Dear Amy: Occasionally, I get together with a few of my neighbors.
Recently these people have commented negatively about people not getting the COVID vaccine. I refuse to get this shot.
Should I admit my decision not to vaccinate — and tell them about it?
Should I just not be their friend anymore?
What is your advice?
— I Refuse
Dear You Refuse: You have the right to roll the dice regarding your refusal to vaccinate against a highly contagious virus that is the cause of a global pandemic.
You do NOT have the right to withhold your decision — when you know this is important to people you have been spending time with.
You likely believe this is a personal and private decision, but — unlike other choices you might make — this is a personal choice with communal consequences.
Their vaccinations would likely protect your neighbors from the more severe forms of this illness, but — they may have elders or other more vulnerable people in their circles who might not be so lucky.
Where I live, currently cases are way up and hospitalizations are down. But getting sick from this virus can have a huge impact on people who get it (and vaccinated people do get it). The symptoms can be lingering and severe, and they (and family members) will be forced to quarantine.
Whether you wish to attempt to continue on in friendship with these neighbors is up to you. But honesty is a necessary aspect of friendship, and so you should disclose your vaccination status, and give them the opportunity to reconsider in-person contact.
Given that you haven’t disclosed something obviously very important to them, they may reconsider having a friendship with you, and you should prepare yourself for that.
Dear Amy: Our granddaughter has a 5-year-old daughter whose father, “W,” was convicted of a felony involving a gun. He was a previous felon.
W has been in and out of my great-granddaughter’s life for the past five years. He is now facing some serious jail time.
W’s mother and his sister have been involved with our great-granddaughter and have been consistently in her life.
What is the best way for our granddaughter to deal with her child’s grandmother and aunt when it comes to the child visiting them?
My granddaughter doesn’t want her daughter going to jail to visit, nor does she want her to talk to W on the phone, because the child becomes too emotional.
I asked her to see a counselor, but she says she cannot afford one.
I think it would be good for the child to continue to have contact with her father’s family members.
Dear Concerned: I agree that this child is too young to visit her father in prison. I disagree, to some extent, regarding phone calls. Depending on the context and on the father’s ability to communicate appropriately with his daughter, monitored phone or video calls should be considered.
The child’s father should be encouraged to write to his daughter, and — once the mother has vetted his communication — the daughter can write back.
Not knowing the context, backstory, or personalities of any of the people involved, I mainly note that this child’s mother is the custodial parent, and it is her duty to always make choices in the child’s best interests. If she decides that no-contact with “W” is best for her child for the next few months, then “W’s” family members must respect that.
Studies show that having an incarcerated parent can have a profound impact on a child’s physical and mental health.
Your granddaughter should research the impact of incarceration on families. She is mistaken that she can’t afford a counselor. Licensed social workers are eminently qualified to work with this family, and by making some phone calls, she can get low or no-cost help.
Youth.gov has a wealth of information for families of those incarcerated. A film featuring four young people reflecting on their experience with an incarcerated parent is both illuminating and heartbreaking. (Youth.gov/coip)
Dear Amy: I’m laughing about your issue with the use of the term “maiden name.”
Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Some women, such as my daughter, took her husband’s last name when they got married, so if she’s filling out any legal paperwork, it will ask for her maiden name. What’s the issue?
— A Reader
Dear Reader: “Maiden” as a term refers — or implies a reference — to a woman’s presumed “maidenhood,” or virginity. Some women really don’t want our surnames characterized that way.
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