Smoking Family Members Should Understand If You Don’t Want Them Near Your Kids
For non-smokers who have friends and family that smoke, geting together can be tricky. If you’re meeting in a public place chances are you will be able to breathe freely, but when the gathering is at the home of the smoker, it can be a tough issue to address without being rude to your host. When you are a non-smoker but you have family members who smoke around your children, it’s difficult to find a balance between protecting your children’s health and respecting the rights of your smoking family members.
I was on Reddit Parenting when I came across this post from a mother seeking advice. She and her ex are the parents of a two year old who has been coming back home sick after weekends with his father. Mom suspects it’s the fact that father and his girlfriend smoke that is causing the child to have coughing fits, but doesn’t know how to approach the topic of smoking around the child with her ex.
Suggestions in the comments range from encouraging mom to try and work with her ex to find potential allergens in both households, to asking the court to deny dad access to the child altogether for the sake of the boy’s health, to making a doctor’s appointment and asking dad to come with her so they can get an unbiased medical opinion on the cause of the coughing.
Obviously the situation is unique because when it’s a parent who is a smoker, you can’t easily prevent them from seeing their own child. Despite all the warnings about the potential health risks, smoking is still legal. Even if there was an agreement or court order that prevented the father from smoking around the child, cigarette smoke residue will still be on surfaces in the house. But when it’s an extended family member who smokes, they should understand if you aren’t comfortable having them smoke near your children.
I myself am not a smoker, I have allergies and I’ve never tried even a single cigarette. My husband is the same way. My mother quit smoking around the time I was in high school, but to this day she still has setbacks where she will smoke for a week or so before quitting again. I hate when she smokes because I worry for her health, however, she’s an adult who gets to make her own decisions. But we’ve fought about it enough for her to know that I won’t let my children come over to her place if she’s been smoking, full stop. Luckily, she understands my concerns for their health and doesn’t push the issue.
I also have extended family members that smoke. While they always go outside when lighting up out of concern for my kids and the rest of the non-smokers, the smell travels with them when they come back into the house. Because I only see these family members a few times a year and I want my children to have a relationship with them, thus far I’ve avoided a conflict by saying anything directly. I encourage my kids to keep their distance right after someone’s been smoking and will take them out of the room if the smoke smell is very strong.
For my family, this is a solution that works for us at present, one that both respects their right to smoke but keeps my children away from the smoking, but I would hope that if I asked them to not smoke at all while my children are around, they would understand my concerns and be willing to inconvenience themselves for me.