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Posted by: Racoon | 2011/09/14

Poisoning my son?

Dear CS

I have a bit of a dilemma, my son (6) has a friend at whom he has visited for 2 playdates now. When I picked him up after the first playdate, I noticed the the grandmother (she lives with her divorced daughter and grandson) smokes in the house. We as VERY much against cigarette smoke, and are bringing our kids up to reject smoking entirely. The people are very nice, but it goes against the grain so badly to expose my son to second hand smoke. I am not familiar enough with the mom to talk about it openly. What am I to do? I would like to ask that the grandma not smoke while my son visits, but I don''t know if that would at all be acceptable. I also can''t just say no to playdates, as he is one of my son''s best friend? how do I approach the situation?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Maybe you can just explain pleasantly to the people that while you are fond of your son's friend and that they seem very nice people, you are strongly opposed to children being exposed to second-hand smoke, and maybe even imply that your son is especially sensitive to smoke.

Do you know what they do on playdates ? In the good weather, the kids could play outdoors or on the stoep, and be less exposed to smoke, and you could also invite his little friend to rather visit you. While it's the grandmother's house, she has the full right to smoke there if she wishes.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anon | 2011/09/16

I smoke on occasions, and grew up in a house where both my parents smoke. I wouldn''t even consider smoking in the presence of children, even if their own parents smoke. It''s principle, that''s all. You know it harms them, so why do it? Some people still think there''s no such thing as global warming, and that sigarette smoke smells like daisies/???

Reply to Anon
Posted by: P | 2011/09/14

While I''m against smoking, I must agree with Romany and Maria. If you say something, the grandmother may prefer that your son doesn''t go there anymore than to stop smoking. It may create tension in the family too.

Being exposed to cigarette smoke is bad, but I wonder if it was just a few hours a week (maybe less if the grandmother doesn''t smoke every time) might not be a reason for so much alarm. I don''t know. In my time, people could smoke in coffee shops, restaurants and many other places. No one smoked at home, but I was exposed to smoke in my brother''s house, in all the public places, etc. And my brother''s kids were exposed to smoke all the time because both parents smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day. But the kids are fine. I''ve never known them to be sick. Although I must say the first one was born with a mental disability because the mother didn''t know she was supposed to stop smoking during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the risk is much higher.

But being exposed to smoke only every now and then, while not ideal, might not cause as much damage as you fear.

Still, if it worries you so much, you can limit the amount of visits, or stop them. Since you can''t invite the other boy over, you actually owe these people more than they owe you, which puts you in no position to complain, sadly.

More sad is the fact that some smokers are so selfish too, but what can we do?

Reply to P
Posted by: Racoon | 2011/09/14

Thanks, Maria. I guess its inevitable that the mom will offended - either by saying my son can''t come to play because of the smoking, or by asking her to send my son out of the house when her mom smokes. The first is probably better... wish me luck for when she next invites him to play.

Reply to Racoon
Posted by: Maria | 2011/09/14

I''m not a smoker either, and it also irritates my eyes and nose very quickly when I''m exposed to cigarette smoke. But I agree with Romany, you can''t expect them to alter their behaviour when your child is at their house. If e.g. the boy''s father used language that you found unacceptable, would you ask him not to swear in front of your kid? Have playdates at your house. If the mom should invite your boy to come to them, then you can politely explain that cigarette smoke adversely him. It''s then up to her to decide how she wants to handle the situation.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Racoon | 2011/09/14

I enjoy red wine too   )

I work fulltime, and the other mom recently cut back on her working hours, which is why my son hasn''t spent much time there yet. So, unfortunately I can''t take them out to play. Once the weather gets better here in the Cape, they will be outside all the time, so less worry then. But I think I might tell the mom that my son is allergic to sigarette smoke and that she must just ask him to play outside when her mom smokes?

difficult situation...

Reply to Racoon
Posted by: Romany | 2011/09/14

Hi Racoon. No, I do not smoke but I do enjoy a glass or two of red wine. I was thinking, the same applies to wine..... for some people...
I know the effects of smoke and second hand smoke, but I am a very big believer of each to their own.
I would really just take the boys out to play together if I was you. Somewhere fun and safe, where you can keep an eye on them as you are obviously a responsible mother.

Reply to Romany
Posted by: Racoon | 2011/09/14

Romany, I would guess you are a smoker? This is why I am so opposed to exposing my child to second hand smoke:

Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and more severe asthma. Being exposed to secondhand smoke slows the growth of children’ s lungs and can cause them to cough, wheeze, and feel breathless. It increases the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children.

My son is sensitive to smoke as he has had a blocked nose the 2 times when he came home from playing there...

Reply to Racoon
Posted by: Romany | 2011/09/14

It is the grandmother''s right to smoke in the house if her daughter approves. You cannot dictate to people what to do and not to do in their own environments. Just like people cannot dictate to you what to do in yours.
If it is important for you that your son should continue play-dates with this boy, then let the boy come to your house or alternatively take the two boys out somewhere.
I would be most ofended if someone tries to dictate to me what to do in my own property.

Reply to Romany
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/09/14

Maybe you can just explain pleasantly to the people that while you are fond of your son's friend and that they seem very nice people, you are strongly opposed to children being exposed to second-hand smoke, and maybe even imply that your son is especially sensitive to smoke.

Do you know what they do on playdates ? In the good weather, the kids could play outdoors or on the stoep, and be less exposed to smoke, and you could also invite his little friend to rather visit you. While it's the grandmother's house, she has the full right to smoke there if she wishes.

Reply to cybershrink

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