Can you appeal to family about their parenting choices?

Aunt: “My brother initially did not want to have his son vaccinated. He and his girlfriend had doubts about its effects. My father and I got excited about that. The thought that came to our mind was: you can imagine that you simply take the child to an outpatient clinic to have it vaccinated. For us, the autonomy of the parents was the most important, but you can see before you that people do something like that.

“After hesitation, my father did confront my brother, and that initially caused damage to the relationships.

“Fortunately, my nephew is now gradually being vaccinated. His parents have gained confidence in their consultant, and have agreed that the vaccinations can be given a little later, and not immediately after the birth. But this issue has made us wonder: When do you hold others accountable for their parenting choices? And is it any different for family?”

Name is known to the editor. This section is anonymous, because difficulties in upbringing are sensitive. Would you like to present a dilemma in parenting? Send your question or reactions to [email protected]

Be careful with comments

Marga Akkerman: „With family you have a network for your whole life. Discord can linger in the family for a long time. So it is important to be calm with family. Dealing with confrontation calls for difficulties.

“Do the mutual relationships between father and son also play a role here? Does father take the son for granted? Remarks from family can hit harder than those from friends because of mutual relationships. Son may think, “Mind your own business, I’m not a kid anymore.”

“Some situations are indeed detrimental to a child, such as when he is beaten regularly, in short, in families where parents are unable to provide a safe home. In that case, you can report anonymously to Safe at Home. This way the family relationship can still be maintained. But as a family I would be very frugal with commentary. This shows a lack of confidence in the parents’ way of life and you will be charged heavily for that.

“Should you ever feel compelled to intervene, first ask yourself: Do I want to help these parents, or do I want to impose my rights?”

Show understanding

Carolina de Weerth: “It’s about how you bring it. Parents can feel insecure. There is a forest of information these days, try to get through it. In addition to big choices such as vaccinations, there are also countless more subtle choices: how long do you breastfeed, do you let the child sleep alone, do you start with vegetables or fruit? New, mutually contradictory information is constantly being added.

“We used to raise each other’s children a bit, and we could look at each other’s art. But parents have become more isolated. Plus, there’s been a push to be the perfect parent. That results in uncertainty. In a 2014 study by the Netherlands Youth Institute, 90 percent of parents said they wanted better preparation for parenthood, and 40 percent did not know who to turn to with parenting questions.

“As an environment, you have to offer the security to discuss difficult choices. That starts with recognizing how complicated parenting has become today. And then you can inquire openly about their motives, what are the advantages, what are the disadvantages? This way you offer support instead of pushing your opinion. As soon as you start acting prejudiced, parents start isolating themselves further, and then everyone is really a lot further from home.”