Mother In Law Is Asked To Shower And Change Clothes Before Holding Grandchild!
We all want what’s best for our children and quite often we’ll go to any lengths to keep them safe from harm. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure they wear a helmet when using their bikes while sometimes it can be a little more complex.
A pregnant woman has written to a parenting website to ask advice on how she can set some boundaries for her mother-in -law when it comes to looking after their baby. You see, the MIL is a heavy smoker who she believes will bring third hand smoke around her baby. The pregnant woman says she doesn’t know how to tell her MIL that there are some rules she needs to follow if she wants to be around her grandchild.
Dear Care and Feeding,
I am expecting my first baby soon. When the baby is born, my in-laws will be coming for a visit. My mother-in-law is a heavy smoker. I’m not worried about her smoking in front of my child, but after researching thirdhand smoke, 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.
We don’t want my mother-in-law to feel ostracized, and we don’t want to hurt her feelings, but obviously, those are likely potential outcomes. 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?
In the letter written to Slate’s Care and Feeling advice column, the anonymous mum-to-be expressed her real concern about third hand smoke. “I’m not worried about her smoking in front of my child,” the woman explained, “but after researching thirdhand smoke, I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette.”
Her concerns in fact are very real and warranted. According to the Mayo Clinic, thirdhand smoke is the residual nicotine and chemicals left on indoor surfaces from tobacco smoke. “People are exposed to these chemicals by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the off-gassing from these surfaces,” the Mayo Clinic explained. “This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix including cancer causing compounds, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers, especially children.”
Remember what your clothes used to smell like the morning after you came back from a club? Or how your hair would reek of smoke regardless of whether you had a cigarette or not. Third hand smoke still smells and can be harmful especially to a newborn.
To try and combat this, the couple say they are considering asking the MIL to shower and change her clothes every time she touches the baby after having a cigarette. Except they don’t know how to say it without hurting her feelings.
“We don’t want my mother-in-law to feel ostracized, and we don’t want to hurt her feelings, but obviously, those are likely potential outcomes,” she wrote. “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?” she asked.
This is a tough one. On one hand your baby’s health and well being trumps all else but at the same time how do you not offend the grandmother?
Some advice provided from commenters suggested that perhaps the couple were being a bit too rigid with their demands.
“To insist on a full shower and complete change of clothes strikes me as extreme, obsessive and ultimately perhaps punitive — a passive aggressive comment on a practice of which the daughter-in-law disapproves,” one person wrote.
“I’m super against smoking, I think it’s a little extreme to request clothing changes and showers from someone who will be a pretty rare visitor,” another said. “If your goal is for your MIL to never see your kid, go ahead with this.”
While one person suggested they seek professional advice before proceeding with any conversation. “I am not sure what your exact plan is, fresh clothes and shower after every cigarette? Grandma is going to feel shamed and unhappy, and what a sad start that will be to their relationship. If you don’t trust internet randos, ask a pediatrician to weigh in on what the risk is and how to mitigate it.”
Or perhaps we’re not giving the MIL enough credit? Maybe when the baby is born she will decide to give up smoking herself. After all, there is no greater motivation than your own grandchild to quit, is there?