Why I Stand for Parental Rights - Modern Alternative Mama
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Why I Stand for Parental Rights

admin September 9, 2014

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.

Anyway.

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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7 Comments

  1. Good for you and your thick skin! I can’t imagine loving the trolls… but I think that’s a great way of looking at it – they’re just making you money and helping people find you!

    Reply

  2. Kate,
    Props to you on this post. In the past, I have been really turned off by many of your vaccination posts, and your responses to people who disagree with you, as you honestly seem to take an extremely defensive stance. However, I have to say that I appreciated this post, because you didn’t take a side, and the undertones were kind. Thank you for this.

    I do want to say that the topic of parental rights in the vaccination debate is murky, especially for people who advocate for vaccines. It isn’t because they think you are causing harm to your children (at least most don’t have an issue with that), but rather it is because they believe your failure to vaccinate negatively impacts the public. I would like for you to see that it isn’t birthed, for the most part, out of a desire for control, but instead for what they believe is the health of the public.

    I appreciate your healthy eating posts and would love to see more of that and less focus on vaccines. Just my personal opinion!

    Reply

    • Jessie,

      Great response! Advocating for parental rights means all choices and comments are dealt with respectfully. I’ve seen comments from those who chose to vaccinate ( or not breastfeed, or give birth at home, or . . . myriad topics) disrespected by commenters on the blog and on Facebook (although I don’t recall MAM herself being offensive or vulgar). Those replies, and the offensive, vulgar language that often accompanies them, should be deleted as quickly as disrespectful dissenting opinions are. And I agree that parents who choose or advocate for vaccines are generally those who have children who cannot receive vaccines. They have a huge stake in ensuring public wellness and are coming from a perspective of protecting their children. Thanks for you insight!

      Reply

  3. This is important. Very important. Parents’ rights should be fought for and protected fiercely. While this does run the risk of some parents being able to be abusive or neglectful, handing the decisions over to the government isn’t fool-proof, either, as far as safety goes. We all know of stories of terrifying living situations of kids in state care. But, as a rule, no one, not the government or even their doting grandparents will love and guard my children like I do. Not possible. Their safety, health and education, of the highest quality, is my top priority. And I make some decisions for my children that aren’t exactly the norm: home births, no vaccines, no pediatricians, homeschooling etc. this is my right, and I would argue my responsibility. Now that I’ve researched these topics for years, and believe I’ve come to the best decision for my family, it is my responsibility to carry it out. And each and every parent deserves the right to love and care for their children in the way they believe is best. If we as a community notice a sweet child in danger, we of course have to step in, but for the most part, parents should be trusted with their children. Thanks, Kate, for the post. I could not agree more passionately.

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  4. […] Why I Stand for Parental Rights | Modern Alternative Mama […]

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  5. I really appreciate this post because as a parent having done my best to make these hard choices, I do see both sides, and despite the decisions I have come to (many against the norms) I find that I always feel the need to defend the parent whose choices are being attacked on either side. In my world the moms who vaccinate, send kids to public school, elect for planned assistance in birth don’t mingle with homebirthing, homeschooling, antivaxing mommies. Maybe it’s intentional or maybe it a larger world view issue that is simply too different, but I think the world needs more middle ground mommies who understand that, like you said, the choice is important, significant and critical to us as free people. If we take away the choices of some because we disagree with what they have chosen, we take the choice away from everyone. If I had the patience to sift through the research like you, I would definately blog about it. Thank you!

    Reply

  6. Amen! I would add that, even if we don’t all feel great about “believing in parents” (because some parents do make bad decisions, even if they love their kids), the fact remains that it is, in the whole, better for parents to be in charge of their children and their parental choices than the state. We are just humans and there will always be people making mistakes, but better to avoid as far as possible the scenario in which a detached, centralized, small body of people (who necessarily have their own interests) is in control rather than families.

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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