A MUM was left horrified after she discovered that her in-laws were trying to teach her children how to smoke, after she expressed her hatred for the habit.
Writing for Kidspot.com.au, the Australian mum revealed that her sister-in-law had deliberately gone behind her back after she asked them not to glorify the habit.
She writes: “Let me start by saying my husband's family has always been great with our children. They love them and I know they would want only the best for them.
But they've crossed the line twice recently that has made me question if so much exposure to their social gatherings is a good thing.
My husband's family loves big family gatherings and I can tell they've really struggled without them throughout the pandemic. They gather in our back yard, we have a barbecue, there's always way too much food, lots of fussing and a massive clean-up at the end of the day.
My two children are aged 13 and five years old, and on one occasion about a year ago, their 20-something-year-old cousin crossed a line as we were winding down at the end of the day.
Since their cousins are all at least 10 years older, family events are no longer the child-friendly ones we attended before we had children ourselves.
After the food and desserts are devoured, the coals are extracted from the barbecue and used to fire up their shishas, a habit that is both harmful to themselves and those around them.
It's usually at this time that I send my children inside to play video games. They see their relatives smoking, but it's not something I want to normalise for my own children (nor would I with anyone else's kids).
On this occasion, however, my daughter came back out to the table and stared at the large bubbling glass centrepiece with the fluorescent pink hose snaking its way to her cousin's mouth and asked, "What's that?"
Before I could answer, my husband's niece replied, "It's cool, it tastes sweet! When you're 16… no wait… when you're 14, you come up to my house and I'll teach you how to smoke it!"
"Noooo, it's yucky! You don't want that! Go inside and play with your brother," I countered, ushering her away and following her inside myself.
I later spoke with my husband about it and he was equally appalled that someone would encourage a five-year-old child to smoke. He had a word with his sister (the mother of the niece who had said it) and she assured him it wouldn't happen again.
So it came as a shock just a few weeks ago when my 13-year-old son returned from dropping a plate off on my sister-in-law's doorstep with a smirk, shaking his head.
To have it almost pushed into their faces feels counter-productive and quite frankly offensive
There was a shisha beside her front door and she had noticed he was looking at it. Mistaking his intrigue for who knows what, she bounded over the line we had already made clear was not to be crossed again.
"Mum, Aunty D told me not to tell you but she said when I'm old enough I should come to her house and she'll get one of my cousins to teach me how to smoke," he said.
I don't mind what other people do with their own bodies. Hell, I even have the odd cigarette here and there myself, but the younger generation in my husband's family has this obsession with smoking shisha and it's not something I want for my children.
I also hide my sneaky occasional smoke from my children because I care about their health and I feel like with so many bad habits around them, they need some balance. Both myself and my husband have always been very anti-smoking when it comes to our children, so to have it almost pushed into their faces feels counter-productive and quite frankly offensive.
According to NSW Health, just 45 minutes on the shisha is the equivalent of 100 cigarettes. Who would want to do that to their lungs? And even more so, who would want to push that sort of a habit onto young children, let alone those they claim to love and care about?
I composed myself when my son was shaking his head in front of me and I casually asked him what he thought about his aunty's comment about the shisha.
"I never want to do that," he said with the shake of his head. "It's gross."
His response made me proud, but not as much as he did simply by telling me something another adult in his life told him to keep a secret from his mother. That's a whole new layer of betrayal."
This article was originally published on Kidspot.com.au and has been republished here with permission.
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