Thoughts on Cigars and Fatherhood

Hayward Tenney cigars and fatherhoodIf you’re a cigar-smoking Mom or Dad, I want to hear from you.

Like any good father, I want what’s best for my kids. With my oldest still under 4, they’re still pretty far removed from chats about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. But sooner or later, they’re going to start asking material questions about cigars and why I smoke them. The issues surrounding cigars and fatherhood are complex, and they’re going to receive a lot of information from a lot of different sources about cigars and tobacco products in general.

My oldest already knows what cigars are. He saw a cigar in the ashtray and asked me what it was, and I answered him frankly. I’m not about to insult his intelligence by pretending not to hear his question, or by spouting off some falsehood.

I guess the bottom line is this: I’m not interested in indoctrinating him in any way, but neither am I about to hide my cabinet humidor.

I DO consciously abstain from smoking in their presence. While I’m not ashamed of cigars, smoking is not a behavior I wish to normalize in their worldview. Besides, with few exceptions, actually enjoying one when they’re about is near-impossible.

Do I look forward to sharing a cigar with my kids someday? Sure, when they’re 18 and old enough to know the difference between occasionally enjoying a fine cigar and chain-smoking cigarettes. I plan to teach them about enjoying cigars responsibly, and make sure they’re aware of the health risks associated with tobacco. I believe that adults have the right to make an informed decision about tobacco use, and when it comes to cigars and fatherhood, I plan to help inform my children so they can make their own choice when the time comes.

How do/did you handle the smoking question vis-à-vis cigars? Are there any tips on cigars and fatherhood that you can give to a relative rookie Dad? Thanks in advance.

Hayward Tenney


When he's not busy writing, editing, smoking cigars, or raising his many, many children, Hayward "It's Lou, not Hayward" Tenney spends his days combating confusion about his real name (it's Hayward, but please - call him "Lou") and mourning the matrimonially-induced loss of his moustache (what's he gonna do with all that moustache wax he made?).


  1. gio says:

    Growing up in the old country in Italy, I remember seeing my grandfather smoke those little cigars called parodi, or ginnie stinkers(they do stink). I was six years old and asked about a thousand questions. One of my questions was why do you smoke(grandpa) when they stink so bad. My grandfather looked at me with a joyful smile and answered,”Why you have so many questions, why don’t you play with your toys and I will play with mine. So one day in God’s will when you are eighteen you get to enjoy a good cigar with me.” The moral of the story is that you can answer in the best way you can without telling a lie. However, without telling the truth either. At that age they live in a fantasy world and specifics are not needed.

  2. CigarCraig says:

    My youngest child just recently surprised me by asking what cigar he would smoke with my on his 18th birthday (he’s 17 now)…my 21 year old son had his first cigar at 18 (a Romeo y Julieta Coronitas en Cedro at his sister’s wedding) and recently went to Nicaragua with me. I never had to worry about my daughter, although she surprised me one day many years ago when I jokingly told her to go pick me out a cigar, and happily returned from my humidor with an RyJ (one reason I had RyJs at her wedding!).

    What you teach your kids about your cigars and smoking is one thing, the larger issue is that your children will inevitably come home from school one day having received anti-smoking propaganda. This is where you have to walk the line between justifying your behavior and allowing the educator to retain some credibility with your kids. You can’t tell the kids the teacher is wrong, the best that you can do is explain that tobacco isn’t for children, it’s an adult choice which comes with risks. Not an easy concept for a child to understand, but as he gets older it will make sense. We tried to teach our kids that not everything they are taught is black and white, some cynicism is healthy. We are lucky that our kids turned out as well as they did! We set a bad example and when they rebelled against us it was by being conservative and well-behaved!

  3. Kevin says:

    My three year old son has asked what they are and I’ve been honest with him by telling him that it’s a cigar and that cigars are things that daddies get to enjoy. That works for now. When he’s a bit older, I’ll further explain that you don’t HAVE to be a daddy to enjoy one, but you DO have to be old enough (18).

    If he ends up NOT being drawn to smoking cigars, I won’t have to worry about my collection getting raided! But if he does, it will be my joy to share with him.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I have three sons, ages 13, 12, and 7. The older two each gave me the Riot Act when they went through D.A.R.E. in school, coming home and telling me that the cigars I smoke (and beer I drink) are DRUGS. I didn’t argue with them but I also told them there’s a fundamental difference between illegal drugs and the cigars that I smoke. I also told them its like eating a Hershey bar, you can buy them anywhere and sure you could eat one (or several) everyday but if you did you’d have to deal with the consequences of rotten teeth and less than stellar health.

    I normally only smoke when out fishing & golfing, I think they’ve seen me have a cigar only once or twice during BBQs. Like you I try not to smoke around them at all so as to not normalize them to the behavior, but I don’t hide the fact from them completely.

  5. As a father-to-be I hadn’t thought about this very much, although it will certainly come up with my son at some point. This is very good advice, guys and I appreciate it!

  6. Will Hendrix says:

    I think you’re as close to treating the situation as you can. My girls are 15 and 20. I don’t smoke around them but keep my humidors out in the open. They told me a few days ago that the reason they don’t have wild sex, drink (much), or do drugs is because my wife and I have been so open through their entire lifes about all these matters. They are choosy, look at people with a little scepticism and are very honest with us about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Honesty, IS the best. Many of the kids my kids grew up with had very religious, high strung right wing parents. Every one of those kids now has a baby, smokes and a few deal drugs. The funny thing is that when our kids were little, their friends parents belittled me and my life style. Who’s laughing now?

  7. scott cohen says:

    I love the oliva nub cigars OMG they are the best quick cigar I have ever had!!Bravo

  8. Chuck says:

    I’m kind of a bad influence when my daughter or her friends ask why I smoke cigars I explain to them the history, qualities, famous people, and why they’re better than a cig. Haha! I just love cigars and kids.