When I made the decision to start a practice working with new moms, I was very clear about my underlying philosophy. I wanted to provide the kind of support that empowered women in their role as mothers. I wanted to make it clear to parents that there are many different ways to do this job well. Breastmilk or formula, nanny or daycare, working out of the house or staying at home – the list of choices that parents make on a daily basis is unending. It can feel overwhelming to make these decisions, particularly when we are weighed down by the fear of making the wrong one.
I make it very clear to the parents I work with that, outside of abuse and neglect, there are no wrong choices. There are only the choices that work best for you. It is important as a mother to feel confident in your decisions. Self-doubt can be crippling and I make it my priority to help parents understand that they can and should trust themselves and do what feels right for them. There is so much judgment out there making new (and veteran) parents second guess every tiny decision they make. It isn’t necessary. There are always going to be others who disagree with your choices – no matter which ones you make, but other people have nothing to do with what works for you. My goal is to empower my clients to make decisions with confidence, with the understanding that no choice can ever be really wrong.
With one major exception. Vaccinations.
I’ve refrained from writing this post for a long time. I’ve been afraid of the word controversial. I am, after all, working on building a practice. The last thing I want to do is alienate people by coming out and saying I disagree with their choices. In fact, as I’ve just spent two paragraphs explaining, my entire philosophy is based on the idea that I support all choices. The difference here is that when it comes to vaccinating our children, I do not believe there is a choice.
I understand that all parents are trying to do what is best for their children. I know with certainty that those parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children honestly believe that they are doing what they need to do to keep their children safe. The problem is that they are wrong, and the negative consequences of their error are significant.
Children are getting sick. Diseases that we haven’t seen in decades are making a comeback. We are seeing outbreaks of measles and whooping cough – illnesses that can be fatal, especially in young children. Unlike other choices in parenting that don’t affect others, this one does, in ways that cannot and should not be ignored.
Being a parent is a major responsibility. We all spend our days navigating the world just trying to create the best possible life for our children. It can be really tough to sift through all the information that’s being thrown at us, and it can be almost impossible to know what is reliable and what is not. I don’t fault anyone for being afraid of making the wrong decision. It is really scary. But in this particular case, I can make it easy for you. There’s no reason to stress about this. The certainty of what’s waiting for us if we continue to see this decrease in vaccinations should scare all of us way more than any potential consequence of the alternative.