Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
I think that almost every hot button debate that has been going on recently can be answered with a question.
Whether that debate is how far we should go to protect people with allergies or whether people who object to vaccines philosophically should be forced to have their kids vaccinated, the question is the answer.
Who is responsible for your child?
If your child has a health condition, like allergies or immune system problems, is the onus on you, the parent, to protect that child by keeping them away from potential harm and educating them how to protect themselves?
Or is the onus on the rest of the world to change the way they live, the food they eat, or potentially put their own health at risk to protect the health of your child?
There are many people at loggerheads regarding vaccinations today, and the question is the answer.
If you believe that the parent bears the ultimate responsibility for the child, then you might homeschool your peanut-allergic child until he has the skills to read labels, bleach wipe surfaces, and stay out of dangerous situations. You would educate your child on how to protect himself.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t letting the school in on the fact that your child has anaphylactic allergies. The teacher needs to know what steps to take in the event of a medical emergency.
If you believe that society is obligated to protect your child, you might demand that your child’s class be peanut-free. You might even insist that the entire school ban all peanut products. You could be the one lobbying for a peanut free society because of your worry for your child.
You might want to ban all allergens that have the potential to be deadly to people with severe allergies.
This question also answers the biggest debate of the day.
The argument about vaccinations can be answered this simply as well.
If you have a child who is immunocompromised, you might want to demand that anyone who is going to be around your kid is vaccinated for everything from the measles to the seasonal flu. Your child cannot be vaccinated, but other healthier kids can.
You are understandably desperate to keep your child safe and you believe that other families should be part of the plan. Herd immunity is the basis upon which your child stays healthy.
But should your child’s safety come at the expense of other children?
Or should the onus be upon you, the parent of the immunocompromised child, to keep your kid away from potential sources of infection? Should you keep your child home during “flu season” or maybe even homeschool to keep them safe from viruses and germs? Sure, you shouldn’t have to do that. It’s not fair to your child to miss out on all the fun that can be had with their peers. But if the world was fair, your child would not be immunocompromised.
While the mainstream media would like everyone to believe that vaccines are 100% safe, the fact is that when introducing these things into a child’s system, there are risks. If there weren’t risks, the vaccine companies would not have been made immune from prosecution in 1986 and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program wouldn’t be doling out millions of dollars.
Just last year, thousands of cases were heard and thousands of people received compensation because of a vaccine-related injury. You may not think that sounds like many injuries compared to the millions of injections given. You may think it’s completely worthwhile. But you would probably feel quite differently if your child was one of those who was injured.
There are risks of swelling on the brain – that’s what happened to my oldest daughter when she was three months old. She ended up in the hospital with tubes going in and out of her body and she screamed silently in pain. Silently because my tiny baby had lost her voice from screaming and crying. We’re lucky she recovered. We’re lucky she didn’t die.
Why in the world would I risk putting my child through that again? She’s my responsibility, just like your child is your responsibility. Why would I risk putting my other child through it when I saw firsthand how horrifying the outcome could be?
Your responsibility is to teach your kids to get by in this world.
You have to teach your kids to get by in this world with the hand they’ve been dealt.
That means if they have life-threatening allergies, they need to understand that the entire world is not going to cater to them and keep their world allergen free. They need to be taught what to avoid and they need to know what to do if they’re exposed. And they need to be taught this from the time they are very small.
If your child is immunocompromised, they need to understand how to keep themselves safe. And if that means staying home while they are undergoing chemo because someone, somewhere might be sick with a communicable illness, then sadly, that is their current lot in life.
Your children have to be given the skills to survive in the world with their weaknesses. Maybe the world will cater to them when they’re 6 years old, but when they’re 26 and out there in the workforce or at college, the world won’t be as hospitable.
A physical vulnerability requires mental toughness and clever coping mechanisms. It’s your responsibility as a parent to prepare your child for the world in the body they have.
If you have a child with chronic health issues or allergies, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine the place of stress you must live in daily. If your child is in my care for a sleepover, I’ll do everything I can to keep them safe and healthy. I’ll cancel if my kid seems to be coming down with something. I will keep allergens away from them and make sure anything they’re exposed to will be clean and allergen-free.
But it is not my job to willingly put my child at risk for your comfort. You can call me selfish if you want to, but making my child my priority is my job.
Because just as you want to keep your child healthy, it’s my responsibility to keep my child safe and your responsibility to keep your child safe.
What do you think?
Who bears the onus of keeping children healthy? Their parents or society as a whole? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.