My children are doing persuasive speeches this week. One is doing the speech on why we SHOULD vaccinate our children. In an interesting twist, the other is doing the speech on why we SHOULD NOT vaccinate. I encouraged them to do this for a few reasons. The first and foremost is because of the great debate I see going on in social media. Actually, I would call it less of a debate and more of a mud slinging, hate fest. It is so sad and discouraging to see people trying to slay others in a social forum. I have mostly stayed out of the conversation. While I have an opinion, it has been drastically shaped by my experience in that arena. However, I don’t want people to know me for that opinion. I don’t want them to identify me by my opinion on our choice of education or the food we feed our family or breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, or any of the other hundreds of decisions we each make and stand behind. I research topics and choose what I think is best for my family and our unique situation. I trust that other families do the same.
What I want my precious children to see through these speeches is that loving parents want to protect their children and they are scared. Fear causes people to do unkind things and I think that is what is happening here—on both sides. Anti-Vax parents want to protect their children from things that are correlated with vaccinations. Vax parents want to protect their children from potentially deadly diseases. But on either side of the equation is love for their children, and fear for their wellbeing.
Early in my parenting journey, I was very staunch on what I believed…about birth, about feeding our kids, about when to introduce foods, about what to let my kids say, about everything! Part of it came from excitement over what I had researched and had come to believe. But the overarching reason, as I reflect upon it, was my deep desire to be right. If I did something one way, and another mom did it differently, one of us must be right and one wrong. This led to a judgmental attitude toward people and broken relationships. Through heartache, I came to see that my friends and I all loved our children and made the best choices we knew how, and sometimes that would look different from family to family. This plays out in the vaccine controversy and I love and respect people on both sides of the great divide.
I think above all else, the fighting in this arena (and many others on social media) are replaying that head butting I perpetuated in my early parenting. As I began to look at my main reasons to blog and be on social media, I wanted my biggest driving factor to be showing others the love of Jesus Christ, the transforming power of his love, and the peace and joy that he brings to a broken world. In all the time I’ve been watching these raging debates, I have never seen someone say “Wow! My opinion is completely changed!” More often, it causes relational distress, anger, frustration and division — and that’s exactly opposite of my desire! So I choose not to engage in the conversation.
And it has led to this…working with my kids to research both sides, see all the information, and choose to love people on both sides of the divide. This verse has spoken to me so much on this topic:
1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I want my kids to be saved some of the heartache I have experienced. I want them to see people, not differing opinions. I want them to be known, not by their individual choices for their family, but for their love for Jesus Christ and their desire to serve and love others. I hope this is one step in a hundred that leads them on this path.