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May 23, 2013

Money to keep kids from smoking is no bribe

:Dear Abby: I was surprised to see you equate a concerned grandmother’s creative solution to smoking with bribery in your Feb. 14 column. The word “bribe” has a negative connotation. What the grandmother did was offer an incentive, NOT a bribe, that will benefit her grandchildren in the long run. I think the woman should be congratulated.

Now a disclaimer: When my daughter was 14, I bet her that if she could resist peer pressure and not become a smoker by the time she was 21, I would buy her the dress of her dreams. To my delight, she won the bet. By then she was studying to become a marine biologist, so instead of a dress, the money went toward a wetsuit.

At 43, she’s still a nonsmoker and she has now made that same bet with her children. It’s the best money I ever spent.

:Retired Clinical Social Worker

:Dear R.C.S.W.: Oh me, oh my, did I get clobbered for my response to that letter. Out of the hundreds of letters and emails received, only ONE person agreed with me. The rest were smokin’ mad. Read on:

Dear Abby: In my many years as a school psychologist, I have counseled hundreds of parents and teachers about dealing with behavioral issues in children. I often make the distinction between a “bribe” and a “reward” by describing a bribe as something you give someone to do something dishonest, while a reward is given for doing something commendable. What she did was reward their good choice in not developing a potentially fatal habit.

:Old-School Psychologist

:Dear Abby: When you give someone money for something that has already been completed, it’s a paycheck and not a bribe. It was pointed out to me that few of us would continue to go to work if we weren’t paid for it, and those grandchildren were being paid for “work” that was already completed. It’s an important distinction that may be helpful for parents and other adults to understand.

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