DEAR ABBY: I'm a nurse who has been providing flu vaccinations for customers in a big box store. Most of them regard us health care workers as people who want to keep them healthy. My problem is parents who use me as a threat of punishment for their kids.
I have had parents drag their screaming, crying kids over to me, telling them that if they don't behave they are going to "make me" give them a shot. One woman pulled her daughter by the arm, sat her in the chair and said, "OK, give her a shot!" The little girl's eyes filled with tears and she panicked.
I looked the woman in the eye and told her I didn't appreciate her making her daughter afraid of me. I told the little one that sometimes we have to take medicine that might hurt us or taste bad, but only because we hoped it would make her better. Then I assured her I wasn't giving her a shot. The woman laughed nervously, said she was "just joking" and rushed her child away.
I worked hard to become a nurse and my goal is keeping people healthy. Parents: Please don't use health care workers as punishment. You're not helping us to do our job when you can't do yours. -- NOT THE BAD GUY IN CLINTON, TENN.
DEAR NOT THE BAD GUY: It's unfortunate, but some parents do this not only with health care workers, but also with police officers, and it's an unbelievably stupid practice. To make a child fearful of the professionals they may at some point need is counterproductive and poor parenting. If a child is acting up and being disruptive in a public place, a better solution is to remove him or her from the premises until you have regained control of the situation.