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From Berkley, Michigan, USA:

My 15-year-old son has type 1 and allergies. His father and I are separated. His father smokes a pipe in his home, airing it out the day before my son comes over for weekend visits. My son gets regular drug tests for which he is always clean, however, he tests positive for nicotine when he has been at his dad's. His dad smokes in the house all week and the home and all of its contents smell very strongly of smoke. My son says that he hates how he smells when he is there and he feels very run-down after the visits. He is now refusing to go. The psychotherapist involved with the family is saying I should force my son to go to his father's home. I feel it is an unhealthy environment for any child and even more so for a child who is compromised by diabetes. My father, who is a chemist, verified that passive smoke can be detected by the drug test and, when he is with me, he tests clean. Can you please share with me your expertise on this matter so I can share this with the therapist and my son's father? Please outline the damage this is doing to our son! I cannot continue to send my son to his father's. His father will not stop smoking inside.


I am not advocating smoking or minimizing issues surround second-hand smoke. I'm sure the smoking irritates your son's allergy symptoms. But, I am aware of no data that suggests that such exposures are somehow multiplied in a patient with diabetes mellitus.

From my perspective, the potential overall benefit a son can have with his father in a split household outweighs any potential risk of the second hand smoke as relates to the teen's diabetes.

I would hesitate to guess that any party held with the boy's high school peers will have much more smoke.

Heed your therapist's advice. I would think you would want to foster your son's relationship with his father as much as possible and not find opportunities to run interference. Family therapy sounds to be the right ticket.


Original posting 6 Aug 2013
Posted to Other


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