New parents can be very protective of their little ones. Some parents expect visitors to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before they’re even allowed to handle the infant. These parents fear that germs will get close to the baby and make them sick. But one mother of an infant might have gone too far when she forbid her mother-in-law from touching the baby unless she has changed her clothes and showered – all because the mother-in-law is a heavy smoker.
Because mom wants what is best for her baby, and it is her baby, she has the right to decide who gets to see the little one. No one is going to stand up for an infant like its own mother, which explains why mom is taking every precaution possible to give the baby a chance to grow up healthy and strong. But second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke (like the kind of clothes) can be very dangerous when exposed to a baby. That’s why mom feels like she has every right to demand her mother-in-law shower and change clothes if she wants to see the baby after smoking a cigarette or two.
The mother-in-law felt that this rule was very rigid and unfair. She had already agreed not to smoke anywhere near the baby. But to not be allowed to enter the home smelling like smoke? When was she supposed to get her nicotine fix?
The mother instituted the strict policy because she did not want her infant to be exposed to the harms of smoking. So long as the mother-in-law did not smoke before coming over to see the baby, she was allowed to handle the child and cuddle up with the little one as much as she wanted. But if she smoked before coming to visit the baby, then she was expected to both shower and change her clothes to make sure the baby was not exposed to the smell of tobacco smoke.
Although many people can see the mother’s side of things, it is also easy to see that the mother-in-law would be pretty upset not to be allowed to handle her grandchild. However, the strict rule only applies if the grandmother has smoked recently.
The mother wrote to a columnist to get some advice. They responded with some feedback that should hopefully help the pair reach a compromise.
“I take this opportunity to remind you that you are perfectly within your right to ask for what you want. Her response to that is her business, not yours.”
The adviser continues, “When she’s visiting you, I think you can be strict about this. When you are visiting them, I think 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. You may want to stay in a hotel for that reason.”
What do you think about this compromise? Is it reasonable for the mother to make such a demanding request of her mother-in-law who smokes cigarettes?
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