Are pediatricians parenting experts? What does your pediatrician REALLY know about parenting?
It drives me nuts when I hear parents stressing out about what their pediatrician said they “HAD TO” do with their child…..and how it goes against their gut instincts.
It seems that doctors are now turned to and trusted for way more beyond medical advice in our culture, and it’s time somebody calls bullshit on that.
Your pediatrician told you to stop “comfort-nursing” your 10 month old? Bullshit.
You were told to let your baby “learn to self-soothe” when you mentioned he’s not sleeping through the night yet? Bullshit.
This is the problem, right here:
Docs think they’re doing you a favor by passing on their own personal parenting advice.
Since they’re used to being treated as authority figures, doctors think that everything they say carries that air of certainty – even if it’s just their opinion, and even if it’s utter bullshit.
Pediatricians are *medical* experts, not parenting experts.
Now, I can understand how this may have started…
In the past, many parents had access to a large community of caring and involved elders to turn to for trustworthy parenting advice.
So, it seems to make sense that the “experts” that are present in our lives now could be trusted for parenting advice.
Back 100 years ago or more, we had family doctors in every community. They treated everyone, for every illness and issue, and built lifetime relationships with their patients — who were also their friends & relatives.
These folks were usually well-liked and well-known, and respected in general – NOT just for their medical expertise.
However, in today’s highly mobile, automated world, you’re more likely to see an assortment of pediatricians at a large clinic, few of which remember your child’s first name, let alone his or her unique medical history, or anything about you as a parent or person.
The plain truth is, modern doctors don’t spend enough time with your child to be qualified to make calls about how they should be parented.
They don’t have the perspective or depth of caring that you do, and never will.
Doctors are excellent at diagnosing medical problems – but they’re no better or worse at parenting than the rest of us.
I think parents who lean toward more natural + instinctual parenting may feel like they get extra scrutiny at the doctor’s office…
Everything from breastfeeding, introducing solids, vaccinations, sleeping arrangements and more may come into question – and attachment parents’ honest answers probably get odd looks from the staff, if not worse.
“No, she still wakes to nurse four times a night…”
“We weren’t planning to get him any immunizations for now…”
However – a child who wakes in the night is NOT necessarily a medical problem.
Neither is breastfeeding for comfort – unless of course there’s a question of supply and/or nutrition involved.
There’s many approaches to starting solid foods – not a one-size-fits-all “best way” to do it.
…and I’m not even going to open the Pandora’s Box that is The Vaccination Debate (Sorry not today – perhaps later!).
So, if the things your doc is suggesting aren’t tied to any medical diagnosis, feel free to take them as well-meaning suggestions instead of requirements for your child’s future health!
It shouldn’t be that hard to tell between his or her subjective preferences, and necessary medical recommendations.
If your pediatrician’s parenting advice that sounds like it’s out of his or her scope of practice, don’t just blindly accept it as “expert” advice because of its source.
A pediatrician’s parenting advice may or may not be sound. Trust your instincts over any “experts” out there.
You might feel pressured to explain your opinion or feelings – but really, parenting is a very subjective matter, and you shouldn’t have to defend your personal beliefs to your child’s health care provider. Your pediatrician might not agree with your parenting – but he or she doesn’t need to in order to treat your child’s illnesses.
A good pediatrician sticks to his area of expertise – so feel free to opt out of your pediatrician’s parenting advice if it simply doesn’t resonate with you.