DEAR ABBY: I was surprised to see you equate a concerned grandmother's creative solution to smoking with bribery in a previous 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 for a disclaimer: When my daughter was 14, I came up with the same idea in the form of a wager. 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. 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: 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 a 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's an important distinction that may be helpful for parents and other adults to understand.
- Former School Principal
DEAR ABBY: My preteen daughter was devastated when her maternal grandfather died from the effects of emphysema. In spite of it, she took up smoking in her teens. I would have mortgaged our home, sold our possessions and borrowed money from the bank if I thought I could have altered her choice by bribing her. By the way, she has been diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells, but even this hasn't been enough to cause her to quit.