Advice Column: Response to First Time Father

Dear Hailey,

We are expecting our first child and my mom is an anti-vaxxer; she will use browsers like Duck Duck Go and Tore because Google is censoring information and burying research contradictory to mainstream medicine and Big Pharma. I’m in my last year of pharmacy school and my sister is a nurse practitioner that has a 3 year old. The night before she got her newborn vaccines, my mom stayed up the whole night crying and spent the next few weeks being hypervigilant. We have had multiple conversations with her about this topic, but get statements like, “I’m so passionate about it and no one is likely ever going to change my mind.” My wife and I are expecting our first child in July, and I mentioned to my dad, one time, they might need to think about how and when they would get to see the baby if they chose to not get vaccinated, not only with COVAX, but also with pertussis and flu (which doctors recommend every adult get that will be around a newborn). This led my mom to tell my sister she, “won’t be bullied into getting the shot, and I took offense to that.” 

I’m planning on having a conversation with her about this, but want some outside perspective. I know I’m not being a bully, but want to be able to address it.
Here’s what I have so far: You also need to remember, your family won’t disparage you for not getting vaccinated, but we expect the same consideration from you. We won’t get mad at you. But that means you can’t get mad at us when we make decisions based on the decisions you make. By not getting vaccinated, we have to weigh the risks of newborn babies being around you. You need to understand that your decisions are putting us in a hard situation. Your choice of forgoing the risk you feel to get vaccinated transfers that risk to US and the baby: your grandchild. Your choices cause us to have to make choices.

First Time Father

Dear First Time Father,

The safety of our children takes priority over everything else, and it is clear from your letter that you recognize that. This concept is second nature to all good parents, even when facing opposition is required to make it happen. It’s always hard when it involves choosing between the safety of your children, and other family ESPECIALLY when it is a parental figure. 

It’s a super unfair and painful position that you have been put in, and for that I’m sorry. 

What you have so far is great. Honesty is always the best route to take. My only input is this: with boundaries, it’s super important to be specific. Is there a time limit on distancing your mother from your baby? Is this forever unless your mother chooses to get the covid vaccine, until your child has been able to receive certain vaccinations, or until your child has all of the standard vaccines?

It’s up to you and your wife what this looks like specifically, but keep in mind boundaries are most successful when they have clear limits. 

Parents are one of the most if not THE MOST challenging of all when it comes to setting and maintaining boundaries. Remember that, expect resistance, but do what you need to in order to keep your child safe. Your child is lucky to have a parent like you.

I wish you luck,


Posted in Q&A

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