Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Creating Confident Parents

Comment from the esteemed Dr. Flea:

Another proposed Dino Law, Flea version:

"Nervous first-time parents tend to become nervous second-time parents".

At least that's been my experience.
With all due respect, Dr. Flea, my experience has been somewhat different. One of the coolest things in my 17 years of practice has been watching families come into existence, expand, grow and develop. Not just the kids but also their parents, as both parents and people. I feel an important part of my job is not just teaching the parents about caring for their child, but supporting them -- explicitly and enthusiastically -- in their child-rearing abilities. And guess what: it works.

I can't even begin to count the number of families I've known (often both parents became my patients before they were married) who were hopeless nervous nellies when the first baby arrived. By holding their hands and being their number-one cheerleader through those early days, I know I accomplished my goal of building their confidence when -- lo and behold -- they were nowhere near as nervous when that second baby came along.

I also have a lot of fun telling parents of toddlers -- who may be contemplating another child -- that second children are the complete opposite of first children. (And third children are the complete opposite of the first two.) I can't tell you what I kick I get when the mother of a five-year-old and a ten-year-old tells me, "She's so different from him," and I get to say, "I told you that before she was even conceived!" and the mom gets to say, "Yes, you did."

If I remember correctly, Dr. Flea has been in practice about four years. Perhaps as the years begin to pile up a little more and as relationships with patients' parents are honed to succor them with confidence in their own skills, nervous first-time parents can become confident subsequent ones.


At Tue Oct 10, 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Surgeon in my dreams offers a fine tribute that details a paediatric physician's impact on a very young mother.

"My kids’ pediatrician was always so encouraging. So sweet to me. He always brought up issues I worried about and was too embarrassed or ashamed to bring up myself, such as her constant crying (colic?) And how to deal with that without losing my mind.

...our doc never failed to tell me i was doing a great job with her...looking back as i grew up over the years...i saw that he didn't have to treat all his moms this way, but he knew i was young and he took the extra time with me.

he didn't know it at the time, but he was the only encouragement i ever had."

I like this anecdote: it is best for children when the parents have strong social support, but paediatricians, family doctors, specialists and healthcare workers can make a tremendous difference to children's health and development, sometimes in the simplest ways, by encouraging or reassuring nervous parents (as per your post).

Regards - Shinga


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