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Ranty Friday – Selfish Parents

smoking childIt’s Friday, which means Mummy Barrow is telling us all to get Ranty again, which is quite appropriate as I’ve had this post brewing for a few days, but didn’t know where to start.

The other day, I was in our local shop, buying some ham. I got to the counter and there was a man in front of me buying cigarettes; he bought quite a few boxes at once and as the lady at the till rang it up, I blanched at the cost of smoking. I smoked way back in my late teens and early twenties, but gave up before I fell pregnant with Sausage, and the price of tobacco products has gone up a lot since then.

When I got to the front of the queue, I struck up a conversation with the cashier and casually mentioned that I didn’t know how anyone could even afford to smoke in this day and age. The cashier was young, probably early to mid twenties and mentioned that she was also a smoker.

Let me just say here, I have no issue with people who smoke; it’s a personal choice and as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, I don’t care what they do. I know they say “an ex-smoker is the worst” but I’m not judging the actual act of smoking.

The cashier went on to tell me that she lived in one of the flats (there are two high-rises near the shops) and that her and her partner both smoked with the kids in the house.

(blood pressure starting to rise…)

She then said “We smoke on the balcony these days because my youngest has got asthma. We used to smoke indoors but in the nicer weather it’s easier to go outside”.

(blood pressure steadily on the up…)

The final thing, which completely floored me was “I really should try and give up. My partner and I spend at least £70 a week on fags and my kids have to go without somethings, but it’s just so hard. I go without dinner some nights, just so I can have fags”.

(head explodes, rage spewing everywhere)

Where do I even start?

If she wants to go without dinner so that she can continue to smoke, that’s her right and privilege as a human being with free will, but freely and in an almost blasé fashion, admitting that her kids go without because she wants to continue smoking just blows my mind. How can you put your own horrible habit above and beyond the needs of your children? I just cannot get my head around that. Looking at your kids and saying “You know what? I’m more important” is the ULTIMATE selfishness and makes me feel like these people don’t even deserve to be blessed with kids.

How can people behave in this manner? I simply do not get it. I feel so sorry for the kids being raised in these conditions, without a parent who’d put them first.

I’m not doing a Jamie Oliver here and condemning those in a lower wage bracket because of how they choose to apportion their income…if she wants to spend her money on cigarettes, it’s her money to spend, but surely in any family be they rich or poor, the needs of the kids should come before anything else?

Husband and I would go without anything if it meant that Sausage was provided for in the best way possible and I was under the (apparently deluded) impression that this was an attitude which would be shared by 99% of other parents.

Am I alone in thinking that this is terrible behaviour?

Click on the duck to see why Mummy Barrow is ranting about selfish plane passengers and all of the other blogs who’ve linked up this week.


24 thoughts on “Ranty Friday – Selfish Parents

  1. *jaw hits floor*
    I’m totally with you on this, when I was trying for a baby the first thing I did was quit smoking, it was hard sure, but I knew that for the health of any future baby it was important and had to be done.

  2. Money issue aside – and I’m with you on that – addiction to cigarettes is no excuse for smoking around children, especially in their own home. No wonder one of kids has asthma. That said, I wish smokers were legally confined to smoking in their own homes with the windows shut, we’ve been blighted by smoke drift from people staying in our neighbours’ house this summer. Make them do it in their own space, but make it illegal to smoke with children in the house. That should start to cure some of the addictions out there.

  3. BUt (i’m going to be a bit controversial here- we have to be wary to make judgements on love.) and I said BUT as an ex smoker and the child of UNSELFISH but addicted to tobacco parents. It is an addiction isn’t it and addicted people arent going to make what to non addicted people seems like a sensible choice because of their addiction.
    My mum was unselfish but she had this addiction to nicotine. Eventually she won her terrible battle over it but I think it was as hard for her as if had been gambling or alchocol. It doesnt mean she loved us any less. Of course social economics affects addition rates too and the ability to access support and we had very little money. I know people judged her but I know too her tobacco dependency was not selfsih or about loving us less it was a n addiction/dependency she struggled with and didnt win for many years. It wasnt about priorites an addict is not making a ‘choice’ in the same way a non addict is.

  4. I once hosted a book party for a lady who was living in council property who was hoping her friends would spend money with me so that her kids could have some books (for “free”). At the same time telling me that they’d had to get NTL (at the time) because her kids were feeling left out that their peers were watching Disney channel (or something like that) and they weren’t – they had also got a bigger telly. I didn’t sell many books that night because they were “too expensive” although her friends were outside smoking and discussing what takeaway pizzas to get that evening.

    It’s all a question of priorities…

  5. I’m an ex smoker and gave up before the price of cigarettes went through the roof. I’m often baffled by how people afford it these days. I know someone who always, always complains that they have no money, yet they smoke 20 fags a day. My response is always “You cant be that skint if you can afford fags!” I do agree with what Sally says, when you live on the bread line you do have to have some pleasure in life, so I do get why people do it, I just hate it when kids go without so their parents can enjoy a luxury.

  6. Urghhh, thats hideous. I can’t stand smoking, I don’t even like walking behind a smoker these days. I really couldn’t justify the expemditure. xx

  7. I will reply to you with the child’s view of it: my husband is now 37 but as a child both his parents were heavy smokers, in the house and in the car. One time he and his brother sat by the car refusing to get in if their parents were going to smoke – they were told that children do what parents tell them to and to get in the car. He was seriously asthmatic and was dragged all over the place for asthma “cures”, all of which were pretty gruesome and painful. He is now the biggest anti-smoker, has a poor relationship with his parents and his asthma stopped around the same time he left home. Oh and both his parents are doctors and middle class. Interestingly my MiL believes me to be a bad parent, whereas I think this behaviour borders on child abuse. Sorry to take over your blog here but I can’t really post this on my blog and it drives me insane.

  8. I read this yesterday and it made me think about a passage from The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell, in which he argues that being poor is miserable, that people on the lowest incomes probably SHOULD spend their money on wholesome food, but human nature is not like that – indeed, when your life’s a bit miserable, you crave more pleasure and sensation and so why not buy a bag of chips rather than a loaf of wholemeal bread?

    I think the same often applies with lower income families and ‘luxuries’ like Sky TV and cigarettes. If you’ve got next to nothing, then the thing you want is the thing that will bring you pleasure. So it can seem wrong how some people choose to spend their money – don’t the kids need books more than Mum needs cigarettes? But unless you’re in someone’s shoes, I think it’s impossible to judge.

    The Orwell passage is this:

    The miner’s family spend only ten pence a week on green vegetables but they spend one and nine on sugar (about eight pounds of sugar, that is) and a shilling on tea. Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don’t want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit ‘tasty’. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you. Let’s have three pen north of chips…

    1. Great comment, Sally, I think you (and Mr. Orwell) are correct. Almost always living on the breadline ourselves, I agree with the not always wanting to get what we need, despite doing so 99% of the time. Sometimes it is just too depressing to be stuck in such a situation AND be facing dull, wholesome, sensible food.

      1. Really interesting comments actually and I agree that sometimes with very little money we choose to spend it all on a take away treat rather than spreading it out and buying more fresh fruit and wholesome foods. I wouldn’t let my children suffer because of it though and they are my priority. I don’t let my bad habits affect their quality of life

  9. I stopped smoking normal cigarettes because it was just too expensive!! I was spending about £35 a week but now I smoke an electronic cigarette which costs me about £6 a week! But even when I did smoke normal cigarettes my kids would not go without anything and I certainly wouldn’t miss a meal for them!! Madness!!

  10. I was in Tesco yesterday filling up with fuel and the woman next to me bought just two things. A large coffee from the self service Costa stand thing and a packet of cigarettes. It came to over £11.

    And she walked off. I said, mostly under my breath, bloody hell I wish I could afford to do that. And the cashier said “she comes in every day and buys the same”.

    People will look at me in my 4×4 and judge me, thinking I am made of money, despite it being 9 years old. Yet I can’t afford £80 a week on cigarettes and take away coffees.

    So how is that right?

    1. Wow, that’s mental! I wonder what sort of job she does that allows for that level of expenditure on coffee and cigs? Her body is far from a temple, having a large Costa and a whole pack of fags a day!

  11. This makes me so angry; I agree, the majority of parents wouldn’t think twice about sacrificing everything for their kids. This woman’s logic is totally screwy and no, she doesn’t deserve to have kids if their needs aren’t going to come first. Great post x

    1. It’s shocking, isn’t it? It makes you wonder exactly what it is that her kids are going without, too? And how long before their portions are cut because food is ‘too expensive’?

    1. “Revolting revolting revolting and hideous” – I might chant that at the next person who tells me their kids go without so they can smoke, until they give up!

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