• (and how to change her mind)

5 Reasons Not to Convince Mom to Vaccinate
(and how to change her mind)

“It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and they’ve taken my Mom!” Alice is reeling from the aftermath of her mother demanding Alice cancel her planned COVID-19 vaccination. “I’ve tried everything. Lecturing her, reasoning with her, pleading with her, but she just keeps insisting. Why won’t she listen?”

COVID anti-vaxxers come in different strains. Some are waiting for more information, while others mistrust their information. Some say nothing and disappear into online clouds of like-minded friends and communities. And then others, like Alice’s mother, actively evangelize their convictions. With an average of 1 in every 3 to 4 people currently planning to avoid the COVID-19 vaccination, chances are high that someone close to you figures among their ranks.

Dealing with a vaccine-resistant family member or friend loosens a flood of questions for most of us. How can we change their minds? What can we do to keep them safe? How do we protect ourselves and others from their choice? Questions like these can all too easily trigger a tsunami of complicated feelings: disbelief and embarrassment; frustration and anger; helplessness and despair - waves of emotions that overwhelm us with questions about the best path forward and our ability to walk it competently.

We might like to think that each of us would do everything possible to convince our COVID anti-vaxxers of their flawed reasoning. In practice, it’s not always so. Many of us facing this challenge say nothing. Among the 5 most common reasons for not trying to persuade our nearest and dearest are:

    1. It’s too overwhelming. I don’t know what to say or where to begin;
    2. I don’t want to poke the bear or go down whatever rabbit hole of misinformation they’ve fallen into;
    3. “Me” convince “them” to change their mind? Who am I kidding? That’s impossible.
    4. We have to respect the choices of others, however much we may disagree;
    5. Coming on strong will only put our relationship at greater risk than it already is;

Listing reasons for our decisions can be an insightful first step. So can choosing not to jump directly into confronting or convincing. Think of what happened last time someone insisted you backtrack on a choice you’d made. Quite possibly, you suddenly found yourself on the defensive in an escalating confrontation that ended in a less-than-satisfactory standoff. While persuasion can work well with those who share our perspective, it easily provokes resistance, resentment, and - in some cases - retaliation from those seeing things differently.

After hours of challenging her mother, Alice had a moment of insight. “I suddenly realized that my biggest problem wasn’t Mom’s vaccine choice; it was our inability to talk like we used to. I wanted Mom to do things that, on reflection, I caught myself resisting. To listen with compassion. To get curious and ask respectful questions. To trust.”

For Alice, things began to change when she started treating her mother like she wanted for herself. Listening to her Mom and asking questions with empathy. Showing trust and love. These changes helped Alice’s mother see for herself the deep fears and uncertainty with which she’d been struggling. How they’d driven her to beliefs that served neither her nor her family. And more, these changes transformed Alice and her mother from headstrong adversaries to appreciative, trusting, and loving allies – exactly the relationship Alice had been looking to revive.

Curious for more?

5 Reasons Not to Convince Mom to Vaccinate shows the power of staying true to our best intentions in challenging times. Find out how Alice was able to consistently stick to her intention with her Mom in 3 Steps to Unstoppable Persistence

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