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A Developmental Pediatrician's Amazing Parenting Advice


Don’t you just love when a medical professional spends seven minutes with your child in an unfamiliar office and suddenly knows everything about them?  Me too. (Enter sarcasm.)

No education, degree, continuing education or journal article could have made me the kind of clinician I am today like Hank and Gus have. Hank and Gus are not my crotchety neighbor men who sit on the front porch and kill flies with a can of Raid.  They are my kids. I don’t give birth to babies; I give birth to old men.

hank and gus

There was a time in my life I knew everything about your child. I knew what they should be playing with, who should be working with them, what they should be eating and how much they should be sleeping. I know none of these things anymore. I know how to help them talk and eat, and I know how to help you help them do these things.

That is all I know. Let’s get real here.

My own kids never sleep. Hank prefers to play with fly swatters, and Gus’s favorite toy is a tiny fake bale of hay.  Hank had cereal and fruit snacks for breakfast. Gus had breast milk and chased it with some residual chocolate on the remote. I am in no place to tell you what you should be doing with your own kid. I was only qualified to do that before I had kids.

I was recently helping out in a clinic with an amazing developmental pediatrician. He was calm and patient, warm and kind. I was quite sure he knew the secrets of the universe. We finished the evaluation and met with the parents. I was ready. I had my legal pad and my pen. I was going to write down everything he said. He was surely going to tell these parents exactly how to raise a child. I couldn’t wait. He was going to change my life.

And what did he tell them?

He said, “I was a general pediatrician before I became a developmental pediatrician. I have been practicing for a very long time. However, you are the only person with a Ph.D. in your child.” 

What?

No. I needed more. I needed him to hand me the key to perfect parenting. He was supposed to tell this family exactly how to raise a child and I was going to write down everything he said.

Turns out he gave me (and those parents) something more. He gave me a moment away from the panic of “I have no idea what I’m doing.” He validated my feeling that I know more about my child than any pediatrician, therapist or educator.

Don’t get me wrong. I need those people to guide me in the development of my children. However, at the end of the day I am the one with the Ph.D. in Hank and Gus.

mom with hank and gus

If your pediatrician, educator, daycare provider or therapist thinks they know your child better than you do – fire them. If you are looking for someone who knows everything about raising a child, well I have a brother without kids. I can get you his number.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the best thing a medical professional has said to you related to your (or a loved one’s) disability, disease or mental illness?  Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.