My Friends Let Their Sick Kids “Build Immunity.” Huh?

My Friends Let Their Sick Kids “Build Immunity.” Huh?


I am part of a friend group that, all told, has seven daughters ranging in age from six months to 4 years old. My daughter is on the younger end of the group and has had maybe one episode of the sniffles her whole life, but all the other families have sick kids all the time. I am writing because I don’t know what to do about playdates. I feel like, more often than not, we cancel because the other family has an illness of some sort. This has me wondering if other families do the same, or if most people simply accept that illness will spread around.

My friends hang out when their kids are sick and happily pass illness around for the sake of “building immunity.” I am a nurse and I don’t think subjecting my kiddo to repeated colds, fevers, and episodes of pink eye is worth the immunity my friends claim it builds (and their kids are still ALWAYS sick, so I don’t know that it’s working anyway). Still, I am a first-time mom, and I’m just not sure if I am in a strange microcosm of humans who are weirdly OK with spreading germs—or if I’m the outlier for not wanting my child (or myself!) to get sick for the sake of socializing. Finally—a side note—I get that amongst siblings or in day care settings it’s hard to prevent illness, but nobody’s kids receive care outside the home at this time. I am in no way judging my friends for having sick children—but am I the weird one for being so unwilling to expose mine to theirs?

—Germ-Free in Georgia

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