Dear Ann Landers: My husband and I are expecting our first child in a few months. My husband’s parents are both chain smokers. We don’t want them smoking around the baby, but my husband refuses to confront them about this.
My in-laws live five hours away, and we see them about once a month. The visits tend to last three or four days at a time, and we stay in each other’s homes. I know that secondhand smoke can be very damaging to a baby’s lungs. I’ve also heard it may be connected to sudden infant death syndrome.
I don’t know if my concerns are justified. My husband feels that no harm will be done since the visits last only a few days every month. I need my husband to talk to his parents, but I don’t want to ruin the peace between our families. What can I do? - Scared in Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: You can do nothing about this problem when you are guests in your in-laws’ home, but when they visit you, it is not unreasonable to expect them to respect your wishes.
I recommend the light touch. Near the front door, hang a small sign saying, “You Have Just Entered a No-Smoking Zone.” If they light up after seeing the sign, get serious and tell them to please step outside if they absolutely must smoke. The next letter was written by a soul mate of yours who lives in Charlottesville, Va.
Dear Ann Landers: Why do smokers think the world is their ashtray? They throw cigarette butts all over the ground outside public buildings when there are receptacles nearby. And I have never seen a car built without an ashtray, yet smokers throw cigarettes out of car windows with reckless abandon.
The other day, I was out on a short run with my dogs when I witnessed this phenomenon twice. Two men were approaching me on the sidewalk. I was about three feet away when one man threw his still-lit cigarette directly in front of me.
The second time, we were crossing the street, and the driver of a car tossed his cigarette out the window, and it landed on my dog. This really angered me, since it could have burned my dog badly had I not noticed it. I then realized it could just as easily have landed on a child. Now I know how simple it would be for a careless smoker to start a fire that could destroy a whole building or an entire neighborhood. - Burnt in Charlottesville, Va.
Dear Va.: I hope every smoker who reads your letter will relate to what you have written. Any fireman will tell you that hundreds of lives are lost every year, plus millions of dollars worth of property, because someone was careless with a cigarette.
Dear Ann Landers: My husband took our 4-year-old daughter on a field trip with the school. Everything was fine until she had to go to the bathroom. He didn’t know if he should let her go into the women’s bathroom alone or if he should take her into the men’s bathroom with him.
He eventually asked one of the other mothers to take her, but it made him uneasy. Now he is reluctant to take our daughter anywhere in public for an extended period of time. Any suggestions would be appreciated. - Stockton, Calif.
Dear Stock: Some innovative places have “family restrooms” to accommodate situations like yours. If one is not nearby and the child is 5 years of age or older, the father should take her to the ladies’ room while he waits outside the door. If she is under 5, he can take her in the men’s room with him.
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