Grandma has to give up smok­ing

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports -

I love read­ing your col­umn so much that I have de­cided to ask your opin­ion on a sen­si­tive is­sue. I re­cently found out that I am ex­pect­ing, which is ex­cit­ing news! How­ever, we have run into a sit­u­a­tion with my mother-in-law, as she is a smoker. My hus­band has men­tioned to her sev­eral times about quit­ting smok­ing and has gone as far as telling her she will not baby-sit this child if she con­tin­ues to smoke. At this time, my mother-in-law has made no ef­fort to quit the habit. My ques­tion is: Where do you draw the line? I don’t want my child or mother-in-law to miss out on any time or mem­o­ries to­gether.

The good news is that the pres­sure isn’t on you here; it’s on your mother-in-law. Her grand­baby or a cig­a­rette — she has to de­cide which one she’d like to hold more of­ten.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, sec­ond­hand smoke causes “nu­mer­ous health prob­lems in in­fants and chil­dren, in­clud­ing more fre­quent and se­vere asthma at­tacks, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, ear in­fec­tions, and sud­den in­fant death syn­drome.” Stud­ies have shown that sec­ond­hand smoke can linger in a house for hours, and there’s a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence to sug­gest that even to­bacco residue on a smoker’s hair and clothes can be harm­ful to chil­dren who are in close con­tact. Have your hus­band set some ground rules with his mother that take these fac­tors into ac­count. For ex­am­ple, no hold­ing the baby for two hours af­ter smok­ing. (This would most likely mean she couldn’t baby-sit.)

I would like to ask a fa­vor. Could we all just try to stand in each other’s shoes and gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for what some­one else is go­ing through?

I am of­ten both­ered by what I per­ceive to be a lack of con­sid­er­a­tion in oth­ers. One re­cent ex­am­ple was when sev­eral “friends” can­celed plans made two months in ad­vance be­cause some­thing bet­ter had come along, even though I had care­fully jug­gled sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers’ med­i­cal ap­point­ments to ac­cept their in­vi­ta­tion. An­other was when a med­i­cal provider can­celed my ap­point­ment at the last minute to go golf­ing, even though I live two hours away.

Read­ing the re­sponses you re­ceived re­gard­ing the woman who was crim­i­nally as­saulted re­ally got to me. None of us, as far as I can tell, has been the vic­tim of such a harrowing and per­sonal crim­i­nal sex­ual as­sault. Why the crit­i­cism of this poor woman for want­ing to re­quest a fe­male nurse? You can’t see a way for some peo­ple to re­ceive ex­tra con­sid­er­a­tion when that might not be nec­es­sary for every­one?

I’m glad you gave your orig­i­nal ad­vice, An­nie, and I’m glad the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als sup­ported that ad­vice. I’m glad you keep re­peat­ing it, too. I’m just sad that you have to.

Thank you for your let­ter. It is so frus­trat­ing when oth­ers are in­con­sid­er­ate of our time — but we can only con­trol our­selves. The best we can do is to nur­ture in our­selves the qual­i­ties we wish to see in oth­ers. Try to be even more em­pa­thetic than you are now and it might off­set the frus­tra­tion you feel with oth­ers’ lack of thought­ful­ness.

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