Friday, July 31, 2009

Father gave up smoking for his kids’ sake

Drawing by Grace age 7

JP Rennquist

Young Dads Outreach Worker

As a Young Dads Outreach Worker for the Boyz II Dadz program I can tell you that NOT smoking is probably one of the simplest, easiest and most beneficial things you can do to be a better parent to your kids.

However, as a former smoker myself, I can tell you that quitting smoking wasn’t very simple or easy for me to do, but I did it.

I tried everything, cold turkey, the gum, the patch, and pills. Finally, I was able to quit, and it has been worth every second of struggle, anxiety and craving that I endured to get smoke-free.

I found that the ultimate solution was to give up on my own ideas of what I thought would work and to accept help from the smoking cessation program right here in the Hillside at SMDC.

They gave me facts about strategies that were most likely to work for me based on my health, lifestyle and past experiences with quitting. After meeting with a counselor there, I made a quit plan, I stuck to it, and because of that, I haven’t had to smoke ever…again. Now I recommend quitting to any smoker that I know.

...the first important step I took to help myself get free of nicotine was to stop smoking around my own kids, especially in my home and in my car.
-JP Rennquist

Boyz II Dadz recommends it, too. We have been on the leading edge of strengthening fathers and families through education, advocacy and outreach since the early 1990s. We have had a strong presence in the Hillside and Lincoln Park Neighborhoods of Duluth for all of those years. We don’t just work here, my co-worker and I both live here with our families. In April we received a Community Grant from the American Lung Association of Minnesota to help support our Hillside and Lincoln Park neighbors as well as other families to choose smoke-free homes and cars, and to encourage people who do smoke to quit.

In my own experience, the first important step I took to help myself get free of nicotine was to stop smoking around my own kids, especially in my home and in my car.
A 2008 survey of nearly 400 area residents indicated that most Northland families already have a rule to not allow smoking in their homes and cars when children or pregnant women are present. Three-fourths of those responding do not allow smoking in their homes at any time, ever.

In homes and cars where children or pregnant women are not exposed to any second-hand smoke those kids have stronger lungs, higher birth weights, lower incidences of ear infections, and fewer incidences of lung infections and bronchitis. Second-hand smoke is also a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Every parent who chooses a smoke-free home and car is saying yes to better health for every child in their home, and every adult, too, for that matter.

Another important step helping me quit was to quit thinking of the sacrifice it was for me and to think of it as an opportunity to be a better dad. My daughter Grace actually drew a picture for me that said “Say no to tobacco.” It was so inspiring that I hung it up on my wall, and it remains there today.

If you are a family member of someone who smokes then please encourage your loved ones to choose a smoke-free lifestyle and to start by choosing smoke-free homes and cars. Boyz II Dadz can help to connect any father, young dad, mother, or anyone with the resources to start a tobacco free life. Call us at 727-3352 or 391-8330