“My Husband Won’t Let Our Baby Visit My Mother Because She Smokes”

My husband and I recently had our first baby, and my mom is super excited and has transitioned into all-out Grandma Mode. She lives two hours away and keeps talking about all the visits from the new baby, including this holiday season. She even surprised us with the news that she renovated the house to make space for the baby. My husband is completely freaking out because my mom is a smoker. I don’t like the fact that my mom smokes either. She’s managed to quit a few times, but some other stressor in life always takes over – my father’s death, a sister with cancer, taking care of her ailing parents – and she starts smoking again.

My mom’s smoking has always been an issue between me and my husband. He doesn’t like us to visit because of the smoke. I visit my mom far less often than I’d like because my husband refuses to go. Sometimes we only go once a year. We’ve come up with a little protocol when we go: We take our own pillows, do laundry immediately after we get home, and ask my mom not to smoke around us. It’s not perfect, but it makes a big difference and it means I get to see my mom. Now, my husband absolutely refuses to let the baby go. No visits to grandma’s house, even for the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong – I care very much about the baby’s health and fully understand the dangers of second-hand and third-hand smoke. However, becoming a new mom myself has me reflecting on how little time I get to spend with my mom. I’m heartbroken at the idea that my daughter and mother might not get the kind of relationship I’d like them to have.

What do I do? Oh, and to head off one seemingly obvious solution: My mom has limited travel ability because she cares for her parents and has a dog. She can usually do quick afternoon trips to see us, but can’t stay a full day or overnight. — Up in Smoke

Look, I can’t stand cigarette smoke either, so I sympathize that you have to deal with it in your mom’s presence, I do. But it’s not enough of a reason to sacrifice a relationship with her. And it certainly isn’t reason enough to sacrifice a relationship between her and her granddaughter. That you would even consider letting your husband who, quite frankly, sounds like a real control freak, make a decision that has such heartbreaking ramifications is alarming. I only hope he doesn’t try to control every other aspect of your relationship and life together.

Now, the good news: you do not have to sacrifice a relationship with your mother no matter how adamant your husband is about keeping her away from your grandchild. You can simply tell him you’re going to visit your mother and take the same precautions you’ve taken with yourself and that’s that. A weekend in a smoker’s home isn’t going to kill your baby, especially if the smoker is refraining from smoking and you stay in a part of the home that she keeps smoke-free. You can also talk with your mother about how important it is to you that she enjoy a long relationship with your child and that to help ensure that, it would mean the world to you if she’d attempt to quit smoking to lengthen her life, improve her health, and make her home a safer and more comfortable place to bring your family.

In addition, you could look into staying at a motel or an airbnb in her area when you visit. And if you drove early in the morning and left late the next evening, you could get close to two full days with your mother for the under $200. And here’s another thought: if you each drove on hour, you could meet at a halfway point and enjoy an afternoon together where no one would have to shell out for a motel OR carry extra pillows and do laundry immediately upon their return home. What if you planned to do this every three months? One Saturday or Sunday every three months to maintain a relationship with your mother sounds like a pretty good deal. And it sounds like it would bring your mother some much-needed joy.

If you aren’t willing to put in a two-hour drive every few months to maintain a relationship with your mother and help foster a relationship between her and your daughter, then there’s more going on here than just the cigarette smoking. I don’t know if that something has more to do with your relationship with your mother or with your husband, but something is amiss, and I hope you’ll do some soul-searching and deal with the real issue — if there is, in fact, another issue — before your daughter loses out on what could be one of the most special relationships in her life.

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  1. kerrycontrary says:

    I think all of Wendy’s suggestions are great. Maybe you could suggest to your mother that she not smoke in the house anymore and wash her hands immediately after coming in? This could put some of your husbands fears at ease. Wendy is right that you should see your mother more often. My parents live 2 hours away and I probably see them every 4-6 weeks. Heck, my sister lives 6 hours away from them and she probably sees them every 6 weeks with either her visiting or them visiting her.

    1. I agree, is there some way you could ask your mother to refrain from smoking in the house, or at least to only smoke outside a couple weeks before and during your visit, and have her just air out the house as much as possible? There has to be some way around this, I used to be a smoker and now cig smoke makes me very sick, so I can see both sides of the issue. Your mother sounds like a good woman, please don’t let this ruin your relationship. Time is very fleeting.

      1. Yeah, my mom smoked in the house for most of my growing up. She quit when I was a teen, re-started, but after that realized how grody it made the house and only smoked outside. SMOKING IS TOTES GROSS AND IS BAD FOR YOU AND MAKES EVERYTHING SMELL FOR MILES. Anyway, there are ways around this. If this mother is not willing to smoke outside for the duration of your visit, then maybe the garage? A guest bath with the fan on? Near an open window? And only that spot until you leave? Surely she must understand how you want to keep the baby healthy. Most smokers don’t want the lecture, but they still know that smoking isn’t good for anyone.

  2. LW, I would kill to be in your situation and have my mother just 2 hours away. I have lived on a different continent from my mother for the past 9 years and it maks me beyond sad to know that when I eventually have children, they won’t be able to see their grandparents very often. There are ways to work this out (start with your husband) so make sure you invest some time and energy into this – you won’t be sorry.
    Best of luck to you!

    1. My grandpa (when he was alive) and my grandma live on a different continent from most of my family, and from elementary school through middle school my mom would send me to spend time with them for half of the summer. I’m in college now & I talk with my grandma every time I go home (can’t call long distance on my cell at school). Maybe you can do something similar when you have kids so they can be close to their grandparents too 🙂

  3. Yeah, my parents are about 1.5 hours from me and I see them basically every other weekend. At least. (Wow, I sound like a real homebody.) But it’s TOTALLY a manageable distance to do on your own.

  4. Your husband has no right to prohibit your child from seeing her grandmother. Is he really so clean air obsessed, or is there some other issue at play here?

    The compromise you & your mother already have in place is more than enough to keep the baby away from harmful smoke. If she built a new addition to the house, doesn’t light up around you, & uses fresh laundry– your husband is over-worrying. I’d talk to him about this, & definitely keep all of Wendy’s suggestions in mind.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      I think you may be onto something. There seems like some other issue at play. Did he used to smoke and doesn’t want to be tempted? Did someone close to him die from smoking related illness? Does he just hate your mother? This can’t all just be about secondhand smoke.

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        Also, there’s always the possibility that this is a case of “First Child Syndrome,” where parents are especially (over)protective and vigilant about things like handwashing, germs, etc. He may be scared about all the things he can’t control about the new baby coming and this is a danger he can protect the baby from. It usually wears off by the 3rd kid. And is in no way abusive –(but is both mildly amusing and annoying to watch).

      2. SpaceySteph says:

        This explains the thing with the new baby but not why the LW has been restricted to seeing her mom only once a year for awhile now. Her husband pitches a fit about visiting the mother at all.

      3. 6napkinburger says:


    2. Too true, Fabelle. My instant thought was “This isn’t about smoking. This is about control.”

      LW, your husband’s reaction to your defiance of his wishes, should you choose to, will be VERY informative!

  5. Addie Pray says:

    Now I miss my mom. I’m so blue. She was here last week, and I broke her. (I let her go out of a restaurant first and she missed a step and fell and broke her wrist – the right one – her painting hand, her emailing hand, her flip-the-channel hand, her make-me-a-sandwich hand. … New rule: I always exit first so I can tell my mom to watch her step – what the fuck was I thinking?!)

    Oh and WWS for sure!

    1. Addie Pray says:

      Confession: I smoked 2 cigarettes last night with my neighbor, and I woke up with my chest burning on the inside. … I’m not doing that again!

  6. THIS IS YOUR MOTHER! Go visit her.

    Gah, this makes me so upset. I´d kill for a chance to see my mom again and I wish she´d be able to see her grandchildren grow up, when I eventually decide to have them.

    You only get one mom. Value her. ( as long as she´s not abusive or anything, obv.)

  7. parton_doll says:

    LW, I am an adult asthmatic who also had bad asthma as a child. I agree with Wendy, there are definitely precautions that you can take so that you and the baby can visit your mom. You said that she just renovated. That’s a great opportunity to designate smoke free areas in the house for you and the baby. It may also be a good time to see if she can start smoking outside in an effort to keep her house more smoke-free (if you all live in an area where that is possible). I grew up with a dad who smoked and it never really triggered my asthma at all. I was much more effected by dust in the house. Hope this helps and congratulations on your new addition.

    1. Temperance says:

      See, I’m an adult asthmatic who has allergy-induced asthma triggered by secondhand smoke exposure. My grandmother’s selfish habit (she refused to stop smoking around me, or to visit me at my home … a whopping 10 minutes from her place) is what makes me so sick.

      I really hope that the LW will reconsider bringing her healthy baby into a smoke-filled home. Her husband isn’t out of line here. He sounds like a dick, but his baby’s health is at stake. Maybe it’s because smoke is what made me sick, but I don’t think he’s wrong. I think everyone here is just too pig-headed to see the other options.

      LW can get a hotel or motel room near her mother’s home, and keep the baby away from smoke. LW’s mother can start only smoking outside and try quitting again, while also professionally cleaning her home to get the smoke out. LW’s mother can try to visit her, too, finding some respite care for her parents.

      1. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        Now, I’m also an adult asthmatic who has a smoke-trigger, and I DO think that the LW husband is being unreasonable.

        My mom’s sister smoked, and as a child I would go over to her house a lot. I would usually end up with bronchitis if I stayed overnight more than two nights, but if it was just one overnight or just a day trip- I was fine. But you know, I wouldn’t trade the memories with her for anything. I think it’s cruel to absolutely forbid a child to spend time with a family member if that family member is stable and kind.

      2. I’m an adult asthmatic as well, and my smoke trigger has decreased a lot in recent years, but pretty much every adult in my grandmother’s generation of our family smokes. I’ve done fine during visits to their house, mainly because they smoked outside and it never bothered me.

        We are also talking about this from the perspective that we have *asthma*, which is a medical condition that can make you sensitive to the environment. A young baby who is visiting a house where someone may live who smokes but is not smoking around them, is not going to suffer consequences from this. I mean, my aunt raised two wonderful, healthy children, all while fighting a smoking addiction.

        I would never forbid my mother from seeing my child over something like a bad habit. As long as she’s going outside and not smoking a cigarette while holding the baby, I think she’s fine.

      3. Temperance says:

        See, my issue is that secondhand smoke exposure can CAUSE asthma. You do NOT want your baby to get this awful disease if you can avoid it.

      4. BettyBoop says:

        Secondhand smoke cannot cause asthma. It can exacerbate preexisting conditions to trigger asthma but, in and of itself, will not cause asthma. Just like my allergies are not the cause of my asthmatic response, just the trigger.

      5. It says that second hand smoke can cause asthma attacks, not the underlying condition. It also says that children whose “mothers smoked throughout the pregnancy have an elevated risk of asthma in the first five years of life”. Again, SMOKED THROUGHOUT THE PREGNANCY. The very next sentence also says, “Children whose mothers quit smoking prior to the pregnancy show no increased risk.”

        The admittedly biased source does, at one point, say, “Secondhand smoke is a known cause of … asthma…”. Then it cites a surgeon general report that presents fairly weak evidence for asthma specifically (but strong evidence for things like wheezing and coughing). Most of the studies that they used for the meta study were for self reporting of asthma-like symptoms (such as the coughing and wheezing, along with shortness of breath, etc.), which are a lot like the decreased function of smokers’ lungs. However, the decreased lung function that smokers suffer is not asthma.

        I don’t know enough to say definitively that second hand smoke doesn’t cause asthma, but I suspect it doesn’t; and this link doesn’t provide good evidence that secondhand smoke CAUSES asthma. It provides good evidence that it is bad for people’s lungs (surprise!), and that it will EXACERBATE asthma.

        There are certainly a lot of serious risks inherrant in secondhand smoke, and people definitely shouldn’t be smoking around babies. I just haven’t seen anything to suggest that asthma is one of them.

        That being said, we aren’t talking about secondhand smoke in this case (I assume that the grandmother is at least willing to smoke outside when the baby is there). I suspect that the risks of just being in a house that someone has smoked in at some point in the past are pretty minimal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the risks of breathing air in a large city are more substantial. It seems to me like an acceptable risk to write off to see the mother/grandmother.

      6. Temperance says:

        The grandmother’s home is full of smoke, though – from the letter, it’s clear that she smokes indoors, and frequently (enough that they need to bring their own bedding and immediately launder any clothing).

      7. AnotherWendy says:

        It might not be she smokes that frequently in the house. LW’s husband may just be an over-reacting personality, be a bit of a nut case or a controlling dick head. And LW has been going along with the linens and laundering to placate his issue.

      8. Temperance says:

        I think I’m extra-sensitive to this because my grandmother’s smoking is what likely gave me this disease in the first place, you know? She also frankly didn’t add much to my life, and now whenever I get out of breath walking 2 blocks in the fall, I curse her out a bit.

        I get blamed for getting sick around smokers, so I’ve kind of taken a hard line stance against them. It’s always me that needs to make the concession, not them, and I’m the one who will get bronchitis. (I get it from overnights, or even a few hours. My grandmother inhaled 3 packs a day.)

      9. ele4phant says:

        I’m not a smoker, but I fully concede that at least in my state, we make smokers accommodate us, not the other way around.

        No smoking in restaurants. No smoking inside, period. No smoking within 25 feet of doors entrances to buildings. Designated outside smoking areas in places like college campuses. There’s even been murmurings of outlawing smoking inside PRIVATE homes. Plenty of social stigma and stink eye directed towards those that do smoke outside in the few areas they are legally allowed.

        I, unlike you, don’t have respiratory issues that have been created or that are exacerbated by smoking, so I acknowledge I may be somewhat less sensitive to when people are smoking (somewhat but not too) near me.

        I’m not defending smoking, I don’t like it, it’s gross to me, and I certainly think its unhealthy and needs to be curtailed in public spaces. But I think its a bit over-dramatic to say “I always have to concede smokers.” If you live in a jurisdiction that has similar laws to mine, NO YOU DON’T. You may have to deal with it on occasion, but there are far more burdens on smokers than non-smokers as far as were they can go and smoke.

        Maybe you mean within your social group you have to make concessions more often, but our country has gone a LOOONNNNNNGGGG way in making smoking socially unacceptable and difficult to do in public spaces.

      10. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’m sorry but how in the world do you out law smoking in a private home? Thats like telling me I can’t walk around naked or have two beers too many while in the privacy of my own home. That’s just crossing the line to me.

      11. ele4phant says:

        No, its not going to happen, in reality, nor should it. I agree people can do what they want in their private homes.

        My point was that there is so much push-back to smoking in this day and age that a vocal minority that they could make it happen. So I felt Temperance was being a little bit over-dramatic to claim she always the one who had to accommodate smokers.

        Maybe she lives in Europe, and that is in fact true for her, but if she lives in the U.S., I have a harder time believing her when she says its always her having to deal with it. Even in states that are more permissive, there’s still some restrictions about where smoking can and cannot happen.

        This is hardly the Mad Men era anymore.

      12. Temperance says:

        I admit that I am really oversensitive to it because I do absolutely feel that my grandmother’s selfish choice to smoke around me as a child made me this ill, and I do constantly feel like I need to justify to people in my life that secondhand smoke DOES trigger my asthma (and that thirdhand smoke, in the case of my FMIL’s boyfriend being around, can be just as dangerous).

        I think this post triggered something in me because I so desperately wish that my parents made a stand for my health when I was little.

      13. Temperance says:

        I am one of those people who reacts to inhaling tobacco smoke, and I constantly deal with people not believing that inhaling secondhand smoke will give me bronchitis, and whenever I want to go to any sort of outdoor event, it seems like every smoker ever rushes to the center of a group of people to light up. People love to light up at bus shelters, train stops, and trolley stations – all against our laws, of course.

        I think it’s because I’m asthmatic that I am so oversensitive to it, and I feel constantly stressed because I’m required to visit a house where a heavy smoker resides – exposure to him triggers bronchitis in me. (He smokes outdoors, but he wears this disgusting smoking jacket that is just soaking in it.)

      14. ele4phant says:

        I’m not saying that you are being over-dramatic about how detrimental encountering tobacco smoke is for you, but there are far more places you as a non-smoker can go and expect fresh air than there are places for a smoker to go and light up. On the grand scale, smokers have less places to smoke than non-smokers have places with no smoke.

        So yes, there will be times when you have to accommodate smoke, and that sucks on the occasions you have to deal with it. But there are more times when a smoker around you has to go elsewhere to smoke. I mean, think if this was the sixties. There would be literally NO WHERE for you to go and not encounter smoke. Right now non-smokers pretty much have a monopoly on indoor space, unless its a private home. Even if people disobey the laws today and light up, the density of people smoking outside is still rather low. Maybe not low enough for it to have no affect on you, but imagine if there were no restrictions at all. It would be cigarette smoke everywhere. So yes, generally speaking, smokers accommodate us.

  8. yea, this is ridiculous. there are a few instances when forbidding your child from seeing a grandparent might be warrented, but this is definitely not one of them…

    ..i mean, really? she smokes? thats it? i would have told my husband to screw himself if he really thought that was going to happen.

  9. I have to disagree with Wendy on the fact that the husband sounds like a “controlling dick head”. We don’t know why the LW hasn’t gone to visit her mother alone- She could just be one of those people who “can’t” do anything without her husband, and that’s on the LW, not her husband.

    I can understand not wanting your baby in the house of a smoker. My husband’s grandfather died of lung cancer before he was born, and I have a feeling that he wouldn’t want any child of ours spending time in the house of a smoker either. My sister in law has pretty severe allergies, and I know for a fact she couldn’t stay overnight in a home where someone smoked- maybe the LW’s husband has similar issues? He’s fully within his right to refuse to go, and to ask that his child not stay there, in my opinion.

    It sounds like there’s a lot of opprotunity here for compromise. The grandmother could try to start smoking outside, so her home would be smoke free. The LW and her family could stay in a motel when visiting overnight. They could meet in the middle for lunch/playdates as suggested. I know the LW’s mother has a dog and cres for her parents as well, but surely she can find someone to help her out for a weekend, so she can spend time at the LW’s house, as well. Also, most of the year there are so many things you can do with small children outside, that even if they did visit the grandmother for the weekend, they would barely be in the house. There are a lof of ways around this situation and the LW and her husband need to have a discussion about how to handle this situation before the baby comes.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      “[LW] could just be one of those people who “can’t” do anything without her husband, and that’s on the LW, not her husband.” “It sounds like there’s a lot of opprotunity here for compromise.” The mother is so excited about her grandchild, I’m sure she would agree to keep a room smoke-free – or even the whole house. But the way the LW describes her husband, it sounds like he is not willing to compromise at all. So I’m back to agreeing with Wendy on the husband sounding like a “controlling dick head.”

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Ugh, somehow my comment got butchered and erased and now I can’t edit it. … I started retyping it here and then I thought “eh, it was kind of a dumb comment” so never mind. I’m getting back to work. It’s too early in the week for me to be slacking.

      2. Temperance says:

        A “smoke-free room” cannot exist in a smoke-filled home. If LW’s mother will get her home professionally cleaned, great, but it’s not likely.

        My grandmother, the smoker, died 15 years ago, and my grandfather’s house still fucking reeks of smoke. It’s disgusting that it still smells so bad now.

      3. I know. My FIL used my car for a week nearly 3 years ago, and still every time I turn on the AC I get assaulted by the stench (I cleaned the rest with bicarb, but of course I couldn´t clean the vents)

      4. You need to change the aircabin filter if you haven’t yet. That might really help!

      5. Thanks, I´ll get it done (I´m so useless with cars, I donpt understand anything).

      6. Temperance says:

        HE SMOKED IN YOUR CAR?!?! I would probably put a dead fish in his as retaliation. Ugh. I’m so sorry.

    2. I’dlike to say how much women like that annoy me- women who ‘can’t’ do something without their husbands?? This isn’t 1940- grow a backbone and visit your flippin family on your own. If your husband is that much of a douche your family prob doesn’t want to spend time with him anyway. There are a lot of great suggestions on smoke mitigation here, and if your mom wants to be an awesome grandma, let her for goodness sake. I am beyond thankful my grandparents were a huge part of my life growing up, and luckily still are.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Plus what does it say about a guy who goes for a girl who can’t do anything on her own? I hate guys like that. So, if this LW is like that then LW’s husbadn is like that, and I’m back to thinking I don’t like LW’s husband much. (I can always find a way to continue to blame the LW’s husband, ha.)

    3. I agree, I don’t think he’s a controlling dick-head either, just from this. We’re all allowed our dealbreakers, our issues where we absolutely put our foot down and say no. I get the feeling that’s what he is doing. The LW may be able to get him to compromise, but if he views it as a black-and-white issue, as the baby’s father he has JUST AS MUCH RIGHT as the mother to place restrictions on his child.

      I’m not having kids, but if I were, I’m pretty sure I’d want to limit the time they spend with my father-in-law. He doesn’t have unhealthy habits, but some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth… I would not want a child of mine to be under his influence for very long. (He can also be a bit unstable when he’s emotional and/or off his meds.) Even if my husband felt differently I’m pretty sure I’d still raise a point about not being comfortable with extended visits with Grandpa.

    4. “She could just be one of those people who “can’t” do anything without her husband, and that’s on the LW, not her husband.”

      For all we know she’s perfectly capable of doing things on her own but it’s the husband who can’t get along with her gone. If makes a big fuss and acts like a giant pouting baby anytime she goes to see her mom alone, she may have decided it’s not worth it. Again, it would be on her if she decided to essentially cut her mom out of her life to appease her unreasonable (controlling dick head) husband. And no matter how you look at it, it’s so sad for the grandma to be.

  10. I can kind of sympathize with the LW’s husband here, because my fiance’s parents smoke as well, and I’m talking air in the house is a haze, our eyes water and sting there is so much smoke in the air kind of smoking. Holidays are horrible when there are three people in the house chain smoking and open windows can only do so much (especially at Christmas when cold winter air + cigarette smoke is a less than ideal atmosphere inside the house). I don’t know what kind of smoker the LW’s mother is, but if she’s anything like my in-laws I know just how sickening all that smoke can be and I’m terrified of what will happen once we have kids and the issue of visiting comes up. I’m not saying the LW should never visit her mother or that I agree with her husband that her child shouldn’t either (my fiance and I solved the issue by him visiting without me – pretty simple), and yes there are certainly precautions that can be taken for the safety of the baby, but I just wanted to point out how large of an issue this may be.

  11. I’m guessing that something else is at play here. In the best case, the husband is just very neurotic. But that doesn’t explain his callousness.

    Either way, it’s not his place to be banning the LW from seeing her mother with their child. Any health concerns can be alleviated w/ some basic precautions.

  12. I like the idea of designated smoke free rooms. LW, talk to your mom about that. If she doesn’t oblige then shame on her. Also, when the weather is nice, see if she can smoke outside.

    Wendy’s idea of staying in a hotel, if you must, isn’t a bad one. Also, meeting half way and spending the day together is a great idea! We use to do this with my aunts and cousins and grandma and grandpa. There was a cool town about half way where we all lived. We would pack a picnic lunch, hang out by the river, visit shops and spend time with relatives. Maybe, there is some place you two could meet for a few hours.

    Also, my mom is a closeted smoker. As in, her daughters know she does it, but our dad does not. At least he pretends she doesn’t because I don’t know how he could not know. Anyway, my mom would occasionally smoke in the house. As soon as my niece was born, she stopped. She now goes outside to do it. Even in the winter, when it’s 0 degrees.

    You need to visit her, but your mom should make a few changes in her habits as well. Everyone is offering really good advice so that she can do that.

  13. Oh, also, two hours is an easy day trip. When I was a teen, I use to drive two hours to the closest mall for a day of shopping with friends.

    Also, I now live in Chicago. To visit my aunt, who lives in the suburbs, takes an hour on the metra. My sister, cousins and I go out once a month for Sunday dinner. The train ride sucks, but we get a delicious dinner and a night at my aunt’s.

    Two hours is nothing.

  14. Unless there are other reasons than what was mentioned, seeing your mother only once a year is ridiculous. I mean, I don’t even like my mother and I see mine more often than that. And mine (and her bf) chain smoke like there’s no tomorrow. I can’t stand to be inside anywhere with her when she smokes, but I still manage to see her.

    So, while I completely emphasize with your husband not wanting to be around a smoker, there is such a thing as sucking it up once in a while. Or, as Wendy said, visit her without him.
    I mean, I spent part of my thanksgiving with my head turned away from everyone in the house because it was nothing but a big ass cloud of smoke from the group, but I stuck it out for a little while.

    Visiting mothers aside, I really think the bigger issue is your husband forbidding you from seeing people. Sure, he may have a valid reason he doesn’t want to visit, but that shouldn’t prevent you from doing it, especially in moderation. I realize with babies it makes things more difficult, you’re talking about a life you are raising together, and you should get equal say in what does and does not go on in the babies life. But notice I said EQUAL. I mean that he can voice his concerns, you can voice yours, and you need to come up with a compromise that doesn’t take one side or the other. He doesn’t want the baby over there staying the night, fine, visit but don’t stay the night. He doesn’t want the baby over at all, try meet her out somewhere. You can find compromises if you both are willing. Don’t let him bulldoze you over this.
    Your agreement to see your mother once a year was precedent enough, you need to stand some ground and make sure you don’t set another one with the baby.

  15. I would really like to know why the LW hasn’t gone to visit her mother alone. It could be that the husband IS really controlling. It could be that she hates to be separated from her husband (a bit extreme, but I’ve seen marriages like that). Or maybe it is a logistical issue, like they only have one car and he doesn’t want to be left at the house without a car for the weekend. I feel like knowing the reason why she never visits her mother alone would be useful to help us determine how to fix the issue with her baby visiting.

    1. Also, if the grandmother REMODELED HER HOUSE to be able to see her grandchild, then surely she can smoke outside or something when the baby is there. She seems to really care about her grandchild already, so there should be room for negotiation.

      1. Agreed. Just tell her to start smoking outside or the baby can’t come over. Seriously. Good god, how old are these people that are getting married and having children? Where is the problem solving where you have to write into an advice column for this instead of problem solving with your HUSBAND.

      2. That also indicates that they haven’t told her what’s going to happen – that they’re intending to prevent her from having a relationship with her grandchild. That’s the callousness I’d alluded to. No compromise, no allowing her to make accommodations, no holidays even. They’re just going to let her get all excited and then drop this on her. And of course this will ruin the LW’s relationship with her mother, but that’s OK because she smokes. God knows that no one should ever have to be in the presence of a smoker.

      3. Southpark episode anyone?

  16. My grandma was a lifetime smoker who completely stopped smoking once I was born, her first grandchild. I’m still not sure of it was a decision she made on her own or if my parents laid down the law, but she did it and I was a better person for getting to know her. She also had a great relationship with her daughter-in-law (my mom, a non-smoker) and I can only imagine this helped. Maybe all she needs is a cute bundle of joy to get her to stop. It also worked on my friend, a pack-a-day smoker who just got pregnant.

    1. My grandma was a huge smoke, up until I was in grade school. Then my younger sister got pneumonia and my Mom very nicely told her that my sister could not come to her house until she was fully recovered. My grandma quit that week and never smoked again. So, you never know what might get her to quit for good.

  17. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Both of my parents smoke. A lot. I can’t stand it, my fiance can’t stand it. But it doesn’t stop us from seeing them as often as possible (which is 3 or 4 times a year and they like 900+ miles away!). We all know smoking is bad for you, so I don’t think you need to tell your mom that. In my opinion the best option is to set up some ground rules for your mom when you come to visit.
    -For two or three days prior to your visit and the duration of the visit request that she smokes out side only.
    -Open all of the windows, turn fans on and air out the house as much as possible before you arrive.
    -Ask her to change air filters before you come.
    -Wash hands (and maybe brush teeth) after smoking when y’all are over.

    Also, stand up to your husband. He can not dictate who you visit. Also, Wendy’s meet in the middle idea is awesome.

    1. rickipedia says:

      This is exactly the same situation with my family- Both of my parents smoked until very recently (now only my mother does) and my sister and her husband REFUSED to bring their child into my parents’ home b/c they were convinced that a day in the cigarette smoke would do irreperable harm to their baby. We’re talking not even coming in to open gifts on Xmas crazy about it.. It was killing my parents to not see their only grandkid, so I devised a compromise- They didn’t smoke in the house for a day before my sister and the baby would come, and in preparation for their arrival, everything got swept, mopped, febrezed, curtains were washed, windows opened, and they kept a room in the house for them to stay in when they visited that the door was always closed, and that helped immensely. Also, for the duration of my sister’s trips home, they did not smoke in the house.

      For keeping the peace, and letting the grandparents see the kid, this was totally effective- my sister and her husband didn’t bitch, they started coming to visit, and now the little darling even gets weekends with her grandparents so that mom and dad can have some time alone together– that may have been one of the biggest prompts in their attitude change– a weekend without baby to reconnect really makes grandma’s house too tempting to pass up. Talk to your mom about doing some simple things like that, and if your husband still won’t come around, you, your mom, and your baby can still have lovely visits. Good luck!

    2. Temperance says:

      You don’t think that her husband gets a say on this?

      1. He shouldn’t get the ONLY say. Which it seems is what he has now. He has a concern – there are a multitude of ways to address it. He doesn’t get to cut a grandmother off from her grandchild (or child for that matter) just because he says so.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Sure he gets a say. But he doesn’t get to prevent a grandchild from having a relationship with her grandmother.

      3. Temperance says:

        I’m just having some serious issues with the idea that he can’t stop his baby from being taken to a smoke-filled home.

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Well my comment clearly outlines some steps to help limit the cigarette smoke so I’m not really sure where you’re getting that I’m advocating for the baby to sit in a cloud of smoke…

  18. I´ve been in LW´s husband´s position, and it sucks. My inlaws both smoke (d) like chimneys. OS much so that any roo in the house was full of ash, butts, stench. My mother used to smoke, but only outside, and washing her hands afterards (her clothes reeked of it, though).
    It really pissed me off when we would visit with the eldest when she was younger, and they would both smoke in front of her. So, I started taking her to another room, near an open window, etc. My mum never smoked when my daughter was at her house (now she quit).
    Anyway, I used to argue with my husband about it, but he was firm about going to see them (my MIL had cancer, she passed away nearly 2 years ago). So, I took every precaution I could. It still bugged me, but at least my daughter got to know her grandmother a little. And in my house nobody smokes.
    I think Wendy has some good ideas. 2nd and 3rd hand smoke are terrible, though. And exposing a little baby to them really sucks. I´ve heard of air purifiers that are supposedly good in these cases, maybe that´s worth a shot? Also, instead of an overnight visit, could LW not spend a whole day? Maybe her mother could suck it up and not smoke for one day, if that means being near her granddaughter? 2 hours is close enough that a day trip is feasible.

  19. tbrucemom says:

    My mother was a smoker and when she found out I was pregnant with my first child it’s what she needed to finally quit. Maybe once the baby is here the LW’s mother will be able to find the strength to quit so she can watch her grandchild grown up. My mother passed away before my 2nd child was born and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her and the relationship she would have had with my daughter. My point is, like others have said, unless there are other reasons why the LW’s husband doesn’t want the baby around his grandmother, I’d tell her to do what she can to shield the baby from secondhand smoke and visit her mother regularly, with or without her husband.

  20. LW, I’m sure your husband is a nice guy but he’s being unreasonable. Spend more time with your mother, for Christ’s sake. I’m assuming she’s the only one you have.

  21. You need to invest in the world’s most effective portable air purifier and take it with you when you go to your mom’s house and set it up in the room your daughter will be in. I’m allergic to smoke so it effects me terribly but I have been around smokers and have been to their houses – there are things you can do to mitigate any damage from second hand smoke. The damage to your mom for depriving her of her daughter and grandchild and depriving you and your child of her while she is still alive is harder to counteract. Your husband – while seemingly well meaning – is wrong. Research your little heart out and figure out the best way to keep your child smoke free while still getting to see her Grandmother. You should be seeing your mom at least once a month given the distance between you – whether that involves a motel, an air purifier, a day trip that you leave in the morning and come home in the evening, or compromises your mom makes to make her home as smoke free as possible during your stay. And speaking of your husband – you are going to have to get him to compromise a little himself. How would he feel if his future child only visited him once a year because their future partner did not agree with something HE did? Particularly when there are work around solutions to the issue? Once a month LW – make it happen.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      If the grandmother really loves the grandchild she won’t allow an addiction to come between them. She will do what is in the best interests of the child because she loves the child and if she can’t then she really doesn’t love the child as much as she claims. The child’s right to a healthy life should trump grandma’s right to addiction. Grandma is an adult and she can accommodate, the child can’t so this really is on grandma to do the right thing.

      1. I absolutely think the Grandmother has to make compromises but to outlaw the grandmother because she smokes is ridiculous – and I say this as someone who can’t be around smoke. Hopefully the grandmother will quit smoking but if she can’t there are other techniques everyone has already stated that would allow the grandmother to see her grandchild. And since there are a lot of work around solutions – this is not the all or nothing type of situation the husband is making out to be. Being in a smoker’s presence or house for 12 days out of the year is not going to do irreparable harm to the child – particularly when the smoking is done outdoors, windows are open, air filters are used etc. It is on all the adults in the family to do the right thing – and that includes providing the child with access to a loving grandparent.

      2. Skyblossom says:

        That’s why I said grandmother can compromise. There are lots of things she can do that would make the entire situation acceptable without her having to quit smoking.

      3. I don’t think it’s fair to say that if the grandmother doesn’t quit smoking that means she doesn’t love her grandchild. Addictions are an all-encompassing thing (why they’re called addictions) and take precedence over everything, regardless of how much someone loves something (or someone) else.

        Yes, I believe that the grandmother needs to make accommodations in order to keep the child as healthy as possible, but saying that she “doesn’t love the child as much as she claims” just isn’t a fair assumption when you’re dealing with addicts.

      4. karenwalker says:

        you don’t seem to understand how addiction works. if it were as easy as to kick an addiction as you make it seem, there would be a whole lot less smokers, alcoholics, gamblers, druggies, etc…

      5. Temperance says:

        I think the difference is that people would sanction keeping a child away from an alcoholic or drug addict.

    2. I don’t know if I’d say the husband is wrong, necessarily. His worries are warranted. It just sounds like they haven’t really thought out all their options.

      1. The husband saying visits to Grandma are out without exploring all the options and solutions is what is wrong.

  22. Temperance says:

    I have severe asthma and allergies because I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was a heavy smoker, and smoked in her home. Clearing a space in her home does not mean that your baby will be protected from smoke. Far from it. It’s like a non-peeing section in a pool.

    What you should do, LW, is get a hotel room near your mom when you visit, and spend as much time at your grandparents’ home as you can, with your mom. It’s sweet that your mom wants the baby at her home, but you really need to consider her health. My parents didn’t consider mind, and my asthma and allergies really set me back in life, frankly. Your mom should visit you when she can, especially on holidays – she can bring her dog to your house, and she can smoke outside. If she wants you to start visiting her more, she can start smoking outdoors and get her home professionally cleaned. It’s a start.

  23. I am in no mood for this today.

    Are you for real? Seriously? Maybe your mom can smoke outside. This is a total non effing issue (I apologize, I am sick, sad, and miserable all at the same time so I have zero sympathy for this). Tell your mother that you worry about your baby’s safety and the baby can’t come over if she smokes inside. Done and Done.

    Look. My mother shaved her head when I was a kid and lied about having cancer. She’s lied to me for my entire life and she has made my life drama filled and miserable resulting in me dealing with an anxiety disorder that I am finally learning to overcome to this day.

    Are you for real? My fiance’ and I decided that our future children won’t be allowed to spend any time with my mother alone (if she’s in my life at that time, she’s not in my life at the moment) and you are worried about a smoke filled house and a LOVING MOTHER AND GRAND MOTHER???

    Good god woman. Just tell your mother flat out how unhealthy it is, tell her to smoke outside, otherwise you cannot have get togethers at the house.

    I apologize for my hate filled post, once again, I’m sick, miserable, grumpy and sad all rolled into one and this really pissed me off for some reason.


    1. Temperance says:

      I’m really sorry that your mother put you through all of that. She does not sound like a healthy person to have in your life, and I am glad that you are in a place where you feel comfortable keeping her out of your life for now.

      1. Thank you, unfortunately it makes me a bit less tolerant for things like this. It’s not fair to yell at someone like I did but I was already miserable lol.

        I think telling the loving mother that the parents are concerned for the baby’s health will go a long way towards having the mother smoke outside. If she smokes outside, the whole thing will be a non issue, I think

      2. Temperance says:

        Honestly, I can’t even imagine how you feel reading something like this. I always jump on the side of the anti-smoker because of my experience with a heavy smoking grandmother making me sick, but she was abusive towards my mother (although seriously, she was Mary Fucking Poppins compared to your mother), too, and not loving towards me.

        It sounds like grandma cares, so hopefully, she will try to work it out.

  24. I think all of these ideas are great. Sure, ideally the mom wouldn’t be smoking at all, but this is the situation at hand, and you have a lot of great ideas that can reach a compromise, OP I hope you are able to reach a compromise with your husband. Your daughter should be able to see her grandma, and I hope your husband can see that.

  25. I’m surprised people are being so flippant about the harmful effects of second hand smoke – it’s a known carcinogen and can cause a litany of other health problems. Would people be as accepting if someone said “I let my kid go out in the sun without sunscreen or any protection… I mean, I try to keep them in the shade but that doesn’t always protect their skin… but c’mon, getting a sunburn once a month isn’t that bad!”

    1. Temperance says:

      THANK YOU. I am kind of shocked at these responses, especially the ones that are like “there is a smoke free room, it’s all good!”.

      1. I’m not so sure about the smoke free room, I am all for having the mother go outside and smoke. If the baby is not around her when she is smoking then there is no second hand smoke. The mother goes outside, smokes, washes her hands (maybe even wear a jacket, I’ve seen people here at work do that so their clothes don’t smell) and come back in.

        That won’t result in second hand smoke. I do believe that smoking inside the home is harmful for the baby and the parents should ask the grandmother to smoke outside

      2. Temperance says:

        I agree with that. I don’t think you can keep one singular room free of smoke.

    2. Thats kind of like saying, “I won’t let my kid see her grandchild because grandma lives in Florida and the sun is strong there and we are not open to the possibility of looking into sunscreen or indoor activities. Just never seeing grandma is the only option.”


    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      So I guess you don’t ride in the car for fear you’ll be in an accident and die?

      Visiting a grandmother who smokes once a month is not going to dramatically increase the childs likelihood of dying any more than diapers or car rides will.

      Also, sunscreens can be full of carcinogens and linked to low levels of vitamin D so maybe you should stop using sunscreen for fear of those health problems…

      1. rangerchic says:

        I agree with the husband on this. Have you ever been in a room/house with smokers? I can hardly breath – I feel like I can’t catch my breath – and I’m an adult! I can’t imagine a baby trying to breath that in. My mom is a smoker and when my daughter was born she started smoking outside and wouldn’t let the baby/toddler come out when she was smoking. So – yeah, I like some of the other ideas but totally get where the husband is coming from.

      2. ele4phant says:

        I think there’s a difference between saying “I am concerned about taking our young child into this sort of an environment for an extended period of time” and saying “No visits to grandma’s. No ifs, ands, or buts” If the letter is to believed, the husband has made the latter, unilateral statement with no room for further discussion. That’s not cool. Wendy and many other commenters have brought up many other compromises, such as going just for the day, staying elsewhere overnight, meeting somewhere in the middle, or asking the grandmother to modify her house (which she already is) and how she behaves in it.

        Its not his opinion that’s worrisome, it’s his absolute refusal to figure out a middle ground.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        If you’ve read through the other posts- I grew up in a home with two parents who smoked heavily. I hate the smell too. It makes my breathing difficult too. I “get” where the husband is coming from too. Heck I don’t want my future kids to constantly be around cigarette smoke. But a visit once a month to a house that has been aired out and a grandmother who is only smoking outside during the visit? Sure. I had TONS of overnights as a child at my grandmother’s house and she smoked a pack a day inside. And I am just fine. Actually I’m a better person because I was able to have a healthy relationship with my grandmother AND form my own (negative) oppinions about smoking.

  26. I have been in the house of a long-term smoker and there is nothing that ever gets rid of the stench. It would be a deal-breaker for me, so I can defintely see the husband’s point. Some people really try to quit and just can’t. I would do the motel or meet-in-the-middle ideas.

    1. It’s because they smoke inside. My fiance’ is a smoker, he smokes outside, and there is no stench in my apartment. She remodeled her home, she can handle smoking outside.

      1. I’m a smoker, but always smoke outside because even I (the smoker) can’t handle the smell of smoke inside. It drives me nuts and I’d rather get a little hot or a little cold depending on the season than have to smell it in the house.

      2. But it also gets on your clothes and in your hair, on your breath? I’m sorry, I just can’t handle it.

      3. It does, my fiance’ smells like smoke when he comes into the apartment, but to be honest, it dissappears after a few minutes.

      4. Not to be harsh here, but I think it’s more likely you’re just used to the smell. Yes, you notice the smoke smell on him when it’s fresh and at it’s strongest but when it dissipates where does it go? It goes into the upholstery and carpet. I’m sure it’s not a strong odor, and it’s certainly better than him smoking in your home, but I bet someone who does not regularly come into contact with a smoker would pick up on the scent.

      5. Aaaaah but the funny thing is, he’s in school in Colorado, and he’s only been back for a few weeks. So there’s really no getting used to it there because he has spent more time in Colorado than in New York over the past year or so.

        I do see what you are saying, but the smell DOES go away after a bit, I know because he smells awesome when the cigarrette smell fades.

        I think because he is outside, it doesn’t stick to him as much. If you smoke inside, you will always smell like it.

      6. It does stick to his hands though. But not his clothes or his hair for too long.

      7. Fair enough. I’ve never lived with anyone who smokes so maybe it doesn’t infiltrate everything the way I think it would.

      8. I’m the same way as you, honeybeenicki– in theory, it’s always nice to be able to light up indoors, but fresh air dwindles really quickly in a smoking home. I always prefer going outside for a fix rather than have the smell constantly around to remind me.

    2. I don’t think I agree with the fact that you can never get rid of the stench, my father smoked cigarettes all the time when I was growing up, but quit about 5 years ago, because my mother babysits my sisters kids, and you would never know he was a smoker by going into my parents house, and he still has the occasional cigar outside on the porch if he needs it.

  27. Skyblossom says:

    I’ve known many parents who had a zero tolerance to cigarette smoke around their baby, including a cousin and his wife who both smoked. Parents protect babies and many parents protect from lung damage due to cigarette smoke. It’s a fact of life. My husband and I don’t smoke and neither do my parents or other relatives so it hasn’t been much of an issue for us and we haven’t had to discuss this with anyone. My husband’s mother does smoke but she lives on another continent so we don’t see her very much. I can tell you that her house doesn’t smell like cigarettes and we don’t smell like cigarettes when we do visit. She smokes in only one room of her house, a conservatory built on the back of her house, and she leaves the door to the outdoors open when she smokes. All of her smoke remains in that room and it airs out rapidly because she leaves the door open when she is done smoking.

    I think you need to tell you mom what the situation will be, and you need to tell her right away so that she can prepare. You need to word it in terms of we instead of he/husband. “We have decided that we don’t want our baby exposed to cigarette smoke but I’d love for you to see her lots so ….

    Tell her your suggested solutions. Maybe she’d be willing to have a smoking room in her house. One room where she can close the door to the rest of the house and smoke in just that room with a door or window open and she keeps the door to the rest of the house closed all the time so the smoke doesn’t move through the house. Central heating and air will still pull some through so that may not work unless she sits right beside an open door or window if she has central air. Or, she smokes outside at her house. Or, you and the baby stay outside when you visit so you can only visit when the weather is good. Or, you meet somewhere besides her home. Ask her to think about the options, maybe she can also come up with more, and ask her to come up with a solution that works for all of you.

    The first time you visit with the baby will be a test. If she hasn’t bothered to do whatever has been agreed on then you can’t take the baby in the house. You have to stand firm on your decision. Maybe you can sit outside if the weather is nice or you suggest going to a coffee shop or mall or you go home if there is no alternative.

    1. Great advice Skyblossom. Make it about we instead of him and the LW’s mom might be more receptive. I do think the future grandma needs to do some things to accommodate the the new grandbaby.

      But I’m also a little weary of the husband and the LW’s relationship with him. Are they both just super dependent? Is he super controlling?

      He’s going to need to compromise too. Because from the information given, even if Grandma cleaned the house, got new air filters, only smoked outside and not around the baby, I’m not sure he would still visit or “let” LW visit.

    2. I agree with SkyBlossom’s suggestions, EXCEPT – don’t wait for baby to be born to test it. Call your mother, voice your concerns (that WE are having, present a united front with your husband) then plan a day trip up to visit her soon (like in the next week or two). If she manages to keep it smoke free around you, that can be her chance to show your husband how it will be around the baby. And if she can’t while you’re pregnant, then follow the advice to go to a restaurant or just go home. Don’t wait until you’ve dragged a baby on a 2 hour drive to determine whether being at your mothers is going to be ok or not. Let her know this is her chance to show both of you that she can do the right thing around your baby, and if she can’t, you won’t be able to visit often, for the health of your baby.
      If the visit goes well, your husband will feel better about visiting with the baby. If it doesn’t go well, you’ll know what you are up against and have to investigate other options like meeting partway.

  28. Limepink22 says:

    My parents smoked until I was three years old- they would always smoke outside, wash their hands thoroughly and changed the air filters once a month. They picked it up again when I was 17. That time it was -always- outside, with teeth brushing, hand washing after. They had “outdoor” clothes they dthrow on to smoke, and change it when they came back in. We changed the air filter once a month AND had an air purifier. You could never tell. My parents hated the scent. They’ve been cig free for about 6 years now though. Yay.

    My friend smoke pot. He has cats. I dislike pot and I’m allergic- though I love- cats. He has a high quality sharper image air purifier. You can’t smell pot in his room. I don’t sneeze from dander. His mother smokes cigs -chain smokes- inside the living room all day. You can’t smell smoke in his room. It simply doesn’t exist thanks to that purifier.

    Things can be done.

    1. What kind of purifier is that? My fiance’ is allergic to our kitty even though he loves her very much, but he always wakes up feeling sick because she sleeps in the bed with us (he wouldn’t have it any other way, he loves that cat) but she does make him sickly. He washes his hands after playing with her, but I’m interested in the filter getting rid of dander.

      I should look into that, maybe it will help him and his allergy?

      1. Oy, thank you, I am going to look into this and see if it helps him.

      2. Air purifiers are great! I had a small one in my house for a while when I had a cat and even though it was small, it really worked hard and made a difference.

    2. Limepink22 says:

      Also, if you are LUCKY enough to have a living, loving mother who raised you well, and could impart some of that magic to your child? If you have a mother who will care for her and love her? How could you banish her for something that could be mitigated? You also have a chance to open her life up to some more love- the love of a little baby in the midst of all that death.

      I dislike how you said she has a rebound to smoking due to “stressors”- her husband dying, her sisters cancer, caring for her aging parents- those aren’t “stressors”. Stressors are a bad day a work. Those events? Are life changing events. Those are things you can get FMLA for. Jeez.

      The first time you hold your baby- do you know how to bathe her safely? Clean her eyes? Clip her little nails? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone experienced show you how to do these things?

      Is HIS mother going to step in?

      Now that I’ve though about your letter it bothers me more. My maternal grandma hated my dad. She didn’t want me to be born- she told my mom she hoped she would miscarry. My parents lived in a duplex with a sweet old italian lady- who i grew up thinking WAS my grandmother. She taught my mom how to test the bottle temperature, how to wrap diapers, how to deal with a crying baby, how to encourage me to walk- what worked on her kids. She passed when I was 7, but she was a wonderful memory to me growing up. Shame to deny your child that.

      1. I don’t understand people sometimes, for real. I’m sorry for your troubles, but troubles make people see things clearly. I feel like the LW hasn’t had too many issues (very awesome for her) so she sees this as a major problem.

        I see this as a lack of communication or respect from the husband, and the simple “mom, second hand smoke is bad for the baby, would appreciate it if you would smoke outside, otherwise we can’t come to the house. We can go elsewhere if you don’t think this is feasible, but those are the ground rules”.

        Done and Done. Some of these problems that are posted here really get under my skin and I rant about them. Other times I try to be more patient but this one really REALLY irked me.

        Making mountains out of molehills. If the grandmother won’t smoke outside, the baby can’t come to the house. They CAN meet for dinners (due to the 2 hour distance) etc. or in a park if the weather is nice etc. There are so many solutions, and I doubt the grandmother would say “oh, I’m sorry, I always smoke in my house, the baby can’t come over”. She remodeled her house so the baby could visit for god’s sake.

        Try communicating. Communication works wonders.

      2. 6napkinburger says:

        It’s not the smoking around the baby. It’s the house itself, which is covered in however many years of smoking residue — nicotine, tar and other actual poisons — which babies are incredibly susceptible to and which they crawl all over. If grandma was willing to have the house professionally cleaned, top to bottom and never smoked inside ever again… that would be worth exploring.

        Sure there are big problems and little problems. But if you never take care of the little problems, they become big problems, like the woman who NOW (and for her whole life) has horrible asthma and allergies because she was always around her smoking grandmother. Prevention also works wonders.

        I also don’t see how this is a lack of respect from the husband or how it is abusive. Saying -“I am not exposing my child to this danger” is not especially controlling of HER. I’m sure she’s free to see her mom as often as she wants. I’m sure the mom is free to come to their house. (even though circumstances have it so she can’t). If anything, it’s noncompromising, but some things shouldn’t be compromised on by splitting the proverbial baby at the expense of the actual baby. (“Sorry, honey, I disagree with you and I think we should let the baby play with razorblades. Let’s compromise – she can only play with razorblades every other weekend.”)

      3. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        Can I just say that smoking DOES NOT cause asthma or allergies. Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease that someone is born with, and allergies are the result of overactive iGE memory cells in your immune system.

        Hanging around someone who smokes may exacerbate these conditions, but they do not cause them. Being exposed to second or third hand smoke will not cause a normally healthy person to develop these conditions. Other problems, may be- but not what you are implying in your post.

      4. i think though that they have come out with a study saying that being exposed to second hand smoke as an infant (the actual smoke, not just being in the house where smoking happened) can potentially increase the likelihood of developing certain allergies. which i guess in turn can make a child more likely to develop asthma, etc etc. however, this was small children being exposed to actual smoke. not just being in a room/house where smoking has occurred.

        which i think is the difference. no one is saying grandma should chain smoke while holding the baby, but being in a house where it has occurred is not the same thing.

        and i HATE smoke, hate it. i have allergies and allergy induced asthma and i avoid people who are actively smoking like the plague. but, it doesn’t keep me from going to friends/family’s houses who smoke. i just politely ask the host/hostess or tell my family, haha that i need people to not smoke while i’m there. you always have one or two people who complain, especially at parties, but in general most people don’t want to make life difficult for others. i’m sure if they actually talk to grandma she’ll make changes so that they are comfortable with the baby being at her house.

      5. Avatar photo call-me-hobo says:

        They still aren’t totally sure about why asthma is so much more prevalent in developed countries, and there is still a lot of research. I HATE HATE smoke as well, but I do what you do (the polite mentioning) and usually as long as people are not actively smoking around me- I’m fine.

        I think the thing here is- the baby is not going to be living with the grandmother. She won’t even spend a significant portion of time with her, and I think it’s downright cruel to forbid her from going over there.

      6. i completely agree. there are definitely things to be done that will keep the baby safe while she’s with grandma that don’t involve never seeing her.

      7. 6napkinburger says:

        You also aren’t a baby crawling on the 30 years of smoke build up carpet and putting everything in your mouth (or then your hands in your mouth.)

        Also, I was taking another poster at face value concerning her condition regarding asthma and allergies. Second, I don’t think I said that smoking caused them, I said that smoking (contributed to)/cause her HORRIBLE asthma and allergies. Exposure to certain stimuli (like second hand smoke) in childhood (especially early childhood) absolutely might have an effect on later allergic and asthmatic/respitory conditions. (And doctors are clueless about allergies — I am allergic to most food and my sister is allergic to air, and we have never had a single doctor agree with any other doctor about treatment or causes… but all doctors agree that babies eating poison is bad.)

        My point in even discussing this was that exposing kids now can cause real health problems later. My point was that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

      8. ele4phant says:

        Your sister is allergic to air? How does she, you know, live?

      9. 6napkinburger says:

        The things that are in air. She used to have asthma attacks all the time and needed allergy shots, anti-histamines, etc — she would just sneeze all the time. I’m sure we were a joy.

      10. ele4phant says:

        Aw, so particulates in the air that are unavoidable, not air itself. I get it. That’s rough. Sounds like she’s outgrown it some though, that’s good.

      11. i think though that there are things that can happen like deep cleaning or even replacing carpet, deep cleaning of the house, starting to smoke outside, etc that would make the house baby friendly. i just don’t think the only answer is to never see grandma at her house.

      12. 6napkinburger says:

        I don’t disagree with that. I just understand the sentiment of not wanting your baby in the pre-deep cleaned 30-years-of-inside-smoking environment. I don’t think banishment is the only solution.

      13. Wow. Babies eating poison. I am skeptical about the tar and nicotine on the walls, and to be honest, if the house is THAT BAD and yellowed and black with tar then it should be condemned.

        They are babies. They crawl, walk, and get into everything. As a parent, watch the baby. Lay a blanket down for her to blay on. Get her a walker and give her shoes so she’s not touching the oh so poinsonous carpets.

        It sounds like you need to relax a bit, for real.

      14. 6napkinburger says:

        It’s not like it would be a once in a while thing. You may be skeptical of it but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to worry about. and at a grandparent’s house, you aren’t going to keep the kid on a little blanket or in a walker the whole time. You drop off the kid for the weekend, you go for the weekend, you let your guard down because it’s your mother — one of the people you don’t have to be on attention when they have your kid.

        I’m not a danger-alarmist. I sled(ed)(?) without helmets, rode by bike to the corner store alone, played in public sandboxes, etc., and I’d let my kids do it too. I think “you never know, something bad could happen if I don’t do X” is a sad, unfortunate way to raise a kid. I don’t think babies should walk around in bubbles because – heavens forbid – there may be a “toxin” somewhere. I’ve just spent a lot of time in an older house with former inside smokers (now its mostly outside) and it would make me uncomfortable to see a baby touching and putting its mouth on the things in such a house — one of the only things to set off alarm bells. But, like I said down a bit, I also didn’t like them and I readily admit that could bias me, but I really think that this would be a sticking point for me.

      15. Temperance says:

        Actually, you are incorrect. Secondhand smoke does cause asthma. http://no-smoke.org/document.php?id=212

        While I realize that the website itself is charged, the source that it cites it a surgeon general’s report with evidence of how dangerous secondhand smoke truly is to the health of children.

      16. BettyBoop says:

        And if you look at the surgeon general study referenced it does not, in fact, state that being around cigarette smoke causes asthma, but that it will exacerbate existing asthma. It’s not that I take issue with your view on smoking, it’s that I take issue with you using the wrong facts to support your views. I feel like it actually weakens your arguments to use incorrect information. I also hate how illness is misunderstood and always want correct information out there.

      17. BettyBoop says:

        I’m also FAR more concerned with the carcinogens we are constantly exposed to in car exhaust and smog than I am in occasional contact with secondhand cigarette smoke.

      18. ele4phant says:

        Well, the house was just remodeled, right? In fact, if I’m interpreting the letter correctly, its been expanded to make room for the baby. So, reason stands that these new sections won’t have the build up of tar and nicotine that the rest of the house has. Why not just ask the mother to start smoking outside, and hang-out in the new section of the house (which they probably would anyways, as its space made explicitly for the baby).

      19. Temperance says:

        See, I took the letter to mean that she fixed a room for the baby, as in the might have painted or set out some furniture.

  29. your husband is out of line. WWS.

  30. I absolutely hate cigarette smoke, so I’m on the fence here. On one hand, I assume the LW’s mother is not going to smoke around the baby, which probably means third-hand smoke is the real issue here. Third-hand smoke is still bad, especially, I assume, for a baby. They’re so small and still developing, so I imagine chemicals are far worse for them. And a child growing up in this period of time is going to be exposed to A LOT of carcinogens over time, so reducing them at infancy is probably a good thing.

    But the LW shouldn’t sacrifice her or her baby’s relationship with her mom. This is a lady who renovated her house to make room for a grandchild. That’s a pretty big (if not excessive?) allowance to make. So, could she start smoking outside? That would get rid of the residual smoke inside (after a good cleaning). At the very least, meeting her out or having her come over a lot, while still coming over to her house sometimes, would reduce the exposure by a lot. Though if she’s someone who’s tried to quit smoking a lot (and it’s obviously a lot more beneficial to her than anyone else in this story), maybe this could encourage her?

    1. Temperance says:

      At this point, she would need professional cleaners to deal with the residual smoke damage to her home and furniture if she’s been smoking indoors for years. My grandmother died 15 years ago, and her house STILL reeks. It’s disgusting.

  31. “Dick-Head” = Day made.

    Thanks Wendy!!

  32. Trixy Minx says:

    Maybe its just me but anyone who refuses me to do something would get me extremely pissed off. Like I would then have to go do it just because they said no. Unless of course they are playing reverse psych so they can get me to do what they want our if that thing is unreasonable like saying no to crack.

  33. I think maybe a lot of people are unaware that the toxic substances from smoking a) linger in the air, b) contaminate surfaces, and c) are all over the skin and clothes of a smoker, even if they smoke outside. Those substances are poison. Knowingly exposing your baby to poison is both stupid and wrong. It horrifies me when my granddaughter’s other grandmother smokes and then hold the baby without even washing her hands; ditto for my niece and nephew’s parents. So that’s my perspective on it – it’s not good enough for the grandmother to simply not smoke around the baby, and I don’t think the husband is being a controlling dickhead by wanting to protect his newborn child from toxic contaminants. I think the LW needs to sit with her mom without her husband and explain that they don’t want the baby exposed to smoking, period. Ask her to stop. If she really can’t (which I don’t buy, but whatever), then stay at a hotel when they visit her, and see her away from her home.

    1. Oy. You are not a smoker, are you. You don’t just “stop” smoking. Toxins this, toxins that, it’s all in the AIR. Simply wash hands before holding the baby after smoking outside (away from the baby) and the baby will be fine.

      Also, the grandmother can go outside with a designated smoking jacket that won’t be any where near the baby. She can smoke outside, take the jacket off, wash hands, and hold the baby.

      No poisons, no second hand smoke IN THE AIR. Sometimes I wonder why people warp second hand smoke into something that it is not.

      Second hand some is when you smoke in a room, with other people around, breathing it in.


      1. I loved second hand smoke as a child…and I grew up healthy. hahahaha.

      2. I agree with a smoking jacket, smoke outside, hand wash, then hold baby. And I also agree that it is never as simple as “just stop.” If people could “just stop” then no one would smoke for long.

      3. When I lived at home, and my parents smoked, my entire house was covered in brown/yellow stuff on the walls. If you took a shower that was too hot, the stuff would streak down the walls. My mom always told me it’s from too hot showers. I didn’t really realize how bad it was until one day we had to clean something off the wall, and all this additional dirt/smoke/whatever came off as well. Never really realized that the dark wood paneling in our house was supposed to be a lot lighter. I live in a non-smoking house, don’t scrub my walls and never have that happen. Shit gets everywhere, and difficult to remove.
        And just because you smoke outside and wash your hands, doesn’t mean you’ve gotten it all off you. Same reason you can’t sit near a small campfire, wash your hands and go into work the next day. You smell like smoke until you shower your body and clothes.

      4. In my personal experience, smokers stop when they are sufficiently motivated. I come from a family where almost everyone smokes, and in a lot of cases the sufficient motivation ends up being a lung cancer, emphysema, or COPD diagnosis. Maybe in this case the sufficient motivation will be spending time at her home with her grandchild. I do believe that every smoker *can* quit.

        It’s one thing to expose yourself to certain risks as an informed adult. It’s another to expose a newborn child with an incomplete immune system to those same risks. Third-hand smoke, which is actually what I was referring to, is toxic. Believing that those toxins are somehow OK because there are other things in the world that are also toxic doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    2. There are toxins EVERYWHERE, though. It’s sort of an unhealthy spiral to worry about & avoid ALL of them. I think ensuring the baby never breathes smoke is a good boundry– but not letting a smoker touch your child because of lingering contaminents just creates an air of discomfort & anxiety.

      1. I’ve read a lot of studies that cite the increased use of hand sanitizer as leading to a decrease in our natural abilities to resist and fight certain toxins.

        Just sayin.

      2. ele4phant says:

        Toxins or disease? Not that it matters, I think the overuse of hand sanitizer has been bad news bears overall, but my understanding is toxins are inorganic materials, whereas viruses and bacteria are little living organisms that are sick (and can be theoretically killed with sanitation). In the case of bacteria and viruses, a little exposure seems to be a good thing in strengthening your immune system.

        But then again, I’m not a doctor, so I could totally be wrong.

        BTW – I hope that houseboat party was awesome, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

      3. ele4phant says:

        *little living organisms that make us sick.

      4. I think I meant diseases/bacteria/viruses. Toxins used above stuck with me somehow, but yeah not a science person so I’m not sure either. Haven’t had time to run out for coffee yet this AM an my mind isn’t working :/

        We didn’t make it out of the park–my friend met a guy she didn’t want to leave, and I didn’t want to leave her alone, so we stayed for the whole show. It was a lovely view still from the beer garden at gas works!

      5. It’s definitely virus/bacteria, not toxins; you’re right on the money about why. But I agree with everyone about people getting bent out of shape about toxins when the world is full of them. In fact, UV rays from the sun are carcinogenic, and despite sunscreen, you’ll never be able to cancel out all of the risk. Should we prevent kids from going outside at all because of it?

      6. ele4phant says:

        Well, duh. If sun *could* cause or exacerbate cancer down the line, the obvious answer is not to practice moderation and practices things like coming into the shade every so often or wearing lightweight but full coverage clothing, but to completely hide them from it in a dark room for their entire childhood. Scratch that, preferably forever.

        Playing in the sun is fun and all and can create wonderful memories, but you don’t want to take any chances.

      7. “but to completely hide them from it in a dark room for their entire childhood. Scratch that, preferably forever”

        I call that living in Seattle amirite?!

        HAHA. sorry bad joke to make on such a sunny day!

      8. ele4phant says:

        Not the last few days!!!!!

      9. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’ve read the same studies. I’ve stopped using hand sanitizer because of them. All of the sanitation we do it just making viruses (such as the common cold) stronger and our bodies weaker.

      10. painted_lady says:

        My mom is so weird because she was extremely wary of my brother or me being prescribe antibiotics when we were sick and usually only if there was nothing else the doctor recommended (and yes, my crazy mother would ask). And yet every hand soap, dish soap, cleaning spray, and wipe was as antibacterial as she could make it. I’m pretty sure if she’d had access to the stuff they use in hospitals, I’d have grown up using that. I once offered to autoclave the dishes, which she didn’t think was very funny (come on, that’s hilarious, right?).

        When I was diagnosed with eczema at 16, my poor hands looked like raw meat by the time I got to the doctor’s office, all cracked and bleeding and raw, and it came on in a really short amount of time. The dermatologist had to sit her down and explain to her that the soap she was using had sped up the natural course eczema takes, and even then she was all weird and insistent about it until the doctor pointed out all the bacteria that had to be getting into my open sores, and so all the antibacterial soap in the world would only put me at greater risk for infection.

        And then only grudgingly did she put a second soap pump in the kitchen that was specifically soap for me. My mother is so weird.

    3. ele4phant says:

      Not that I disagree with your statements about all the toxic substainces from cigraettes, but do you know how many toxic substances that are in EVERYTHING? It should be about mitigating, because there’s no way in hell you are going to be able to create a truly pristine bubble around your baby. I mean, most mothers’ breast milk has flame retardant in it because those chemicals have been spared on everything we buy.

      I’m not saying that parents should just shrug and say “Oh well.” They should work with the mother to minimize smoke exposure as much as possible (and many great ideas have been already discussed), but it gets to me when people draw such a hardline about keeping their children away from toxins, because the idea of a toxic free environment is a fantasy.

      1. i agree, people should read our stolen future by theo colburn. or not because maybe it will make them even more scared of everything around them. not that i’m saying you should smoke while pregnant or even let your baby be around people actively smoking, but it’s basically impossible to be free from toxins anymore. they are everywhere. in the book they talk about polar bears that are nowhere near people and the levels of toxins in their bodies. it sucks, but it’s the world we live in.

    4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I can not imagine anyone who is in the USA does not know about the toxins in cigarettes and their effects. Seriously. I’m all most insulted by that comment.

      “Knowingly exposing your baby to poison is both stupid and wrong.” Did you know disposable diapers have chemicals such as dioxins and sodium polycrylate which carcinogens? What about the aspartame in Diet Coke thats safety is highly questionable? What about the 1 in 84 risk that you’ll die in a car accident? Does that mean you stop using disposable diapers, drinking Diet Coke and riding in the car? HELL NO. Just like the LW and her family should not stop seeing her mother, or going to her house. There are simple precautions that can be taken to minimize the exposure to the cigarette toxins, just like there are little things that lower your risk of dying in a car accident.

      Also, have you ever heard of nicotine? Seriously.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:


        I grew up in a house with two parents that were heavy smokers – inside – until I was 9. Then they moved to a new house and made a rule that they could only smoke in the garage or outside. I have no allergies (well besides cats) and I don’t have asthma. I played sports through out high school. I am pretty smart – and as an added bonus I HATE the smell of cigarettes because I was around it all the time when I was little and therefore I will never pick it up as an adult. So I should really thank them.

        Either this husband is controlling or so OCD/germaphob that he needs therapy. I agree that if the Grandma is willing to remodel her house she will probably be willing to only smoke outside from now on. Offer to pay to get her carpets cleaned and voila! Problem solved.

      2. omg just watch Mad Men! Kids of decades past had no way to escape second-hand and third-hand smoke. Mothers smoked while pregnant. Smoking was allowed in hospitals, grocery stores, airplanes, movie theaters, schools… I’m not saying we should go back to that. Avoid smoke when you can. But keep it in perspective. Not everyone from back then has cancer and asthma. Visiting a stinky house on occasion is way better than not getting to know your grandma.

      3. RIGHT?! I can’t even begin to imagine how he justifies keeping her from her mother because of SMOKING. If I could have my mother back, just for a day to see my future children I would allow her to smoke packs and packs around them. She was MY MOTHER. And now she’s gone. Keep things in perspective peoples.

      4. For the record my mother did not die of any smoking related cancer, she never smoked a day in her life.

      5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        It just baffles me. I hate smoking, like alot…but I would never ever keep my future children from having a relationship with my parents because of it. If the LW had said she waws mentally abusive or like a meth addict- yeah sure. But something that is totally legal and widely accepted in our society??

        And I’m really sorry for your loss Lili. I just can’t imagine how hard it must be.

      6. 6napkinburger says:

        But it isn’t his parents. It’s HER parents. And that’s the difference. I know it was for me (and my hypothetical children).

      7. So, you don’t care about the relationship your child has with its blood relatives as long as its your own blood relatives? I’m confused.

      8. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        that’s what it sounds like they are saying…and to me that makes it worse. Your blood relatives are no more important than your spouses. They are equally related to the child.

      9. ele4phant says:

        I can understand feeling it is less important if its not your parents, but really, half your child’s DNA is coming from them. Suck it up and make it work somehow. They have just as much a right to be in the child’s life as your family does.

      10. 6napkinburger says:

        I wasn’t actually saying anything about how important it is or isn’t for your kids to have a good and loving relationship with your spouse’s parents.

        People were saying that they couldn’t imagine not spending time with their parents and their child together because of something like exposure to the dangers that come along with smoking. What I was saying is that is NOT the same decision he made. When you switch from parents to inlaws, it becomes a more practical decision, rather than emotional one, because, often, you don’t have the same emotional connection to them — you like and respect them, you love them and value them, but often times, you have a different level of emotional connection to your own parents.

        This has nothing to do with grandparents having differing level of rights to form relationships with the grandkids.

      11. 6napkinburger says:

        Sigh. None of you love your parents more than you love your inlaws? Really? None of you, on some level, hypothetically trust your parents with your as-of-yet-unborn children more than your inlaws? Really? None of you?

        I didn’t say it SHOULD matter. I said it DOES matter. He isn’t prioritizing protecting his infant from the very real dangers affiliated with smoking over spending time with his own parents. He’s choosing it over spending time with his inlaws. Should he? Probably not, because it’s not very nice. Is it flabbergasting? I don’t think so.

        (Also, I said nothing about “blood” relatives.)

      12. ele4phant says:

        Oh course most of us understand how this feels. Heck, I love my longtime BF’s parents, but I don’t want to spend us much time with them as he does because they’re not my parents. Its just not the same as the family I grew up in.

        But I AM flabbergasted that an adult who’s about to be a father would allow his personal, private opinions about his in-laws override their importance and right to be in the child’s life. You feel how you feel, but as a parent and a grown-up, you need to get over it and keep it to yourself.

      13. 6napkinburger says:

        But not if you think youre putting your in an unhealthy environment.

      14. wow. you do honestly think that… i really thought you werent going to take it there…

        well, i will just tell you this, as someone who comes from a very broken family who has sued, deflamed, ostrasized and cut everyone from everyone:

        all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins matter to the unborn kid, and thats what you care about. it has nothing to do with who is related to YOU, it matters about who is related to THEM. I have uncles who refuse to speak to my mother, and by extention probably dont even know what my name is. but they are still MY UNCLE. do you know what that feels like? if my father cut out MY GRANDMOTHER out of my life because of something like smoking (not something worth cutting someone out of their life at all), i would be livid with him. she is MY GRANDMOTHER. i have every right to get to know her, bad habits and all. she is my blood. she is my relative. she is my family.

        honestly, i know this sounds mean, but im really glad you didnt have kids with your ex. you would have created a horrible family dynamic, im sure. the fact that you think it would be ok to cut family from family (just because its not *technically* your family) is sick.

      15. 6napkinburger says:

        Ok,whoa there.

        I don’t think its ok to cut family from family. None of this was about anyone’s right to know or love or have a relationship with anyone else.

        I personally don’t think that having issues with his infant spending time in a very smokery home is “cut[ting] family from family.” I like most of the suggestions of deep cleaning combined with no smoking in the house and motels and halfway, etc. I understand his setting out that restriction as a new parent’s attempt to set boundaries and ground rules that they think are important and think it probably is a beginning point, not an end point.

        But beyond that, I stand by my (implied) statement that I will most likely not love my inlaws as much as I love my parents, or at least, the same way. I think that the distinction we all make between our families and non-families affects our decision-making process. People seemed confused how he could possibly come to this decision based on their love of their mothers/parents (look at many comments.) I was saying it wasn’t an apt comparison. I stand by that statement.

        But I don’t consider his “decision” an edict on family relations henceforth or a banishment of his mother from their daughter’s life. Nor do I think that the practical/rational opinion should always trump the emotional decision. This is where the marital discussion comes in. This is where the LW comes back with — “but I’m not ok with never getting to see my mother and Baby Girl never getting to spend time with her Grandma and both of those will occur if we do what you have suggested.” I never foreclosed that– this is what comes next. Now they work together to make both sides happy and facilitate the relationship without having to compromise on a firmly held believe regarding safety/health. I was commenting that his initial opinion was coming from a different place than hers — not that she wasn’t entitled to one, or that the kids weren’t entitled to contact with her extended family.

        I didn’t like my ex’s mom and couldn’t imagine leaving my kids alone with her or watching them emulate her at all. So I didn’t marry him (it really was a surprisingly big influence on that decision). If anything, it shows how much I VALUE the fact that love and support from both families are critical — my discomfort with his family meant I would never be comfortable with that aspect, which was a dealbreaker.

        But I stand firm that expecting people to love inlaws as their own, automatically, is unrealistic and unnecessary, as well as unlikely. I really don’t know how that got turned into “I think he should estrange her whole side of the family and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

      16. ele4phant says:

        I think the disagreement is not on people’s opinions, but on focus. I think katie and most others (including myself) were focusing on the outcome of this guy’s feelings, whereas 6napkinburger are focusing on the feelings themselves.

        Of course most of us are not going to have the same feelings for our in-laws that we have for the family we grew-up with, even if the in-laws are amazing. I think most can empathize in that regard.

        However, I also think most of us are not going to allow our personal dislike (or maybe less like but not dislike) of our in-laws get in the way of our children forming relationships with them. It sounds like your on that page too, 6. And if we absolutely can’t trust our potential in-laws, yeah don’t marry into that family and have children.

        And I know we can argue about whether or not the home is a healthy environment, but there are clearly ways to make it better, or to allow *some* visitations. But according to this letter, this guy isn’t interested, at all, in figuring that out. And that’s not okay, because then its not about his practical concerns over the home’s safety, but is coming from somewhere else, maybe his personal emotional feelings about the family.

        I think we’re all pretty much on the same page, we’re all just gloaming onto different aspects.

      17. sigh. this is your entire problem.

        “When you switch from parents to inlaws, it becomes a more practical decision, rather than emotional one, because, often, you don’t have the same emotional connection to them — you like and respect them, you love them and value them, but often times, you have a different level of emotional connection to your own parents.”

        “But I stand firm that expecting people to love inlaws as their own, automatically, is unrealistic and unnecessary, as well as unlikely.”

        you dont have to love your inlaws. you really dont even have to like them… but you should love you child enough to understand that they should have their OWN family in their lives. your childrens family and your own are not the same, thats why the words “two families becoming one” is commonly used at weddings. i really hope you come to learn that before you have children, if you ever do…

      18. 6napkinburger says:

        Seriously, where are you getting that I’m excluding my imaginary inlaws from the lives of my unborn children?

        Yes, even if you don’t especially like your inlaws, of course that doesn’t mean that your kids don’t get to form and enjoy involved, happy, fulfilling relationships with them.

        But that doesn’t change the fact that people are way more emotional about decisions related to their families than decisions involving people who are not their family. Sometimes it’s better that way; sometimes it’s not. A mother and father will both want to rush past the safeguards of a quarantined hospital so they can hold their 6 year old with tuberculous’ hand; the doctor reminds them that they have 3 kids other kids at home who can’t be exposed and only one should go in. Everyone is better off because of the rational perspective.

        Not sure how you are taking that to contradict that “you should love you child enough to understand that they should have their OWN family in their lives.” I agree — as I’ve said about 10 times in this little thread. I really don’t get how loving my mom more than my mother in law leads to not giving my children a full oppurtunity to be loved. It is because I love her differently that I would be able to think more rationally about issues partaining to my mother in law than perhaps my husband would — which would lead us to finding the best solution works for both of us and what’s best for our (still imaginary) children. I really don’t get how I’m missing the point.

      19. Temperance says:

        I absolutely do, but I actively despise my FFIL and while my FMIL is nice enough, she’s not even responsible enough to care for a cat, much less a child properly.

      20. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Well I talking about my parents because they actually do smoke…but no, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s my parent’s of my in-laws who smoke. A child deserves the right to have a relationship with their family. And when my fiance and I get married, his family will become my family. Just because we won’t be *blood* related doesn’t mean they are like second tier family to me.

      21. preach.

      22. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Both of my parents smoked heavily and I am a highly functioning, intelligent, independent, responsible young woman with no health problems. (BTW both of my siblings are perfectly healthy and highly functioning as well) A year ago the mom of one of my brothers friends who lived a wholistic, all natural, fitness fanatic life was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer and tragically died a few months later. She had NEVER touched a cigarette in her life and was one of the most health conscienous people I’ve ever met. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and in this case I would take seeing my family ANYDAY over the slight risk. Anyday.

      23. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        I’ve buried SEVEN people in my life due to various cancers and not a one of them ever smoked, lived in a house with smokers, or worked in a bar or something either… Cancer causing stuff is everywhere. Especially now with fucking fracking…

      24. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Agreed. It’s just another way to shame people and in the husbands case to assert control. People are such control freaks now a days. It creeps me out. It’s sad to me that the LW is even considering listening to her husband and not allowing her daughter to have a significant relationship with her grandma.

      25. ele4phant says:

        “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t and in this case I would take seeing my family ANYDAY over the slight risk. Anyday.”

        I agree. In this day and age you can’t completely remove any and all risk from your (or your child’s) life. There’s just so much to be concerned about and too many things we don’t know about yet. Your child WILL encounter substances and situations that could be bad for them. That’s just life. Even if you could seal them off from every bad thing, what kind of life would that be? Sitting around in a sterile, hermetically sealed room? That’s a life that wouldn’t be enjoyable or worth living. In order to live a happy, fulfilling life, we have to confront risks now and again (by extension, we have to put our children in this situations now and again as parents).

        While we can’t control risks, we can minimize and manage them. That means not taking hard line prohibitions, but assessing what the dangers could be and coming up with feasible strategies to deal with them. In the case of this LW, this could entail any number of the suggestions other commenters have come up with.

        And we DON’T know definitively that minimal ( a few days every month or two) contact with third hand smoke will cause serious respiratory disorders later. There may be some evidence in that direction, but at this point in time its speculative.

        Completely prohibiting any and all visits is not a good balance between the risk of encountering toxins from cigarettes with the joy of having a relationship with a grandparent.

        No one has been saying the LW should just say f*ck and allow the baby to be with a chain smoking grandma for days, weeks, or months on end. But a balance can be found.

      26. ” In order to live a happy, fulfilling life, we have to confront risks now and again”

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE this comment and SO agree. So after a particularly good late night chat with my best friend, I decided to walk home from her place downtown to mine in Upper QA at 3 am. I like walking while I think about things and it helps me process stuff. Even though I was in a short dress and boots, no one bothered me. I had my pepper spray out and was holding that, along with a reusable bag so I’m sure I wouldn’t be mistaken for a hooker (or maybe hookers here use reusable bags as well, it would be very seattle of them). But yeah, it was kinda nice to see the city so quiet and peaceful. I didn’t feel unsafe either, and saw enough taxis out had I wanted one. Cops were patrolling around 1st and Denny as well and that was affirming to see. When it was over and I was home, I was really glad I did that, not only did I feel better about the stuff we discussed I also felt better ensconced in my belief that most dangers are exaggerated to give us a sense of false security and an illusion of control. I kinda believe that certain events that are destined to happen, happen either way. We cant live life in a bubble hoping that it protects us. Ok that had little to do with the smoke convo, but thought I’d share 🙂

  34. Another thing: Does he isolate you just from your mother or from other people aswell? Does he find ´reasons´ for you to not hang out with friends (she´s a bad influence on you, I don´t want you to hang out with other men)?

    1. Good questions, Cara. Answers to these would help give the situation some necessary context.

    2. I was wondering the same thing. I have to agree with Wendy; the husband sounds kinda like a controlling dickhead who’s trying to keep her separated from her family. My brother-in-law is like that. My sister has only been “allowed” to come to Ohio to visit us one time in the 10 years she’s been married to him, and that time it was only her without the kids. His reasoning? He thinks everyone in my family is “weird” and doesn’t want the kids around us. He’s also an emotionally abusive alcoholic who constantly tells my sister that he hates her, wishes he never married her, and that she’s ugly and her boobs are too small. But she won’t leave him because she thinks she’s being a good Christian by not breaking up the family. *sigh*

  35. I think it’s completely reasonable to not want to expose your baby (or child of any age, for that matter) to a house full of smoke. But allowing your mother’s smoking to keep you from seeing her more than once a year?! That is clearly a much bigger issue.

    I haven’t read all the other comments and I don’t know if there are other problems in your relationship with your mother (and husband, btw), but I suspect and almost hope that there are. I say “I hope” not because I want you to have problems, but if it’s only the smoking thing, well, that just makes me sad! I have to fly 20 hours and spend $1200+ in order to see my mom — if she lived 2 hours away I don’t think I’d let anything keep me away!

    If you don’t want to be in her house, can’t you meet in the middle at a restaurant or other non-smoking places in one of your towns? Go to a movie? Grab dessert or a drink? I know I’d drive 2 hours for some really good dessert and a visit with my mama!

  36. 6napkinburger says:

    Sorry; I understand where the LW’s husband is coming from. My ex’s parents smoke – a lot- and the house is disgusting with the smell and everything in the house has been absorbing smoke for the past 30 years or longer. We also lived about an hour away. I had a pretty similiar stance on how it would be when we had kids. Certainly no smoking around the child — and it disgusted me to think that my child would be crawling around and absorbing all that crap through everything s/he touched. I don’t imagine that I would be a germaphob kind of parent — I am an antigermaphobe regarding myself– but there’s a different between dirt and sand on the playground (good!) and 30 plus years of nicotine and tar build up on every surface. It really bothered me.

    Here’s the other part — I really didn’t like his family. Like, REALLY didn’t like them. Almost anything about them — and especially their child-rearing techniques and life-styles. (life styles as in – seriously unhealthy foods ALL the time (4 of the 5 family members are morbidly obese and the 19 year old brother smokes and they all share cigarettes) — and the mom is a dietician, so it’s not like they didn’t know better. No exercise – ever – ; no budgeting abilities at all, etc. etc. etc.

    And there is no way this didn’t cloud my feeling regarding the smoking. Almost everything about his family repulsed me — the house was a natural extension of that — and the idea of my baby crawling around in that made my skin crawl. But if I loved his family – especially his mom — and she happened to smoke and made a pretty big effort to reduce the impact of that on my kidd? I doubt I would be so militant about it. I don’t think I’d have a blanket rule that “my child may not enter the threshold of an abode of smokers” — it was THAT house.

    So this may go a lot deper than just smoking. (and btw my feelings towards his family is a large part of the reason why we broke up — it wasn’t fair to him or me).

    1. You bring up a lot of good points. Projection of the husbands feelings and finding a valid excuse to cut the mother out of the baby’s life… hmmm…

      Another good point is the nicotine and tar build up. Simply beginning to smoke outside won’t change that, but if the grandmother remodeled the house for the baby, couldn’t she buy new carpeting or something? How does one get rid of years of nicotine in a house?

      Smoking outside is an easy fix, but you bring up good points about the residues left around

      1. 6napkinburger says:

        I think it’s a little misleading to say “finding a valid excuse to cut the [grand]mother out of the baby’s life.” I hated his mother but I knew she’d be a loving grandmother. I wouldn’t want to cut her out of my kids life at all. I just wouldn’t want to (1) expose my kid to the house; or (2) give her the oppurtunity to undercut my child-rearing style/methods. My level of dislike and distrust of the woman (I wouldn’t trust her not to go against clear instructions) meant that I shouldn’t marry the guy, but there is a level of balance that all inlaws have to find.

        To say “cut the [grand]mother out of the baby’s life” makes it sound like I’m/he’s/the non-adoring inlaw is the villian in a Lifetime movie — most people don’t have such nefarious plots. They just are figuring out how to manage their personal opinions, their spouses’ familial loyalty and what’s best for their children.

      2. What I meant by valid reason, is by having his feelings of not wanting to be around the LW’s mother or having the LW around her mother or having the baby around the LW’s mother would be validated (in his mind) by picking on the smoking.

        Sometimes it’s easier to make excuses rather than discuss the bigger issues. Like, what if the husband has other reasons for not wanting the baby to be around the LW’s mom? What if the LW can’t see possible disfunction in her mother that the husband can see and that he doesn’t want his child to see?

        It’s not a lifetime movie, it’s projecting all of your emotion onto one thing and using it as an excuse to avoid seeing the person instead of talking about a real problem.

        people do it every day, all the time.

      3. 6napkinburger says:

        I guess I didn’t say that right.

        The Lifetime villian part was referring to the “cutting the grandmother off.” I feel like, on here, people don’t give other people the benefit of nuance. From what we know, he isn’t cutting the grandmother out of the baby’s life; he has taken a stance on visits to her home. Yes, doing this will cause less contact and I am not denying that this might be an unconscious (or conscious) excuse to cause that to happen.

        Maybe he would rather his child have less contact with this grandmother rather than more — whatever the reason. But that is a whole different ballgame from cutting the grandmother off from the child — an admittedly extreme and most likely cruel act. But, on here, and in a lifetime movie, that subtly is lost.

      4. it is defintely possible that LWs husband is using the smoking as an excuse. I have an aunt that smokes, and she’s also a litltle bit nuts. She offers to babysit my kids and I always say no, and if she pushes it I use smoking as the excuse, but yeah, even if she never smoked I still wouldn’t leave my kids alone with her if I had any other option. So it’s probably worth a conversation with the husband on what ELSE besides the smoking bothers him.

      5. that’s exactly it…it’s very difficult to just get rid of it – even if you smoke outside, come back in, take a shower and change your clothes you STILL CAN”T get rid of the toxins…I learned this while working at a pulm clinic, i was so shocked at the fact that it is near impossible to be “responsible smoker” around your children. So imagine a house that on the surface is cleaned…..

  37. painted_lady says:

    Smoking outside will not kill your mother (at least not more than smoking inside). I get that the addiction is really hard to break (I’m still trying to quit!), and just because it’s happened for some people doesn’t mean that it works the same way for everyone (not to minimize anyone’s successes or excuse my failure). So it’s not as simple as “If you love us enough you’ll quit.” It is, however, as simple as, “If you love us and want to see us, you will change your routine.” I honestly don’t understand why anyone smokes inside anyway.

    When I was born, my grandparents – both sets, actually – lived less than half an hour away, and one grandparent from each set was a smoker. My mom simply asked them not to smoke around me, and my dad’s dad acquiesced. My mom’s mom, on the other hand, wouldn’t smoke in front of my mom but then smoked when she left me. So my mom quit leaving me, despite my grandmother being a pro at guilt trips. Eventually my grandmother quit altogether, and my mom started leaving me with her again. So if you make conditions like these, your mom will be more than willing the second her grandmother time is in jeopardy.

    Now, I understand your husband’s desire not to have the baby around secondhand smoke. It’s not good for her, so ensuring she’s safe and healthy is definitely a top priority, but let’s also be realistic. If he’s not willing to budge even if she steps outside…what’s going to happen when you go to the grocery store and people are standing outside smoking? What if they’re people who then come into the store? What about all those people in the world who smoke and then spend time around your daughter without reporting their smoking habits to you? It’s a great instinct to protect her, but it is impossible to protect her from everything, all the time, and there comes a point where attempting to do so beyond what is reasonable will be both an exercise in futility and also a really great way to stunt her emotionally.

    Now, there’s also the possibility, whether or not your husband is controlling who you can and can’t see, that the issue at hand is actually one your husband has with your mother. My dad probably visited my mom’s parents maybe three times a year, and they were practically down the street. First it was because my grandmother smoked, and he was allergic to cigarette smoke. Then, it was that they kept the house too cold. Then it was that my grandmother’s cooking was too buttery and it upset his stomach. Finally after years of this, my dad admitted that he hated the way my grandmother spoke to my mother, and he had a hard time watching my mom deal with that. And, truth be told, he just really didn’t like my grandmother much regardless of how she spoke to my mom. So he made up these BS excuses to be polite. Maybe there’s a similar issue at hand. Or maybe your husband just doesn’t want to see your mother, and now that there’s a baby he has a great excuse. Talk to him, see what compromises he’d be willing to make. See what compromises she’d be willing to make. But don’t let your relationship with your mom – and your daughter’s relationship with her grandmother – fall by the wayside in all of this.

  38. If my husband said something like that to me, god help him. Seriously.

    There are going to be two parents in this child’s life and your husband needs to get off his high horse and stop telling you what to do. Are you not an adult as well in this relationship?

    That all being said, the risks of secondhand smoke are what you need to be the most concerned about. Just bring this up to your mom. Just because she is a smoker doesn’t mean that you shut her out, that is saddest bit of news I have heard. But she can also stop smoking in her house, like, now, or confine it to one room where she smokes near an open window. This will help get rid of the smell as a precautionary measure and it will make her home more inviting.

    You should have this conversation with your mom.

    You should also have a conversation with your husband to let him know how you feel and that this control in this situation is undue and quite frankly, insulting. Let him know that your mother is not a leper, she is a smoker and that she is going to make adjustments accordingly, just like everyone does when a new baby comes into the family. Then politely tell him to butt out.

    1. The major lack of communication is between husband and letter writer, I think. My fiance’ has seen my mothers antics, manipulations, lies and the pain that it has caused me.

      We agreed that our future children would never be allowed to be alone with her (if she’s in my life) and my fiance’ also said that he doesn’t want our children to know what my life was like growing up with my mother.

      I didn’t take this as controlling, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I would want my children to know. I don’t want them to know the pain I was put through, I also don’t want to taint their opinion of a grandmother that they might have in the future, with us present so if she starts acting bizarre and telling her crazy nonsense stories, we can step in and take the children away, or just talk to them about it. We are on the same page which is why communication is so important.

      And the second hand smoke is such an easy fix because the LW’s mother sounds like she really wants the baby in her life. I wonder if there are underlying issues with the husband and or the LW and this is being used as an excuse to cut the LW’s mother out of their lives

  39. A question for the LW: have you talked to your mom about your, and your husband’s, concerns? You know, like COMMUNICATED with her?
    It is hard for me to believe that the LW’s mom, who “has transitioned into all-out grandma mode,” will not be understanding and willing to make some changes for the sake of her grandchild.

  40. My father, who has been a smoker for the past 30 years, has never smoked a cigarette inside our house. If it’s winter he’ll smoke one or two in the garage (and air it out afterwards) or he’ll pop outside for 5 minutes and smoke it in front of the house.
    So the thing that baffles me is that if this woman can’t quit smoking, would it really be that difficult just not to smoke INSIDE the house?

  41. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Your husband is a whiny idiot… Hopelessly neurotic — which is really just an overly polite term for seriously FUCKED UP, whatever… Oh, and beyond controlling. Great job! I’m sure he’ll be a great dad!

    Eh… Honestly, I guess, do what Wendy suggested. But man, I would have resolved all of this BEFORE I got married and BEFORE I was having his baby… Of course, apparently, I’m decidedly odd in that I am not so afraid to be alone that I willingly put up with somebody’s petty, paranoid, psychotic bullshit.

    Good luck. You’re gonna need it. I really feel for your mom here.

    1. Next thing you know, she will be searching websites for the baby helmits that are used for when babies learn to crawl because he doesn’t want his baby to crawl without a helmit.

      I agree he is way over the top in not at least looking for a solution. But I do see him as being one of those helicopter parents *shudder*

    2. kerrycontrary says:

      I also do not understand why stuff like this isn’t worked out before marriage. I would assume they went to visit her mother before they got married and he was throwing a fit about it then as well as now?

  42. laxhaxtax says:

    Haven’t read the other posts. My father, his sister and my brother all died from lung cancer from smoking. I went to visit a friend who used to smoke(8 years ago she quit) but when I unpacked my suitcase after coming home the smell of cigarette smoke was all over every piece of clothing including the ones I did not wear. I commend this father. That is his baby and he has the right to protect it from dangers known and unknown and in this case not only known but documented!!!!!

    1. Sigh. Your stuff probably smelled because there was smoking in the house. The father is commended by trying to protect the child, sure, but why not just simply tell the grandmother to step outside to smoke.

      1. Also, I highly doubt the cigarette smell would still linger so much that it covers your belongings after your friend quit eight years ago. Maybe your friend “quit” because of the pain that you felt after the deaths of your loved ones. Someone was smoking in that house at sometime, and it certainly wasn’t eight years ago. Your stuff would not smell like that if it has been smoke free for 8 years.

      2. Temperance says:

        Uh, if we visit my grandfather, who does not smoke, everything we’ve worn over there stinks when we get home, and my grandmother died 15 years ago. The house stinks.

    2. Avatar photo theattack says:

      If your friend’s house legitimately still smells like smoke after this long, she should probably learn how to clean house better. I don’t mean that to be offensive, but honestly, if the residue has been cleaned up, the smell should be gone. Standard cleaning should include mopping, shampooing the carpet occasionally, and washing the walls and every other surface of the house (including the ceiling when it’s possible), etc. Following those steps should get rid of the smell. When my grandparents stopped smoking, their house stopped smelling like smoke within a few weeks, and that’s because they kept a very clean house. The smell only lasted a few weeks because that’s how long my grandmother’s deep-cleaning cycle lasted. It’s very possible to get rid of the residue if someone puts forth an effort.

  43. To the husband of LW:

    For what it’s worth, I grew up in a family of smokers. My mom, dad, uncle, aunt, and grandmothers, all smoked. Plus we had a host of distant relatives who – when they came to visit for holidays, special occasions, after church, whatever – smoked as well. Over time, some died, and of course a lot of the deaths were smoking related. Some quit – my mom for example quit cold turkey the day my grandmother (her mother) died, and she’d quit about 10 years before she passed. Some died from illnesses not related to smoking – my great uncle, for example died of prostate cancer and my only blood related uncle died from complications related to MS (he, by the way, gave up smoking about 15 years before his passing). Some probably could use a cigarette right now, like my aunt who was the lightest of all the smokers in my family. Today, she suffers from dementia and she barely knows who any of us are.

    Here’s the interesting part: None of us kids smoke. None of us had any interest in picking up the habit. None of us have developed lung problems, cancer, or other ill effects of second hand smoke – even as the eldest of us are now into our 50’s. (Some of those relatives also drank. Guess what? None of us kids drink either.) Sometimes seeing a person, warts and all, is a greater teacher and greater impact on one’s health than one could ever imagine.

    All of our smoking relatives taught us three things through their words and actions:
    1) Smoking is an ugly, expensive habit. It’s also an addiction, and there’s nothing worse for person to overcome than an addiction.
    2) A person will live longer, healthier, and with a bit more money in his/her pocket if one doesn’t pick up a vice like tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs.
    3) No matter what, family comes first – always love and accept your family for who they are, warts vices and all.

    Visits were never restricted. Family was never “forbidden” to see one another. Everyone learned from, loved, and cared for each other. When the elders told us, “Don’t ever pick up this habit,” we listened.

    I’d give anything for one last visit with family members who have passed on, even if that meant spending the day in a room filled with cigarette smoke.

    I hope you will reconsider your stance, and LW, I hope you take into account WWS and find ways to bring your family together without letting a smoking habit get in the way.

    Cigarette smoking is unhealthy and ugly, but not as unhealthy or ugly as not having a familial relationship of any kind.

    I wish you luck. Be well.

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      Best comment yet, by far. Perfectly said.

      1. Thank you. Reading this letter made me think of all those family visits, all those family members who have passed, all those hugs and laughs. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like not to know my relatives…warts and all.

  44. fast eddie says:

    Asking (not demanding) grandma to please smoke outside is a reasonable and prudent for the enjoyment and health of anyone who comes into her home. That said, it is HER home and she has the legal and moral right to smoke inside if she wishes to. I’m a smoker and my wife isn’t so I smoke outside or in the garage. It’s not convenient but I’m not willing to expose her or anyone to something that makes them uncomfortable or ill.

    Long ago I was dating a wonderful woman that had asthma and I continued to smoke in my house. She developed pneumonia that was masked by her asthma and it killed her. My profound regret for losing her continues. I may have aggravated or even caused it. That and other things that I did and didn’t do have continued to haunt me for more then 35 years.

  45. I’ll come from the side of the granddaughter of a smoker. My gram smokes like a chimney and does, yes smoke inside (everytime she smokes when im around, even at my age of 23 she says to me “do as I say not as I do court-don’t smoke!”) and she has been a smoker since long before I came around. Yet, I would have been cut off from a relationship that I hold dear if my parents didn’t allow us to go to Grammy’s house growing up. I know she had always taken precautions and I know we were well old enough before she would smoke in front of us and so there really had to be a happy medium that be agreed upon lw! Also, I don’t have asthma or breathing problems from it, but I can see how that would be a concern. Talk to your mom, maybe she’s willing to quit or change. but dont cut grandma off completely. Good luck!

  46. I haven’t read through all the comments, so maybe I’m just repeating the same thing, but I don’t think it’s fair to assume the LW has a great relationship with her mother and that the LW owes it to her mom to visit her more. If she lives that close, I would think the LW simply would visit her more, but I think there must be either tension between the LW and her mom and/or what is pretty obvious: tension between the LW’s husband and her mom. He could be an asshole about this and not like her mom for some stupid reason (and then blame it on the smoking), or he could have a very real reason why he seems to want to intercept this future relationship between granddaughter and grandmother (smoking aside). I know it’s a reach to say this, but I know it’s true in my family. My boyfriend occasionally reminds me that if/when we have kids, he doesn’t want them to be at my parents’ house ever, and it’s harder for me to see right away that yes, that is the best option in my situation because I’m so close to the situation and a bit clouded in judging my own family. I’m just saying that could be a possibility, because it’s obvious that the LW’s husband does have some sort of problem or issue with his mother-in-law.

    But in the LW’s case, I think a compromise can be made no matter what. I really hate smoke and I would probably go out of my way to protect a baby of mine from being around smoke, but I would never stop a baby from having a relationship with a grandparent BECAUSE of smoke. I also thinking staying in a motel or meeting somewhere in the middle is a great idea.

    1. 6napkinburger says:

      See! What she said!!

  47. This is a tough one. First of all, I am somewhat sympathetic to LW’s husband. My Mom literally gets sick to her stomach when she’s around heavy cigarette smoke…as in, she will often throw up. Luckily, we live in LA so she doesn’t encounter that much anymore unless she’s visiting someone who smokes or travels… I wonder if the husband has this issue…not just that he dislikes smoke, but that it can make him physically ill. It’s also very tough to be around heavy smokers when you have been close to someone who died of lung cancer, at least in my experience. That said, LW needs to use her ovaries and go visit her mom on her own.

    1. It may be worth it for the LW to insist her Mom doesn’t smoke in the house and have the rugs cleaned…That just can’t be good for the baby, no matter what…My friend inherited a house, and when I went to help clean it up it reeked of smoke…Anyway, he got a professional cleaning service to come in there and it made a world of difference…

  48. Smoking, no matter where you do it, still affects the people around you. When you smoke outside, and take a shower, the harmful toxins STILL affect you and the people around you. Once you smoke inside, there is no way of designating a part of the house that will ever be smoke free. Remember when people use to smoke in “designated areas” of restaurants? LW was right – there’s first, second, and third hand smoking. And the worst is that we’re talking about a carcinogen- a substance that causes not just lung cancers, but every other type of cancer imaginable. This isn’t a light issue, it’s not “just smoke.” I am looking at this from a medical point of view, from working in pulmonary clinic. It’s just the worst thing you can do to yourself and to others…and now imagine to the lungs of infants, and children. I side with the husband, and would be very cautious to have my children around people who smoke, or the vacinities in which they do it. Meet half way or elsewhere….

    1. Interesting. So can you explain how tertiary surface exposure of cigarette carcinogens to skin affects the lungs? I’m interested to know- – seeing that you’re a doctor of pulmonary medicine.

      1. A dr, but I’m not a pulminologist, just spent time in pulm clinic. This is what i learned from them during that time. I think this article is extremely interesting and is more eloquent than i could have ever put it.

        “Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months. Our study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs,”
        “We know that these residual levels of nicotine may build up over time after several smoking cycles, and we know that through the process of aging, third-hand smoke can become more toxic over time,” says Destaillats. “Our work highlights the importance of third-hand smoke reactions at indoor interfaces, particularly the production of nitrosamines with potential health impacts.”

      2. a doctor that doesn’t know how to spell pulmonologist….

  49. sandimae10 says:

    This whole discussion is amazing! Life is about compromise. A grandmother who is so excited about her grandchild and remodels her house strikes me as someone who would do what she could to see her grandchild. I have friends who are grandparents who don’t necessarily “agree” with how they are being raised but understand that the parents are the gatekeepers to their grandkids and so they accept the “rules and restrictions”. Give the poor grandma a chance!!! Talk to her about smoking and your concerns! I have two grown kids and one side of the family smoked and the other didn’t. The smokers didn’t smoke around the kids. My boys have benefited so much from their grandparental relationships, the values they learn’t etc. It would be a crying shame if I’d not let them see them just because they smoked. They are better people because they spent time with their grandparents – they learned acceptance, they learned love, learned how to tie their shoe laces, learned different cultures and most of all they learned that just because someone has a “bad” habit or an issue, they are still have value as a human being. This is NOT a black and white issue – there are compromises and ways to make this work that benefit EVERYONE and don’t compromise your child health (which I totally believe is a ver important issue).

  50. Avatar photo theattack says:

    Point # 1: Children are exposed to toxins all the time. That doesn’t make it a good thing, but if your husband is this concerned over being exposed to smoke, he should logically also be freaking out about you and your future child entering cities because of pollution, or using pest control poisons, or eating processed foods. If he’s not being neurotic over everything, then he’s probably either got something against your mother, or is just not thinking logically here.

    Point # 2: Cigarette smoke or not, your mom is your mom. You didn’t mention any negative feelings toward her, so I assume you have a healthy relationship with her and probably love and appreciate her. Do you really want to deny that to your child over something so incredibly trivial? Honestly, I can’t even vocalize how trivial I think this is compared to how much crap your kid will be exposed to in this world.

    Point # 3: Her house CAN be cleaned and rid of cigarette residue, despite the horror stories that some people are telling here. It just requires a good deep cleaning of the house. Make sure the floors are thoroughly mopped, the carpets shampooed, every surface is scrubbed down thoroughly, the walls are washed, the furniture is cleaned in whatever way is safe for it, the blinds are cleaned, the windows are washed, and all the linens (including rugs and curtains) are washed. This will get rid of any residue or smell left as long as she doesn’t continue to smoke in the house, and she does all this cleaning as close to all at once as possible. Also, get an air purifier. My parents have Alpine air purifiers that they swear by. Our dog was once sprayed by a skunk and then came running in the house, rubbing the smell into the carpet and against all the furniture. We tried for about a week or two to get the smell out without any success, but a friend brought an Alpine by, and the skunk smell was gone from the whole house within about 45 minutes. They will get any smell out. I’m currently borrowing it to combat the smell of mothballs, because the smell of mothballs is radiating so strongly it’s almost like they’re just throwing whole balls over into my apartment buckets at a time.

    Point #4: Watching someone else smoke and constantly smelling it on their clothes is a good way to turn off a kid to smoking.

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      PS – I think your husband should volunteer to do all of this cleaning for her, since he’s so rude to even consider kicking her out of your baby’s life. Also, it’s rude to just tell someone they need to have their house cleaned. He should volunteer to help her prepare for the baby’s arrival, which would include this deep cleaning, instead of ordering her what to do.

      1. Temperance says:

        He never ordered her to clean her house, he just said that their infant wasn’t allowed to spend time in a smoke-filled home. From the letter, the house reeks of smoke badly enough that they need to bring their own pillows and wash their clothing immediately after spending time there – that’s disgusting for an adult, but really awful for an infant. Babies deserve the best chance to have a full, healthy life. He already hates visiting because the house disgusts him, why should he be obligated to deep clean it?

        You probably think that I’m a shitty person because I’m not going to allow my kids to spend time with my FMIL unless she cleans her hoarding house the hell up and gets rid of the moldy junk that makes her home a health hazard. I don’t really care – as a chronically ill adult who was a very sick child BECAUSE of her grandmother’s selfish choices of smoking around her, I know that my child’s health and safety will come before his or her grandparents’ desire to hang out with her. Cigarette smoke, second or third-hand, is my BIGGEST asthma trigger, and I had to see that woman multiple times per week as a kid. I still think that my allergies and asthma are directly related to being exposed to her so often, so yeah, I’ll deal with someone online thinking that I’m rude.

      2. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I know that he didn’t order her to clean her house. He didn’t even give her a chance to do that. Even you implied that you would let your kids go to your FMIL’s house IF she cleaned her house. What I said was that instead of eliminating the possibility of visits to grandma’s house, the LW’s husband should work on making the house a habitable place for their child. And instead of ordering the grandmother to clean it herself, he should politely say that it’s important to him and offer to help her with it. Yes, it IS rude to tell someone that their house is in horrible shape. There are nicer ways to do it than that. It just requires some social finesse and a willingness to work toward a solution to the problem.

        I do not think you’re a shitty person for not letting your child go into a hoarding house of filth. You completely misunderstood my point. I wouldn’t let my child in that environment either, but if it was my own mother (who I happen to think would be the best grandmother in the entire universe), I would want to help her make her house a safe place for my child – not just say that she can’t have a relationship with the child since she has a dirty house. (She doesn’t have a dirty house, btw, I’m just using your example).

      3. And, if for whatever reason they can’t get the house cleaned, I would hope they could work out some other arrangement for visits that would give everyone the time and ability to get to be a family together. That’s what they make hotels/restaurants/parks/movie theaters/homes of other friends or relatives for. It’s a two hour drive, so I’m sure they can work something out…if everyone wants to. And for the sake of this new baby, they should.

    2. Applause! When protection becomes paranoia, it can be just as dangerous as what can cause harm.

    3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Excellent points. I’m lovin’ the attack!

  51. caitiebug says:

    Maybe if she realizes how high the stakes are, she’ll be willing to quit or at least abstain or change her habits when the baby is around. My dad told his mother that she was not allowed to be around me while she smoked. Apparently (as the story goes) he caught her pushing my stroller while smoking, took me away and asked her to leave. And that was the last cigarette she ever smoked.

    It sounds like from the letter they haven’t really discussed it with the mother. If she has tried to quit before, maybe she would be willing to try again knowing that the issue is so important to her daughter. It could also mend their relationship to discuss it if the mother just thinks the daughter is avoiding her lately or that the son-in-law just doesn’t like her…

  52. Sunshine Brite says:

    I’m late to the party, but unhappy with some of the lw’s attitudes toward her mother and the relapses to smoking. It’s like the reasons are super trivial when it’s a husband and sister’s deaths and the ongoing stressors of being a full-time caregiver to the point it restricts travel to a neutral point int the 2 hr drive. Like omg, why doesn’t she just stop? Um, not how it works for everyone…

  53. My grandma lived like 2 hours away when I was younger. We visited her very often, we would go there around midday, and most of the times we stayed over to sleep. Sometimes we would directly get together at the mall for example to watch a movie, or my mom would pick her up at the train station.

    No, my grandma didn’t smoke. I think my grandfather (her husband) did, but he died before I was born or when I was a baby, I don’t know. This grandma was the only grandparent I knew because the other three died before I was born or while I was still a very young baby.

    My grandma died this year. I’m glad I was able to visit her almost every weekend.

    I don’t know why you would only visit your mom once a year, when she doesn’t even live that far (my brother has to travel 1h30min by bus to go to college; I have friends who have to endure almost 3 hours of bus/train to get to college, and they go EVERY DAY, and most of the time they have to be at school at 8/9 am ). You could visit her for a day and not stay over to sleep. You can go alone if your husband doesn’t want to go. And you can go by bus/train/subway if your husband doesn’t want to be left alone with no car.

    Your mom built and addition to the house for her grand-baby! Why would you deny your baby and your mom to have a relationship? You could ask her to start smoking outside and clean the house (and offer to help her clean it) so that you can visit her more often, if that is truly the only thing keeping you from visiting her.

  54. There is no such thing as a smoke free house. Smoke clings to your clothes, hair, walls, everything. Even if you smoke outside. It is linked to underdeveloped central nervous systems in fetuses, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, croup, lung cancer, vision impairment, headaches, anxiety, depression, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s. …. and all of those conditions have worsened risks for second hand smoke victims.

    So, no, you, Wendy are out of line. For shaming this woman and presuming her husband is controlling for wanting to not expose a child to that. I believe a bond between a mother and daughter is so very important, but you shaming her as if this is an easy situation is terrible, especially from someone whose job is to give advice for hard circumstances.

    I lived and took care of my grandmother when I was 11/12 as she died of emphysema (and continued to smoke), I watch my mother continue smoking as she is starting to look just like her mother and even may have early onset dementia, her two sisters also smoke and have an array of health problems too long to list. All the children in my aunts family, from her daughter who smokes, have developmemtal issues. Then, there is me, who fears having children so much, exposing them to my family, that I have convinced myself I would rather not have children. I have has exacerbated resporatory problems, croup, allergy infections all my life (until I moved out of my parents house), and everytime I go home of my mom comes to see me, I get sick. Every. Time.

    So, this isn’t an easy conversation, and you could have led with advice that touchedon this difficulty and didnt shame this family who all jusy have the well being of their newborn in mind.

  55. This is a sensitive although not black and white set of small challenges.
    I don’t agree with Wendy’s advice nor the writer’s problem.
    I am a mother also, if a son who has asthma and I am extremely sensitive to second and third hand smoke myself. My mother in law and my parents both smoke. My mother in law smokes in her home and my 9 year old twins have NEVER been inside her home. When I was pregnant, I told my parents we would never come over if they smoked in their home so they quit but now smoke in their garage and it is still uncomfortable in the winter during holiday parties.
    I have seen the health problems that come from smoking firsthand. Our children don’t have to suffer, we do have a choice.
    Visit your mom often, stay at a hotel and let her know why you cannot stay at her home. It’s not negotiable. Health is wealth and people will get away with whatever you let them. Also, your husband sounds like a concerned parent. Although you don’t want to hear what he is saying, he also wants what’s best for your little one. Wouldn’t you want him to honor you if the tables were turned? Have the hard talk with your mom and never sacrifice your babies health.

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