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By Juanita Violini

A long time ago I heard the story about a woman cooking a pot roast, back in the day when everyone still cooked pot roasts. She always cut the ends off before shoving it in the pot because that was the way her mother did it; who it turns out, cut the ends off because her mother did it that way. Luckily granny was still alive and when they asked her about this special cooking method granny replied that she had to cut the ends from the roast to fit it in the pot she had to cook it in. Two generations later, the reason for the chopping no longer mattered, the granddaughter had a new, bigger pot, but habit carried on.

Most of us live our life from unexamined habit. I know I do. This is not conscious anything. One of the most important things I am learning is to think for myself. Hunting down information on any subject that I need to make a choice about can be time consuming and inconvenient, yet without this necessary step I am merely a puppet of blind tradition and whatever the media's current view on my topic of research is. When I see others falling prey to unexamined information, I get angry. This is how I know I still have a long way to go in not being manipulated myself.

Recently I have been feeling furious at the black and white ultimatums of both sides of the Vaccine / Anti Vaccine issue. So angry that I couldn't see any third option other than the two options that were being presented to me: vaccinate your child or they will die or don't vaccinate your child and everyone else's child will die. Is there no third option?

Luckily I have some very balanced friends on the Conscious Parenting Team so I asked for their input. Here are some of the responses:

            " Both as a doula and as a midwife, new parents have often asked me my opinion about vaccinations. First of all, I am not the one to face any consequences about the decisions that they make for their child (ditto for all the people that offer their opinions!). One thing I have included in the conversation is that there is no one size fits all and some of the decision process should include what their lifestyle is....do they live on a farm, far from others and they plan to homeschool? or is mama going back to work at 6 weeks postpartum and baby will be in public daycare or baby will be with grandma. That being said, there is a lot of information out there about different the vaccines (and you have to be fairly adept as weeding through what is just people's opinions). If they are leaning toward vaccinating, it seems like a staggered or delayed schedule might be a good idea. Good resources are Dr Robert Sears and Dr Aviva Romm; both have written books about vaccinations."

            " I, too, was disconcerted by the black and white extremism of both sides. I searched for a “balanced” perspective and found The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears, MD (son of the Sears who wrote some famous books on attachment parenting). He offered a current description of all the vaccines on the US and Canadian schedules, what they are for, what the illnesses are really like, what the real risks are or are not regarding the illnesses, and then he lists every ingredient in each vaccine, all the risks of those, and he cites many studies on both sides. He vaccinates his kids but supports parents to make their own choices. After reading it thoroughly I felt good about continuing to avoid vaccines for my child. Many of the regular medical CDC type people think this book has been a great disservice to the whole pro-vaccine movement, so he has taken some hits for that. But I think he has also taken some hits from the anti-vaccinists who feel he has made vaccines seem reasonable."

            "We did not vaccinate any of our kids because the results were too questionable. If a child had a serious wound we would do tetanus vaccination as the necessary measure. We are close to anthroposophical medicine and according to them every vaccination is a threat to a normal and child-appropriate growing up, because it is necessary for every child to go through certain childhood illnesses.
            On the other hand we would probably reconsider if we had a newborn today because some of the illnesses - not being too dangerous at the time when our children were small - have dramatically changed their impact on the organism (for example measles or  mumps).
So in last consequence every couple with children will have to seriously inquire about the level of threat to the children and the consequences of doing vaccination or not.

This valuable advice brought sanity to my turbulent indecision. Yes, there is a third option. Consider all the elements in the situation - and each situation is unique, gather the facts - not the opinions or the hype, and make an informed choice. Such a method can be applied to a variety of circumstances and can possibly save you from cutting off both ends of the roast when it might be better cooked whole.

To think for oneself, to learn how to thoroughly examine an issue and to combine this to listening to feelings and instinct, is a vital skill. My observations lead me to believe that these skills come naturally to children and with guidance rather than interference, they can easily strengthen this intelligence.

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Juanita lives in the Canadian Rockies and has been a mother for nearly forty years. She has three children with a 22 year age spread between the oldest and the youngest. During this time Juanita has also worked with youth in a variety of capacities including as a rehabilitation worker in the public school system and as program director and facilitator for a local youth group centre.

Magic and mysteries have been a life-long pre-occupation of Juanita's and she has published one book Almanac of the Infamous on the unexplained and unsolved. She also is known for her mystery entertainment parties (mysteryfactory.com) for children and grown-ups. Staying in touch with a playful spirit and miraculous possibility is something that she feels is vital to passing on to our children and retaining as adults.


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Guest Wednesday, 22 November 2017