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Miss Manners: Play-group moms have different views on illness

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I joined a local mothers’ club when my son (now 16 months old) was 3 months old, and formed a new play group with a few other women and their children. We take turns hosting the weekly meeting in our homes and providing lunch for the group.

The other mothers are driving me crazy blaming all of their children’s illnesses on my son. I grew up with allergies, and if I thought every runny/stuffy nose portended illness, I would never leave the house. I don’t bring him to the group if he truly seems sick (fever, listlessness, etc.)

I am starting to think that the socialization isn’t worth the stress, and while my child enjoys the meetings, I doubt he would actually miss them at this age.

The below note was my husband’s idea:

“All: Mike has allergies.

“Mike does go to day care and may pick up things there. He goes to the playroom at the gym and plays with other kids that we know. From what we have read and what our doctor says, we think it is important for young children to get exposed to lots of other kids, as it helps them develop a strong immune system, so we are not going to change.

“Obviously, this is not compatible with the play group, so Mike will be dropping out. We don’t want Mike to suffer with sickness and would be upset to see him hurting.”

What do you think? Is there any way I can quit play group while politely letting them know I think they are overreacting?

GENTLE READER: It is an exercise in futility to tell parents not to worry about their children’s health – or what does and does not constitute an overreaction.

Furthermore, Miss Manners observes that your husband’s note shows concern only for your own child and declares that your attitude toward immunity and communicable diseases is the correct one. Other parents may feel otherwise – and can certainly find doctors and studies to corroborate.

Quitting play group is not a problem; you can merely say your son has other activities. Using the opportunity to chastise the other mothers would be creating a problem.

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