“I just want to do what’s best for my kids…”

It’s natural to want to do what we think is best for our kids. Consider these three scenarios:

1. Your daughter makes two different travel soccer teams. After committing to one, you agree to switch her to the other team after you learn the second offers, what you hear is, better coaching.

2. After your son mentions the extra time he is spending preparing for standardized testing, you decide that it would be better to minimize his stress and you opt him out of the state test.

3. While you really don’t believe that vaccines cause any harm, you think, “Why take any risk?” and decide to indefinitely delay giving your child the pediatrician recommended shots.

In each situation, the parent is doing what they believe is best for their child. In each case, there appears to be no real downside to their child’s situation.

But when does your child’s advantage turn into another’s disadvantage?

Consider each of the above situations again:

1. When your daughter AND four others switch teams, there is now not enough players for the first team, meaning seven girls will no longer have a team on which to play.

2. When your son and many others opt out of state testing, the test scores are no longer representative of the school’s performance and may lead to inappropriate curriculum or, worse yet, loss of funding.

3. And when your child and several others are not vaccinated, other children are left more vulnerable to measles and other diseases increasing the likelihood of an outbreak.

On one level it is hard to be critical of any parent who is just trying to do what they think is best for their child. But what lesson do we teach a child when we only look out for their best interest regardless of what it means for the kids around them?

And what would our world look like if we made more decisions based on what’s best for “all of our kids” instead of just “mine”?

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