I see some parents struggle with being too sheepish with their physicians. Or they are so eager and willing to just take their doctor’s word for something. Yet they walk out full of more questions than answers without daring to be too “impolite” to ask. Or maybe it buys them time emotionally because deep down they are simply not ready to accept the fact that something may indeed be amiss with their child. They may feel relief and view the glossing over as indisputable proof, despite what anyone else is saying – family, friends, teachers, etc. – that everything is fine after all.
I struggle with the need to be polite also but only to a certain point. I am always respectful and considerate of someone’s time. If they don’t have time in that session, I will ask how soon can they be available again. Then, I get introspective, I get proactive, I meticulously monitor my child’s behavior and match it to research, avoiding testimonials at all costs. I need cut and dry, black and white, science with the doctor. If I don’t say something during the appointment or think of something after, I will think on it and call back if necessary. But I always take my notes in with me. It’s far too easy to get sidetracked. Emotions can run high during the visit and no matter how prepared you think you are something will most likely throw you off your feet. Having notes and taking notes has been a tremendous help for me.
When I address my child’s doctor, I always keep in mind that my googling of information does not trump a medical degree. I know my limitations and I state that upfront if I feel it’s necessary. I never want a physician to feel like I don’t respect them, their credentials or experience. I know I don’t know everything so if I disagree based on something I’ve learned online or through another resource, I am sure to state upfront that I respect their knowledge and stay as humble as necessary to avoid defensiveness and ensure I am being heard. I know I cannot win in a battle of medical knowledge against a doctor. Keeping that in mind and stating that in some form or another has been valuable in maintaining respect and a good relationship with my physicians. Also equally important for your physician to understand, however, is that while they may know medicine better than you, you know your child better than anyone. Always trust your instincts and persist, when necessary, as politely as possible. For many childhood conditions, the wait and see approach should be considered unacceptable. I am proud to have insisted with my daughter’s physician to expedite her evaluation processes, while also managing to maintain a positive relationship with her physician as well.
Be respectful of your physician’s time. When the front staff will allow for it, be upfront and state as you make the appointment that you need to spend a little extra time. Again, it’s all about being mutually respectful and properly managing the expectations accordingly on both sides. Both of you should have the same goal and that is to make or keep well the life of your child. Having a positive relationship will make it easier for both of you.