Updated: Jan 18
(From a Pediatrician Mom's Perspective)
Throughout my several years of pediatric training and being a mother, I have had the benefit of viewing medicine from both sides. I have also really tried to hone the skill of listening to and understanding my patients' parents and their perspectives, even if it is different than my own. This is a big part of what I believe makes a good healthcare provider and caregiver.
So here I have listed 10 things that I believe most parents wish their child's pediatrician knew and would use regularly in their interactions.
WE ARE JUST WORRIED ABOUT OUR KIDS
Most parents expect and want their child's pediatrician to understand that, first and foremost, we are worried and invested in the health and happiness of our children. This may mean that we have a lot of questions and that we worry about even the smallest things (like the little spot that popped up on our child's skin this morning or that booger that we just can't seem to get out of their nose). And sometimes, we may worry that those small things will turn into big things, even if that's unlikely. We come to you, as our pediatrician, to calm our fears and provide us with the right information to care for our children as best as possible. To let us know what we actually need to worry about and what is normal and not a big concern.
WE ARE NOT DOCTORS. EXPLAIN PLEASE! (but don't talk to us like we're dumb)
When speaking to us as parents, about our children and their health, please avoid using only medical terms, or at least explain them in plain language. And make sure we understand what that means for our child and what we can do about it. That way we can really understand what is going on with our children and how to help them. For example, instead of just telling us that our baby has "pustular melanosis", explain that this is a common newborn rash that causes small dark spots and a little bit of flakiness on the skin that doesn't require any treatment and goes away on its own. Taking that little bit of extra time to explain makes a world of difference to us.
WE ARE DOING OUR ABSOLUTE BEST (and our kids know that's pretty darn good)
No we are not perfect (no parent is). So give us our credit for all the things we do and do well for our kids. Cut us some slack and don't only scrutinize us for what we may have missed or gotten wrong. Help guide us to improve or change things that will improve our child's health and know that we are always willing to do what is best for our children.
TREAT ME WITH RESPECT AND DON'T JUDGE ME
Whether or not I'm married to or with my child's other parent, whether I'm a young Mom or an older Mom, whether my child is adopted, whether or not my English is perfect, or any other thing, treat me with respect. I am, after all, a human being at the end of the day. And if I'm in a pediatric office, that means I'm also a mother or father, which makes me pretty important, at least to some little person. Even though some people may feel a certain career, title, or education, makes you better...it really doesn't. So treat me like you would treat anyone else that you respect. Because at the end of the day, that's what my child deserves to see and what will allow us both to be the best advocate possible for them.
DON'T MOM-SHAME ME
If I chose not to or just couldn't breastfeed.
If my kids are a little unruly and cray-cray at times.
If I get a little flustered managing it all and you witness one of these moments.
If my kids are eating Cheetos right now because that's what will keep them quiet for a minute.
If I haven't lost my baby weight.
If my child watches TV or YouTube sometimes (or a lot).
If I'm a stay-at-home Mom (which is a REAL, HARD-AS-HELL JOB).
If I work a lot and someone else brings my child to their appointment.
Don't Mom-shame me.
Being a Mom is hard and doesn't come with an instruction book. We learn as we go. We make some mistakes. And what worked for you and your family or what's in the textbook/guidelines may not be what works for me and mine. If it is not hurting them, respect my choices, especially if my child is happy and healthy overall.
GET SOME CULTURAL AWARENESS. PLEASE AND THANK YOU!
If you're a healthcare provider reading this and you're thinking "huh?" or "what do they mean, cultural awareness?"...we're talking to you. Please understand and respect that my cultural norms when it comes to raising and caring for a child may be different than yours. It does not mean, in most cases, that my ways are wrong and your ways are right. So even if you have not had a lot of experience with other cultures, be open to the idea that different doesn't mean bad. Consider that if it is not harming my child, it may be okay to leave it alone. And if you don't understand, ask or look it up. Thanks!
WE DADS LOVE OUR KIDS TOO (AND ARE JUST AS HANDS ON AS MOMS)
Don't forget about us Dads and give us some credit too! We love our kids just as much as Moms do and many of us are extremely hands-on. We don't just play with our kids and we're not just the fun parent (although we do that too). We change diapers, we give baths, we prepare meals, we read books, we help with homework, we fix boo-boos, we stay up all night, we do it all too.
And we even take our kids to doctors' appointments. So please don't ignore us or assume we're "babysitting" today. Engage us and respect us as parents, because we love and care about our little ones too.
ARE YOU SURE HE/SHE DOESN'T NEED AN ANTIBIOTIC?
Sometimes we may come to you with a pre-conceived expectation of what we will get out of this doctor's visit. Sometimes we may expect you to do something and not just to tell us things. We may be expecting a prescription, bloodwork, an XRay, something. This is the expectation we have of healthcare often. So, sometimes we may feel slighted if these things don't happen or like you didn't give my child the best care. So if my child truly doesn't need any of these things, please explain to me why and let me know what I can do instead to help my child.
YES, I GOOGLED IT!
Of course. Me and Dr. Google are besties. I have searched for hours before I came to this appointment. So I have all types of treatment plans to discuss and I have already diagnosed my child. So I just need you to put in the orders, doc.
Ok, all jokes aside. There is a wealth of information available at the press of a finger these days. So I have more information than I know what to do with, even though I realize some of what I can find on the internet may not be completely accurate, factual, or relevant to my concerns. Please be patient with this wealth of knowledge (and anxiety) that I now have and break down for me in detail what my child actually has and what we can do about it.
I JUST WANT TO MAKE MY KID FEEL BETTER...EVEN WHEN I CAN'T
At the end of the day, I hate to see my child in even the slightest bit of suffering, and I just want to do something, anything, to make them feel better. So even if they don't need antibiotics, bloodwork, or an MRI for their cold, please just tell me something I can do to help. Even if all I need to do is wait it out, I still want to run the humidifier, suction their little nose, and give them that natural cough syrup that I'm not sure really does anything. But if it might help, I want to try it.
Even when their illness is so serious or severe that I can't do anything at all. I still want to hold their little hand and kiss their little cheeks and give them whatever comfort I can. So just remember that healthcare is not just about medications and treatments (and I'll try to remember that too) but also about the "care". Keep caring for our little ones and helping us care for them too!
We love our pediatricians, pediatric NPs, PAs, nurses, medical assistants, and staff!
Thanks for all that you do!
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