by Jennie Smith
Is there a hotter topic right now among parents? I know that I have seen both sides of this issue in my news feed… A dad angry because his child with cancer had been exposed at a facility here in the Valley…Explanations of why her child cannot be vaccinated…even a video montage of shows from the 1960’s showing that measles is not that bad. It’s everywhere and passions are up on both sides of this issue because of the recent outbreak that dominates our news.
The question of this blog really isn’t should we vaccinate our children…the question is: can we respect the decisions other parents make for their own children? Can we choose to have healthy discussion with one another without calling names? Parenting is so hard and making choices for our children is even more challenging in an information saturated society that makes it difficult to tell what is true and what is false. There can be healthy debate, but I see so many of us being unkind, and sometimes downright mean, to a parent who has made a different choice than we would.
My dearest, lifelong friend has a daughter with autism. It was heart wrenching to watch this beautiful child grow into this disease. When her second daughter was born, she chose not to vaccinate. When I was pregnant with my third, she asked me to reconsider my position on vaccination. We had a lovely conversation one afternoon. She told me her journey, her research, her heart on the issue. I asked questions. Then I did my own study and explored options with my pediatrician and chose to vaccinate on a more extended schedule. She didn’t rail against me for my decision. I certainly won’t blame her for hers. Actually, because there is no way for me to even imagine what she deals with on a daily basis raising a special needs child, I would in no way – not ever – challenge her decisions in this area. No way! But we can have healthy, loving discussion between us. But then we make the decision to support and love each other no matter what.
And it’s not just vaccinations for which we judge other parents…
To nurse or bottle feed
To spank or not to spank
To put your child in Christian school, public school, or home school
To celebrate Halloween or skip it
This list can become lengthy. The conversations can become ugly.
I read a great article last week on the topic of judgement, and I think we can apply its principles to this discussion. First it clarifies that judging should only come in issues of righteousness. John 7:24 says “Do not judge according to appearances, but judge with righteous judgement” (NASB). If we are judging in any other way, we judge in self-righteousness, not God’s.
But even when we do judge, or challenge, a parent in an area of God’s truth, we need to inspect ourselves first. In another teaching on judgement, Jesus said “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5, NASB). Let’s be sure to approach one another with clean heart before God.
I love the way the article encourages us to talk to people: “The point of this passage is not to forbid judging. On the contrary, it encourages judgment that is grace-filled and humble, a love-filled judgment that brings a fellow believer into right standing before God. We walk beside the person because we too struggle with our own sin. We judge not by our own authority, but by the Authority that will one day judge us all” (Mitchell, paragraph 8).
May I challenge you to apply this idea to the hot topics we as parents tend to argue with each other about? Walk beside each other as a fellow struggler in this great journey we call parenthood. Be filled with grace and be humble. Most of all, love another. And in all things bring honor and glory to our Heavenly Father, the greatest parent of us all!
Learn more about Faith Christian School at www.faith-christian.org
Owens, Mitchell. “Teaching Our Children to Judge.” For the Family. March 28, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014 from http://forthefamily.org/teaching-children-judge/