media that are influencing your child, who are potentially getting more face time with them than you do.

  • Equip yourself with good information, there are several resources below to help you understand and frame the conversation, and to make sure you understand the issues.

  • Questions always play better than definitive statements with teens, so lead with neutral open-ended questions. Here are some you might try…

    • Who is vaping, where have they seen it?

    • What is the attraction to vaping?

    • What do they understand (facts) about vaping?

    • What do they think (value judgment) about vaping?

    • What do their friends/peers think about vaping? (this is more important than you think it is!) Do they agree with their friends?

    • Have they tried e-cigarettes or vaping (remember to practice your “don’t-freak- out face” here)? What is their understanding of what vaping does physically? Emotionally? Spiritually? Is that understanding accurate?

  • Is there anything you can identify with, or have struggled with that you can share with your child to empathize and encourage them with? Being open and authentic with our teens shows them how to be open and authentic with us.

Remember to let your teen talk. It may take a little patience, but often if we start talking, they stop talking. It is vitally important that you listen to their answer. Your teenager is likely longing to be heard. If you don’t listen, they will find someone else who will. Joshua 1:9 encourages us to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you….” It is not a perfect science, it may take practice. It is never too late. Never give up — the Lord will make a way.

We as a community are committed to co-laboring with you as you disciple your children in the Lord. We want to support, inform, and walk with you and your family. We pray always for God’s highest and best, knowing it is only by His love and grace we grow and mature. Learn more about CCA's policies.

 

Laura Quinn has served at CCA for 18 years and is currently the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Department Head. She also serves on the High School Discipleship Team and Administration. She and her husband, David, have two daughters, Rebecca and Susannah, who both graduated from CCA.
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