Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Brother rejects vaccination for bro's baby

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Q: My wife and I are expecting our first child in about eight weeks, and under the advisement of our obstetrician and pediatrician, we've asked our parents and siblings who will be near the baby to get vaccinated against whooping cough (pertussis).

My brother and I are quite close, we see each other often and I was expecting him to be around quite a bit in the baby's early days.

A couple of days after our request, he let me know he and his wife don't believe vaccines are safe. She has a sibling with a developmental disability and the family has a strong feeling that vaccines were the cause.

I have no intention of having this debate with my brother. After speaking to the pediatrician, it sounds like the safest course of action is to restrict his access until the baby is fully protected (6 months).

Am I being fair here? I'm incredibly hurt, sad and angry that my brother would choose a view like this one over the safety of my child. Any advice?

J.

A: I understand your decision not to debate this with your brother, given the low instance of changing any minds.

Instead, I suggest you treat this as a strictly factual vs. emotional situation: (1) Pertussis is highly contagious and can be lethal to infants. (2) You need to protect your child. (3) Your brother is entitled to do what he thinks is right. (4) He'll meet your baby in six months. (5) It's a bummer but you love and respect each other and you will get past this.

OK, No. 5 isn't a fact unless you both make it so. But part of that will rest in your decision not to see this as your brother "choos(ing) a view like this one over the safety of my child." He's choosing not to be vaccinated, yes, but seeing that as a decision to harm your child is your choice.

So. "I love you, I know you're making your choice in good faith, I'm not going to try to change your mind, the little dude/dudette will be overjoyed to meet you when the doctor says it's safe."

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