For years and years here in the US having your child vaccinated was a standard in child rearing for most parents. More recently, more families are making the decision to not have their child vaccinated for a variety of reasons. We must certainly respect the position of a parent’s decision whether they have their child vaccinated or not. Since we had a measles outbreak a while back, parents who choose to vaccinate their children are still trying to figure out how to politely deal with a variety of social situations. One situation is that of taking on a playdate with your child’s new friend. If this is a first-time playdate you should ask before you accept the invitation. This way you don’t have figure out how to maneuver out of the date and cancel. Here are 3 questions I receive quite often and my answers to how to best deal with manners and measles and playdates.
1. How can I politely ask a parent if their child has been vaccinated without offending them?
There are some questions we’ll have to ask of individuals and no matter how hard we try, there is a strong possibility they may be offended. So, the key is to recognize that and try not focus on trying to be a wordsmith with your question. Too many words and over explaining can make it a bit messy and your true point can get lost. Keep it as simple as possible. I do suggest, you are mindful of your tone of voice and the actual words you choose so it doesn’t sound like an interrogation. Make your line of questioning more about you and your choices and less about them. Here’s an example of what you can say. “I surely don’t mean to offend you but since this is the first time our kids are having a play date, this is something that’s very important to me so I thought I’d ask. I’d like to know, has little Johnny has been vaccinated?”
Once they have answered, if you learn their child is not vaccinated, take your time to make an informed decision. Thank the parent for sharing and let them know you’ll be in touch about the playdate.
2. What if the other parent responds negatively because I’ve questioned them?
Simply acknowledge their feelings, apologize and explain your position in a brief manner. Don’t try to lecture them about your beliefs or question their parenting choices. You can say something like, “Yes I hear you and I do apologize. I surely don’t want to make you feel badly. This has nothing to do with little Johnny or you as a parent. This really is more about me and my personal concerns.
3. What if I decide I don’t want my child to play with their child?
If you decide not to go on with the playdate because the child is not vaccinated, don’t get on a soapbox, and air out a laundry list of reasons. You can say, “I apologize, but I’ve decided, I don’t feel comfortable bringing little James over for the playdate. I hope you can understand my position.” Etiquette is about putting others at ease. Therefore, your goal is to inform the parent of your choice and put forth an effort to maintain a cordial relationship moving forward.