Discourse on the intersections of politics, feminism, and motherhood.

Wednesday, September 27

The Second Hand Smoke Crisis

I wrote earlier on an issue regarding second hand smoke and children. Now the issue for me personally has become a family crisis. I spoke to my sister-in-law on the two choices I believe are best for my situation. One, just give my in-laws the print out that my child's doctor gave to me or just start restricting his time over at their house little by little so when the subject comes up then I have a platform to discuss the issue. She flat out said that if I was to just hand them the information then all hell would break lose and my mother-in-law is notorious for holding non-forgiving grudges.
So, I gave the information to my husband and said that his time was going to be restricted and that they could come to our house anytime they wanted. Well, this was interpreted as an attack on the parents and he did not think it fair to restrict our child's time over at their house just because they smoke and that they would be devastated. It did not end good. How does one deal with family members that believe 'a little' exposure is not going to hurt a child. Do you restrict it to once a week? Do you continue to reinforce the idea that the smoke is not an issue at all? Basically, I'm all alone on this one and run the risk of being labled the wacked out daughter-in-law when in reality my sister-in-law and brother-in-law both stay at another place if the situation can present itself that way. It just remains a silent issue. Of course the differences are that they reside in North Carolina and I reside 15 minutes away.
The things that bother me the most are when my in-laws get lazy. When there is a family gathering say during Christmas or Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law will just go and smoke in the bathroom with the door closed and my father-in-law will just go into his office and smoke which is right beside the living room. He will even sometimes go through the kitchen into the den while everyone else is in the living room as if they can keep the smoke away from the kids, all six of them mind you like they don't run all over the house and the smoke will magically disappear into the air, if they just step a few feet away. They also believe if they refrain from smoking in the house or the main areas, should I say, for a couple of days before family visits this will clear the air. This breaking of boundaries is what concerns me. I don't trust that they will smoke outside the house 100% of the time because they clearly do not believe that the smoke is harmful if it is not blown directly into the face of a child.
So, I'm at a standstill. Just waiting for the discussion to open the floodgates. They smoke a huge amount of cigarettes. They smoke in their beds while watching T.V. They smoke in their cars, the kitchen, the den, the office, everywhere. They even smoked after dinner right in the kitchen when I was over there and pregnant. They will even smoke outside the hospital and come into the room and pick up a newborn as if the smoke is not directly on their clothing. I have a really hard time understanding how one can ignore their own actions. How these things can be justified and how I need to handle them. I'm ready to stand strong and stick to my guns if that's what needs to happen. I'd of course rather have my husbands support but what do you do? What would you do?


At 4:17 PM, Blogger kidletsmum said...

Yikes. That's awful. I really have no idea what I'd do. Probably tell my partner that I value my children's health over his parents' potentially hurt feelings. I mean, can you really tell your child in ten years that you're sorry she has lung cancer, but you didn't want to hurt grandma's feelings by telling her not to smoke? I'm sorry you have to deal with such self-centred in-laws. I hope you can get your partner onside.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger MaMa-Feminista said...

We are in the process of deciding on the best way to bring the subject up. Even though we disagree on a few issues he has agreed to reach a set of rules that are going to be shared in the near future. It's progress.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Susan said...

I have the exact same problem. My husband says "I grew up in that enviroment and I am fine". And the smoke doesn't seem to bother him. My Mother-in-law seems to think that she is not smoking near him when she goes into the other room. But what she does is stand in the doorway and smoke. Its a fight we have each time we visit. And now she wants to keep my son on my business trip. My husband thinks it is a great idea. How can we ever see eye to eye???


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