Why I wrote 'no' across my pediatrician's questionnaire
I recently took my twelve-year-old for his annual check-up. The process was rather routine, except for two distinct differences. First, he needed three vaccinations, all of which he received, and second, I wrote "no" across a form that the nurse handed him without my permission.
You see, the nurse bypassed me and handed my son two pieces of paper and a pen. She asked him to answer two questions on one and then the entirety of the next. She proceeded to leave the room. Not once did she ask me to look at the forms prior to handing them to my son or even question whether I wanted him to complete them. It left me annoyed and feeling disrespected.
My son proceeded to answer the questions (the first two of which he couldn't even understand). This was met with my words "Don't answer anything until I take a look." So he stopped, and I read. And what I read had nothing to do with my son's physical health at all and everything to do with facets of his life quite personal to him and me, all of which fall outside of my pediatrician's jurisdiction in my book. So I picked up the pen and wrote the word "No" across both forms and called it a day.
When the pediatrician came in, she disregarded the papers and examined my son, engaging in the usual chit-chat that a parent would expect from a pediatrician. The appointment ended on an uneventful note, but it got me thinking about how much things have changed since I was small and my mother was sitting in the pediatrician's office with me. I was basically a third-party participant in the visit, with all questions traveling from the nurse or pediatrician directly to my mother. The few that went directly to me were simple and up for debate with my mother. That's how it was. Parents weren't bypassed. The buck stopped with them, and, in that, everyone stayed in his own lane...unlike today.
The blurred lanes are dumbfounding. Combine that with the vulnerability and naïveté of children. Parents are now forced to remain "on guard" at all times simply to keep their kids out of harm's way...or so they feel.
And "feel" is enough to make it very difficult for parents to work along with the medical community comfortably. This taints a lot of doorsteps, unjustifiably, of course. But unless the medical community backs off and reverts once again to the secondary role intended, the clash between parents and it will continue. It's not complicated.
But neither is the solution. The only complicated question is "will it?" And what will happen if it doesn't?
Remains to be seen, but parents will put up with being bypassed for only so long. And pendulums always swing just as forcibly in one direction as they do another. All it takes is time and a certain point to be hit. Assume this to be the case here, too. Thus, expect to see numerous more "nos" boldly printed across the top of pediatric forms until then.
Laura J. Wellington is a CEO and author.