Friday, July 2, 2010

The Doctor Disaster: Why I Need a New One Now!

I knew that it would happen someday! I just didn’t think that it would be soon. I thought that we might avoid the sort of advice that we received today for at least another couple of years. Maybe even three if we were lucky.

Instead, Sadie’s two-year check up was something of a disaster. This wouldn’t bother me quite as much if it didn’t cause me to reach a rather inconvenient conclusion: I need to find a new doctor by Tuesday afternoon.

I’ll focus on the good first: Sadie is in 97th percentile for height at 36 ½ inches tall and in the 97th percentile for weight at 32 ½ lbs. She’s happy and healthy. But still, the doctor was very concerned.

You see Sadie spends her days with me… her mother… as she has pretty much every day since she was born. Lately we’ve started having morning play dates on Tuesdays with Nani and Grumpa so that Mommy can help out at our parish’s office one day a week, but other than that we’re pretty much always together.

Isn’t that horrific?

Shouldn’t I be thrusting my twenty-four month old out into the real world? After all, how can she learn that the world can be harsh and unfair if I coddle her and treat her like she’s a baby?
Here were some of my doctor’s worries and suggestions:

Worry #1: Sadie isn’t all that talkative.

We got advice from an actual speech therapist about this and, after asking a few questions, she said it was completely natural. For the last two years of Sadie’s life she lived on the family ranch, which included four generations. With three generations of adults paying attention to her, she didn’t need to talk much. She could sign and point and she usually got her point across very quickly.

Now that we’ve moved she’s started using words a lot more often. She says “mama,” “dada,” “pa,” “nana,” “up,” “in,” “out,” “ya,” “no,” “balloon,” “ball,” “dee” (to call the cat) and her personal favorite phrases “oh yeah” and “oh wow!” And then she occasionally bursts out with a completely coherent word like “duck” or “bunny.”

Worry #2: She doesn’t have play dates.

It seems that the fact that she runs up to kids at the museum/park/aquarium and at our local parks and plays with them isn’t enough. So here was his suggestion:

I need to place Sadie in day care.

Not pre-school (advice I still would have ignored, but that would have at least made more sense) but day care.

And that would solve another “problem!” I would then have time “to myself,” to “do my own thing.”

He explained that he’s very concerned that Sadie is only around family members. When I tried to explain that that’s not true at all, that she see’s lots of people, particularly through our Church, he ignored me and continued.

He said that she needs to be away from the family, spending times with children her own age and older to learn to “model” behavior.

Then he spotted the bug bite on her arm that she acquired while swimming yesterday and said that we need to slather her with bug spray with DEET, because that’s really all that works and that we need to do it every time we go outside.


Deep breaths. By the end of the appointment I could no longer look at him.

There were a lot of thoughts going through my mind and I told myself a half dozen times before I left the office that it would make a good blog post/ semi-hysterical rant just to calm down. Writing things out helps. There was no reason to do anything other than clench my jaw and get through the appointment.

You see after trying to explain our parenting strategy a couple of times and seeing his eyes glaze over, I wasn’t about to try again. But, for anyone who is still reading at this point (and for my own sanity since Paul is sick of hearing my tirade), I will continue.

I don’t believe that children need to be thrust out into the “Real World” in order to be “socialized.” In fact the type of “socialization” that I’ve seen lately is exactly what we hope to avoid (as a cheerleading coach at our local high school I was unlucky enough to witness and hear some pretty disturbing things). I’m not saying that day-care and pre-school and eventually public or private schools aren’t good things, I’m just opposed to the idea that they’re a) always the best thing and b) that they’re at all necessary.

Children can grow into brilliant, kind, well-rounded adults without being placed in the care of “non-family members” day in and day out, just as they can turn out wonderfully through our societies newer avenues.

I also take issue with the idea that getting rid of my kid all day would necessarily be best thing for me.

My vocation in life is the vocation of a wife and a mother. I love my vocation. And that vocation is what I want to devote myself to full time!

A few weeks ago someone told me that it was good for me to get out and be seen as something other than “Sadie’s Mom,” and the idea was odd to me, not because I don’t think that I’m more than my children’s mother or my husband’s wife, but because those things are an innate part of who I am and can’t be separated from the other parts, whether it’s the time I spend as a small business owner making jewelry or as a writer pouring out my thoughts on paper (or even as a house keeper scrubbing floors and picking up and sorting laundry).

And while I sometimes crave a little more sleep, my vocation is who I am and it’s exactly what I want to be doing. It isn’t always easy or fun, but it is absolutely fulfilling and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So I will continue doing what I know is best for my family… and I’ll find a new doctor who doesn’t think that the best possible thing for a child, regardless of the situation, is being away from it’s mother all day!


  1. I don't blame you one bit, I would be furious. I used to teach at a daycare/preschool, and I would never put my children in one. The behavior they learn to "model" is atrocious. I even had a 3 year old say she was going to shoot me and bury me in her basement because I wouldn't let her play in the sink. You are doing the right thing mama! Ask around at your church, I bet someone has a great doctor they could recommend.

  2. My pedi asked me something similar last month. Specifically if he was ever around other people. So I told her that we do story time at the library and whatnot. That was enough for her. I think her concern was not to isolate HB so that he could "learn" what other people were like and not fall into stranger danger. It's just a guess. I didn't ask her why.

    I'm really appalled that he thought day care was a good idea. I used to work at a daycare. And kids get neglected because it's a numbers game. One adult and for Sadie's age upwards of 8 children. If Sadie is able to communicate and understand what's going on, she's perfectly normal. Most pedi's would agree. My hubby's relative didn't start talking until age 3 but she always pointed and understood what she was told. Her first word was tractor. Her pedi wasn't at all concerned even though the parents were.

    He should have suggested playdates, outings, etc. Things were you are still there and are guiding her, but allowing her to explore and be around others. Children do need to socialize with children their own age, but it doesn't become a necessity until age three. Any early childhood educator could tell you that. A lot of parents of toddlers tell me the same thing. Oh I enrolled Jr. because he needs friends. At age two (I used to work with two year olds) they sit and play next to each other. There is very little social interaction beyond that. They don't have friends until age three. (I have had a very small number of children usually close to age three who talk about their friends but it's very rare.)

    I would change pedi's too. He's obviously nuts. If your making efforts to have her interact with others including extended family, then that's great. She doesn't need to have same age friends at this age anyway.

  3. Oh for goodness' sake...I didn't go to daycare, I didn't even go to preschool, I turned out fine (did public school for K-12, my family didn't believe in homeschooling and couldn't afford private school).

    There are other children at your church, aren't there? She'll socialize just fine without going into daycare, and later when you're homeschooling her there will be other homeschoolers she can socialize with.

  4. I'd change too!

    On a similar note I got comments from family about needing to have Kalila in daycare for those reasons too... my MIL has stopped saying because there's no denying how social my daughter is despite me doing things the way I do. My SIL and I have stopped talking about parenting stuff at all lol. As little as she sees Kalila I'm sure she still thinks we should do it.

  5. I would switch to a different dr. or just smile and nod and not take any of his advice. I would have been livid if our pediatrician said something like that to me. The practice I take my kids to has 6 or 7 physicians and some of them are rather opinionated and others are more easy going. I really only clash with the one Dr. and that's because she typically misdiagnoses my kids and there's the little fact that she got in a screaming match with me when I was about 36 hours post-partum because I apparently am the world's worst mother (her actual words were that I was an "awful mother") because I wanted her to discharge my baby from the hospital so we could go home and be with my other child and rest comfortably. In the end, the baby got discharged and I lost all respect for the woman.

  6. I agree, you need to find another dr. You need a dr. who listens and respects your choices as a parent, even if they disagree with them.

  7. I've been reading your blog for a while now and never commented until now. You need to find a new doctor now!

    I am so disturbed that I keeping hearing this same advice given to more and more women from so-called professionals. Who in their right mind thinks that it is better for a child to be away from their mother so that they can learn to model behavior than to be at home with their family, learning to model behavior from you?

    I just can't even get my mind around that kind of thinking. To think that people listen to this advice is just crazy to me.

  8. What an idiot. Remember, social workers have NO right to enter your home without a search warrant. It's not too early to become a member of HSLDA. Find a new doc through the homeschooling network, maybe there is even a peds who homeschools. Good luck & God bless!

  9. I absolutely cannot believe that a doctor who's supposed to be concerned about the normal development of children who say things like that to you. Until very recently nearly all children in this country grew up in a home with their mom, not in day care. There are many famous and successful people, Agatha Christie for one, who actually had very little contact with other children during their growing up years (she spent most of her time with her Nanny, but that's the way upper crust English did things).

    We were blessed with a pediatrician whose own children grew up under their mother's watchful eye, so we never heard any of this nonsense. Our son had little contact with other kids other than Sunday School and La Leche League meetings until he was 4 or so. His speech was advanced for his age. One of the things that children who are around grownups a lot are generally noted for once they start speaking is large vocabularies and sophisticated sentence structure. After all they model what they hear. Keeping contact with other kids limited and selective also allows you to have your child around other families who share your values. That's an important thing in these very formative years. They'll learn about other kinds of families when they are older.

    I suspect this doctor has imbibed a lot of the philosophy of the age and probably has a wife who works and children in day care. Just as you would take with a grain of salt the advice a formula company gave about breastfeeding, you can take with a whole handful of salt any advice this doctor is giving about your child's and your social needs.

    He may be an adequate doctor to diagnose disease, but if you're not comfortable with him, you definitely need to switch. You need to have a comfortable relationship with your child's doctor. It can't be comfortable if you feel that he is in opposition to your way of living out your vocation.

    BTW, my kids were homeschooled, yet my both of them at one time or other were president of their 4-H group, mentored younger kids, went to college away from home, traveled to other parts of the country without family. Just because you keep her close at 2 (when it's entirely appropriate to do so) does not mean she won't be able to fly on her own when the time is right.

    Good luck in finding a new doc. However, if you can't find one by Tuesday, you probably can suck it up to use this one for the new baby until you can find a new one. After all with a newborn all the first visit or two is about is weight checks and clearly you know how to put weight on your baby both in utero and out. What an awful stress to have to go looking for a new doctor right before the baby is due. The only worse scenario would be to decide you can't stand your OB a few days before delivery. Oh wait, that happened to me with my first. I stayed with the jerk, and in retrospect I honestly wish I'd told him to take a hike and found someone different. The delivery was an unnecessary nightmare. I hope you're able to find a doctor who's more compatible.

    may i ask- why do you have to see a dr ? for the new baby? just see the one at the hospital and don't bother after that. we don't do well child visits at all. my last 5 kids have never seen a dr for any reason - including birth- and the older 2 not for many years except for once when someone got an odd bump on the foot and i felt better checking it out. just imho :)

  11., do not walk, away from this doc. All these guys have to do is suggest suspected negligence or some other rot to "competent authorities" and you've got social services interfering in happy, healthy homes. When kids are old enough to talk, docs like this will ask them if they are spanked, if mommy and daddy have any guns, if they feel safe in their homes, if mommy and daddy argue, if they want to go to school (if you homeschool), how many friends they have, what mommy feeds them for lunch and similar questions that kids give the darndest answers to. Just let your imagination run wild about what a spunky (and wildly imaginative) 4-year old could possibly say to any of would be hilarious if not so darn scary. These are the same docs who will ask you to leave the room while they talk to your kids and suggest that you have bizarre and twisted motives for not wanting to leave your partially clothed kid alone with a strange adult. Don't argue with these people. Smile, be pleasant, make your follow-up appointment (which you do not have to keep) and just leave and go somewhere where your parental rights are respected and the doc has no weird social agenda.

    You can have Maggie's physical done before checkout at the hospital and write this guy's name down as pediatrician on the appropriate form if you have to. That does not obligate you to actually see him. Just find another doc before her 2-week or whenever you go. Personally, we try and keep our babies out of germy doc offices unless there is an obvious need. Most parents know when something is wrong with their child and whether they are growing or not.

  12. Fire the doctor :)

    I was (and still am) very introverted and turned out fine :)

  13. Hi Cam!

    As you know, I work full-time outside of the home, so Henry has been in daycare since he was 10 weeks old. And...I totally agree with you :) We use daycare because we have to, not because we want to. Henry is turning out just fine, but certainly, children having the opposite experience will turn out just fine too!

  14. Hi Cammie,

    Yes, find a new doctor! The doctor should have been commenting about how lucky Sadie is to have a mom who is present, involved, and constantly modelling appropriate behavior. I can imagine that Sadie has a strong, secure attachment to you, which truly is the most important thing for her development as a person. Mother absolutely knows best! Love your blog!


  15. As the previous Director of a daycare, I have seen first hand that infants and toddlers are not meant to be in large groups. It is unnatural and leads to many concerns that children staying at home do not need to worry about. Yes, children do pick up language more quickly, but if you are understanding your child's needs now and she is learning there is no need to worry. A previous poster was correct about children playing next to each other and not with each other. And the DEET bugspray!! What a poor MD!

  16. I don't know why doctors don't stick to medicine and decide to try to teach parenting as well! Drives me nuts!

    Just last night I was chatting with a (male) (childless) friend and mentioned that I got a job for an hour a day, and they'll let me bring the baby, so it's perfect. His response? "Won't he develop separation anxiety if he's with you all the time?"

    The baby is three months old. I had to tell my friend (nicely) that separation anxiety is a normal part of human development, and the only way to prevent it is never to leave your baby! I was a nanny, and the screams children would give when their mothers left were just heartrending. Clearly they weren't ready to be left, and all their mothers' pushing them to be independent didn't do a thing but make them more clingy.

    Don't worry about "socialization" -- she has a sister now, and that should be plenty for a good while!

  17. This country was founded and expanded by families who took to the woods and had nobody but each other around for miles and miles, and somehow, we turned out to be a great country full of great and smart and capable people.

    I'm getting a Masters in children's literature and language acquisition, and I'm more and more convinced that the preschool-vs.-home debate is so divisive and ludicrous, and doesn't have to be. All a child needs in this respect is to spend his days where people have time, provide knowledgeable care, and are devoted to development. My prayer is that every child could be this lucky!

  18. I don't think daycare is necessary (I used to work in one)but I think that maybe in all of his mumbo jumbo, he has an essence of truth. I think it's good for children to spend some time with people that they aren't 100% familiar with because it does develop social skills, and self-coping skills. That can be with extended relatives whom you and your husband don't see that often. And I don't think it's that bad to want some time for yourself. It's good even for SAHMs to have adult interaction. I've heard many moms say that as much as they love being around their children, they can't do that all the time.

  19. Hi Anon-
    Thanks for your opinion. I definitely disagree. It's absolutely not necessary for young children to be torn away from their parents so they can experience what so many people refer to as the "real world." That will happen soon enough.

    Being a wife and a mother is my vocation. I am well aware that there will be plenty of time for myself later. More time for prayer (silent at least!) and time and freedom to decide how I spent my day. But for now, my time, pretty much all of it, goes towards serving my family. Our vocation is essentially who we are called to serve. And shirking that task wouldn't be doing myself any favors. It is in giving that we receive. And it is through fulfilling my vocation that I am drawn closer to the one who made me.


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