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Hnybun

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My adult niece is pregnant and continues to smoke. I discussed how strongly I am against this with both her and her husband before she ever became pregnant. I don't know if I can explain how I feel when I see her smoke when pregnant. It's like this uncontrollable anger just wells up inside of me. I didn't expect to have this kind of reaction. I have never had this strong of a reaction to a smoking pregnant woman before. Her mother smoked through all three of her pregnancies, so though she knows it's bad, I don't think she really believes or understands how dangerous it can be. Well, we were out with the family yesterday and she was smoking, so I left. I didn't say anything to her; I just left. Again, I don't know why I get so enraged when I see her smoking, but just know that it is such an instant, uncontrollable reaction that I just have to leave.

 

Well, I saw her teenage sister right after who proceeded to try to tell me how it's too stressful to the baby to quit smoking cold turkey. I know that teenagers do think they know everything (no offense to teenagers- it's just the way their brains function at the time). Well, I snapped at her and explained that that wasn't true. Actually, my own doctor told me that they would ask expecting mothers to cut down gradually in hopes they will at least cut down, if not quit entirely.

 

To me, it is the worst kind of selfishness to take a risk with not just your child's health but your child's very life, as well. I was a heavy smoker when I became pregnant with my own child. I had smoked two packs a day for 10 years. I smoked on the way to the doctor’s office, found out I was pregnant, then never smoked again. It was a very simple decision for me. To make matters worse, my niece did quit smoking for several months when they needed to save money for her wedding. So she can quit to save money to have a party, but she can’t quit to save her child’s life?

 

When I got home yesterday, I posted 4 or 5 links to medical information regarding the dangers of smoking while pregnant to my niece’s FB page. Since she had no problem smoking in public while obviously pregnant, I didn’t really think she should have a problem with me posting these links. I was desperately trying to get her attention and, in retrospect, was probably trying to shame her into stopping.

 

Her teenage sister deleted me from her Facebook page and my pregnant niece deleted both my teenager and myself. My child has done nothing. I fail to understand why my own child must be punished. In any event, my sister is now very mad at me and keeps trying to bring up my own shortcomings as a parent. I’m not a perfect parent and don’t expect anyone else to be. I just don’t go out of my way to endanger my child’s life. Though my sister says she talks to my niece about quitting, my sister still smokes with my niece. To my mind, actively smoking with your pregnant daughter is showing acceptance and even some approval. My sister has a great deal of influence on her daughter. If she didn’t allow her to smoke in front of her, it would go a long way toward my niece not smoking. I feel like everyone has just made it OK for her to continue doing what she is doing.

 

I have been crying much of today. I’m not trying to pick fights with anyone. I am so upset with my sister and both of her daughters. I cannot begin to explain how very hurt I am. My sister was yelling at me and telling me I thought I was better than her. If I am going to be completely honest, I do think they’re horrible for condoning a pregnant woman smoking. If that makes me a judgmental, bad person, then so be it. A few years back, I went about 3 years or so without having any contact with anyone in my family. During those 3 years, I was happy and at peace. I had so many close friends that I never missed them. Now it feels like I'm depressed all the time again. I would just like for this pain to go away.

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To be honest, IMO, you were out of line. I know how hard it is to see someone you love that is pregnant endangering themselves - my sister smoked while she was pregnant with my nephew, believe me, I understand - but you can only do so much. You talked with her and told her how you felt and that's all you can do. Pushing her isn't going to make her magically wake up and say 'I'm quitting' and posting information publicly on her Facebook wall was just pushing it WAY too much.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am very, very against women smoking while pregnant. I get disgusted at mothers who I see doing it but you can't be another persons mother and do that. I understand it angers you but she is making her own decisions, however bad they are. Short of tying her up for nine months you can't force her to stop smoking.

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I can't force her to quit, but I can control what I am exposed to. I cannot be around someone who is willfully abusing their child. She was smoking in public while pregnant; I fail to see how she should have a problem with me posting links to a few medical sites unless she has a problem with her own behavior. Everyone is very welcome to their own opinions about this, but I think people would react very differently if the mother was handing her two year old a cigarette. In my mind, she is doing just that. I have medical data to back up my opinion, so it really doesn't matter if others don't agree. This is really more about my pain. I don't want this to turn into a debate about whether I was correct in my actions. This is one of the first times I've seen my niece in the past month, so I wasn't aware she was still actively smoking. If I had known she was going to do that, I would not have attended.

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I agree, you don't have to be around it. When my sister would light one up, I would walk away. No one is disputing whether smoking while pregnant is bad or good - it's clearly wrong - but yes, your actions were out of line. Even if she was smoking in public, posting the links on a public setting was a passive aggressive way to anger her. People are more than able to have their opinion on things I don't agree with but don't go out your way to post things to a Facebook wall - that can come accross as being very childish and petty to get your point accross.

 

I said, I completely understand we're you are coming from, my sister did it while pregnant and it infuriated me. But I voiced my opinion, her doctor discussed the risks with her, and she made her choice. I chose not to be around her when she did it.

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I should probably add a few details. Maybe 15 years ago, I had a very close friend who had a miscarriage. I was supposed to be that baby's godmother. I actually had to drive her to her doctor's office. I was there when the doctor confirmed she was miscarrying and I heard him tell her it was likely due to her smoking. She had a hard time, but eventually her and her husband were able to get pregnant a second time. My friend still continued to smoke. That baby was born weighing 4lbs. She's about 13 today and still suffers with all sorts of physical problems. That doctor told her it was caused by her smoking, as well.

 

Fast forward to the beginning of this year when I had to have part of a kidney removed because I was diagnosed with renal cancer. Do you know what can cause renal cancer? Yes, that's right- smoking. I'm due to go back for a follow up visit to see if the cancer has come back, however I was just laid off and currently can't afford to. Do you still think I'm out of line? I guess I'm OK with being out of line, as long as I can get my very serious point accross. Look, I have no beefs with you and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Again, I was trying to get her attention, not start a war. If she doesn't have a problem with what she is doing, she shouldn't care who knows she is doing it.

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Yes, I still think you were out of line. You seem to be reading over very important part of my posts. My entire family smokes - mom, dad, grandma who has asthma, 20 year old sister, 18 year old brother - I'm the only none smoker and people are amazed when I tell them I don't smoke. I watched my sister smoke while pregnant with my nephew who was born two months early - not due from smoking - so I understand your frustration. Every time I see a pregnant woman light one up I want to rip it out off her mouth.

 

That being said, there are less drastic ways to get her attention. I understand it's a very personal subject to you and one very close to your heart - please understand I am in agreement with you that this is a bad thing women are doing - but the way you went about it has started a war. Whether you realise it or not it was very passive aggressive, you easily could have emailed her those links instead of posting them on her Facebook. And sure, if she smokes in public she should be okay eith them bring on her wall but again, there are other ways to get the point accross that isn't going to start a family war.

 

I think if it causes you extreme pain to be around her while she's smoking and pregnant than perhaps for the duration of her pregnancy it would be best for you to not go around her if it's going to cause you pain to be around her because she sounds like she isn't going to stop.

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I say this because I took your approach when it came to my sister - I posted articles and called her constantly. It ticked her off and she refused to speak to me for about a month. Pushing people isn't always the best way to change their mind. Sometimes calmly discussing it with them or showing them what can happen if they continue down their path is better served to get a purpose accross than with blunt honesty. Once I took that approach my sister listened and although she didn't quit, she did cut back, a lot.

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I am hearing you. I guess I didn't see myself as being passive aggressive. I'm sure I was still very, very angry when I posted the links and honestly didn't even think about e-mailing them to her in a private manner. Again, I really never expected to have such a strong reaction to her smoking. I've certainly never felt this way towards anyone before. I think it has to be due to my own cancer. That's why I left very quickly yesterday. I didn't want to start yelling and knew I couldn't control my anger. I really thought the best decision was to leave. She won't take my phone calls, so I did e-mail her a calm letter last night expressing my concern and trying to explain how it makes me feel. I did ask her not to smoke in front of me again. Now I'm trying to decide if I want to continue a relationship with any of them.

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I'm sure you were to and you have a right! This is a very dangerous thing for mothers to be doing but all you can do is voice your opinion and show research. At the end of the day, she has to make that decision. It would be nice if we could outlaw mothers to be from smoking but we can't. I think it does have to do with your cancer and you are allowed to feel this way towards her smoking, most def. I'll be shocked if I don't end up with cancer myself from all the second hand smoke I have ingested my whole life and it will be personal to me then. I think you have done all you can. You calmly explained to her why it upsets you and now the ball is her court to be a grown up and be like 'okay Auntie Susan, I won't smoke in front of you.'

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For those not ingesting cigarette smoke first hand, there's very low risk.

 

You feel the way you do and need to acknowledge and deal with that rather than your neices activities. Of course you care about her and want the best for her and her baby. However...she's an adult, it is legal to smoke cigarettes, and it's her choice. That's probably the part that enrages you - it's not the choice you'd make.

 

If it makes any difference at all, a gynecologist many years ago confirmed for me what a poster above stated: It actually is too stressful for pregnant women to quit smoking entirely while pregnant. Hormones, withdrawal, and tension can combine in powerful and dangerous ways. It takes 7 cigarettes a day to maintain the addiction. Any more than 7 is not needed.

 

I work with lung cancer and disease victims every day from a legal standpoint and have a lot of information about the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke at my disposal. I hope I can help ease your fears about the secondhand smoke a little and raise awareness in other areas that may make an even bigger impact in the health of the women and children you love. Since I'm at home and not at my office on this fine Sunday, this is what I've got off the top of my head....

 

Babies born to mothers who smoke have a small risk of being born at a slightly lower birth weight than if their mothers didn't smoke. Smoking slightly increases the metabolism of the mother and can diminish apetite, but the baby always gets first shot at the nutrients and calories it needs before the mother gets her share.

The BPA in the baby bottles, toys, cups, plates, bowls, straws, food storage containers, etc. appear to have a greater health risk than secondhand smoke. Investigations continue.

HPV (human papiloma virus) is believed to be the second leading cause of lung cancer. HPV DNA is found in a very large number of non-smoking related cancers.

There is no clear proof that secondhand smoke alone causes lung cancer in non-smokers. It is only suspected as a contributing factor in those predisposed to develop lung cancer due to all exposure risks combined. Secondhand smoke alone does not cause cancer; there has never been a single case of lung cancer attributed to secondhand smoke by any pathologist.

Lung cancer can be genetic.

Butter flavoring in microwave popcorn, asbestos, radon, aerosols, diesel exhaust, and other environmental factors (plumes, solvents, etc.) can cause or are contributing factors for developing lung cancer.

Seven cigarettes a day is what is needed to maintain the addiction without discomfort. Many doctors agree with the poster above - quiting while pregnant can cause an adverse effect due to hormonal changes, stress, and withdrawals.

 

Many years ago I was having a drink in the bar of the restaurant I worked in while going to school. I was chewing on the straw in the glass. The man next to me put his hand on my arm and asked me to stop chewing on it. I thought he was kidding, but he said I'd be better off lighting a cigarette. He was an oncologist.

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Smoking doesn't cause mothers to miscarry their babies. I've found nothing in my research to indicate that. It may be suspected as a contributing factor, but there has never, ever been a diagnosis of "miscarriage due to smoking". That doctor was being manipulative to get his patient to quit.

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No, you were not out of line for mentioning your concerns but your tact leaves a bit to be desired. I think you could have delivered those links in a e-mail to your niece and not try to shame her on facebook, however, you were only trying to be helpful and looking out for the best interest of the child (which cannot make its own decision) and your nieces. I see your good intentions.

 

There was no need for your teenager to be deleted - that's really immature.

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Smoking doesn't cause mothers to miscarry their babies. I've found nothing in my research to indicate that. It may be suspected as a contributing factor, but there has never, ever been a diagnosis of "miscarriage due to smoking". That doctor was being manipulative to get his patient to quit.

 

It is a genetic modifying agent though. The benzine, formaldehyde and arsenic in cigarette smoke can all cause deformities or birth defects, low birth weight, or other side effects. I don't think he was misleading her - he was pointing out risk factors. It really takes an idiot in this day and age to believe cigarette smoke does no harm to your baby.

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I do agree with you that smoking all over your kids is abusing them, might as well hand them a cigarette. The thing is we can not force other adults to do what we want or even what is good for them or good for their kids. Smoking for years has been society sanctioned abuse. I do not allow smoking around my son at all.

 

I have asthma because my father smoked since before I was born. My brother had 2 cases of pneumonia before he was 2 years old and one case he almost died. He was hospitalized and in an o2 tent and they told my mom he would probably die. He had croup all the time. He still has bad lungs and a horrid immune system and he is 40 years old. Funny how we all have breathing problems.

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SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.

 

I'm pretty sure this is sufficient reason not to smoke while pregnant. What does fetal injury mean, exactly? Can fetal injury and/or premature birth sometimes result in death? How about all the possible issues associated with low birth weight?

 

I may not be able to change their minds, but I can certainly control what I'm exposed to. I've decided it is not worth the stress, so I am not continuing to have a relationship with them. People are who they are and apparently don't change.

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I agree no reason to expose yourself to smoke, you are not required to. They have known for YEARS now how dangerous smoking is and yet people seem to think they are invincible and won't get sick from it. I saw my mother's father die of lung cancer from smoking. Cancer is a horrid disease. Most of my mother's family has died of cancer, I would say over 80%. I would rather not. My father quit when smoking when I was about 19, so he was 39, and a few weeks later he had a heart attack. He has had 3 heart attacks and 2 open heart surgeries.Back then though when I was born they did not know anywhere near what they know today about smoking. I just find it odd people willfully do this to their children KNOWING it causes harm. I never exposed my son and he has no breathing issues at all, his lungs are clear as a bell.

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Yes, and to make matters worse, we have smoking related cancers on both my mother's and my father's sides of the family. The fact that I've had cancer makes my siblings much more likely to have it. Add to that that 2 of them are overweight and the other smokes like a chimney.

 

I read a quote somewhere that said there's a point in your life when you get tired of trying to fix everything and trying to make everyone happy. When you finally decide to quit, it's not giving up. It's realizing you don't need certain people and the garbage they bring to your life. For myself, I went 3 years with no contact with my family. Those were the healthiest, most peaceful and content years of my adult life. I was thin, never depressed, and oddly dealt with stress much better than when I am in contact with my family. It's taken several friends remarking on the difference in my life to make me realize that some relationships are just toxic, no matter what you do to try to make them work. For my own sanity and health, it is time to break ties.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just to update, I lied. I don't feel I was being passive aggressive and I have absolutely no qualms about any action I have taken. I'm sorry I implied otherwise, but it has been weighing on my mind and I wanted to set the record straight. I wrote my niece a long, heart felt e-mail the day after this happened, explaining my feelings as best I could without attacking her. It was a loving message. What she responded with was something so heinous I would have expected of a junior high kid, not a 24 year old grown woman. She viciously attacked me. What she said was so fantastic I'm probably not even so angry about it as it's all too ridiculous to entertain. If I didn't elaborate previously, she is a grossly immature, petty, extremely self centered person. I actually had custody of her for two full years when she was a teenager, so I am more familiar with her than one would normally be with a niece. I tried to encourage her to be a better person when she lived with me and for the most part, she was. Now she surrounds herself with people who feed into her drama, so she has regressed beyond recognition. To be clear, I was struggling with her character before this happened. Please know there is so much more to this story. While I do feel it is a shame to cut ties with family, I can't maintain a relationship with her mother when I feel this way about her.

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