“Mom, I signed myself up for the COVID vaccine. Can you take me on April 8th?” My sixteen, nearly seventeen, year old daughter at the time decided for us. Her fourteen-year-old sister followed suit a few weeks later when the age was expanded to include her. “Mom, you can sign me up on Monday for the vaccine, DON’T FORGET” was the text I received from her when the news broke. I supported their decisions. Their dad supported their decisions. We are a fortunate family in this situation.
For many other families, the emails and text messages have been exchanged in a flurry between parents in what I will call the vaccine vex. One parent is in favor, one parent is not. Whether it be for religious, political, health, or societal reasons, our attorneys have been listening to the range of reasons for why the other parent is wrong and they are right.
Most parenting decisions are not one way or the other. Typically, there are shades of gray in which to explore compromise. Kelly Gering, a parenting plan mediator extraordinaire says of mediating this issue with parents “beyond the science, traditionally we discuss the shared values, safety, and freedom. We discuss the desire for the children to remain in school, to travel and be with grandparents and friends. Often they will agree to visit the pediatrician together and take their concerns to a professional.”
For me, the decision was a consideration about what my girls wanted, what I wanted and what their dad wanted. Fortunately, we were all equally aligned. Since my girls are older (Anna will be 18 this year) it felt right to take their input into consideration. We all opted to move forward with them getting vaccinated.
Truthfully, the vaccination decision wasn’t about protecting my girls from fatal cases of COVID – because my girls are healthy young women with no risk factors. It was more about the big picture and minimizing the COVID impact in their community. The decision was made to support re-opening their world with in-person school, sports being played, Anna having a normal senior year with a mask-less prom, graduation with a big party (fingers crossed). My girls expressed feelings about doing their part to protect their community. They had lots of friends experience the illness of COVID in 2020. For them it was not a fear-based decision. It was a future-based decision.
For parents struggling with this decision, my best advice:
- Do not make this decision based on bad feelings toward the other parent.
- Do not make this decision to “win” against the other parent.
- Do not make this decision to “get back” at the other parent.
- Do not make the decision solely to antagonize the other parent.
As with all good parenting decisions, make the decision that best supports the best interests of your children – from both the big and small picture perspective.
Kelly Gering, a certified parenting plan mediator in Omaha can be reached at:
Kelly Gering, SADR
Shared Story, LLC
4917 Underwood Avenue
Omaha, NE 68132