Being a mom is hard. That is the understatement of the century, I know. A million things make it the hardest job in the world, one of which is the incalculable amount of information (or misinformation) that gets thrown at us on a daily basis. Each “subsection” of mothers has their own manifesto that they are ready to throw at us anytime we so much as touch on the fact that are baby has not slept through the night. (Have you tried co-sleeping? Or the cry it out (CIO) method? Co-Sleeping creates terrible sleeping habits. CIO can damage baby’s growing brain!)
From spanking to TV time, every mom has their own parenting opinions and every mom has more than likely had to defend their parenting choices on at least one (hundred-thousand) occasions.
I mostly get it. Except when I do not. Like when parents choose to not vaccinate their children. I am not the first to write an article about the “to be or not to be”s of vaccination, and honestly, I think we can all agree that it is a pretty saturated topic. (Also, why is there so much debate surrounding preventing your children from getting preventable diseases?) I want to talk about one vaccination in particular: Varicella.
This vaccine does not get talked about as frequently as the controversial HPV vaccine (dun, dun, dun) and does not have a season where it is one of the hottest topics on the parenting blogs, like the flu.
That harmless childhood illness that everyone gets, right? Not so much. This illness, categorized as a childhood normality when I was young, is more dangerous than most mothers realize. According to the CDC, complications from the chicken pox range from bacterial infections, to pneumonia, to sepsis.
Similar to most vaccine-preventable diseases, the risk for those with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and infants is even higher. It must be a universally (and I say that intentionally to acknowledge our privilege as many countries do not have access to this vaccine and others) accepted practice to protect our children against a dangerous, and frankly, really lousy, illness. But of course, in our era of misinformation and judge-y sanctimommies, it is not.
I recently learned of a group of mothers who not only choose not to vaccinate against the preventable pain of chickenpox, they actively seek out children with chickenpox so that they can intentionally expose their children to it.
You read that correctly: These mothers give their children the chickenpox.
This is such a common practice that it has its own name: Pox Parties. I understand that there was a time when this made sense. We wanted to get the chickenpox during childhood so that we did not get it as an adult. Okay, sure. Before the vaccine against chickenpox was invented in 1995, I could (maybe) see why parents would choose to have their “pox parties.” However, over a decade later, this practice is more than outdated.
So, let me just tell all of you why I am going to RSVP “HECK no” to your pox party. Because: WE KNOW BETTER. Does your child sit in a property installed rear-facing car seat until they reach the upper limits of that seat? Totally! Because we know better than we did 10, 20 or 30 years ago so we follow the safest car-seat practices. Do you put your infant to bed belly-down? Definitely not! Because we know now that increases the risk of SIDS. When your 4-month-old is coughing, I am sure you are not giving her honey, because you know that that is an outdated and unsafe remedy for coughing.
We use our best parenting practices in all of these different areas. We base our decisions off of pediatrician recommendations, anecdotal evidence from other mothers we trust and the newest available data. We do our research, and a lot of the times we draw different conclusions. Some of us choose not to spank, others allow their babies to CIO. However, it is clear that there is no room for pox parties when we are using the best available information to implement the best practices in our parenting.
Let’s use those same processes for thoughtful parenting decisions and apply them where it matters the most: our children’s health. I invite all of you to RSVP “No” to your local pox party and “Absolutely!” to my evidence-based parenting party — where we do not choose to infect our children with preventable diseases, but rather, inject our children with safe and effective immunizations.
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