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My family health care philosophy

Posted Sep 14 2008 1:28pm

Hello! I'm Adriana, editor of the WELLalarm blog. I'll be posting a series on healthy parenting based on my own experience as a parent and on the expertise of friends and trusted advisors. I'm the mother of a vibrant four-year-old boy, Jasper. We've weathered the baby and toddler years and are now enjoying the adventures of the preschool years.

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Just to get started I thought I'd share a little of my philosophy on babies' and children's health. As the oldest of five children I went into parenthood knowing a bit about babies (more than my husband did, as the youngest of five children). But that didn't stop me from reading just about every pediatrician-penned book on the market. How would I keep this little person alive? What could go wrong? Would I be ready?

Eventually I relaxed and started building the foundation of our family health care philosophy.

1. Partner with a pediatrician I connect with well. Our first pediatrician came highly recommended by an ObGyn at my midwife's practice. The pediatrician seemed bright and well qualified, but she bristled at my numerous questions and seemed to see my son in terms of numbers (length, weight, growth rate) rather than as a whole human being. Was I being too picky?

I hesitated for about a month and then, at the recommendation of a friend, switched to a doctor who took great delight in meeting my son and welcomed active discussion during our visits. As with the first doctor, we don't always agree on every aspect of healthcare. But we agree on enough, and more importantly, we communicate well with each other. She respects the wisdom of parents and genuinely enjoys working with children.

2. Tune in to my child. This can be especially difficult in dual-career families, but I think it's essential. I've tried to take time every day to give Jasper my full attention so I know what his "normal" looks and feels like. This helps me to then...

3. Trust my instincts. This takes a little practice and experience, but as I've learned to stay tuned into Jasper I've learned to trust my own judgement. I think a large component of this is also dependent on my own mental health. Parents do need to be careful not to project their own neuroses onto their children. Easier said than done, right? That's why it's important to...

4. Take care of my own health as well. That means making sure my husband and I get regular physical exams, eat well, get as much sleep as parents of a small child can, and nurture our relationship with each other.

We've been fortunate that Jasper is such a healthy kid. I know taking care of your family's health gets much, much more complicated when you have a child with a serious illness or disability. I saw this with my youngest sister, who has cerebral palsy. Still, I think it's a good place to start; After all, I learned this philosophy partly from my own parents.

I look forward to discussing more about family health in the future!

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