By Franice & Thacia Stirling ©2008
PACO: Why did we leave the party early, Papa?
PAPA: For our health, Paco.
PACO: For our health? How was the party bad for our health?
PAPA: The cigarette smoke was not good for our lungs.
PACO: But we weren’t smoking cigarettes.
MAMA: That is true, but we were getting second-hand smoke from those who were smoking.
TINA: Is that bad, too?
MAMA: Yes, second-hand smoke can cause illnesses in people who don’t smoke. Parents who smoke are putting their children in danger.
TINA: Why couldn’t we have any of the punch? It looked so good.
MAMA: That punch had alcohol in it.
PACO: It did?
PAPA: And you know what alcohol does to people.
PACO: It makes them silly.
MAMA: It does more than that. It affects the brain. People also make bad choices when alcohol fogs their brains.
TINA: Then why did we go?
PAPA: They are our friends, even though they don't make the best choices. We can be like Daniel.
PACO: How can we be like Daniel?
MAMA: Remember how Daniel and his friends chose not to drink the kings wine? We can give a good example to others by our choices.
PAPA: We showed our friendship by attending, but we showed our beliefs by drinking the water that they provided.
MAMA: If you children are ever at a party where drugs or alcohol are used I hope you can be like Daniel and stand up for what you know is right.
PAPA: Here comes our bus.
(they all get on)
MAMA: Hello, Dr. Temperance!!
DR. T: Why hello, Mrs. Lopez and Mr. Lopez and Tina and Paco.
PAPA: Are you working late tonight?
DR. T: Yes. Lots of people who don’t follow my advice end up needing to see me at night.
PAPA: We’ve been talking to the kids about avoiding drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
DR. T: Excellent!!! I wished more parents would talk with their children about Temperance.
PACO: What is Temp…Temp..?
DR. T: Temperance is avoiding what is bad for our bodies and using what is good moderately.
TINA: What is moderately?
DR. T: Not too much and not too little. For instance: Food is good for us, but we shouldn't have too much or too little.
PACO: I get it. It is like sunshine, not too much or too little. We learned that from Dr. Sunshine.
PAPA: We were trying to explain why alcohol is something to avoid.
TINA: Why is alcohol bad? It seems very popular. Lots of people drink it.
DR. T: The advertising companies try to make alcohol appear glamorous, but they don’t tell you the bad effects. Alcohol is a drug and is often the first drug that children try. Children often begin drinking alcoholic drinks between 11 and 13 years of age.
PACO: I know. Some of the neighbor boys boast about drinking, like it makes them grown-up.
DR. T: Unfortunately, some people think that, but they are really making a bad choice that will affect their lives and health and the lives and health of others.
TINA: Mama told us about second-hand smoke, but how can someone else's drinking affect other people?
PAPA: Drunk driving kills and injures many people.
DR. T: Yes. Alcohol can give people a false feeling of confidence, while it really depresses the body’s ability to respond quickly and wisely. So drunk drivers think they are driving well, but they are actually slower in making driving decisions and more apt to make mistakes.
PACO: So if they need to stop suddenly, they can't do it?
DR. T: That is right. Alcohol enters the bloodstream directly and so affects all the body organs, especially the brain. It affects people’s memory and judgment. They may do things under the influence of alcohol that they would never do when they are sober.
MAMA: Like drunk husbands who beat their wives and children. Besides that they are robbing the family of money that could be used for food and clothes. It can cause poverty.
TINA: So drinking alcohol can affect those who don't drink. I never thought of that before.
DR. T: It is not just men, though, who bear the blame. I have also seen the affects of alcohol on women who drink. I have seen too many babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
TINA: What is that?
DR. T: The baby’s brain is ruined by alcohol before it is born. The mother drank alcohol while she was pregnant.
PACO: Tell us about smoking, too. Is it a drug?
DR. T: It surely is. It is very habit forming. People become so addicted to the nicotine and other substances in tobacco that they have trouble quitting. They may have withdrawal symptoms just like drug addicts.
PACO: Dad says even breathing the smoke from other people’s cigarettes hurts our lungs.
DR. T: There are hundreds of deadly chemicals left in the air from tobacco smoke. It can cause lung cancer in people who never smoked. It can injure the hearts of non-smokers. It is especially bad for children’s health.
MAMA: Besides the health issues, the cost of the tobacco is money the family doesn't have for other things, like education and good medical care.
DR. T: I read a while back that in China, some men spent one-third of the family's income on cigarettes. The families went without necessities, while the father burned up the money on cigarettes. It really does cause poverty in many families.
MAMA: I don't even know what a pack of cigarettes cost, but if it were a dollar a day, that would be over $1000 in three years. Just think of what you could do with $1000 dollars.
PACO: Wow! I'm thinking. Hmmm...
DR. T: The cost of smoking is much higher than the cost of the cigarettes. The extra cost for medical care for all the family members, the lost time at work, when the smoker is out smoking or sick, and the greatest lost is the early death of the smoker. One person dies every six seconds from sickness caused by tobacco use.
TINA: How can we say “no” to drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, and keep our friends?
DR. T: You want to be the best you can be. So don't let your friends do your thinking for you. You choose to do what is healthy and right, and let them know that your decision is final. Who knows, you may be able to pressure your friends into doing what is right, too. Sometimes they are just trying trying to find someone else to go along with their plan so they won't feel guilty.
PACO: I still don't know what to say to my friends who smoke.
DR. T: A book I read by Sharon Scott gives some suggestions for handling friends who are trying to get you to do something wrong, like smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs:
1. Say no. There are many ways to do it. Say it and mean it.
2. Leave if they keep pressuring you after you have said no.
3. Use a true excuse such as, “I play sports and have to stay in good shape.”
4. Make a joke, such as, “ I want to keep all my brain cells.”
5. Act shocked, like , “I can't believe you would do such a stupid thing.”
6. Flatter the person, like, “You are usually so smart, why would you want to do that.”
7. Suggest a better idea. Be the leader, not the follower.
PACO: I think I will plan some things to say, so I have them ready.
DR. T: That is a good idea. You don't want to hesitate. If you do, your friends will think you are unsure and try to change your mind.
PAPA: I can think of one more thing to do, when tempted to make a bad choice.
PACO: What's that?
PAPA: Remember to ask God for help. He is always willing to guide our decisions.
MAMA: Here is our stop. Thank you, Dr. Temperance, for your good advice.
TINA: Yes, Thanks.
PAPA: Yes. Thank you, Dr. Temperance. With God's help we hope that Tina and Paco can make wise choices to become the best they can be. Good-night.
Scott, Sharon. How to Say No and Keep Your Friends. Human Resource Development Press, 1997.