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Reality Check: Clearing the Air

Q  My father-in-law smokes around our 2-month-old, though my husband and I have said we don't like it. Now I dread visiting, and they complain that they never see us. What do I do?
A Grandpa's picking a fight, but you don't have to give him one. Make like Gandhi and peacefully yet resolutely explain (again) why you must protect your baby from cigarette smoke: Inhaling secondhand smoke can cause cancer, allergies, and asthma, among other ailments. Would he give his baby granddaughter a puff on his cigarette? Of course not, and if he says he would, he's just yanking your chain. Remind him that a 2-month-old is too young to decide whether she wants to smoke and that by smoking around her, he's deciding for her. And if she doesn't like it, she can't leave the room, as he can.

If possible, you and your husband should present a united front during this talk. But if you must go mano a mano with Grandpa, then do so. After that, stick to it as pleasantly as you can. End of discussion.

If your father-in-law refuses to go along, plan family get-togethers at restaurants or other public places with no-smoking rules. When you do go to your in-laws' and Grandpa lights up, take the baby outside or to another room while he's smoking. If he complains that he doesn't see his grandchild enough, tell him (in a light tone) that it's his choice, one he can reverse whenever he wishes.

Trisha Thompson is a contributing editor to PARENTING magazine and a former editor-in-chief of BabyTalk.