Dear Margo: When Nutty Granny Won’t Take No (Smoking) for an Answer

My mother-in-law has created a feud involving the entire family because we won’t let her smoke in our house: Margo Howard’s advice

When Nutty Granny Won’t Take No (Smoking) for an Answer

Dear Margo: I have an issue with my mother-in-law. My husband is so upset with his mother that he says he will not have anything more to do with her. The issue is her smoking. My husband is a smoker, and so are others in the family, but we ask everyone, my husband included, to smoke outside due to health concerns. Our daughter has upper respiratory problems. We have a screened-in porch with comfortable furniture where people can smoke. No one has a problem with it except my MIL. She refuses to smoke outside. In addition, she refuses to visit unless she can smoke inside. She doesn’t believe smoking causes health issues. We won’t let our daughter visit her at her home anymore.

Now she has escalated this into a major feud, saying we are disrespecting her. She has said some pretty foul things to my husband in her attempt to force us to allow her to smoke inside. She’s involved the entire family, telling everyone that we have cut off access to her granddaughter. She has even called our daughter (who is 10) and told her Mom and Dad won’t let her visit and that she (our daughter) should talk to us and convince us to let her smoke inside. We refuse to give in about the smoking. What do you do with this kind of person? –Wendy

Dear Wen: I think this kind of person is probably a member in good standing of The Flat Earth Society. She is totally ignorant about the effects of secondhand smoke, not to mention being willful, selfish and engaged in a power play — which she apparently has already lost. There is not an ounce of doubt that you and your husband are responding correctly to an unreasonable request, and I wouldn’t give it another minute’s thought. –Margo, definitively

Some Things One Cannot Do Alone

Dear Margo: I feel terrible. I have pulled away from a longtime friend who is mentally ill, and now I am feeling great guilt. She was getting to be just too much for me, and I actually started to feel like it was “her or me.” I cannot be the only person in this situation. Do you have any advice on how I can either help her or salve my conscience? Her illness has turned into my burden. –Former Friend in Atlanta

Dear Form: Let’s call it fate, but just when your letter came in, I got another one that actually answers your question. I am, by the way, sympathetic to your discomfort, on all levels. The letter below refers to a fine organization ( that I have mentioned before. Hope this helps.

Dear Margo: My sister is a paranoid schizophrenic, so I unfortunately have learned how difficult it is to be around one. It saddens me that their friendships are usually the first things to go. My sister was sucking all of my energy, so I tried to create a little distance — but instead it drove her away from everyone. Now all she does is talk out loud to her imaginary friends, but she is not a threat to anyone but herself.

In my support group for family and friends ( — National Alliance on Mental Illness), I learned about ESPs, emergency service providers, who are specially trained to help with mentally ill people who slide out of control. Because of their training, they have the awareness and skills to deal with our loved ones. This becomes especially important when you consider the number of cases where police have killed or injured mentally ill people due to a deadly combination of ignorance, fear and excessive force. ESPs can be called at 877.382.1609. In fact, I’m going to take my own advice and call them right now. –Sung Yun

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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39 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lindsey M says:

    LW — that is a totally awful situation. Your MIL is a truly horrible person. More concerned about getting her way than concern for others, especially when there is a very real and legitimate health concern. Some people are just so selfish and narcissistic that you can’t do anything about it. I’m just glad your husband sees it and you don’t have to fight this battle alone. Unfortunately, loving someone doesn’t make them love you and considering someone doesn’t make them consider you as well. Limit your exposure. If other members of the family are healthy individuals, they’ll see your MIL for what she is — a controlling, manipulative narcissist.

  2. avatar bamabob says:

    I’m a former smoker. When I smoked and visited non smokers I had no problem going outside when I had to light up. I could go two to three hours between cigarettes. I’ve seen chain smokers who can’t go more than five minutes without smoking. If MIL is a smoke like I used to be she’s nothing short of unreasonable and selfish, especially since you aren’t banning smoking outright, just limiting it to the designated smoking area–something every smoker in America is used to by now. If she’s one of those chain smokers who lights one cigarette off the smoldering end of the one she’s finishing, she might only come inside for bathroom breaks. That might make her resistance understandable and pitiable, but no less unreasonable, and given the increased level of second hand smoke, all the more reason to stick to your guns. What a loon! (btw, I’m 13 days away from my 6th anniversary as a non-smoker)

    • avatar A R says:

      Congrats on your upcoming 6th year smoke-free. I’m on year 12 myself, and it is hands-down the second best present I ever gave myself. (The first was a divorce from a loser.)

  3. avatar Nancy Pea says:

    i was married to a smoker for a year and a half. never did i have a problem with him smoking in the apartment we lived in, he smoked on the balcony. when we went to hotels he always got us non-smoking rooms and when we ate out we sat in the non-smoking sections (now of course all restaurants are non-smoking so i don’t have to worry about being to close to the smoking section anymore). he also refused to smoke indoors around children, even if other ppl did. considering how selfish and narcissistic he could be in other ways (especially drinking and gambling) it was a pleasant surprise that he understood my asthma and cared at least that much.

    i say your definitely doing the right thing by telling her she cannot smoke in your house. i wonder if getting a note from your daughter’s dr would change her mind. most of us from that generation tend to listen to drs more than most (although some of us have gotten fed up with some of their BS, but most will listen when given a drs note about the situation). it’s really nasty that she is going behind your back and trying to turn your own daughter against you. i think you should screen the way she is getting in touch with your daughter because this isn’t something she should have to feel is on HER shoulders just because this smoker is selfish. good luck, because i doubt she will back down anytime soon.

    • avatar Janice Haines says:

      I totally agree with you, and second cutting the communications off to the granddaughter.   I can’t imagine the effect on a child of having the grandmother try to manipulate her like this.   And I bet that the granddaughter thinks that the entire issue is her fault because of her respiratory problems, and I can’t see the downside of having granny never contact the LW or her family.

  4. avatar Melissa Ginsburg says:

    As someone who lived with smokers in my childhood, I can tell you that developing asthma (which persists to this day) was enough to make me avoid smokers for the rest of my life. They smoked incessantly inside the house, and it wasn’t enough for them that, at age 7, I was getting bronchitis and going to the ER with alarming frequency. The mother in letter #1 is absolutely right to stand her ground against this bully. Her child’s health is far more important, and if this MIL wants to play mind games with her granddaughter, then the LW and her husband might want to cut off phone contact as well. This woman sounds not only unreasonable, but belligerent and mentally off-kilter.

  5. avatar crystalclear says:

    Letter one:   If MIL insists on acting like a child then stop inviting her over.   I would put my foot down and tell her that NO ONE smokes in her house.   If the MIL cannot respect that one simple rule then good riddance.   She should stay away.    I know that sounds harsh but second hand smoke is a serious issue.

    Letter Two:   It is very difficult dealing with someone in mental declination.  Nothing you do will change that so my advice would be to do what you are comfortable with….stay away or dive in.  I haven’t had any mental issues with family members so I’m not speaking from a position of experience.  

  6. avatar Anais P says:

    The MIL in the first letter sounds mentally ill. Margo’s advice is of course excellent as always, but I wonder if other family members can get her to the doctor to be checked psychologically. Any adult woman who does not know the health risks involved not only to themselves but also to others — including LW1’s 10-year-old daughter — may have a screw loose.

    My heart goes out to the other two letter-writers. When a friend or family member becomes mentally ill, one feels absolutely useless in helping them. The mental illness pushes away family and friends, so the illness becomes a double tragedy. Sung Yun has done a great service by making others aware of NAMI and emergency service providers who are trained to deal with the mentally ill. Sung Yun deserves our gratitude.

  7. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Anyone who believes smoking doesn’t affect your health is delusional at best.  Anyone who starts smoking in this day and age ist probably suicidal.  Baby Snooks knows.  Baby Snooks has seen the CAT scans. Not a pretty sight. From 40 years of smoking.  I “puff” but am aware of the “second hand smoke” as well. Not inhaling has helped. But , well, I have sinus problems now because of the “second hand smoke.” You learn as you go. Baby Snooks and others have learned the hard way.   It is a horrible addiction. And not one everyone can break.

    Long before the “crusades” began I had friends who had the screened-porches and some even had “smoking rooms” with exhaust fans to pull the smoke and blow it outside. I never felt the need to ask for an ashtray in a home that had none except outside. But  some always did. This woman obviously is one of those “my way or the highway” types. I would tell her to take the highway.  I find the “I have the right to smoke anywhere I please” types as obnoxious as the “You have no right to smoke anywhere” types.

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      Here’s the thing, at least in my insignificant opinion. So many have forgotten or never learned manners. Long before all these laws were enacted, I was taught to be a polite gentleman. Which meant you asked the group you were around if anyone minded if you smoked (and yes indeed that included while you were entertaining in your own home). And you were gracious and accommodating if someone said yes. There was no need to cite an allergy or try to excuse you minding being exposed to smoke. You merely had to say you did, and then the person would excuse themselves to find another location to accommodate the habit. I realize this next statement makes me sound like an old coot, but honestly people, it breaks my heart that we have become such a rude society that we have to legislate simple good manners. There I said it.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        The social graces as they’re called really are just plan old common sense.   Common sense unfortunately isn’t as common as it used to be.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        Agreed. The level of rudeness these days is appalling.

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          People assume I’m rude because I’m so “opinionated” but of course how I express myself on the internet as Baby Snooks is different from how I express myself in person so to speak and in person I’m far more likely to send you off to “Social Siberia” by merely ignoring you as quite a few along the way have discovered.  Still, occasionally, well, I probably should have been a gossip columnist but of course would have been shot before the second column hit the street.  All in all I am pretty tolerant of things. The one thing I am not tolerant of is intolerance. And so I have a problem with the extremists among us. And that includes the extemists with regard to smoking. The “I’ll smoke wherever I please” versus the “You will not smoke anywhere.”

          We all know it is hazardous to our health. In reality life is hazardous to our health.

          In my case it has made a biopsy difficult. Hopefully in two weeks, two months after it was originally scheduled, my sinuses and lungs will be clear enough to allow me to lie flat without coughing. If not, I will have to “go under” which they want to to try to avoid. 
          Reality is smoking took its toll.  I know it. I don’t need the reminder from the “prohibitionists.” By the same token, I don’t miss the “smoke-filled rooms.”

          There are several things going on that are “pre-cancerous” including the “little thingy” in the thyroid. But the “little thingy” in the thyroid is what is apparently the primary “pre-cancerous” thing that in the end may not be such a “little thingy” And it is not associated with smoking.  An irony I suppose. Stress perhaps. But most likely something “environmental.”  So those who rail endlessly about “second-hand” smoke need to stop and think about the air we breathe and the food we eat. Both filled with carcinogens. Not to mention cosmetics and “cleaning products” including all those wonderful things that make our clothes as well as our countertops smell so fresh. Those who rail endlessly about “third-hand” smoke either need to find another “soapbox” or see a psychiatrist.

          Someone may have splashed Baby Snooks with water and Baby Snooks may be melting away. But it wasn’t RJ Reynolds.

          • avatar TinyB says:

            In your first post, you talk about how horrible smoking is, and list all of the health consequences you’ve suffered. But then you say someone who is concerned about second and third hand smoke needs to think about other potential dangers and/or see a psychiatrist. There is a flaw in logic here; you are putting forth fallacious arguments. Pointing out other dangers that exist in the world does not make the danger of second hand smoke any less significant. If we all threw up our hands and said, “Oh well, there are so many harmful things in the world that we’ll never control them all, so why bother doing something about the things we CAN control,” we would never have made the huge progress in stopping secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace and in public that has occurred in the past few decades. However, the vast majority of second and third hand exposure for children occurs in their own home. Children are powerless to protect themselves from their parents’ addictions. It’s one thing to make the decision to expose yourself to the risk. It’s another to make a child sick from exposure to something that is completely preventable. When a problem exists that causes literally hundreds of thousands of children to become ill every year, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

            For perspective on how big a problem this is, here are some stats from the California EPA health hazard assessment, 1997. These numbers are estimates of the number of annual events solely due to second hand smoke exposure:

            Excess annual deaths from lung cancer due to secondhand smoke: 3400
            Excess annual deaths from cardiovascular disease due to secondhand smoke: 46,000
            Excess annual infant deaths from SIDS due to secondhand smoke: 430
            Low birth weight/preterm delivery due to secondhand smoke: 24-71,000 per year
            Episodes of childhood asthma due to secondhand smoke: 202,000 per year
            Childhood lower respiratory illness due to secondhand smoke: 150-300,000 per year
            Childhood middle ear infections due to secondhand smoke: 789,000 per year

            In terms of modifiable risk factors for disease (ie, something preventable), secondhand smoke is one of the top public health threats that we face, and certainly warrants the concern it receives.

  8. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I don’t think the issue with LW#1’s MIL is the smoking.  I think it is an issue of wanting to control for the sake of controlling.  If it wasn’t the smoking, it would be something else prompting her to stir up trouble to get attention and drama in her life.  LW#1 is doing the right thing and I’m glad her husband is supporting her.   Any reasonable family member will support LW#1 and her husband on this.  And I would limit her contact with the granddaughter if she is only going to campaign for her smoking rights and make the granddaughter feel like the whole problem is her fault.  She just sounds like trouble all the way around and her absence from your life is probably a blessing.

    As a smoker, who has no children to worry about, I smoke in my home.  I would NEVER presume to smoke in another’s home unless they light up too.  And, if I have guests at my house who I know are offended by smoke or have health issues, I go outside to smoke. 

    Letter #2…There is only so much you can do for a friend who is suffering from mental illness.  If it got the point where you thought it was her or you, then do not feel guilty about distancing yourself from her.  You are not a mental health professional and even if you are, you shouldn’t be treating a friend.  Its sad that mental illness isolates people but sometimes there is only so much we can do to help our friends or family members.   

    • avatar A R says:

      LW1: Your house, your rules. Done.
      LW2: I will not pretend to understand mental illness as I am not an expert. I will say however, that when a person feels like they are to the breaking point with a friend, it really doesn’t matter what the reason is—when you need to step away, you need to step away.
      When it comes to family, sometimes it’s not easy to get that break, but when you are only a friend, you should be able to step away more easily. After all, they are not living in your home or part of your daily responsibility.

  9. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Tell her once more “It is OUR home and you are NOT smoking inside of it.” And say nothing further. If she comes over and tries, steer her firmly but politely to the porch. I’d say she should grow up, but considering she’s already a senior citizen…(hopeless).

    L #2: I’ve been there (friend). Had to pull away when friend began stalking me and trying to control my life — even to the point of wanting to “pick and choose” little privacies which were only my business. Friend’s family wouldn’t help; there was nothing more I could do except pull away and end contact, otherwise it’d be my sanity.

  10. avatar D C says:

    My oldest brother (whom I have no contact with anymore – mentioned in yesterday’s issue) and his wife are heavy smokers and they continue to smoke like chimney’s inside their home even though their daughter has Asthma.  I would suggest the LW schedule a doctor appointment with the child’s pediatrician and take Grandma along and have the doctor explain it to her.  Maybe she’ll listen to the doctor, maybe she won’t, but that takes the “blame” and places it on the doctor.  Maybe Grandma will back off.  The daughter is old enough to understand, if the parents explain to her, that Grandma is stubborn and some people refuse to change their minds even in the face of factual evidence (smoking is harmful to everyone’s health).  I wonder if she’s had a chest x-ray recently.  Perhaps a field trip to a lung cancer clinic would be a good idea for Grandma’s educational needs. 

    • avatar Anais P says:

      Excellent ideas! Maybe the daughter’s pediatrician is in the same building as the X-ray techs and/or the lung cancer clinic. Grandma is really playing cancer roulette with her own body and jeopardizing her granddaughter’s health at the same time …

  11. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Okay, we’ve established that your MIL is being a selfish cow and prioritizing her selfish addiction before your daughter’s health. But what’s your excuse? You and your husband are instilling in your daughter that smoking is acceptable and normal, everyday behavior. People will disagree with me on this—but come on, you’ve established a smoking “area” at your home. Whether it’s inside or outside is irrelevant. Whether you tell your daughter that “smoking kills” or it’s a “nasty habit” doesn’t matter. What matters is that your husband (and you, by inaction) are wasting your money and more importantly—your health, on a little white stick that produces SMOKE. Will you feel better about having had that outside smoking area when your husband develops emphysema or lung cancer? Will you feel better when your daughter starts her own habit?

    Look, I know it’s an addiction—my mother died right in front of me as a result of smoking. But it can be stopped, and if you expect your MIL to follow your lead—then lead. Start there, and then worry about the MIL. (And my suggestion for dealing with her is to invite her along when you next take your daughter to her doctor. Don’t say a word. Let the doctor tell her what she’s doing, if she doesn’t believe that smoking is harmful.)

    LW2: As someone who has gone through periods of estrangement because of mental illness, you have my complete sympathy. But ultimately you have to look out for your own well-being, before you get sucked into a downward spiral. There are all sorts of resources to be found to support you online—take advantage of them, and good luck.

    • avatar TinyB says:

      I second what you said. While smoking outside is better than smoking inside, what many parents do not realize is that smoke particles cling to their hair and clothing. This is called third-hand smoke. So even if the smoking is limited to outside of the house, the harmful particles are brought inside with the smoker when he comes back in. Their daughter is still exposed to the harmful effects every time she gets physically close to her father. If the family really wants to help their daughter’s respiratory problems, they should stop smoking altogether.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen children with recurrent ear and upper respiratory problems as patients, whose parents smell so strongly of smoke that I can detect it in the hall before I enter the exam room. Then they tell me that it’s OK because they only smoke outside–wrong! Their kids are breathing in the miasma of carcinogenic smoke particles every time they come within 10 feet of them. This is a huge public health issue.

  12. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    I worked with a woman back in the early 80s who had a running feud with the management at the outdoor concert venue, The Holywood Bowl. One used to be able to smoke during the concerts since it was outdoor. Then management banned smoking during the performances. But Peggy believed she had a government-given right to smoke wherever she felt like smoking. Her argument regarding the Bowl was that she was outside. The fact that others around her might not want to the smell, the smoke, or the ashes meant nothing to her. She wouldn’t accept the Bowl’s decision to deny her the right to smoke at will. She even tried to get the mayor of Los Angeles involved in her “personal rights” crusade (he declined). She lit up at work (back when it was allowed) even though her assistant had a breathing condition, and even though in Los Angeles one can go outside at just about any time for a cigarette. At the time I was a smoker, and I even I thought her “smoke anywhere” attitude was beyond the pale of good manners.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      Because a person with good manners always tries to make others comfortable and at ease, I would say the woman you describe not only had NO manners but was downright rude and inconsiderate of others!

  13. avatar Kathy says:

    “My husband is a smoker, and so are others in the family.”  Well, shame on all of them.  I’m sure LW1 believes that because she has a screened-in porch, on which her husband puffs away, that she’s protecting her daughter.  And that by holding the line with her mother in law  that she’s demonstrating that she puts her daughter first.  Her daughter has a respiratory illness, and if they really put her first, her husband would quit smoking and the “others” wouldn’t do it anywhere near their home.  Living with a smoker makes you somewhat immune to the smell and effect of smoke.  But I can bet you that any non-smoker walking into their home could tell you in a second that a smoker lives there.  It’s like the idiots I see holding their cigarettes outside their cars.  In other words, it’s too foul to have inside my car, but it’s just fine inside my lungs.

  14. avatar Maggie W says:

    A dear friend of the family smokes.  She has a beautiful home with very nice antiques.  She is a life long, coughing smoker but never smokes when there are guests.  I never look forward to visits with her whether it is our home or hers.  Her home smells horrible.  The beautiful clothes she wears smell horrible.  I’ve been in her car.  Same horrible story.   She is lovely but her disgusting habit detracts from that loveliness on a grand scale.

    There is no such thing as a smoke free home when there is a designated area still in use.  Wendy apparently knows the dangers of second hand smoke, so she should not allow herself to be manipulated when it comes to rules in her own home.  Let the MIL yap all she wants.  No doubt by now other family members know she has deeper issues than not being allowed to smoke.  You cannot change the stripes on a zebra.

  15. avatar Drew Smith says:

    Regarding Former Friend,

    First, I empathize with your dilemma and one has to take care of oneself first before one can take care of another.

    As for Margo’s comment, I wouldn’t call it fate, I’d call it laziness, there is no advice on dealing with the sense of guilt here, just a lame reference to what to do in a time of crisis; a very different thing.

    My advice, is at a calm time, set firm boundaries and stick with them. While your friend may not be able to honor them, you will have the clarity you need and the piece of mind you deserve.

    I have lived through this same experience with my best friend, but I could not allow him to ruin my home, endanger my girlfriend or mess up my home.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “As for Margo’s comment, I wouldn’t call it fate, I’d call it laziness, there is no advice on dealing with the sense of guilt here, just a lame reference to what to do in a time of crisis…”

      Wow—what a bitchy and unhelpful thing to say. I couldn’t disagree more, actually—since feelings of guilt are often assuaged by a sense of sameness of situation (i.e. empathy). Margo’s comment—in my opinion at least—was to say “hey, you’re not alone, and here’s why.” And it’s not like “setting firm boundaries” is some magic bullet that solves problems like this—since quite often the firm boundary is estrangement. The behavior of a mentally ill person often changes, disturbingly so, from day to day—and what may be a solution one day may not work at all the next. There’s your “lame advice” on dealing only with a crisis. Often, every day is a crisis. And most people are not emotionally equipped to keep pace with an onslaught of unpredictability, which is why going to a professional who knows how to deal with such cases is a good starting point.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I suspect Drew didn’t read the entire sequence since it is clear the “fate” is a reference to the other letter Margo received about the “kindred spirits.”

        Psychiatrists are fine for the patient. Not always so fine for the famly and friends of the patient.  For them, well, there are the “kindred spirits” and the peer support groups and one of the nice things about the internet is the number of these groups that allow support while retaining anonymity.  Someone who might not walk into a group will log on to a group.  I logged on to one such group and the “I’m not the only one” kept me from crossing the  very thin line between post traumatic stress syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder.  And I’m now beginning my sixth year as the moderator of the group.

        No one knows better what you are going through than someone who has been through it. Nothing heals the soul better than the “kindred spirit.”

      • avatar Drew Smith says:

        “…what a bitchy thing to say…” Name calling, that’s productive, speaks highly of you. You can read into Margo’s comment all you like, but the comments you make are not the words on the page. The reference to NAMI speaks only about emergency assistance, and I stand by my comment that MARGO’s advice was uncharacteristically lazy and lame and did not address the issues of former friend.

  16. avatar Bella Mia says:

    L#1 Often heated reactions are due to a sense of quilt. Better to lash out than feel the guilt that demand change, the subconscious says. Smokers don’t seem to realize that they carry that funereal stench with them, and yes, the carbon particles, too. My mother took up smoking in mid-life and my father said kissing a smoker was like licking an ashtray.

    Shifting the entire balance of the argument by looking at yourselves to see one of the roots of the issue: the general acceptability and proximity to smokers. Now that’s she’s dug in her heels, encourage your husband to consider giving it up for the good of the family and to set a good example for his mother. Invite her out to dinner where she’s can’t be smoking, and have a nice meal together.

    L#2 Is the ill friend able to read? Often reading can provide a sense of escape, calm and a break from the “brain storms.” Some friends can burn out, while others seem to have a higher tolerance for intense, distressed and chaotic behaviors. We’re all wired so differently. It’s not bad to recognize, ‘My wiring is short-circuiting dealing with this person. She’s overloading my circuits.’ Remember this: Some people are wired so as to enjoy working with the mentally ill, and choose it for a career. They feel it rewarding and fulfilling.

  17. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Always such a tough room as they say.

  18. avatar Jean B says:

    LW #1: Health effects are irrelivant. It’s your house, period. I’m a smoker but I would never smoke in the house or vehicle of a non-smoker. But if you come to our house or want to ride in our vehicle, understand that we do smoke in the house and in our vehicles. Our self-imposed rule of not smoking in the house or vehicle of a non-smoker is a matter of respect.

  19. avatar Lemonade says:

    #1-What a crazy person to think that smoking doesn’t affect people.  Obviously MIL is like you say, completely selfish and rude if you ask me.  Here’s the other thing, it’s not her house!!  She has no say and wouldn’t invite her back even if she says she won’t smoke in the house.  She needs some lone time to think about her actions and to understand what she did was WRONG!  We smoked 13 years ago, but not in our house.  One New Years we invited some friends over who invited a couple of their friends.  I had made it clear that ash trays were set up outside, but one of the friends friend went out, got an ashtray and lit up in my living room.  Everyone just stared at her, but not I.  I politely went over and asked her to take it outside, that we didn’t smoke in the house.  She was nice, and went outside. 

    #2- My aunt was a paranoid-schizophrenic and lived on the streets of a northern state for 8 years.  When I found out about it I tried everything to help her, but, she had civil rights.  She could bathe in bleach if she wanted, live under a bush in the freezing weather as long as she didn’t hurt anyone or herself.  After several years I finally did get help for her and it was a true blessing.  They had just come out with a drug called HalDal.  It’s an amazing drug, but has to be administered by a professional.  It does have side effects, but to finally have her back was amazing.  She lived 9 more years in a brownstone with others who had various mental problems.  They shared in the work and enjoyed each others company.  Good luck to the young lady whos sister has this horrible disorder…it is pure hell in the beginning!!

  20. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    Some people think old age = instant respect and “Their way”.
    This is a power play – nothing more or less.

  21. avatar Debbie Ciaravino says:

    LW #1,

      I didn’t get through all the comments, so forgive me if this is redundant. Most of what I read are people telling you that you are doing the right thing for your daughter and don’t give in. However, if I read your letter correctly, you were asking for suggestions on how to get your MIL to stop the smear campaign and find a way to broker some sort of peace in the family.

      So, while I agree do not let her bully you into smoking in your house, allow me to offer  alternative suggestions. Since she is incapable of not smoking in your home, then invite her on a family outing somewhere that smoking is not allowed. For example, a movie, or a restaurant, etc. If she choses not to attend these activities because she cannot smoke, at least you will not be able to be projected as cutting her off from her granddaughter and your daughter will be able to see at age 10 that you have made attempts at including her grandmother in her life. The other suggestion I had would be to plan a family outing in the outdoors that smoking would not affect the family. For example, a trip to the zoo, a picnic in the park, an amusement park, etc. Enough distance could be kept from Grandma to not inhale the 2nd hand smoke and still be close enough to include Grandma.

      Bottom line, this seems like a power struggle between 2 headstrong women. I do not disagree with the “my house, my rules” P.O.V. Just trying to say some attempt should be made to compromise with Grandma, after all she may not be around very long, especially as a smoker. I hope you see the value in having her a part of your daughter’s life.

    • avatar Miss Lee says:

      I know you mean the best by your outdoor suggestion but it may well not work.  I have asthma.  I have had reactions passing by someone who is smoking on the street.  I can not be in the home of a smoker and have trouble standing in an elevator or any other enclosed space with a smoker.  The smoke clinging to their clothes and body makes me sneeze and then wheeze, my chest tighens and I have to find my emergency inhaler fast. Smoking may kill you in the long run but it could kill me in the short run if an emergency room isn’t handy.  The side effects of the meds I have to take daily to be able to breathe will surely shorten my life.  So please realize, this isn’t an issue of manners for me, it is life and death. 

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        I agree the outdoor thing may not work. I can barely stand to be in traffic next to someone with their window down who is smoking-even when mine is up. Blech!