Over the last couple of weeks here, we’ve had quite the…kerfuffle. (To quote Dean Pelton of Community…ha.) We’ve been arguing over vaccines — whether or not they’re necessary, and whether or not anyone has the right to force them on anyone else. And whether or not I’m really anti-vaccine.
Let’s clear up that last point first. For my own family, I do not choose vaccines. I believe that the scientific evidence that I have read, our personal health needs, and what I understand about the immune system contradicts a need for vaccines. Thus, when I am sharing information on the topic, I often come from that perspective. I have been absolutely upfront about this and have no “hidden agenda” as some have suggested.
It’s also true that I tend to share more information against vaccines than for them because information in favor of vaccines is extremely easy to get. It’s everywhere. The other side is not well-represented. Given the lack of information against vaccines and my personal decision, that’s what I tend to share. But I do also point people to more mainstream or pro-vax sources at times.
For example, if someone asks me, “Should I vaccinate my children?” I do not tell them ‘no.’ I would not — it’s not my decision to make. Instead, I recommend starting with the CDC’s Pink Book, followed by the vaccine package inserts, to get a true feel for what each disease is like and the uses and side effects of each vaccine. From there, I recommend searching for whatever question you have followed by “pubmed” (which will pull up scientific studies) until you feel satisfied with the information and comfortable with your decision — whatever it is. I don’t know your circumstances and I don’t offer medical advice. No one should offer medical advice online anyway, not even doctors — they don’t know your medical history.
I just wanted to be perfectly clear on that point. I also want to mention that I am *not* okay with people insulting parents who do vaccinate their kids, either. They love their kids just as much as parents who don’t vaccinate and they have made a decision after much thought as well. If you want respect for your choices, then you have to give it to others as well.
The absolute bottom line is, I stand for parental rights.
Who Should Decide for Children?
A lot of people, sadly, do not think parents should have the right to choose whether or not their children receive vaccines (or which ones, or on which schedule). They believe that parents should have to adhere to the full CDC schedule. That because parents are not immunologists, they could not possibly understand the ramifications of the decision they are making.
This line of thinking scares me.
If we are to follow this type of thinking, then we are to believe that decisions for our children are best made by a small, central body of authorities. After all, someone must decide what is best for children, because they can’t do it for themselves. Someone must know them and protect them. The question is, who is it going to be?
A lot of people are really in favor of that central body of authorities, at least on some topics that they consider important. But each adult considers different issues incredibly important. Some adults are passionate about making sure all children are fully vaccinated. Other adults are just as passionate that children should not be vaccinated at all. Some adults are passionate that babies should not be circumcised. Others are passionate that babies should be breastfed (I’ve heard some say it should be ‘the law’ that moms have to try). Others are passionate that children must go to public school. Or eat only healthy foods, not fast food. Or should be taught to love Jesus. Or must not be taught any religion at all. Or…
There’s no end to this list. There is a group of people who feel passionately about every issue on one side or another.
The problem comes when people say, “Because I feel so passionately about _____, I think there ought to be a law that everyone needs to do it the way I think is right.” And yet they may vehemently object if someone tried to make a law on another issue, one on which they disagreed!
As long as people continue to try to legislate parental decisions, and often morality itself, there will be fighting. Because what they think they are saying is, “I know this to be the right decision, and I want to protect innocent children from anyone or anything that might fail to do the right thing.” They think that their motives are pure and good and that this justifies their actions.
What they are really saying is “I believe this to be right, and so I am going to force everyone else to agree with me and do it the way I want by making whatever laws necessary. I’m not interested in others’ opinions or different circumstances and I cannot conceive of a situation in which I could be wrong, so it’s perfectly okay to make people do it my way.”
What that shows is a complete lack of understanding that other people can have different circumstances, different opinions, and different needs, and that that’s okay. It’s a little scary that some adults just don’t get that.
Why Parents Get the Final Say
Let’s be real: all of the issues I mentioned above come with risks and benefits.
It could be risky not to vaccinate. Or to vaccinate. It’s risky to formula feed…or to breastfeed (think mamas who really can’t produce enough milk, who are on medications that are contraindicated, or who are suffering severe PPD related to breastfeeding). It’s risky to teach children religion…or avoid it. And so on.
There’s really no way to say that, 100% of the time, there is one right way.
There are so very few things in life that are truly black and white. Is it okay to murder your child because he didn’t eat his dinner? Clearly, it’s not, and that’s illegal. No one contests that. Is it okay to spank your child because he flung his dinner onto the floor? …and it gets murkier.
When there is no consensus on the “right” or “best” way to do something (and let’s be clear, there is not a consensus on the issue of vaccination, although many would have us believe there is), it makes no sense to defer to a central body of authority. A one-size-fits-all policy is not going to adequately protect all children, in all circumstances. Because it can’t.
If there can be no blanket policy, then who makes the decisions? Parents.
Parents. Parents know their children best. Parents know their family circumstances. Parents have access to a wide range of information on all of the topics above, and many more. Parents are in the best position to make the right decisions for their children.
Some might say, “But wait. What about parents who….” Stop. Are you talking about physical abuse? True neglect? Major drug and alcohol problems? People who are absolutely not fit to safely care for a child? If not, then it doesn’t matter how you would finish the sentence — the answer is no.
This does mean that other parents will make decisions that make us uncomfortable sometimes. It does mean that occasionally, a decision they thought was the right one will turn out not to be so great. But neither of these is a reason for taking away their rights.
I believe in parents.
I believe that with access to all the information, the ability to ask and receive answers to questions, and trust placed in them, parents will do the best for their children. They will. Because parents love their children, and they want to do the best. We need to give parents those rights, and protect those rights, above all else. That is the best way to ensure that children are safe, loved, and well taken care of.
Education and Advocacy
Education and advocacy on a variety of topics don’t have to stop because we respect parental rights. Offering information — but not forcing it onto someone, or trying to make a decision for them — is perfectly okay. In fact, it’s good.
We should keep sharing information, we should keep advocating for education, but that advocacy should be gentle, respectful, and understanding. “Did you know…” “Can I share…” “Would you take a look at….” These are good. We need to have open lines of communication. We need to discuss important topics. We can all learn from each other.
“You’re wrong.” “You’re stupid.” “You’re a bad parent.” NOT OKAY. It’s just not.
Stand with me for parents’ rights. Stand for education and advocacy — done respectfully — on the topics about which you are passionate.
A Small Note
Recently, I’ve had a lot of trolls find some of the controversial posts I’ve written (mostly on vaccines). They rant and rave at me, telling me that I’m stupid, a worthless excuse for a human, that I should be in jail, I should have my children taken away, I should kill myself (all real examples of comments I’ve received in the last week).
I just love the trolls.
For real, I do. They’re driving my traffic up. Which means I earn more money on display ads. It also increases my google traffic rankings so more people find my site in search engines. It drives up my Facebook reach, so that more legitimate fans see my posts. Fans are messaging me with questions privately, asking how they can get on my email lists, buying my books.
So thanks, trolls. You’re helping me grow my business and reach more new, real fans.
(But I will tell you that if you are that rude, I will delete your comments and possibly ban you. Because, you know, helping me out or not — uncool.) How funny is it that there are supposed grown-ups in this world that behave like 2-year-olds throwing tantrums? I just laugh now.
Also, tomorrow starts the awesome Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale. Just so you know. Come back and read all about it. 🙂
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