Friday, June 06, 2008

Who would you kick out of play group?

It takes me all week to read the Sunday NYTimes, so I'm just getting through the magazine. I love the Ethicist column by Randy Cohen and this week's first question is a great one for parents because it touches on one of those parenting religion debates.

You know those debates...

...pit bulls vs. police
...circumcised vs. uncut
...bugaboo vs. tasteless hack parents
This question centers around the vaccinate vs. polio isn't so bad debate.

Can you tell which side I come down on?

Anyway, check it out and then tell me...who would you kick out of playgroup?

The unvaccinated? The parents with the Snug Ride clipped into the Snap N Go? The circumcised? The pit bull?

I would kick a kid out of playgroup for...

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  1. Not really participating in the play group thing anymore, I am rather out of that loop. I am less likely to socialize with someone with a fancy stroller than any of the others, due to the financial strata where I live more than taste in strollers.

    The playgroup where all the boys are inspected inside the diaper before joining could be a lively one though. At 10, I doubt they compare that feature with each other.

    Regular biting of my child would be a definite turn off, and we would be out on the booger thing. Who taught the kid that? I think we are over it now.

    Vaccinations? I might try to keep the non-vaccinating mom around and talk some sense to her, which may be why she left. "She felt pressured to leave the group." There is nothing wrong with a lively discussion of vaccinations at playgroup. If the mom in question felt judged, it becomes her problem and not the group's problem. It sounds like she was not terribly sure of herself and could not stand up to the pressure. We discuss all sorts of things that relate to child development with each other when parents get together, but first we have to be comfortable with who we are and who our kids are. Without talking to the actual person, not the idealized version of who she is, it is hard to say what I might have done.

  2. Anonymous2:05 PM

    If they really had "frank but cordial discussion" then the pressure the mother who left felt was probably an artifact of her own mind. Of course, vaccinations are kind of a hot button issue.

    Funny, I don't vaccinate my kids, but it has not much to do with the mercury/autism thing. That's what The Ethicist seemed to assume was the issue, but it's not always so.

    I also think it's funny that The Ethicist thinks that the mother's antivaccination stance is "benighted," as if dissent from current scientific opinion (and by that I mean mainstream, or publicized, scientific opinion) equals being uninformed. There are many studies that point to the inefficacy of vaccines, and to the statistical unlikelihood of children suffering the rare side effects that are trumpeted as reasons for vaccination (If a boy gets mumps he'll become sterile! If you get measles you could get meningitis! Or whatever happens to .00001% of people.)

    OK, enough parenting religion for today. I just get a little tired of the "informed vs. uninformed" angle.

  3. CAGirl: Yeah, I was puzzled by her feeling pressured to leave the group. As Cohen points out, it's not like she had TB and was coughing on everyone. Curious.

    AMama: Knowing that you haven't vaccinated, I've meant to ask in the past, but I keep forgetting--what is your plan or what are your thoughts for the future, when your kids may want to travel to parts of the world where these diseases are still prevalent? Vaccinate them on a case-by-case basis? Go unvaccinated and take precautions against infection?

  4. I think it would be okay to forego the vaccines with know, if everyone else in the world were vaccinated against things like Mumps, Rubella, Polio....

    ...I dunno. I just don't find the autism link as convincing as others find it, I suppose. I've read some other stuff about the benefits for vaccinations.

    To each their own---but for us, bring on the vaccines....and the annual flu shots.

  5. Anonymous10:23 PM

    Well, I don't have a plan per se. Generally I just wanted to wait until the kids were older, and then probably space out any vaccinations we chose to get. The boy got 3 out of 4 DPT shots as a baby because we were especially fearful of pertussis with his lung problems, but nothing since then.

    Even the hard-core anthroposophical doctors from Europe still advocate getting polio and tetanus vaccines for everyone, because those diseases are not "normal" childhood inflammatory diseases. But they advise to wait until the child's immune system has had a chance to develop on its own before vaccinating.

    I'm not sure how to answer your question about travel, since we have no plans to travel internationally anytime soon. Probably case-by-case. Certainly if there were a known, serious infection rate in a certain country, or if the shots were required, we would vaccinate.

  6. I had to go with the ugly stroller thing since I have been severely brainwashed that how I dress and appear in public affects my children's popularity. Soon I will be back to 3 teenagers. Heaven help me.

    As far as the vaccinations: My kids are, but it has been so long since I have had mine, that if I step on a rusty nail, rush me to ER to get that tetnus one. Part 2: my youngest got the chicken pox vaccine, but now the Dr we see does not support this so where do we go if he needs a booster..... does he need a booster? The school thought so but then changed their mind. He was not in existence when the older 3 had the disease (none of them died from it) so do they need a booster? I thought once you had it you were done.... but then there is shingles (which is an adult version of the same thing with a new name.) Part 3: My friend's daughter, who was fully vaccinated, missed almost a year of high school to have whooping cough. I guess that would be the they don't always work thing.

  7. L-P: We're with you. Bring on the shots. In her work, Mama works in countries where people can't get vaccines for a variety of reasons--no roads, no electricity for refrigeration, no money, no peace--and she sees the results. I'm with you about the stats. I think they're being made to say what either side wants and what the media needs to gin up news on a slow day.

    Amama: Interesting. So, it's not that you're opposed to vaccines, you just don't want to give them at a young age. I haven't done enough research to know why that makes a difference, but I suppose you have, and if it's worth it, I suppose that's a nice advantage of living in a country that is largely free of these diseases, just as my being vegetarian is a luxury I enjoy that most of the world can't afford.

    KMoo: Bummer. That means we can't be in your playgroup. And yeah, that's the thing--they don't always work. Then again, people wearing seatbelts are sometimes killed in accidents, but I still put mine on because I'm still more likely to survive with it on.

  8. I believe that the reason I was given for why children are vaccinated at such a young age was that parents bring children in for well care more regularly when they are tiny. They started giving the Hepatitis B shot at an older age and found that kids were not getting the third dose. If they started younger, the doses lined up better with visits to the doctor. This approach is intended to reach parents who do not vaccinate their kids because they forget, rather than those who make a conscious decision to vaccinate later or not at all. My kids both have had all the recommended shots at the age when they were recommended.

    Of course the recommendations have changed over the years. #1 had Hep B shots at the beginning of kindergarten while her brother had them at birth. By her 7th grade they were required for her to continue school, but she did not need to line up with the rest of the class. They were required for him to enter kindergarten.

    Neither had the Varicella shot. The first one broke out with the disease on the day they announced the release of the vaccination in the US. I delayed with the other one and he found the disease somewere. I am sorry we did not share it with his cousin.

    Now they are talking about Hep A and a vaccination for young ladies which neither of my kids have done. I will probably try to get both for her before she heads off to college. My son will most likely need Hep A before he starts high school, which is how they pick up changes in recommendations after kids start school.

    I had my last tetnus shortly after my son was born, so those of you who are counting know I need another one by now. I am better at taking care of the kids health than my own.

    I agree with Mama, there are worse things than shots.