I need help with something that is not pg related - long - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I figured I would post this on our DDC and ask for the advice from the women that I've been 'in contact' with and have made friends with over the past 9 months. This has nothing to do with my pregnancy but moreso a family issue that I'm really, really wanting to nip in the bud - either before Will arrives or after. But something needs to be done and I just don't know how to go about doing it. It effects my myself, DH, DS#1 and our future DS#2.

If any of you have any BTDT experience with this or any suggestions on how I could go about approaching this, please let me know. Before I begin, this has been brought to her attention several times and her knowing that it's coming from DH and I and how strongly we feel about this.

My mom is a smoker. A full, pack a day smoker and has been for 30 years. She's tried quitting a couple of times but has been unsuccessful. We've brought up to her several times of how we're not happy with DS coming home smelling like smoke. I have to wash the clothes that she just washed and his clothes that he hadn't used every single time. His hair smells like it, his skin, etc., I know she's not smoking around him, but when she comes in from outside, it's on her and therefore, it can get on him while she's playing or holding him. She smokes in her car with DS's carseat in it and will be the carseat the baby will be using in the future. My dad doesn't do much to try and help her so I'm not sure if mentioning something to him about this will help at all either.
At DS's b-day party, she just had to step out to go to her car to give me some body spray that she seriously could've given me at any other time, but it wasn't the spray, she needed a smoke. I was ticked. The festivities were going on and she needed to step out.

We have another baby arriving soon. I don't want this baby to smell like smoke after she's held him. And I don't want to deprive her from being around her grandchildren, but I'm becoming beyond fed up with all of this and I really have no idea how to approach the subject. My mom is my friend. No doubt about that, but she can become extremely defensive when you tell her she's in the wrong about something and something like this, even when I ask her to try and do it for her grandkids, doesn't seem to be enough. I'm at my wits end. I do know that our relationship has certainly changed once I had J. My opinions and perspectives about certain things - my attitude about certain things did a complete 180 and I still don't think she gets it.

Am I doing anything wrong? Am I leaving anything out? I've sent her countless things for her to look up online to help her get started to try and quit again. Why won't she made a valid effort to really kick this habit?? There's always some sort of an excuse with her, too - whether it has to do with smoking or not and I'm not just in the frame of mind right now to hear any of it. Why can't my demands and concerns be taken seriously? I really don't think they are.

Ok - that was long enough. I think I got my point across, but I really don't know what else to do or say.
If I rambled, I'm sorry. If none of it makes sense, I'm sorry about that, too. I just typed as it came to mind and it's just a whole mental mess for me right now.

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#2 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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That's a really difficult situation... I don't really know what I'd do.

But, whether or not she quits is her issue, not yours. She has to decide it's important to HER. I don't think that means she's not considering your feelings valid. Just that she hasn't decided that quitting outweighs the difficulty of quitting. KWIM?

However, your reaction to the smoke is YOUR issue. You have the right to feel however you feel about it, and if you are not comfortable with your baby smelling like smoke, don't let her hold him/her.

I know I would not send my 5 y.o. DS to spend time at a smoker's house, even if they didn't actually smoke in his presence. Just a thing I have... can't deal with smokers in a close way - don't want smokers in my life in a close way. People have the right to smoke, but I just don't want it in my life.

Of course, I don't have smokers in my family so that is an easy decision for me. I'm sure it would be much more complicated if someone close to me were a smoker. I guess what I'm trying to get across is that your feelings ARE valid, and maybe that means your children spend less time with their grandma, and that's okay, IMO.

(My kids spend less time with their grandparents because their grandparents are gun-loving conspiracy theorists. And I don't feel bad about it. )

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#3 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 05:27 PM
 
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At least your mom goes outside to smoke when the grandchildren are visiting! Not to dismiss your problem ... it is difficult.

My mom is a big smoker and so are my sister and her bil (although they smoke outside, never inside their own home). In fact the father of my children is also a smoker (daily but not very much and not in house or car etc.)

The smell of the smoke is gross and annoying. And it is definitely disturbing when your young child smells of smoke. yuck. I had to scrub us all when we returned from christmas break with my family.

My dad does not smoke and I fear he will end up with lung cancer due to my moms constant smoking. I wonder why he doesnt complain; the smoke drifts right into his face. I am sure he doesnt enjoy it. So I have this other anger issue to deal with...how my mom's smoking may cause him cancer.

A peculiar smoking scene: Every time we leave to go in the car, my mom OR partner have to light up first, before getting in. Even if they JUST had a smoke and then we get ready to go to the car, they light up again ... like its their last chance to smoke before they are in a forbidden area... and after the 10 minute drive to the store ... the smoke comes out and they light up. That is clearly a mental issue with them...not the need for a cigarette, but the need to light up every opportunity they can when they know they might not be able to freely smoke.

My mom and dad live 4 hours away. We visit her. I am not going to ban my child from going into her house. Nor am I going to give her ultimatums. I am the one bothered by the smell of the smoke and it hurts my eyes. So I move to a different room. I have smoked in the past (not daily or even weekly, but socially) and even enjoyed it so I try to factor this in and not make my mom feel too much like a leper.

It doesn't bother my child, at least, out rightly, to be in the same room with her. He plays happily in the room. I take the niece and my son outside to play, to get fresh air. And for the amount of time my child visits, I do not think it will cause him long term health concerns. SO I try to deal with my issue of the smell of it and try not to let it affect our relationship. Smokers are not bad people, but we unintentionally treat them that way.

I do not know what I will do with the new baby and visiting, except keep a low profile...stay in a different room when visiting (my parents have a pretty big and spacious house).

I work in an office that is street level and down an ally behind a hospital. The hospital workers are NOT allowed to smoke near the hospital so they come gather in front of my door and huddle (in the rain or cold weather) and smoke and talk. The smoke comes in the office, I hear their conversations - distracts me from working and they stand in the way of the door. It is infuriating...and I hear them complain about how the have to walk so far to have a cigarette, yet they think it is ok to block my doorway, my view and pollute "my air" and litter the ground around my office (50% throw their butts on the ground) ... and stand on private property and smoke. But what is worse is how I let it bother me. This is what I need to deal with!


I have no advise, just commiserating with you.

Sara - Mum to C (10/02) ; m/c 10/07; 7/08; 3/09; Lucy Olive Feb 28, 2010 !
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#4 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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I agree with chai that the decision to quit is ultimately hers, though the smoke residue issue is yours unfortunately. My dad didn't smoke for 20 years and started up again about 10 years ago - he only quit when he was basically told after an angiogram and having stents put in that he'd likely not make it if he continued to smoke. He only smoked outside and when I was home for a visit I couldn't smell residue. That being said, I would have had and if ever encounter a similar situation with anyone, a big issue with my kids being exposed to second or third hand smoke. The smell of smoke literally makes me gag and I simply won't put up with people exposing me to it (it's my air too!!). I usually avoid it as much as I can and of course, I'm not around people who smoke and there are laws here about it in bars and restaurants so it's not that much of an issue for me.

This article just came out yesterday: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35318118...th-addictions/ it is very brief but talks to the harm that third-hand smoke (smelly residue) creates.

Maybe you could just tell your mom that you understand that smoking is her choice but that you are concerned about the smoke exposure to your kids. Show her and your dad this article (I haven't checked to see if the study's text is available online). Does she watch your son daily or does he just go over there once in awhile? If it's daily, you may want to consider finding another place for him to go. If it's once in awhile, maybe you can meet at places that don't allow smoking or plan outings to your parent's home when you can all be outside.

I'd focus on the health effects to the kids and not your issue with her smoking. IMHO, I hear you about being concerned about her smoking, but you can't make her quit nor guilt her into quitting. You can tell her that if she should decide to quit that you'll be her biggest cheerleader and will support her in any way she needs, but until she decides to do so I think you're out of luck. I'd focus on science and health concerns and find a solution that works for you and your kids. Good luck!!

Thrilled to be expecting Baby #2 after 15 months TTC (a 30% drop in TTC time than Baby #1!)

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#5 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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Honestly, I know my answer is not going to be very helpful. But if any of our parents smoked, they would not get my child at all. Ever. They could come over to my house (provided they are wearing clean clothes and do not reek of it). But there would be no visits to their home and no car trips. I just feel that strongly about it. I think secondhand smoke is bad for everyone but especially for little ones that I won't go anywhere where people smoke and neither will they while I am in charge of them. And even if she doesn't smoke when he's actually present, it's still secondhand smoke when it comes from her clothes and furniture.

My mother's extended family all smoke but it's pretty much a non-issue because I intend to keep my distance from them from now on for other unrelated reasons. The only other person who smokes is my sister's fiance, and he supposedly only does it outside. Our babies will only be a few weeks apart but I won't leave mine alone in their house as long as he still smokes (no matter where) because I'm not comfortable with it.

If you've done everything you can so far to try to make her see how important it is, I can't really see how you have any other options besides accepting her smoking or not allowing her to keep the kids in her home or car. It's an addiction, and I understand it can be agonizing to try to quit but maybe that would give her the motivation, or at least not do it in the house or car anymore. It's one thing when it only affects yourself, but if it affects me or my baby, all bets are off. If that's the road you want to take you would probably be better off warning her of your decision and what she needs to do, and sticking firmly to it. At that point it's not about her or your feelings, it's about your kids' health.

Unless she's your babysitter or something, which would seriously complicate all that.

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#6 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 05:47 PM
 
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This is a tough one. I don't have much advice specifically relating to smokers, but I can share with you what I've learned about addiction in general from my mom's issues with alcohol and pills. The number one thing I can convey, and it really sucks, is that there's not much you can do. You can't convince an addict to quit. It has to come from them. They can, and probably will, tell you that they're committed to quitting, to cleaning up, to finding a new way to cope with things, etc. when prompted or confronted. But unfortunately, that doesn't mean anything until they decide it's time to make a change.

Having said that, it's perfectly reasonable to tell your mom gently and firmly how and why secondhand smoke is harmful, and why you don't want your sons exposed to it. You don't have to give an ultimatum, but maybe if you present it to her as "these are my children, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep them safe and healthy" it will resonate with her.

I'm not sure that's much help, but I can definitely commiserate, and I wish you the best of luck with this!
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#7 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 06:18 PM
 
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Very tough. Agree with the previous posters. Unfortunately smoking is a very strong addiction, and for someone who has smoked for thirty years, it is not only a physical addiction, but a behavioral one. And it is part of her identity: how she defines herself. Very very difficult to change your self-identity.

My BIL smokes, and my girls can NOT be around any type of smoke due to their preemie status. What we will have him do is not wear any clothes that he has smoked in that day. If he wants to hold them, he has to change his clothes. And obviously wash his hands (but so does everyone else).

I also agree that if you are that concerned about the car, do not let them in the car. It may be very inconvenient, but third hand smoke (which is what you are describing) can have health ramifications. And telling your mom that you will not allow your children to be in her car will further send the message that you are very serious about this.

Just let her know in an unjudgemental way. She should know the serious health risks of smoking and being around smoke. Tell her that she does have the choice to continue smoking, but as a consequence of that choice, you cannot allow your children to be in her care/car/whatever. You are looking after your children.

best of luck.
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#8 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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My own mother told both her long-time smoking parents when I was born (or may have been before) that they could not be around me period, especially visits to their house, if they continued to smoke. It wasn't meant to manipulate, my mom is very health conscious. They both quit (I was also first grandkid, so big incentive there!) and have never started again. My grandmother is totally disgusted by the smell now lol!

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#9 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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My mom started smoking when she was 15. Ever since I was little I have begged her to quit. ...and yeah, she's tried a few times...but I've pretty much given up on it. I know that she has to really really want to quit and no one, not even a begging pleading 5 year old daughter, could convince her, so my thought is that nothing will, other than herself. It's definitely a bummer, but addictions are strong, especially ones that they've had for so long. For my mom, like most, it's a stress/tension reliever. I know if I was addicted to something that worked like that me, and had been doing it most of my life, it would be extremely hard to quit. I think it takes a pretty strong willed person, and that is certainly not my mom.

So I hate it, but I just don't feel like there's anything I can do, so I've just sort of accepted it.

If she ever moved in with us, someday, I would probably try a little harder to convince her.
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#10 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 11:29 PM
 
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Yuck, I wouldn't be able to handle that, I REALLY hate smoking. But it's not just the smell, it's the health effects for the kids, and the possible example for them when they grow up, that smoking is okay.

I would feel pretty bad about it, but I wouldn't be okay with my kids going to a house or car where there is smoking. I'd probably want the grandma to take a shower before coming over, too. Ick.

Good luck.
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#11 of 18 Old 02-10-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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I definitely don't have a good solution to share, but I can commiserate. My MIL smokes and has since she was a teenager. She also used to work summers at a tobacco farm, and spend an hour after work vomiting from the toxins, then immediately light up a cigarette on her way home!

It hasn't been a huge issue for us thus far because we live quite a distance from her...we've never lived closer than 5 hours, and now the distance is even greater. We used to go visit them 3-4 times a year and stay with them, but now with the size of our family, that isn't possible, so our direct contact with them is very limited and it's very easy to escape when necessary.

Honestly, what bothers me more than her smoking (which she only does outside or in her vehicle, never in the house, and as smokers go, she is quite clean) is her addiction to air fresheners and room fragrance thingies of all sorts! I kid you not, she has purchased--usually in bulk--every candle/oil/spray/spritz/plug-in/gel/diffuser/smelly thingie ever created, in every available fragrance, and places them strategically All. Over. Her. House! I think her sense of smell is just so destroyed from smoking that she really has to pile it on to catch even a hint of it. While me and my kids are instantly hammered with headaches when we walk in! After we'd been married for about a year, we went to visit for a week and dh couldn't figure out why he had a constant headache. It never bothered him when he lived there, but once he'd been away long enough to heal and detox, going back into it meant almost instant migraines!

Anyway, I hope you can figure out a compassionate/kind/respectful way to approach it that still doesn't compromise your principles and what's best for your family! That's not asking too much, is it?

Sarah, Queen of Hearts, raising a Full House with Michael, King of my Heart!
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#12 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 12:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, mamas for sharing your stories, insights and well just replying and offering support. I typed up some words in an email that I'll post tomorrow (I saved it on my work email) to see if this sounds good to you all. I'm not sure if I should approach it face to face, via email, handwritten letter, card or just non-chalant some time while we're out together... I dunno. I mean, I know what I want to say but it's HOW to go about getting the message to her.

I really don't want it to be a case of me pointing a finger or gettign on her case about this, just wanting to reiterate some points that DH and I feel strongly about when it comes to her smoking.

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#13 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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While I can’t make you quit or control when and where you smoke, I can continue to voice my concern about Jack coming home smelling like smoke and with a new one on the way very soon, it’s been crossing my mind a lot more lately. I know that you don’t smoke around Jack when he’s over, but going outside and coming back in or going in the basement and coming back upstairs, it’s still on you and that can be passed on to him in ways that you don’t even realize. When you guys are snuggling and playing, it’s on your clothes and therefore it gets on his......When you smoke in the car on your way to our house and the car seat is in your car, it gets on the car seat and so on and so forth.

Again, this is not a situation of me pointing the finger at you, blaming you or saying that you’re a bad person in any way. You and Dad have been more than accommodating and understanding and we appreciate all that you do – more than you’ll ever know. This is just us, being parents, voicing our concern about your health as well as our kid’s health.


This is what I had in mind of saying, writing, or whichever.....

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#14 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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I think what you're saying is ok - though I would hesitate to send it via email. If you and your mom are close (and it sounds like you are), I would talk with her in person to leave no interpretation as is the case with email at times. I'd ask her out for coffee or have her stop over and tell her what you've written. See where the conversation goes and you can further make a decision afterwards. If she is adamant that there's nothing wrong with what's happening, you can have her read the most recent data on it and/or determine if you can come to a compromise or if there'll just be no more going over to her house or spending time in her car. You have to do what you have to do to keep your family safe according to what you and your DH feel is important. Your mom may not like what you have to say but she might very well understand. I do not envy your position, but you'll feel better once you voice your thoughts and it'll allow you to move forward.

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#15 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 03:33 PM
 
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I agree...email is not a good idea. Lots of misinterpretation and she cannot gauge properly the intent behind it. To me, email is less respectful. She deserves to hear it from you and also deserves to be able to share her thoughts with you in person. Email also puts you in a position of superiority...when ideally you want to come together and come up with a solution TOGETHER.

Invite her out for coffee. Tell her there is something on your mind that you want her help with. And go to her like that...this is a problem that you BOTH can try to find a solution to. Have her work WITH you to come up with something you will both be happy about.
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#16 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She called me this morning to check in and see how things were going. I could sense that she wanted to see me so I called her back an hour or so later and invited her out to lunch. We went to our usual place - chit chatted a bit - and then towards the end I opened up.

I started off by asking where she went to smoke while DS was over at her house and told her that the last time he was over, we could smell it on his clothes and his hair and that if she could change her clothes before she starts playing with him again. You could tell, just by the look on her face, that she was actually listening and that was nice. But she also repeated a few things that I said in a weird tone (not really sure how to describe it).
I just kept saying that this is very important to DH and I, that you're gonna have two grandkids now, just want you to be more aware of when you smoke and how clings to you and how it can get passed on to DS and his things, etc., etc., She said that she should really start trying to quit again. She even mentioned that a close friend of hers just quit and she was trying to get her to quit. She feels like she's got so much on her plate right now that she doesn't know how to relieve the stress otherwise.

So, it's been brought to her attention - she's aware of how we feel once again and we'll see if she takes the proper steps to avoid smoking when around the kids altogether - home and car.

I also mentioned that there are so many new avenues to take to try and quit - so much more information out there now than there was before we she tried to quit and she seemed to agree.

Again, only time will tell. But at least this is off my chest and my point has been made.

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#17 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 05:37 PM
 
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Great! I'm glad the two of you were able to talk and that you were able to get out your feelings. You have to start somewhere, and at least now she knows your feelings and your concerns. Another option I thought of since last replying was that you could also consider having them purchase or you purchase a hepa filter air cleaner for their home to help purify the air some as well. I agree that if she changing clothes assuming the smell isn't permeating through everything (I know at my dad's it wasn't, if you didn't see him smoke outside you might not know he smoked - the house was never smelly) is an option to reduce some of the thirdhand smoke.

Although I'd wait to see what happens, I would also think about what your next steps are should nothing change. Hopefully all will go well and maybe she'll even be able to cut back or maybe even be successful in quitting!

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#18 of 18 Old 02-11-2010, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JenBuckyfan View Post
Great! I'm glad the two of you were able to talk and that you were able to get out your feelings. You have to start somewhere, and at least now she knows your feelings and your concerns. Another option I thought of since last replying was that you could also consider having them purchase or you purchase a hepa filter air cleaner for their home to help purify the air some as well. I agree that if she changing clothes assuming the smell isn't permeating through everything (I know at my dad's it wasn't, if you didn't see him smoke outside you might not know he smoked - the house was never smelly) is an option to reduce some of the thirdhand smoke.

Although I'd wait to see what happens, I would also think about what your next steps are should nothing change. Hopefully all will go well and maybe she'll even be able to cut back or maybe even be successful in quitting!
Thanks!

Yeah, see that's the thing. Nothing has changed since the first time I talked to her about this, so I'm not sure if me bringing this up a 2nd time, having another little one enter this world, or the fact that others around her are quitting as well will help change things. I really, really don't want it to come down to her not being able to be around the kids - that would kill both of them and me. They've been super flexible since J was born with overnight stays and this and that - it would really be heartbreaking - but my kids come first!!

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