I wish I could say that each decision I made on her behalf was well thought out and extensively researched, but many decisions were based on what I learned from my mother and my fellow mom-friends. I still ask myself questions like, "Why did I buy that ridiculously expensive stroller again?" But there were times in the beginning of my daughter's life and times now that, as a parent, I can't throw caution to the wind.
"Along this journey, teaching her to value and respect her mind, body, and spirit and protect her from people and systems that may seek to diminish her "shine" has been an important part of our parental responsibility."
In the beginning, the importance of making healthy choices was our responsibility. Visits to the pediatrician for immunizations were a critical step in that process. As a pediatrician, early in my career, I saw the impact of Haemophilus influenzae and Rotavirus on my patients and I was grateful that I could protect my child against those infections. As she grew older and developed asthma, getting the annual flu vaccine became a family affair--to protect her, her brother, and their classmates. Now as we start thinking about college and dorm life, I feel better knowing she received the meningococcal vaccine, especially when I know the consequences of an infection that can be prevented.
My daughter has become a beautiful young lady right before my eyes. Along this journey, teaching her to value and respect her mind, body, and spirit and protect her from people and systems that may seek to diminish her "shine" has been an important part of our parental responsibility. Now that she is older, I have less direct control over protecting her. She is, literally, in the driver's seat. Healthy and smart choices are mostly hers to make now. We just add the guardrails like curfews, healthy food options in the pantry, and monitoring of social media and Internet use when we can.
As a parent, my responsibility and feelings of joy and fear don't diminish; however knowing that we provided both the moral foundation for good decisions AND the medical foundation through immunization means she has what she needs to not just survive but thrive.
Editor's note: This is one of a series of "AAP Voices" blog posts highlighting the importance of vaccine-preventable diseases during 2016 National Infant Immunization Week.
Ivor B. Horn, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ parent-facing website, HealthyChildren.org. She serves as Medical Director of the Center for Diversity and Health Equity at Seattle Children's Hospital. In addition to practicing as a community-based primary care pediatrician, Dr. Horn is an NIH funded investigator whose work focuses on health care communications and child health disparities