I don’t know many people who aren’t overly ready to get things back to pre-COVID life. And it’s become really clear that’s not going to happen until most everyone gets vaccinated. As it starts to roll out, it’s leaving many people excited, and some anxious.
While it’s true that vaccines for kids under the age of 16 haven’t been approved yet, they will (hopefully) be available over the next year or so, and many of us are already talking about whether or not to vaccinate our kids. If you are partnered and have children, you have someone to talk with about it and plan accordingly.
However, if you are a divorced person like me who has children with an ex, whether to vaccinate your children is going to be a topic the two of you need to discuss ASAP. Seriously, folks: It makes a lot more sense to get this sorted out sooner rather than later.
I’m lucky in that my ex and I have always been in agreement with our children and their health. We vaccinated all of them, have zero regrets, and would do it again.
Our three teenagers want their life to go back to normal as soon as possible– they’ve had enough– and they are looking to us to make certain decisions for them.
Unfortunately, the subject of getting your kids vaccinated has caused a stir amongst many divorced families. People who are split really don’t need another obstacle to work through, but here we are, and this is a big one.
While some think getting your COVID-19 vaccination is a no-brainer, not everyone agrees. So, if you and your ex-spouse don’t agree on how to handle the situation, what can you do?
Scary Mommy talked with divorce attorney Dustin McCrary, founder of a family law firm in North Carolina, who told us a few things that can help.
First, it’s important to remember the only person who loves your child as much as you is the other parent, and your child has the right to be parented by both of you. “Put your heads together and figure it out. This is a global pandemic. It’s your responsibility to your child to make it as easy as possible for them. You and your ex created your child together. Surely, you can figure out how to co-parent and communicate effectively during this pandemic, and especially regarding the COVID vaccine,” he says.
Remember you are an adult and you have to figure this out with as little friction as possible for the sake of your children.
Think of it this way, says McCrary: “Disagreements over the COVID vaccination are no different then disagreements over which school a child should attend, which sports a child should play, or which parent should have Christmas Eve and which parent should have Christmas morning.”
The important thing to remember here, though, is that this is a timely decision that affects your child greatly. This isn’t a problem that can simmer on the back burner and figure itself out. The two of you need to work on it until an agreement has been met.
In order to do that, McCrary says you need to first agree that the safety of your child is the paramount concern and that both of you believe that the other parent wants what is in the best interest of the child. If you still can’t come together, “Speak with your child’s doctor together to discuss the COVID vaccine, while gathering as much reliable and trusted information as you can. You can work collaboratively with your lawyers and even a social worker to manage the emotions and work through this issue,” he says.
A few things to remember if you simply can’t agree and want to get your divorce lawyer or the court involved in whether to vaccinate your children or not, according to McCrary: “You can seek advice, but you really don’t want divorce lawyer or divorce court involvement. The courts do not want to make this decision for you. Judges do not want you to abscond from your role as parents and leave it to them to decide whether or not your child should be vaccinated,” he says.
Right now, the courts are bottlenecked as it is, and the very last thing judges want to do is to have to decide whether your child should be vaccinated– that’s your job to come together as parents and take control of.
McCrary also reminds us science is not settled by the courts. Judges will not engage in a debate over the medical and scientific data. “A judge’s only concern is the emotional, psychological and physical health of the child,” he says.
So, depending on the part of the country you are in, the judge assigned to your case, or any other various factors, it can really go either way. Mostly, depending on your situation, it may even come down to an individual judge’s personal perspective on the situation.
Do you really want that decision to be put in the hands of a stranger? Because that’s what will happen if you take it court, not to mention the time and money spent.
The truth is, even if you aren’t together and don’t love each other, you both love your child equally and want what’s best for them. The right thing to do is put all differences aside and work together, keeping your child’s well-being the focus and forgetting everything else.
A global pandemic isn’t the time or place to bring up old issues or resentments. It’s time to put your child first, period.