10 things parents want their pediatrician to know (from a pediatrician mom’s perspective)

Throughout my years of pediatric training and being a mother, I have benefited from viewing medicine from both sides. I have also tried to hone listening to and understanding my patients’ parents and their perspectives. I have listed 10 things that I believe most parents wish their child’s pediatrician knew.

We are just worried about our kids

First and foremost, we are worried about and invested in the health and happiness of our children. This may mean that we have numerous questions and that we worry about the smallest things. And we may worry that those small things will turn into big things, even if that’s unlikely. We come to you to calm our fears and provide us with the right information to care for our children.

We are not doctors. Explain please!

Please avoid using only medical terms. Explain things in plain language and make sure we understand what that means for our child and how we can help them. Taking that little bit of extra time to explain makes a world of difference.

We are doing our absolute best

No, we are not perfect. 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 make changes that will improve our child’s health, and know that we are willing to do whatever is best for our children.

Treat me with respect and don’t judge me

Whether or not I’m married, whether I’m a young mom, whether or not my English is perfect, or any other thing, treat me with respect. 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 couldn’t breastfeed. If my kids are a little unruly and “cray-cray” at times.

If my child has more than the recommended amount of screen time. If I’m a stay-at-home mom or if I work a lot. Being a mom is hard and doesn’t come with an instruction book. We learn as we go. We make some mistakes. And what’s in the textbook/guidelines may not be what works for my family and me. If it’s not hurting them, respect my choices, especially if my child is happy and healthy overall.

Get some cultural awareness. Please and thank you!

Please understand and respect that my cultural norms may be different than yours. It does not mean, in most cases, that mine are wrong. So be open to the idea that different doesn’t mean bad. Consider that if it’s not harming my child, it may be okay to leave it alone. And if you don’t understand, ask or look it up.

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 too, and many of us are extremely hands-on. We don’t just play with our kids, and we’re not just the fun parent. We change diapers; we give baths; we prepare meals; we read books; we fix boo-boos; we do it all. 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 preconceived 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 expect a prescription, bloodwork, an X-ray, something. And we may feel slighted if these things don’t happen or feel like you didn’t give my child the “best” care. If my child truly doesn’t need any of these things, please explain why and let me know what I can do instead of helping my child.

Yes, I Googled it!

Of course. Me and Dr. Google are besties. I had searched for hours before I came to this appointment. I have several treatment options to discuss, and I have already diagnosed my child. So I 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. 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 want to make my kid feel better

I hate to see my child in even the slightest bit of suffering, and I want to do something, anything, to make them feel better. If they don’t need antibiotics, bloodwork, or an MRI for their cold, please tell me something I can do to help. Even if all I need to do is wait, I still want to suction their nose and give them that natural cough syrup that I’m not really sure works. 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 give them whatever comfort I can. So remember that health care 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!

Tuere Hughes-Kapenzi is a pediatrician who blogs at The Pediatric Mama.

Image credits: Shutterstock.com

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