Dear Amy: My mother-in-law has refused vaccines for years.
My daughter, who is now five, was a micro preemie.
Once she was born, the NICU required a Tdap vaccine and a flu shot for anyone to visit. My MIL was worried her arm would hurt and said she didn’t need the shots, claiming she never gets sick. We said it was the hospital’s rules, and if she didn’t vaccinate, then she would have to wait at least six months for the flu season to pass before seeing our daughter.
I have a heart condition. My daughter has asthma and is prone to pneumonia. She was sick five times this year, once with the flu (Type A). My husband and I were both sick.
Currently both of my parents have COVID-19. I am stressed and a bit panicked.
I tried talking to my MIL. I said that this fall it would mean a lot if she would get the flu shot. She refuses.
I can’t even imagine what is going to happen when there is a vaccine for coronavirus. What should I do? Come October when flu season hits, we may very well be in isolation again. My husband and I are planning to tell her that if she refuses the flu shot, she can’t come around our family — and if we let her be with us for Christmas, she will need to wear a mask and avoid physical contact.
I feel like I am being mean, but I couldn’t live if something happened to my child. I don’t know how to tell her any more plainly that she would be helping us if she gets these vaccines.
— Anxious Parents
Dear Anxious: You have a lot on your mind right now. Don’t borrow issues to worry about that won’t come up for several months.
You and your husband seem to be on the same page regarding his mother, and that’s key. This matter is cut and dry. It is medically imperative that your child’s grandmother take what steps she can to help protect herself (and your family) against communicable illness.
As summer fades, as a couple you and your husband should both convey to her, very clearly, exactly what she needs to do in order to have close contact with your family. The consequence of her choosing not to vaccinate will also be clear: No vaccination, no close contact. You two must maintain a calm and unified front.
After that, you won’t need to worry about this further. The decision to vaccinate will have been transferred to your mother-in-law. The rest will be up to her. (If she says she has been vaccinated, ask to see a receipt.)
Dear Amy: My sister seems a little too obsessed with the IQ test scores that her children have received. She also says she knows her own IQ test score – although she and I grew up in the same household and I never learned my own.
Honestly, I’m at a loss for how to respond to this. Actually, I don’t even really know how to think about it. (Maybe that’s evidence of my low IQ?)
Dear Wondering: IQ tests have something of a dark history, with the scores used to separate, discriminate, and basically pigeonhole people into categories that determined their access to schooling and careers. On a micro level, your sister seems to be doing the same — using these scores to compare her children to others.
A massive study in Canada gave 100,000 people access to several different intelligence tests, concluding that there was not one single test or component that could accurately judge how well a person could perform mental and cognitive tasks.
“We have shown categorically that you cannot sum up the difference between people in terms of one number,” the study concluded (2012, Neuron).
Children should be encouraged to develop their skills across a variety of important metrics, with personal qualities such as character, kindness and integrity at the top of the list.
Dear Amy: “Puzzled Parents” are wondering how to interact with a friend who turned out to be a miserable boss to their daughter.
It reminded me of an uncle who got me a summer job.
He was the nicest guy, but took on a different persona on the job. I never gave it a second thought when I met with my uncle outside of work, and to this day look forward to seeing him.
Dear Nephew: Family work connections are often challenging. You’re a survivor.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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