Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week on Ask Scary Mommy: What do you do when your parents refuse to get the COVID vaccine, but complain about how much they miss your kids? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My parents live about an hour away from my family, and we haven’t seen them much during the past year. During warmer weather, we’d meet outside for picnics and walks, but since winter hit and the COVID numbers skyrocketed, we’ve been keeping our distance. They do know how to FaceTime, so we at least have that. But we didn’t gather for any holidays out of safety precautions. They constantly complain that their friends get to see their grandkids all the time, we’re being unreasonable, etc. My siblings even let my parents see their kids, but their kids are school-aged and I have a toddler and an infant. The other day, we were talking about the vaccine I told them once they’re vaccinated, they can come into our home and see our kids. They immediately scoffed and told me they don’t “trust” the vaccine because it “was made too fast” and don’t plan on getting it anytime soon. They’re both in their sixties and would definitely qualify for it at least in the next rollout phase, if not sooner. I can’t believe they feel this way. I don’t know what to do. If they won’t get vaccinated, I won’t feel safe around them. Like, are my kids just not gonna know my parents? WTF.
My family also has the “strictest” COVID protocol out of our combined extended families, so I feel your pain. It sucks being the one getting shit for just trying to stay safe and healthy and not kill anyone, but Americans gonna American.
I’m sure you’re desperate for your parents to have access to your children, because no one in their right mind would actually prefer things this way. I’m sorry that your parents refuse to connect the dots that vaccine = grandkid time. A lot of people share their concerns, unfortunately, because a lot of people refuse to do the work before developing their opinions — if they did, they’d know that the pharmaceutical companies behind the COVID vaccine not only received an emergency order to get to work on it, but they were instantly funded. Money is what made it go faster, not lack of thorough testing or research.
You can provide your parents with this information if you think it will help. Trying to educate them beyond providing them with correct information (I don’t know how into conspiracy theories or right-wing propaganda your parents are) is up to you. If they seem open to it, go ahead and try. If they’re steadfast in their refusal and knee-deep in links from antivaxrightwingownthelibs.net kind of shit, then, well, it’s probably a waste of energy. I do think it’s worth asking them why they seem to be more fearful of the vaccine than the virus.
A lot of states are offering appointments to be scheduled online (and many major cities are having mass drive-thru vaccination vents). Look into it for your parents, and say something like “Hey, I see that the Rite Aid two blocks away from you has the vaccine available for your qualifying group. Would you like me to help you make an appointment?” Because for a lot of older folks, the barrier has more to do with internet frustration and logistics than anything else. If this helps, great. If this is not at all their issue, then again — I’m sorry.
If nothing else, you can hope that missing your kids enough will help them see the light. I genuinely hope it does, because your kids and their grandparents (and you, too, of course) deserve it. But I’ll gently warn you to prepare for them not to, or at least not soon. If this past year has taught us anything (particularly those who are mitigating risks seriously), it’s that people you thought you could have faith in to change their behaviors will let you down. It’s awful. But please know you’re not alone. Keep me posted!