Smokers prohibited from being foster parents

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cigarette buttAn essay in the Times Online about prohibiting people who smoke from becoming foster parents in the UK -- despite a dire need for them -- gets to the core of what it means to guide small humans into adulthood. Writer Daisy Goodwin talks about all the small tasks that make up a day in the life of a parent: reading for hours, enduring endless games of Uno and hugging children covered in condiments of all kinds.

Certainly, she says, loving foster parents willing to take on those tasks (for children they are not genetically related to, no less) should not be rejected for a bad habit like smoking. While she doesn't condone it, Goodwin asserts that growing up with a parent who smokes is less of a health risk than growing up with no parents at all.

Let me be very clear -- I do not approve of smoking, especially around children. But is it really the best decision to deny otherwise qualified foster parents when the need is so high?

Her point is that no parent is perfect.

I know I'm not. But I love my kids and, if asked, I'd lay down my life for them, bad habits or no. What do you think? Do bad habits mean bad parenting? Because I'm certain many of us would fail that litmus test.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.