Originally Published: October 18, 2017 6:01 a.m.
Dear Annie: 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. I do agree that I do not want my child around secondhand smoke, as it is dangerous to a baby’s health, not to mention stinky. 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. — Fume-Free
Dear Fume-Free: 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.)
He should also let her know that every cigarette takes about 11 minutes off her life — which could add up to hours, weeks and months she’d never see of her granddaughter’s life. Perhaps the birth of your baby will be just the impetus she needs to kick this nasty habit once and for all.
Dear Annie: 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 and had made staff aware I was using my last day of vacation to schedule this date and confirmed in advance.
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. — Leave People Alone
Dear Leave People Alone: 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.