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post #21 of 85
There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect young children from lifestyles that you believe are unhealthy.

However, I'm not sure that the letter is really "the right thing". And I say this as a super-conservative Christian who also objects to drunkenness, cursing, smoking, and immodesty. I really and truly understand your concerns.

Here's the thing--you just can't control the world around you. What that letter will do is fuel a fire. Tensions are already high, and these family members do not respect your beliefs, so basically it would be like firing a salvo to start a war, even though that's not your intent.

What I would do: Continue the not-visiting-them policy. If and when they ask about that again, respond along these lines: "We love you, we're sorry we can't visit you because we feel your home is unsafe for the children for reasons we already discussed. But we would love to see you at our home if you're willing to respect our home and family rules."

Personally, I would leave the modesty issue alone. It's not a health/safety issue, and they aren't receptive to being taught another way, so harping on it is pointless. In private, teach your children modesty. Also teach them to understand that there is a person underneath the skimpy clothes and that their goal as Christians should be to look past the modesty fail and try to reach the heart of the person with the love of Christ.
post #22 of 85
I'm not religious.

I think you need to set some firm boundaries (sounds like you are getting there on this already) and then enforce them. You can't control other people's behavior. But you CAN and SHOULD enforce boundaries with other people, especially family. It sounds like some members of your family don't respect your verbal wishes. The only way to preserve your relationship with them (and that is one of the goals, right?) is to gracefully and non-confrontationally end the interaction whenever an inappropriate behavior occurs. If your FIL lights up in front of your kids (or is drunk, or spewing hateful speech, etc), you get up and leave, or he leaves your home. Every time. Until they get the point, or forever, whichever comes first.

IMO the only issue you can control here is your ability (inability?) to confront family members who violate your parental rules.
post #23 of 85
I think you need to pick your battles, instead of trying to make everything ideal. Stick to the simple question: Is this truly causing direct harm to my child?

On the smoking:
Being close to the smoking is obviously harmful to young lungs. This is therefore an important battle.

The house smelling like smoke, though unpleasant, is not actually causing any harm. Even if you managed to motivate your ILs to try to rid the house of the smell, is isn't a very easily achievable feat. Every piece of upholstered furniture would need to be redone, and every surface scrubbed. Most likely pressing the point would just result in them spraying lots of icky chemicals on everything. You may want to try to spend more time away from the house and in fresh air, but it isn't a winnable battle. I would just drop this battle.

Taking the children to establishments, that allow smoking at the entrance, is not going to harm them. You can hold your breath as you quickly walk past the couple of smokers. If you try to completely avoid such places, it makes it very hard for the ILs to go out with you. You need to realize that for a smoker being able to smoke is a physical need. (I know people quit, but that is a longterm physically painful and difficult process.) If you want to only go places where smoking is impossible than they can not spend much time with you. Asking them to simply step out side and away from the children is a reasonable compromise.

The drinking:
Other people drinking does not harm your child. It isn't within your rights to try to control others alcohol consumption.

Their behavior is another matter. Though you can not actually control it, you do have a right to object to it and leave. I would focus on the unacceptable behavior and not bog down about whether or not it is OK to drink.

The crude language:
People will talk the way they will talk. It is largely ingrained. I would point out when you hear them say things you would rather your DC not repeat, but not nitpick every utterance out of their mouths.

Your children will learn how to speak much more from you and their peers than from your ILs. Children whose grandparents came from other countries and speak heavily accented broken English do not also speak heavily accented broken English, they speak in the manner that is prevalent in the region they grow up in. Whether that is a Texan twang or a New England drawl, They speak what their peers speak.

Specifically hateful language is really more about behavior. If it crosses that line, then you should give a warning, but if it continues leave.

The immodest dressing:
This isn't doing anything to you DC. It isn't really your business. Your DC will see it out in the world anyway unless you put blinders on them every time you leave the house.
post #24 of 85
I'm going to speak in support of your decision...

When it comes to your house and the people you allow in it YOU get to make the rules. If that means having a sweater collection to give those dressed immodestly then so be it. If that means not allowing people to smoke around your house then that's your choice.

When you go to someone else's house the rules change. That's just the way it is. You can make requests ("Lets keep the booze out of sight when we're there and wear clothes when you get out of the shower, please.") Just always keep in mind that you can't make demands at another house. That's not really your place.

I don't think you're trying to shelter your child from the world (as several posters seem to think) I can understand wanting those that are a DIRECT INFLUENCE on your child (family) to be a good example. I can totally get behind that. There are several people in DH's family that probably won't be allowed to have contact as our children get older because of their behavior and lifestyles. I also agree that they're at impressionable ages. Seeing FIL smoke or have the occasional drink may plant a seed.

I don't think that you're being judgemental. You never said, "You're terrible people because XYZ and THAT is why we have nothing to do with you." You've made the request that these things are unacceptable in your eyes and you want to make sure that your children have those morals set while they're young.
post #25 of 85
Did you not know these things about FIL and SIL before u married into the family?
post #26 of 85
Uhhh... last I checked there wasn't actually any commentary in the Bible on smoking and the Bible is pretty dang pro-wine. So uhm, trying to say that you want your children to be brought up Christian so they can never have any exposure to people who smoke or drink is uhm stretching things more than a little.

I'm pretty ok with cutting parents out of ones life--my mother is pretty psycho. (Like... literally psychotic.) It seems to me that you are nitpicking here. You don't get to have this kind of control over everyone. If you just don't want your kids to know your families you should be a bit more upfront and honest about it. It sounds an awful lot like even if they jump through hoops for you at some point you might raise the bar again. That's not so awesome.
post #27 of 85
Your rules are all quite sensible from a physical/emotional health perspective, but they don't have much to do with Christianity as I understand it. For instance, the Bible is pretty clear about respecting our parents, but smoking cigars is not much of an issue I kept a kind and respectful relationship with my smoking dad by asking him to shower before he came over (my son has lung disease from being a micro-premie). My IL were new to Christianity when my DH was little. They kept their distance from "unsavory" family. Now....my by the time they were teenagers DH and his bro drank, did drugs, smoked (bro still does) got tattoos, dated immodest girls (is that where I come in??) and have almost no relationship with their grandparents they also began to doubt their faith and so far they haven't recovered it I let my son have a very close relationship with my in-laws even though they do and say things I do not believe in. Many MDCers would keep their kiddos away from people like them, but I believe family relationships and relationships in general are extremely important. It's also important to keep your kids healthy and it sounds like keeping them away from smoke is important. I would find a different way of doing that. Also, by labeling those things as un-Christian you run the risk of messing with your kids faith. Kids can smoke, drink and wear skimpy clothes and still be Christian, but if they get the wrong messages young...they may tell themselves that they aren't Christian anymore when the experiment with stuff. This happened to A LOT of people we know. There are plenty of Christians who smoke, drink and have tons of visible tatoos. Something to think about...
post #28 of 85
Coming from a non-religious person who married into a Muslim family.... I know that my in-laws feel that my dress is "immodest." I am sure that some relatives would rather I cover my head and wear something different. I don't go around in miniskirts and belly shirts because I do have respect for these people, and I in no way mean to insult them. However, I would never cover myself to the extent they do because it goes against my personal beliefs.
I can assure you that if anyone ever asked me to dress differently in their home or around their family, we would never see those relatives again, and my husband would wholly support that.

Asking someone not to smoke around your kids? Fine. Asking someone not to drink in YOUR home? Fine. Asking people to watch their language around your kids? Again, fine, though I'd expect some slip-ups from even the most well-intended person on this one.

But sending that letter, or asking someone to dress differently, is taking a step too far and could ruin any chance of a relationship.
post #29 of 85
Run away from the letter. If you want to control the environment, I'd work on having the get togethers at your place or somewhere neutral.

We don't bring our kids to smokers homes. It's fortunately not that hard, and most smokers more than understand. I don't let people smoke around the kids, though my mom is a smoker and I'm sure they are exposed to some third hand smoke on her clothes and skin. That said, at best, she sees them once a week for a few hours, so I'm not worried about the risk any more than environmental pollutants and the loving relationship she has with them is really important.

No one near us drinks to the point of drunkeness. However I would make that a rule in your house. At a neutral site, I'd just make it clear, the minute FIL starts knocking them back, is the minute you leave.

Same with abusive language. We're Christian, but we do occasionally cuss, it's not a big deal. We don't do it around the kids, though I have been known to drop a nasty word in the car while driving. They know they're not supposed to say those words and that mommy is wrong for saying them. I can't tell you how many times I've been scolded by my oldest for saying something like stupid or shoot. I'd ask ILs to cut it down, I wouldn't come at it from a "We're trying to teach our kids to be good Christians" perspective, because I know many a good Christian who can swear up a good streak, but rather "They're young and repeating everything, so we need you on board with this. We're going to have to split if it's not under control." If someone is being abusive in their language directly towards someone, then you leave.

Clothing. Respectfully, I think you're pushing it. You cannot tell people how to dress. Jesus hung out with people who were likely provocatively dressed for the time. I think you can too. You can always explain to your children that this is how so and so dresses, but your family doesn't.

I think ultimately you cannot control people. You can ask and remind if need be. Anything that is a physical or emotional health issue, I'd stay firm, but things like clothing, or someone occasionally swearing (if they're trying not to-it's a hard habit to break) I think you need not be so rigid.
post #30 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by *bejeweled* View Post
I respectfully say this---It sounds like you want to keep them from much of the world. Is this healthy?
I have to agree. The more you keep your kids isolated, the harder--I think, anyway--it will be for them to live in a bigger world. I totally agree that you should ask people not to smoke in your kids' presence. And I also agree that your kids shouldn't be exposed to drunken abuse.

But people in the world swear, and smoke, and drink, and have any number of vices we don't want our children to pick up. I think it's our job to show our kids how to deal with these things (i.e. ask someone to please put their cigarette out, teach kids that alcohol is for adults and in moderation, etc.) so they can make decisions on their own.

Anyway, that's just my 2 cents' worth.

ETA: I was just thinking of that program "19 Kids and Counting", where the family is very Christian and modest. They practice that within their family, but they seem to have no problem with other people drinking or dressing immodestly and so on. They teach their beliefs, but show their kids that they also live in a bigger world. KWIM?
post #31 of 85
Well, from a Christian standpoint, I don't see that this is how Christians are supposed to respond to people - especially those who are not Christian themselves.

I think what Karen said about parenting with grace is very much to the point.

You might find the book "Grace Based Parenting" a useful read.
post #32 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
I forgot to mention DS and I have asthma, which is the main part of our stance against smoke.
This is the ONLY point that matters.

The only one. The rest is just going to cause relationship problems.

I'm not a Christian, but my parents and sister are all fundamentalist. They disapprove of the books we read, the movies we watch, the clothes we wear. "Modest" is totally a judgment call, and my sister was deeply bothered by my DDs wearing sundresses with spaghetti straps because, to her, that was immodest. My kids looked cute.

It is completely reasonable to not allow people to smoke around your asthmatic child. It is completely reasonable to expect adults to stay sober around children. However, someone having a glass of wine or a bottle of beer in their own home really isn't your business. How other people dress isn't your business. At all.

Your children are stronger and smarter than you give them credit for. You don't need to control everybody else for them to learn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
[FONT="Verdana"We're wanting to control the environment our kids are in as long as we can.
[/FONT]
You can't control the rest of the world, esp. your father in law. You can love him the way he is (which is what Jesus would do) or you can cut him out and then some day explain to your grown children that you didn't let them have a grandfather growing up because he said bad words.


When you love a smoker....

I used to take my kids to see my grandmother, who was a chain smoker. We talked about it. We talked about what smoking does to a person, what the word "addiction" means, and how everyone has flaws. We talked about loving people inspite of their flaws.

My grandmother died of a smoking related cancer a few years ago, and it broke my heart. I miss her very much. I'm very glad that I let my kids get to know her, and that she got to enjoy them.

I wish that she hadn't smoked because may be I would still have her around. I don't regret one minute of the time that I spent with her with my kids.

My kids hate cigarettes. Caring about someone and then watching them die from cancer is a powerful experience. You don't need to raise your kids in a bubble for them to figure which path makes more sense.
post #33 of 85
I dunno... I"m sort of in agreement with you in 1-4--

I'm a teetoler and would not (under a certain age) have my kids around alcohol. I also understand about not cursing and taking smoking outside of the house. I would have a problem with number 4 though-- I guess cause it just seems so personal and arbitrary. Smoking, cursing, drinking are all well defined. But I can't imagine turning my sister a way because her shirt was too low cut.
post #34 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
Maybe the letter isn't clear, or maybe I'm not making myself clear, but we're not wanting to cut people out of our lives. We're wanting to control the environment our kids are in as long as we can.
But is doesn't seem like you're trying to control his environment, you're trying to control people. If your family were willing to quit smoking, quit drinking, stop cursing, and wear clothes you find appropriate, and otherwise conform to your world-view, then you'd accept them. I don't think that is a wise thing to teach children. That just shows that your personal worldview is of primary importance, that a persons' worth is measured against how well they conform, and shared humanity is of secondary importance, or perhaps not important at all.
post #35 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
The house smelling like smoke, though unpleasant, is not actually causing any harm.
While I'm not going to get into whether it's a legit reason to not go to grandma's house, I just wanted to mention that third hand smoke (the chemical residue left behind after smoking) is toxic and could be a health risk particularly to babies and small children.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...ird-hand-smoke
post #36 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Attached2Elijah View Post
I can understand wanting a family member to wash their hands and not smoke around said children.

I can understand asking them to not drink around your children.

I can understand asking them to not curse around your children.

I can understand disagreeing with the way someone is dressed and simply teaching your children that we don't dress that way.

I can not understand possibly cutting them completely out of your life over these things. They have a right to live their life as they see fit even if you disagree with it. Your children are going to come across ALL of these things in life, maybe not now, but eventually and you should, instead, teach them that it's not something that you wish them to participate in but to give your family ultimatums in order to be able to see your children... probably not the best Christian lesson to teach them. I also don't understand why you need to write a letter/set of rules out instead of just asking "Could you not smoke/drink/curse around our children?" I have done this on more then one occasion and it's never turned into an argument... I would never think about writing out instructions though. That just seems over the top.
:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxella View Post

Overall, no one wants a swearing, smoking, half-naked drunk around their children. So, really no one should have a problem with those rules. But, not smelling like smoke would be REALLY hard for a smoker. IME, even when a smoker comes out of the shower there's still a lingering smoke smell. Also, lets say they shower, don't smoke and come right to your house. If they drove, their car probably smells like smoke and that will linger and cling to them.

I would think just not smoking around your children would be enough. Why does grandpa smell like that? He just does, everyone smells a little different. If their house is so filled with a smoke smell that you feel it's toxic, then you just can't visit there. I'd just tell them, I'm very concerned about the long term effects of the lingering smoke in your house and the health and well being of my children. It's nothing personal, it's about the known toxins in cigarette smoke.
Word


Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect young children from lifestyles that you believe are unhealthy.

However, I'm not sure that the letter is really "the right thing". And I say this as a super-conservative Christian who also objects to drunkenness, cursing, smoking, and immodesty. I really and truly understand your concerns.

Here's the thing--you just can't control the world around you. What that letter will do is fuel a fire. Tensions are already high, and these family members do not respect your beliefs, so basically it would be like firing a salvo to start a war, even though that's not your intent.

What I would do: Continue the not-visiting-them policy. If and when they ask about that again, respond along these lines: "We love you, we're sorry we can't visit you because we feel your home is unsafe for the children for reasons we already discussed. But we would love to see you at our home if you're willing to respect our home and family rules."

Personally, I would leave the modesty issue alone. It's not a health/safety issue, and they aren't receptive to being taught another way, so harping on it is pointless. In private, teach your children modesty. Also teach them to understand that there is a person underneath the skimpy clothes and that their goal as Christians should be to look past the modesty fail and try to reach the heart of the person with the love of Christ.
Yep. I completely agree. And thanks for weighing in from a conservative Christian perspective.
post #37 of 85
I think family is more important than how someone dresses or whether someone is sober or not, though if they act badly when they are drunk then I would reassess that. If you are not able to be around the cigaretted smoke because of your health then I think you should just use that excuse and invite people over but make it clear smoking isn't allowed.

I agree with numbers 1-3 personally, but I have addressed it by not allowing smoking in my home or on my property, not having drinks in my home, and talking to my dd about why we don't do these things from a health and/or moral perspective. The swearing is hard because it is often an ingrained habit and the people who do it see no problem with it. I usually cut in and say that we have young ears around and that reminder is usually all it takes.

This letter is probably going to cause some anger and may cause them to think you are trying to cut them off. If they ignore the letter you have nothing you can do except cut them off. I think you should think carefully about how much your husbands family matters to all of you and whether you really want to start animosity over their lifestyle choices if you can accept some things and use your health as an excuse for other things. If you and your husband are willing to cut his family off because they don't have the same beliefs than by all means take a firm stance, but if you aren't then the letter will be pointless and may undermine compromise tactics. I think it is best to start small then go to something like the letter later if it gets to a point where you and your husband agree to cut them off.
post #38 of 85
I'll be brutally honest here, if anyone sent me a letter of that sort, they would be welcome to not interact with my family again- ever. It's very much a holier-than-though approach and I would not want to spend even a moment with someone who perceived themselves as a Christian, but used that faith as a tool to pass judgment on myself or my family members. I can't believe that a letter like this wouldn't cause an irreparable rift within the family.

My father smokes- and while I certainly don't approve- I can't control his actions. He knows he can't smoke around the kids because there is a significant health impact. My 8 year old knows he smokes, she knows I don't approve, and she knows it's unhealthy. She also knows that it isn't her job to pass judgment on his choice.

DH does not drink, and while I might have half a beer or a glass of wine a couple times a year, I am pretty darn tee-totaling the vast majority of the time. I won't allow my kids around someone intoxicated, but someone having a beer in the evening is not going to somehow corrupt them since the far greater influence is our home and the values we teach them.

Cursing? There's a level of common decency- why can you not simply ask (when it happens and you are there with the kids) that people be aware of little ears. I have never encountered someone so bent on cursing that they weren't compliant with a gentle and respectful reminder that small ears were listening. If someone did not care, I would - in that moment- remove myself and the children from the situation. On the other hand, cutting off contact with people because they swear when they stub their toe or drop a pan is going to result in a very lonely existence.

As for immodest dress- well- I can't quite grasp why what is right for you and your children has to be shared by everyone. Obviously, if Auntie is in a g-string and pasties hanging on a stripper pole out front when you arrive you may need to address the issue with the kids, but beyond that- it's really a non-issue.

There have been some great passages here about these issues, and I urge you to visit them, and consider them before you create a problem that does not need to be created.
post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by becca_howell View Post
At the end of it all, we had to realize that we are responsibile for our children's physical, emotional and mental health and being around a smoking, cursing, drunken (when FIL is drunk, he is abusive in speech as well) person no matter what relation they are to us, is detrimental to their overall health.
how is imposing such strict rules taking care of your children's emotional and mental health?

how is cutting out close family members taking care of their emotional and mental health?

if you want your wishes known, perfect.

you want to send them a letter. OK. just NOT that letter. it is sooo strongly worded. it is rude, impolite and extremely, extremely arrogant - and it will tear up the family.

there is already perhaps some issues going on with your family dynamics. this letter will be as someone wrote like an atom bomb going off.

i would rewrite that whole letter completely. do NOT pontificate. i know perhaps you get all emotional writing it, dont make commands, make requests.

i am sure if you posted here that you'd like help to write a genuine letter requesting the above - parents here would be happy to help you out.

there are many, many in your situation.
post #40 of 85
I grew up around people who were very judgmental towards smokers/drinkers/immodest dressers and I really resent it now. I ended up with a holier than thou attitude and got some pretty harsh feedback as an adult. That is something that I would be very careful of.
Now I honestly think that smokers get a totally unfair amount of blame. There has been such a huge push to get people away from smoking (which would be great! I totally think it is gross) that many people now have a knee-jerk reaction about smoking and how disgusting it is, without giving equal weight to the other air contaminates that are equally bad asthma triggers (at least for some people). To me the smoking is a cultural issue, not a Christian one.
I also don't think that it's fair to identify drinking as a problem (in regard to others, if you choose not to yourself, that's fine!), I think that behavior is the issue I would focus on. If drinking is causing inappropriate behavior then that is not ok, but I wouldn't make it about the drinking. I won't go out to dinner with the relatives I have who made such a public point about their disgust with people who drink. I like to have a glass of wine occasionally and I don't want to have to worry about that criticism, even if they don't say it out loud anymore.
Modesty is something that I have always thought of as a personal issue and not something to impose or judge others by at all. Dress modestly so that people focus on the parts of you that you want them to, so your body won't be a distraction to them. However, you are responsible for your own thoughts about another person, and being able to focus on who they are (not their body) regardless of what they are wearing.

I think that family (and any person, really) is more important than any of these issues. I hope you are able to have a peaceful relationship with these relatives

I would also not send the letter. I write letters like that all the time. I find it useful for myself to sort my thoughts out, but I don't send them.
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