Q: My partner “Ellie” and I have two kids – three months and 3-years-old. We are trying to raise our children the best we know how, which I assume most parents do. We feed them organic foods – as much as we can afford to – don’t allow very much TV, and generally try to do healthy things with them.
This summer we are going to be visiting my parents who live in Wyoming. They have not seen the kids and are very anxious to meet them. I feel especially fortunate that my mother and father – in fact, my whole family – is very accepting of me and my partner. They all live in Wyoming and have not seen our kids yet, except for my older sister who came when our second child was born.
My parents want us to stay with them in their home, and are helping to pay for our plane tickets. I appreciate their wanting us, but the problem is that they both smoke – and they smoke in their home. They are smokers who claim they have a right to smoke; you know the “smoker’s rights” types. (They actually belong to a smoker’s rights organization.) They really get upset when they think someone is treading on what they consider their “God-given rights.”
Recently, my brother told my dad that everything that came into my parent’s house ended up smelling like an ashtray. That resulted in my father telling my brother that he didn’t need to come over, ever again. Then, my mother got upset because there is a big family event scheduled when we go home.
Elle and I don’t want to expose our kids to all that smoke, and frankly, I’ve spent enough of my life exposed to a smoky environment. (My sister is willing to let us stay with her family.)
I don’t know what to do since I don’t want my family exposed to a smoky environment, yet I don’t want to hurt my parents or make my dad angry. Do you have any ideas how we can handle this?
To Dwell in Smoke or Not
A: You will have to make a decision as to what is more important to you and Elle: keeping your family out of a smokey environment, or possibly hurting or upsetting your parents. If you decide to stay with your sister, you can let your parents know in a kinder, more delicate way than your brother did with this comment about smelling like an ashtray. Let them know, in a nonjudgmental way, that it is a health issue for your family. Then, you have to let it go because you can’t control how your parents react, nor be controlled by it.
I can’t commit
Q: I’ve been with “Hal” for two years; that is, we have been dating fairly regularly for those two years. Hal wants me to make things more serious, which to him means that we move in together and be an official couple. He also wants a commitment ceremony, but says he’s willing to wait on that, at least for awhile.
For me, I don’t know if I’m ready for moving in and the big commitment thing. I don’t know why I’m not into this, and I can’t give Hal a good reason why I’m not. Now we’re fighting about this because he thinks that I must be seeing someone else, but I’m not. And, he’s asking me: “If you’re not seeing someone, what’s wrong with you?” How do I answer that? I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I don’t think that I have “commitment issues,” like Hal has suggested, because I committed to another relationship nine years ago that lasted four years.
Afraid of Commitment?
A: You didn’t say that you were “in love” with Hal or anything else about your relationship with him: things you like about him, how you feel connected to him, and on and on. That makes me wonder. I’m going to assume that you don’t have commitment issues – from what you’ve said, I see no evidence of that. However, I’m struck by the fact that you haven’t said anything about being “in love” with Hal, or that you enjoy him in your life. I’ve posted a test on my Facebook page that might help you figure out whether you are ready for a commitment. Check it out (search: Dear Jody Valley).