The Family Project: Smoking and infant
Q. We are expecting our first child in three months. I do not smoke cigarettes or vape, but most of my relatives do. My husband is adamant that he does not want any smoking or vaping near our baby or in our house. He doesn’t even want them to have any smell of smoke on them or their clothes. Is he being unreasonable? I don’t know what to tell my family.
“Reasonable and unreasonable are personable opinions,” panelist Mike Daniels said, adding, “Everyone is going to have a different decision about whether something is unreasonable or not.”
Said panelist Mike Ramsey, “I would guess that the parents come from two very different environments when it comes to smoking. Based on their backgrounds, their experiences of what is acceptable is going to be different.”
Before she says anything to her family, the mother needs to sit down with her husband and discuss “not what is reasonable or unreasonable, but her family,” Daniels said, noting, “The husband is rightfully concerned about smoking and vaping, but he is making the smell of smoke as important an issue as smoking itself.”
“It’s the new dog syndrome,” panelist Denise Continenza said. “It’s their first child and the husband wants to be a good father. It might be helpful to begin by talking to him first about how he feels about being a new father.”
Before any conversation, however, Ramsey said, “The parents need to have facts about the effects of smoking, not just opinions. They can begin by consulting with their doctor or the American Cancer Society.” Go to: cancer.org
Armed with the facts, Ramsey said they need to determine what they are going to say and how, without being judgmental of the smoking or vaping habits. He said they can rely on the facts and experts: “We all want our new baby to be safe, and our doctor told us that this the best way to do it is to. We know you smoke, and we’re trying to find a way to accommodate you.”
The concern might be that family members will go outside the new parents’ house and smoke and then come in and be near the baby, Continenza said, adding, “Perhaps the conversation could be about just not smoking on their property, expressed as ‘We prefer you not smoke while you are visiting.’”
it is important for the parents to hold all the conversations before the baby arrives to avoid unnecessary conflicts later, panelist Pam Wallace said.
This week’s panel of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House, and Mike Daniels, LCSW, owner-therapist, Creative Treatment Solutions.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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