Swine Flu and Joint Parenting

February 5, 2010

Sharing parenting between two people is hard. That is two adults, with equal responsibility for a child, making decisions. Two people with different perspectives.

Keeping parenting consistent, when there are two of you equally responsible, is a complicated task. It’s more complicated, when you are doing it from seperate houses.

Last week, I booked Rachels immunisation for Swine Flu. I sent her dad the appointment time, and we agreed to take her together. I have to say, I am fairly pro-immunisation. I don’t generally see an immunisation as harmful, and believe they have been tested. I also think that this Swine Flu poses a risk to young children. I definitely heard hesitation in her Dad’s voice.

He rang to say he was really against her having the shot, that it wasn’t necessary. My first instinct, was to do what I do, and show him the error of his logic. But I refrained. This is not an argument about climate change, this is parenting my daughter.

I weighed up the risks and benefits, of this immunisation, and decided the risk wasn’t worth it. Not the risk from the immunisation, but the risk of just assuming, that I am the only parent, with a perspective that is worth anything, with regard to our daughter. The risk of dismissing her father.  I remembered, that she is OURS not mine.

So she isn’t having the immunisation. What she gets instead, is a Dad, who knows that his decisions are as valid as mine, and are respected as such.

If Swine Flu actually breaks out again, we may change our minds. I still think she should have it, but for now, not having the vaccine, has far more benefits for her.

Shame neither of us learned to compromise like that, when we were married.



  1. Well done…!

    You’ll find being able to have sensible discourse about things makes life easier as time goes on.

  2. How mature and wonderful to see. I remember watching a programme once on divorce and children and the advice was “No matter how much you hate each other try to love your child more” . If it is possible, it is much better to bring up a child with mutual respect. x I hope the bloody swine flu just fucks off !

  3. I can totally relate to this, being in a similar position myself. My daughter complained to me just the other day that me and her mother always argue. I had to point out to her that parents are still together often argue more frequently (and loudly) that Her mother and I.

    And even when it through (concealed) gritted teeth, it is better to back down and compromise, than end up with a broken relationship.

    Kids of all family circumstances will play one parent off against the other. If you can’t unite parents when separated, you run the risk of ending up with the child running the show! 🙂

  4. I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one.

    I have been in the situation of having a marriage collapse and have had these arguments, even harder in some ways as the children involved were all stepchildren, which enabled my Ex to finish each rant with the classic “You’re not there Dad anyway!” And sad to say the children and I do not keep in touch at all.

    Whilst it is fair to point out that her Dad should feel that “his decisions are as valid as mine, and are respected as such”. I can’t help but feel you’ve chosen the wrong argument on which to acquiesce.

    It’s obvious from your post that you see no ethical or medical reasons why your daughter shouldn’t be immunised, in fact you point out that you still think she should have it despite your Ex’s objections, you only tell us that he thinks it unnecessary. Unnecessary why?

    I understand you may not wish to elaborate, but surely the point must be is it a benefit for your daughter to have this injection, not whether you and you Ex can agree to disagree?

    As you may know, I took both our children to have their jabs, primarily because we felt there was more reason for them to have them than not, but also because in the long run we’re talking about their health. The chance however small, that if contracted swine flu could prove fatal, outweighed the thought that “oh it’s all blown over now!”

    If in the future your daughter was to contract swine flu, the last thing you would want to hear is “this wouldn’t have happened if she’d have had the jab”

    I hope I don’t come over as being too “holier than thou” as after all it’s just an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions don’t you?

    • I think the point is, that I think the vaccination is a good idea. But not absolutely necessary, I certainly think there is merit in the argument that actually, Swine Flu may not be the risk that say, Measles would have been. If we had been discussing her MMR, I would have taken a different approach. Her dad approached a paediatrician through work, a paediatrician that I trust= and his case was as valid as mine- but his feelings were stronger. Like I say, if there is a Swine Flu break out, then we will reconsider. Also my argument for many vaccinations, is that we have a moral responsibility to maintain her immunity, for sake of most vulnerable, but that doesn’t really apply here. And compromise is absolutely appropriate. Because she is OUR daughter- not mine.
      THere are not enough reasons to say I insist- the risk that Swine Flu poses, as not sufficient for me to do that.
      It is very easy for me to impose what I want, and in many areas, because RAchel is with me, what I say goes-but actually that shouldn’t be always the case.

      • I think the argument boils down to whether you think there is a risk from swine flu and therefore if there is a pressing need to have the injection. I happen to feel that, as with most issues like this, the media helps to whip up the storm and then, just as quickly, moves on to something else. That doesn’t mean that the threat is any less real.
        This leaves you as the parent to make your choice, based on available evidence.
        Whilst I also believe that the “danger” may have been overstated, I still feel that as the amount of deaths linked to swine flu in children, without previous medical problems, seemed to be slightly higher than with “normal” flu, it’s probably erring on the side of caution to get your child immunised.
        I’m not convinced that the case for continuing your daughters immunity doesn’t apply here, although again that’s just my opinion, and waiting for the next outbreak seems to undermine the logic of there being no need for the jab now.
        But of course your point about it being better to listen to both sides, and not just turn it into a battle of wills, enabling both of you to feel valued as parents is a valid point and should never be dismissed out of hand. This was not what I was trying to say, and I hope I’ve made myself a bit clearer on that point.
        I just think this is the wrong argument to choose.

  5. Darrell, I think you’ve missed the point. Sure there’s no reason why Rachel SHOULDN’T have the jab, but if her dad feeels so strongly about it, is it REALLY so important that it needs to become a row?

    Maybe you feel really strongly that children SHOULD have the jab. Personally, I feel that swine flu hasn’t turned otmto be a s troublesome. As some predicted, and doctors freely advise that a child with no other health complications will most likely be fine.

    I think two united parents is more important than a jab which is 99% likely to be completely unnecessary.

    • As you may have guessed I do feel strongly that my children should have the jab! 🙂 But again It’s my opinion, and I don’t think I have the right to force anyone else to change their opinion just because I say so.
      However (you knew that was coming didn’t you?) I think you’re being economical with the truth there. The NHS website stills advises you to have children immunised and the UK is still in it’s “treatment” phase for this outbreak.
      This includes the “at risk” groups, of which children under five fall into, regardless of whether they are healthy or not. So I’d be surprised if Doctors were freely advising the exact opposite.
      And surely the reason why this outbreak seems to be less dangerous than first appeared is the fact that more people are having the jab and we’re curtailing it at source?
      And let’s be fair here, 99% completely unnecessary?
      Based on what evidence?

  6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ferguswalsh/

    “Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson pointed out that 20 children under five and 12 pregnant women had died in the UK from swine flu related conditions since April”

    More children die every year from crossing the road than this. But I’m sure youbwoudln’t advocate not teaching a child to cross the road and allowing them to go out when they are a bit older!

    Personally, I feel we have to balance the health risks of our childs activities against the greater potential costs of not allowing them to take those risks.

    • This is in danger of going off the original point completely and degenerating into a God V Science argument all over again!
      I agree that numbers have not reached the levels that were foretold in all the scaremongering reports we had to endure at the height of this outbreak, however the article also quotes Sir Liam as saying;

      “When the virus returns in the 2010 flu season, those who develop complications or die will be doing so from a vaccine-preventable disease. I strongly advise that those eligible for the vaccine who have not yet had it get the jab and protect themselves.”

      And the global picture points to the fact that it COULD spread if not properly guarded against.

      “The World Health Organization says the death toll from the swine flu pandemic has risen to at least 14,142 – up 588 from a week ago. It says North Africa, South Asia and parts of Eastern Europe are now seeing the most intense transmission of the H1N1 virus.”

      And, forgive me, but whether or not to immunise a child against a potentially fatal disease and letting them out to play are hardly comparable, one could be preventable, the other is subject to the many variables of life.

      I fear that as with most things in life we shall agree to, slightly disagree.

      As I said before just because it’s my opinion doesn’t make it the right one, it’s just an opinion.

      • Hey, am going to leave you too to slug it out. For what its worth, I am to a point with you Darell. I am v v pro-vaccinations, full stop(hence being v pissed at moron Jim Carrey)- but the advice is that if she is in good health, and she is, then chances of her actually being at risk of swine flu, and getting complications v small. And certainly not enough to override her dad, who feels much more strongly. That said, I have made my decision- and you two should feel free to debate the actual vaccination, I would be interested to read it!

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