If Only I Would Have Known…
That there were going to be so many differing opinions on parenting. I know I’ve talked about this a few times, but I really want this to be a theme in everything that I write – each parent has to choose how to raise their child ON THEIR OWN. It’s one thing to be asked for advice and to give your opinion or personal experience, and another thing entirely to force your ideas on people who hadn’t asked to hear them. I’ve noticed lately especially in social media that people are literally spewing their ideas on parenting – and as a fellow parent, I’ve become annoyed. Not to say that I’ve never offered up my advice on anything – this blog is all about my personal experiences and things that have worked for me and for my family. But that’s just it – that last part – it’s worked for ME. That doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, or for anyone else for that matter. It does no good to tell another mother that something she is doing is “wrong”. So I breastfeed. Does that mean a mother who chooses to formula feed, or NEEDS to formula feed, is wrong? No! It means she’s doing what’s best for HER family! I cloth diaper…but it’s because it’s what held in my son’s virtual geyser of pee the best at night. If you use disposables, I’m not going to condemn you! You know why? Because it’s not hurting your child. Other than outright child abuse, these little nuances in how we raise our children or do things aren’t going to harm them!! Sometimes I really wish we could go back to the old days when there weren’t all these conflicting views to spark hate over. Because I see that so often now – hate and mean words and anger – over what people post about parenting.
I absolutely hate getting on Facebook or anywhere else and seeing posts about how people who do something are harming their child. The main parenting decision I see this about is vaccines. So here goes : I’m going to broach the subject. It’s not fair to use fear-mongering to try and sway mothers. If you choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate your child, SO BE IT. That’s your personal choice, and you are free to do as you decide for your child. But it doesn’t mean that someone else is a bad mother for not making your same choice. I had someone tell me that I was killing Kaleb by giving him vaccines. They referred me to a website full of parents whose children died within weeks or months of receiving vaccines and are convinced the vaccines were what caused it, even if autopsies or other reports end up finding differently. I’ll be the first to say that it’s ALWAYS tragic when a child dies. ALWAYS. No matter how or why or when it happens – but does it do any good to make a mother feel bad for making the choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate her own child? No! And does it make a mother who did vaccinate feel any better if her child happens to die that you blame her for choosing to vaccinate? No! I feel like all I ever see online is people posting about why NOT to vaccinate. I just feel like the argument is becoming very one-sided and accusatory, and that’s something that I hate to see. All the media these days about GMO’s and shots and government spying has made us all conspiracy theorists. The world is not out to kill your child! And though pharmaceutical companies are out for profit (most businesses are), I’m sure a lot of people working for those companies have children themselves, and I doubt they would intentionally do anything that they knew would harm your baby. People argue that some of these diseases are all but eradicated and therefore we don’t really need the shots anymore… well, yes, but if no one got the shots for a few generations, all of those diseases would no longer be suppressed and I bet we would begin to see more outbreaks. I may not want my son to die from a shot, but I wouldn’t want to watch him die of whooping cough (which is making a major comeback) or polio either.
So, the moral of this story I suppose is that bad things can happen either way. If you vaccinate your child, there is a small chance that something awful may happen. But if you don’t vaccinate then there is also a small chance that something awful may happen in the form of a disease. You, as a parent, have to research and weigh which risk is less for your child. I say this because some children SHOULDN’T receive vaccines, or can’t because of health reasons or family histories of vaccine reactions. I feel like I speak from a place full of sympathy and genuine heart-felt desire to be fair, because I was a complete basket-case where SIDS was concerned. After trying for Kaleb for longer than we had ever dreamed we would have to, then being so careful to not do anything even remotely dangerous during my pregnancy, I certainly wasn’t going to enter into any decision lightly where his precious life was concerned. If I truly would have felt like he had a greater risk of dying from SIDS after a shot than he did of getting a disease, I wouldn’t have vaccinated him. You, as the mother of your child, have to make that decision within your own household (because the risks/benefits are different for every child!!!!) After a TON of research, I chose to vaccinate Kaleb. Does that mean you have to vaccinate your baby? No. Does it mean you’re wrong if you don’t? No. But does it also mean you’re wrong if you do? No! Make your own decisions, do your research. You are not a bad mother if you aren’t totally “granola” in all that you do!!!! Since everyone out there is posting anti-vaccine sites, here’s one to bring balance back to the madness: it’s a great site that clearly gives the numerical risks of each disease versus its vaccine – facts. And I like facts. There are also in-depth descriptions of what ingredients go into each, etc.
Let’s stop publicly force-feeding our opinions to each other. Let’s stop scaring each other. Let’s support other moms and their decisions to do what’s right in their own families. As women, we need to empower one another and love each other, not find faults and induce anxiety attacks over every aspect of parenting. It’s hard enough as it is.
Love, Allison and Kaleb