How can I diplomatically talk to my in-laws about smoking around my kid?

Posted by
Brass No Smoking Sign by BrassAttics
I feel very strongly that I don’t want my child to spend time in my in-laws’ home. I love my in-laws. They are kind, generous people, and I absolutely would want my kid to have a relationship with them. The problem is that they are very heavy (cigarette) smokers who smoke (a lot) inside their home. Every time I go to their home, the smell of smoke assaults me at the door and lingers on my clothes and hair so that I pretty much have to shower immediately when I leave their home — and sometimes have to sit outside to get away from it so I can breathe properly.

My husband and I are non-smokers and I know it’s not my place to tell them they should or shouldn’t smoke in their house or anywhere else (except in *my* house), but I feel pretty strongly that any child I have shouldn’t be exposed to levels of smoke that have made me as an adult unable to breathe. Is there a way to have a conversation about smoking around kids diplomatically? — KayE8211

We know the topic of smoking can be a bit touchy, but please try to keep the conversation civil and free of direct mentions of family members/friends. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, please don’t say it here!

Comments on How can I diplomatically talk to my in-laws about smoking around my kid?

  1. Thanks everyone so much for the advice! To answer a few people’s questions, we are not pregnant and don’t have kids yet, so I have plenty of time to think about this issue and I agree with everyone that says it’s not necessary to bring it up in hypotheticals right now. I will definitely wait to have the discussion until child is imminent.

    I do think it may be a good idea to have the conversation with them about my own health because I’ve mostly kept my mouth shut because my husband and I got married about 3.5 months ago and I felt like as a “girlfriend” I didn’t want to be rude to my soon-to-be in-laws. I feel a bit more empowered now about voicing my own needs and comforts.

    I think part of what makes this situation especially difficult is that my sister-in-law has children and allows them to spend time at the house, spend the night, etcetra, I worry that I will be seen as irrational or snobby because what’s “good enough” for her kids is not acceptable for mine.

    Thank you also for the idea of limiting visits there starting now. I think I will encourage dinners out with them over going to their house and invite them to our home more often. I will have to decide when the time comes what to do about holidays and whatnot.

  2. Not sure if this could even be an option, but you might be able to suggest to them that they try electronic cigarettes. My partner’s grandfather has been a heavy smoker since he was a teenager and started using an e-cig a few months ago and loves it. He’s proud to say that he “quit smoking” so to speak. And it’s far safer for everyone involved because it’s vapor and not smoke. We’re trying to convince his father to try it too. After watching one grandfather die of pancreatic cancer we’re not keen on seeing anyone else in the family bring that on themselves.

  3. My mother was pregnant with my older sister in 1980 and her in-laws smoked like chimneys and their house reeked of it. While she was pregnant, she told them that she thought they would be wonderful grandparents and that she really wanted them to have a wonderful, loving relationship with their grandchild but that the child would not be allowed in a house that was smoked in and they would not be allowed to be in the same room as her when they were smoking. She really put her foot down, and every time I think of it, I’m so proud of her. And you know what? Both of my grandparents quit cold turkey. So, if you feel the need to give the medical/health reasons explanation you can, but I’ll bet that they already know that second-hand smoke is awful for children and that their home is filled with it. They probably don’t need to hear it again. I think if you make it about the environment and not them personally and reassure them that you want them to be a big part of their grandchild’s life, then you’ve done all you can. Hopefully, they’ll respect you for it.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.