A first-time mom said she’s worried about her mother-in-law’s smoky hands touching her newborn baby and needs some advice.
While her husband’s mother would never smoke around her grandchild, there is a growing concern about thirdhand smoke and its effect on the health of her child.
The anxious daughter-in-law wrote in to Slate‘s parenting forum to ask for advice on how to tell her close family member that she wants her to shower and change her clothes each time she wants to hold her grandchild if she chooses to smoke.
She’s trying to protect her newborn from inhaling cigarette toxins from her mother-in-law’s clothes and skin. The woman asked if her request was reasonable after doing research about thirdhand smoke.
Her mother-in-law is coming for a visit, and she’s a heavy smoker. She wrote:
I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette. My husband and I have decided that after she smokes, she needs to shower and change her clothes before she can pick up the baby.
However, she doesn’t want to offend her child’s grandmother or make her feel “ostracized,” so she asked:
How can we still be welcoming and let her know we are excited to have her around while still setting these boundaries? Also, how long should we remain this strict about the issue? How should we handle this when we are visiting my in-laws?
According to the National Center for Health Research (NCHR), thirdhand smoke is a real thing, although most people probably haven’t heard of it. But apparently, the residual nicotine and other dangerous chemicals left on surfaces by tobacco smoke can expose people to tobacco-related health risks.
The woman doesn’t want to be cruel or ruin her relationship with her mother-in-law, but she doesn’t have the power to force her to stop smoking.
What should she do?
What would you say to this conflicted mom who doesn’t want the residue from cigarettes to potentially harm her baby?