There are many decisions that we make as parents. We have to decide how many sweets we keep in the house, how much TV time our kids get, and we have to decide if we will be following the CDC’s vaccine schedule or use an alternative schedule.
While the majority of the public does not stop to consider their options in vaccines but follow the doctors schedule, some of us choose to question how much and how often we are willing to give our children vaccinations.
Neither route is wrong.
There are people, of course, on both sides of the argument who will vehemently argue that the other party is wrong. Either wrong for questioning the safety or practice of vaccines or wrong that the parent doesn’t do more of their own research on vaccines, it is important to state that neither option is right or wrong. It is only what is right for YOUR family and the only thing wrong is assuming your family’s method is best for every family.
Vaccinations is a touchy subject. People feel very strongly on it one way or another. It can be hard to have cool, mellow discussions on vaccines with others, especially when one is searching for more information and looking to their peers to see what they chose to do.
Families choosing to research vaccines and find studies are often left disappointed with the amount of (or lack of) well done studies that exist.
In the end the choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate does exist and is the parents to make, despite how those around feel about it.
First, All states in the US have vaccine exemptions for school children who are not vaccinated.
-All states have the standard medical exemption, which is only accessible to a child with an established, medically proven, allergy to vaccine ingredients that has been documented by the pediatrician (or other medical facility like a hospital) and the doctor can show that information to the school system.
-Most states have the option of a religious exemption. By religious, it means that vaccinating conflicts with your families personal (or religious) beliefs.
-Some states have the option of a philosophical exemption- where the reason for not vaccinating can be further removed from the “religious” aspect and more just because the parent isn’t comfortable with it or has a personal reason for not agreeing with vaccines.
It’s important to look up your specific states laws on how to register an unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated, if doing an alternative schedule) child into school for any families planning on public school.
When thinking about doing an alternative vaccine schedule, there are multiple ways to approach the subject.
-One can choose to Fully vaccinate but administer the vaccines more spread out. Many parents are concerned about how many vaccines their child is given at one time and how that can overwhelm their tiny bodies. They instead make arrangements with their pediatrician where they only get one vaccine at an appointment and make more frequent appointments to get all the vaccines administered in the “correct” time frame still. This method is also great for those who are also watching their child for potential allergies and want to know exactly what vaccine their child is reacting to.
– A Parent may also choose to selectively vaccinate depending on issues like ingredients in the vaccine or the risk of the vaccine vs the risk of the illness it is for. For example, One parent may decide to not use any vaccines that include aborted fetal cells because of their personal discomfort or religious stance on the ingredient. Or a parent may decide to skip vaccines like rotavirus vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine because they feel the vaccine itself carries more potential problems than the illness’s it’s suppose to prevent or that it’s protection rates are not high enough to be worth exposing the child to the ingredients it contains.
– Parents may also choose to decline all vaccines, which is what we refer to as “unvaccinated”. There are just as many reasons for families to choose this option as there are families who choose it. Sometimes it’s because of ingredients in the vaccines, sometimes fear of vaccine reactions, and sometimes it’s purely because they feel a healthy natural immune system is more effective than a vaccine induced immune system.
Rarely, if ever, do families choose not to vaccinate because of autism fears. Despite how many articles and “professionals” claim that autism is the (poor) reason for not vaccinating, most families who choose not to vaccinate have reasons that have nothing to do with the risks (whether real or not) of autism.
Blaming “trends” and “lack of education”
I hear a lot of people accusing unvaccinating parents of just being sheep and blindly following other ignorant people. This is an offensive assumption and is not winning over anyone to the “vaccine team”. While there may be a small percentage of parents who follow others in not vaccinating without properly educating themselves on vaccines, illnesses, risks, benefits, studies- ect, the majority of families who choose not to vaccinate or follow an alternative vaccine schedule do not make that decision lightly or info-less. Actually, the majority have passionately and maybe borderline obsessively studied and researched before coming to a final decisions.
We know how to identify illness. We know that a dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, red eyes..ect could mean measles. We also know that 95% of children with polio show no symptoms and in the 4-8% of children who are symptomatic, it shows itself as a mild flu and about .1% of those cases can be the more severe paralytic form of polio. We can also tell you about 60,000 cases of polio that occurred in 1952 and that about 3,000 children died that year from it. We are not blindly following trends or uneducated. This decision weighed on us and we chose to take the path that best fit our family’s beliefs and lifestyle and felt right for us. Before assuming any nonvaccinating family chose to avoid vaccines for shallow reasons or because of blind, uneducated fear- try talking to them and opening up a conversation with them in a nonjudgmental way. Or, just accept that whatever their reasons are that it was still their legal right to make them- because in the end- whether your reasons are good or poor or based on education or following the crowd – vaccinate or not vaccinate- the decision is still yours to make, as the parent of your child.
– Nonvaccinating families have always existed. Not vaccinating is no new trend. What has become more widespread is knowing that the family next door, or your cousin or that child in your kids class is not vaccinated, due to social media and people sharing more private information in a more public way. The unvaccinated families have always been here, though. We are not a new trend. We are now just more public, thanks to twitter and facebook and other forms of media sharing.
I respect your decision, whatever it is. It is not an easy one to make and the results can be unpredictable no matter what path you choose. You can be the vaccinating parent whose child ends up with a permanent seizure disorder from the HPV vaccine or the unvaccinating parent whose child gets Pertussis (whooping cough). Or you more than likely will be the parent who chose whichever path felt right for their family and it all worked out fine and your family grew healthy and happily. Either way, it’s a major decision to make and one we should never assume others took lightly.
I try to be really aware of my language with my kids. No, I’m not talking about bad language, though I don’t do that either. I try to phrase things and speak to them in ways that will make them grow as people. For example, when I discipline, I try to speak words that will correct their behavior so that they will grow to become better, respectful, loving humans. I try not to use words that tear down or rip apart or shame in the name of disciple. I even desire to stay away from the neutral language that does neither. If it does not uplift and help them grow and be better than it isn’t necessary. Of course, I fail at this regularly, being human and all, but I am hoping that even just having this desire in my mind and heart will help keep me doing better than I would if I didn’t have these concepts in my mind.
So with everything I’ve been asking myself, “How are these words, this phrasing and this tone affecting their minds, self esteems, desire? How will this effect who they will be? How will this effect how they treat their own possible kids some day?”. If I can’t say I’m instilling good behaviors, feelings, and habits I start planning out a new way to treat situations that are more productive.
So I stopped calling my kids smart. I used to call them smart. “Wow, Ariel. You finished that puzzle fast. You are so smart!”. “Eve, you know all the words on that page? You are so smart”. I do not say those things anymore. I have traded in my language. Instead of rewarding natural ability I praise their efforts, the work it took to get something done, whether it took them little effort or great effort.
You might be asking Why? What is wrong with being smart? It makes people feel good and more confident to be told they are smart, right? That’s good for self-esteem.
Actually I’ve learned it is not that great. An article I recently read went into great depth discussing how children who are complimented off of their natural born intelligence get frustrated by harder work easier. Even children with really high IQ’s give up almost immediately when they hit a tough area because if it does not come natural to them they think it is not something they can do. While Children who are complimented for the work they put into a job, work harder and feel they can accomplish things if they just put the time and effort into it.
The research done showed that the children whose focus was based more on intelligence felt that needing to put effort into a subject or activity was evidence that they were not actually smart so avoiding those more difficult content areas was their preference over working harder at it so others wouldn’t believe them to not really be smart. While kids whose emphasis was on working hard felt that their smartness could grow and develop with effort. Teaching kids that their brain was a muscle that got stronger when worked had kids focusing more and getting better results.
No matter where my kids all fall on the IQ scale, I want them each to know that if they work hard for something they can achieve it. That if they desire to learn it and devote their time to learning something, they can learn it, whether it’s a natural skill or not. We are all born with different natural abilities and different levels of intelligence, which means we are not all equal in this area but we all have just as much potential if we are willing to work for it. I believe all my kids to be smart and am looking forward to continuing to work and learn with them and watch them grow and develop. I know that my kids “are smart” and I love that they will be able to see that their smarts are effort based and that they are intelligent people and all they have to do is put some effort into it and they can be as intelligent as they work to be.