Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Q is for QAnon: My toddler attends a licensed day care that my spouse and I genuinely like—kids come home happy, healthy, and clean for a good price. The facility has generally been good at following the (fairly lax) local and state COVID guidelines as far as we can tell. However, the manager posts lots of QAnon-conspiracy nonsense on social media: secret executions of pedophile cabals, reincarnation of JFK Jr., World Bank schemes, all the greatest hits of WWG1WGA.
There’s no sign any of this bleeds into the classroom, and the day care head clearly cares about kids in our interactions, but my spouse and I can’t help but give them some side-eye at pickup time. Should we be looking for other child care options ASAP, or just be on the lookout for Pepe the Frog coloring sheets?
A: All of what you’ve described about the social media posts reflects poor judgment and flawed thinking that could very well transcend politics and the latest conspiracy theories. A caregiver’s inability to distinguish facts from fiction would be troubling to me as a parent. I can’t say exactly how this might manifest in your toddler’s day-to-day life there, but I wouldn’t want to find out! Who’s to say what misinformation about child development, nutrition, or safety this person might stumble upon and fall for? I wouldn’t risk it, especially because your kid isn’t old enough to give you a thorough report on what they experience each day. Even though nothing that you know of has gone wrong yet, if there are lots of day care centers by people who live in the same reality you do, why not just choose one of those?
Q. Conspiracy theorist father-in-law: My wife and I are having a baby soon, and I’m fretting over how to handle my father-in-law. He’s a crazy conspiracy theorist who thinks, among many things, that modern medicine is bogus, that the government uses fluoride for mind control, and that his hillbilly neighbors are highly trained government spies reporting on his movements. He has even tried removing his 30-year-old son, who has profound cerebral palsy, from the machines that keep him alive, because he thinks marijuana and some rainforest supplement will cure him. My wife is disgusted with his behavior but doesn’t think he’d put our child in danger.