Parents can be protective of their children. But when this new mom demanded that her smoker mother-in-law change clothes and shower prior to seeing the new bundle of joy, she might have crossed a line. While mom simply wanted to protect her infant from the deadly consequences of tobacco smoke, the grandmother felt attacked and betrayed by the new house rule – and now people across the internet are engaging in a debate over whether mom went too far or not.
The mother wrote her thoughts into Slate’s parenting advice column called Care and Feeling. She explained that she is worried that the smoke her mother-in-law carries into the home on her clothes and hair could harm the little child. This is what she said:
“I am expecting my first baby soon. When the baby is born, my in-laws will be coming for a visit. My mother-in-law is a heavy smoker. I’m not worried about her smoking in front of my child, but after researching thirdhand smoke, I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette. My husband and I have decided that after she smokes, she needs to shower and change her clothes before she can pick up the baby.
“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. 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?”
The columnist was stunned and wrote back, “Are you f***ing kidding me? I used to light cigarettes for the elders in my family!” However, she then got down to business, because “thirdhand smoke is a real thing apparently, so kudos to you for taking it seriously.”
She added, “When she’s visiting you, I think you can be strict about this. 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. You may want to stay in a hotel for that reason.”
The columnist even suggested that by challenging the smoker, it might help her reevaluate her lifestyle.
“With any luck, this will spur her to take a second look at her relationship to smoking and maybe even cause her to let go of something that is clearly standing in the way of being with her grandbaby.”
In the end, the columnist left the concerned mother with the following advice: “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.”
Do you think this mother should ask her mother-in-law to change clothes and shower before seeing the child because she’s a smoker? Or has this millennial mom gone too far?
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