You know the scenario that we all dread as parents. Having to defend the choices we make about our children’s health to another parent. This is not something that anyone finds easy. The best advice is to take a deep breath and not let anyone’s opinion get to us. This is easy when we’re talking about bedtimes or tablet time. These are soft topics.
The conversation becomes a lot more challenging when we start to talk about vaccinations. Or rather, the statement that vaccinations are bad for children. Parent’s who don’t vaccinate their children are putting not only the health of their child at risk, but also the health of the whole community.
So, how do you talk to an anti-vaxxer parent in a constructive and healthy way, that will not cause an argument in the school parking lot? Here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Don’t use the label “anti-vaxxer”
This is a snappy term that is useful for a headline, but to be honest this labelling is divisive. It only serves to entrench people in their positions. To say that there are two camps of those who vaccinate and those that don’t suggest that people can’t think for themselves.
As you know, it is perfectly normal for a parent to have concerns about the healthcare of their child and the methods used. There is so much misinformation out there about vaccinations and the studies that have been performed on their safety. It is not hard to see how some incorrect conclusions have been drawn. The key thing to remember here is that you should not attack someone for their opinion. Even though you want to as it is putting your child’s health at risk.
2. Remember it is a complicated subject
Any aspect of your child’s healthcare is going to be worth discussion. The anti-vaccination sentiment is based around one report that connected autism to the MMR vaccine. The doctor who published the study has since been discredited and lost his medical licence. Although this is not something that many want to accept as it is a layer too deep for many to do their research. It is enough that the study was published.
Once an idea like this takes hold, it can be hard for some people to shake. If you are speaking to a parent who does not believe in vaccinations, then you can try to take this tack. Many who don’t know that the study was retracted and the doctor discredited are often swayed by this information. Rather than tell them this outright. You may suggest that they do a little more research on the topic to see if there have been any further developments on the vaccination research.
3. Be prepared for the smoking argument
Doctors used to say smoking was healthy and perfectly fine. They would even prescribe cocaine at one point in time. While these statements are true, they have often been used as an argument against the scientific communities reassurance that vaccinations are safe.
The big difference between the medical community back when smoking was considered a good stress reliever is that there are much more rigorous checks and balances in place now. Be prepared to explain this, and come up with a few analogies to help explain your point of view that vaccinations are indeed safe.
4. Be patient
Don’t let yourself be talked into an argument. It is best to stay calm. Explain to them exactly what information you have read about the subject and hope that they listen to you.