A letter written to an advice column by an anonymous mom-to-be expressed that she was already concerned about what will happen when her in-laws visit her soon-to-be born baby.
“I’m not worried about her smoking in front of my child,” the woman explained, “but after researching thirdhand smoke, I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette.”
Well according to the Mayo Clinic , thirdhand smoke is the residual nicotine and chemicals left on indoor surfaces from tobacco smoke.
“People are exposed to these chemicals by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the off-gassing from these surfaces,” the Mayo Clinic explained. “This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix including cancer causing compounds, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers — especially children.”
“To combat thirdhand smoke, the woman and her husband decided to ask her MIL, whom she describes as a “heavy smoker,” to shower and change her clothes every time she touches the baby if she smokes. But they don’t know how to broach the topic without upsetting her.”
“We don’t want my mother-in-law to feel ostracized, and we don’t want to hurt her feelings, but obviously, those are likely potential outcomes,” she wrote. “How can we still be welcoming and let her know we are excited to have her around while still setting these boundaries? Also, how long should we remain this strict about the issue? How should we handle this when we are visiting my in-laws?” she asked.
“To insist on a full shower and complete change of clothes strikes me as extreme, obsessive and ultimately perhaps punitive — a passive aggressive comment on a practice of which the daughter-in-law disapproves,” one person wrote.
Someone also agreed that this would only drive a wedge between the grandmother and her grandchildren. “I’m super against smoking, I think it’s a little extreme to request clothing changes and showers from someone who will be a pretty rare visitor,” the user wrote. “If your goal is for your MIL to never see your kid, go ahead with this.”
Another person told the mom to ask her doctor for some advice. “I am not sure what your exact plan is, fresh clothes and shower after every cigarette? Grandma is going to feel shamed and unhappy, and what a sad start that will be to their relationship. If you don’t trust internet randos, ask a pediatrician to weigh in on what the risk is and how to mitigate it,” the person commented.He argued that if she felt strongly about her MIL’s thirdhand smoke, she needs to set boundaries stat.
“I know you don’t want your mother-in-law to feel ostracized, and I know that’s a likely outcome of stating what your needs are here, but I would take this opportunity to remind you that you are perfectly within your rights to ask for what you want; her response to that is her business, not yours,” he added.
When her MIL comes to visit, Wallace advised that she be strict about her request. “When you are visiting them, I think you have to, for necessity’s sake, be less so. It’s not possible for them to clear all residual smoke and nicotine off of everything in their home,” he wrote.
“You may want to stay in a hotel for that reason.”But that doesn’t mean that the mom shouldn’t make it a point of setting her intention with love. “It’s important for her to know that you welcome her and love her as part of your family, so be sure to say in clear and explicit language that you welcome her and love her,” he added.
“Her hurt feelings may interfere with her ability to hear it, but that’s fine. She can just deal with it.”
Perhaps knowing that her habit is affecting her relationship with her grandchild, might just help her kick the habit.
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