Do you think a pediatrician's childrearing philosophy matters? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-06-2012, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some of the tips I am reading about interviewing pediatricians include asking him or her about childrearing philosophies.  Do you think this matters?  If so, why?  The only thing I can think of is not wanting to be bugged, e.g., not wanting to have someone say (repeatedly, or perhaps ever), "Would you at least consider co-sleeping?" when you wouldn't, or "Are you aware of the dangers of co-sleeping?" when you don't believe there are any.  Is this the sort of thing that pediatricians bug parents about, anyway?

I would very much like a vegan-friendly pediatrician, because I may appreciate nutritional advice from someone who understands, for example, that vegans eat things other than soy, that nuts are not especially high in protein (many non-vegans think they are), and that the statement, "Milk does a body good" is not considered a truism by all.  (In fact, it is merely a marketing statement.)  I consider these to be health-related issues that are within a doctor's domain.  Time outs and nap schedules are not.

Thoughts?

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Old 03-07-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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Unfortunately, it seems that mainstream doctors are required to ask things like, "Where is baby sleeping? How do you put him down?"  We've seen a few different doctors, and this always comes up.  I *think* this is sort of an insurance policy thing, like if anything happens to his patient and he didn't "educate" you about the "dangers of co sleeping" he could potentially be sued for malpractice.  The more astute doctors will quickly give you their spiel and then never bring it up again. I am with you about how this matters, though. Honestly, if the doctor is not opposing me and my beliefs over and over and over, this is a minor point against him, especially if I like everything else about him.  It helps, though, to find a doctor who shares your core parenting style. 

 

Nutrition is a very important consideration and there are a few different takes on it, so I think this would be something worth being picky about when choosing a pediatrician.  Most offices will do a free consultation visit, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour long.  Personally speaking with the doctor is the best way to find one.  This way you get a sense of his personality and how strongly he feels about certain things. I think you will know when you find the right doctor for your family.  Good luck!


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Old 03-07-2012, 08:31 AM
 
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I would judge a pediatrician first on his/her medical abilities and second on ideological agreement.  My little brother almost died twice when he was small from things an average pediatrician probably would not have caught in time. 

 

That being said, it really depends on how well you are educated and how willing you are to counter your doc's opinion.  It was very important to me to find a family care doc to deliver our baby who was on board with my birth goals and so on because I'm the type that caves to authority figures when in pain/danger/whatever.  I just knew I would have a crappy birth if I had a doctor who was recommending interventions.  DH and I just don't know enough and aren't strong enough to go against the medical establishment in those circumstances.  So I would imagine the same thing applies in pediatric care -- if you are very self-educated and strong willed, you can ignore the advice you don't agree with.  Otherwise, it might be important to find a practitioner who can guide you.

 

Finally, many doctors are now actually rejecting patients who don't vax, for example, so that would be something you would want to make sure you discuss before you get dropped by the practice. 


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Old 03-07-2012, 09:23 AM
 
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I don't think their childrearing philosophies matter as long as they don't push unsolicited parenting advice, and they are respectful of the role of parents. As long as they can keep their personal beliefs to themselves and have an open mind, I don't think they matter all that much.

 

My oldest child's first pediatrician was the worst about offering up unsolicited parenting advice.  As a first time mother, I didn't know what to believe. She made me feel sort of incompetent and looking back on it made me worry about some really stupid stuff. I started to hate going to see her especially as I gained more confidence as a mother and started coming up with my own ideas about parenting. Thankfully, we ended up going to another doctor in the practice a few times due to scheduling issues, and I realized he was a great fit for us, so I switched when my daughter was maybe 5 or 6 months old.  We've been with him ever since. 

 

I'm sure he has his own philosophies about childrearing, but he totally resects me and my husband and treats us like competent adults.  He offers advice when asked, but otherwise pretty much sticks to medical and developmental issues.  And he's pretty open minded to other ways of doing things even when it comes to vaccinations.  I adore him. love.gif

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Old 03-07-2012, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, guys.  This is useful.  I agree that childrearing differences are only a problem if they come up repeatedly, or if opinions are stated as facts to older children.

 

To avoid ending up with a pediatrician who doesn't push a childrearing phillosophy on me, would you recommend asking about the philosophy at the interview, or feeling for this in some other way?  I am afraid that if I say, "Do you have a philosophy about sleeping?", for example, I will have opened the door to have an opinion pushed on me when the doctor otherwise would have kept silent about non-medical issues throughout our relationship.

 

Do you have any other recommendations for what to ask potential pediatricians?  I will ask about vegan knowledge and possibly vaccinations (though we will most likely do at least some vaccinations, meaning there may be no conflict), but I think I need some other questions to fill the interview time, even if they are not about childrearing.

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Old 03-10-2012, 02:25 PM
 
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I would start by making phone calls to offices and asking your basic questions. Is the dr familiar and comfortable with vegan diet, etc. And if you are planning to vaccinate in a different way than the full, recommended schedule, you will still run into problems. So it will do you good to call and ask if they are flexible on vacciantions, will they delay and selectively vax. Because I've had friends rejected by drs for this too. I'd also ask how they handle problems that may arise and how do they weigh the thoughts of the parents. We had to switch pedis because the one wouldn't listen to me when I told him something was wrong with my daughter.


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Old 03-10-2012, 04:03 PM
 
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I have done both-- our first DR for our son was an amazing family practice DR, she was a very natural minded young mother herself and everything about her was wonderful!  She didn't take insurance, but it was worth it to us for the hour long visits, no nurses or receptionists, and the great holistic medical advice and very careful help with planning our delayed/selective tax schedule.  

 

When our son was about a year and a half she moved, and we moved, and we ended up in a practice that is very trendy here in NYC, VERY pro early and drastic sleep training, and I never thought in a million years I'd give them a dime.  But they do take our insurance, and the medical advice they have given us in the last year and a half has been 100% perfect-- a great blend of low intervention when needed and more aggressive when I wouldn't have suspected myself that it was something more serious going on.  They are half a block away and always get us in within an hour when he's sick, so it's worked out perfectly.  They will go along with my vax schedule, but never would have been able to take the time or have the opinions to offer me creating my own schedule.  With this next baby I'm not looking forward to having to turn down the sleeping advice, but I'll do it firmly.  

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Old 03-10-2012, 06:41 PM
 
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To the OP, can you network through mom's groups in your area?  Perhaps a La Leche League local branch?  

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post
I don't think their childrearing philosophies matter as long as they don't push unsolicited parenting advice, and they are respectful of the role of parents. As long as they can keep their personal beliefs to themselves and have an open mind, I don't think they matter all that much.

I agree with this.  However I do tend to like pediatricians that are breast feeding friendly, used to kids with delayed vaccine schedules and regularly see intact boys, but those deal more with medical type decisions/issues.  


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Old 03-10-2012, 07:01 PM
 
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We use a family doctor and none of those issues have ever come up. Also, th experience of non-vaxxing moms seems to be that they are much less likely to push them or 'fire' patients who choose not to than peds are. So that is something to consider. 

 

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Old 03-11-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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We had the experience of choosing a pedi who wasn't as "attachment"-oriented as we were, and it worked out. The main pedi in the office had some strong opinions about vaccinating, but we held our ground and she ultimately had respect for our choices. The main thing, though, that bothered us was that in the very beginning (at 2 weeks), it was discovered that my son wasn't gaining weight as he should, so she gave us a plan to nurse and then pump and feed him from a bottle what I pumped. That, along with lactation consultants and a few weeks of hard work, and we managed to work through our issues (and are still nursing strong, 27 months later!). Throughout that stressful ordeal, the pedi was pushing us to supplement with formula to "give me a break", which we didn't appreciate -- he was doing well with breastmilk only, so it clearly wasn't a weight/nutrient issue. Anyway, we ended up going to see the "junior" pedi at the office, who listened to our concerns, was patient, and offered advice when we asked but not unsolicited (except for a couple vaccinations she strongly recommended, but she wasn't pushy). We moved this past fall, and the opinions of our new pedi haven't come up.


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Old 03-11-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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It just depends what type of person you are. If you are the type that doesn't take one answer from one doctor or listen to all the advice they give out then it can be fine. Run into complications and problems and it can get tricker. Extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, etc... are all things that many more mainstream docs do not know anything about. If it never comes up then great but you can get up with a 12 month that is in the smaller side and a doc that is convinced they are starving because you are still nursing that child. My second child ended up having a lot of unexpected medical problems as a baby, we were in and out of the hospital for months. I coslept and that is a BIG deal in the hospital. I knew my rights and would stand my ground every single time, but it would take hours of fighting with everyone that came into the room or have a pedi write it as an order that I was to cosleep with DD2. Much, much easier. 


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Old 03-11-2012, 02:16 PM
 
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I don't think it matters what their childrearing philosophy is. I think what matters is whether or not they insist on pushing their opinions about non-medical issues off on parents. If a pediatrician is all about CIO, not picking the baby up "too much", and weaning at 12 months, it doesn't really matter if it never comes up. KWIM? I wouldn't even know. It only matters if they start pushing those things - giving me hand-outs on why my kid "needs" to learn to "self-soothe" to sleep or I'll still be rocking her to sleep when she starts high school, or telling me that if we co-sleep I'll roll over onto her and KILL her, or saying that nursing past 12 months causes psychological problems or something. If they get pushy, then I care. If they don't, I find their personal opinions about non-medical issues irrelevant. So I, personally, would not go in asking someone about their personal philosophies about parenting. I don't think that's likely to be helpful. I am more inclined to just see how they act - do they seem pushy or not? If they do, I change, if not, I don't. We're military and move a lot, so we've had several pediatricians over the years. We can't switch practices, since we see military docs on base, but we can see different peds if we want. I've changed once over a pushy doc.

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Old 03-11-2012, 03:34 PM
 
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I wanted to add my 2cents on that one:

 

There are many good and valid points in the previous posts, IMO. But one aspect hasn't been addressed, if I am not mistaken. In my experience it also is a big factor, if a doctor is good with children or not. And believe me, only because someone is a pediatrician it doesn't make him or her good with kids! It's one thing as long as they are babies, but once they are older it gets tricky. My son has a hard time trusting strangers, especially if they want to touch him, look at him, poke him, you name it. We still haven't found a doctor he has been able to open up to. Except one ostheopath who had two sons of his own and actually talked to DS on a level where he reached him and earned his trust (they talked about poo - it was hilarious!).

 

In this respect I think it makes a big difference if the pedi is in line with your own childrearing ideas. If someone has authoritative ideas and expects children to 'function' he will certainly have no luck with my kids. And if you need a doctor to have a look at your child because it is important (thank god we haven't had that situation yet!) you want to have someone your child trusts and respects (which of course is only possible for him/her to do when YOU trust and respect that person). Or else any doctor's visit can become a very unpleaseant and even scary experience, which I personally would like to spare my children and myself.

 

I admit that maybe it isn't an issue if you have the same doc from the child's birth onwards because the trust or maybe simply familiarity developes naturally over time. I can't vouch on that, because we have lived in different places since DS's birth and never had that kind of relationship with a pediatrician. shrug.gif


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Old 03-11-2012, 04:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franjapany View Post

I wanted to add my 2cents on that one:

 

There are many good and valid points in the previous posts, IMO. But one aspect hasn't been addressed, if I am not mistaken. In my experience it also is a big factor, if a doctor is good with children or not. And believe me, only because someone is a pediatrician it doesn't make him or her good with kids! It's one thing as long as they are babies, but once they are older it gets tricky. My son has a hard time trusting strangers, especially if they want to touch him, look at him, poke him, you name it. We still haven't found a doctor he has been able to open up to. Except one ostheopath who had two sons of his own and actually talked to DS on a level where he reached him and earned his trust (they talked about poo - it was hilarious!).

 

 

This is so true!  In my area, there are three naturopathic physicians who work with kids, one of whom focuses in pediatrics, but he is horrible with kids!  He seems uncomfortable around them and doesn't have much experience outside of his medical practice.  I know a few moms who have switched because of it.  It's not that he is incompetent or an unpleasant person, it's just that he seems genuinely uncertain about how to interact with kids.  
 

 


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Old 03-13-2012, 07:08 AM
 
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I can't tell if the family doctor we selected is good with children yet - the patient is too young.  So far, she prefers women, but our town seems to have a sad lack of female family practitioners, and I did want a family practice.  Our doctor would be described as authoritative, but very friendly and fairly gentle in his manner, and his opinion on sleeping does vary significantly from mine, but our views on breastfeeding, vaccination and general health care for children line up, in terms of philosophy, and since those are the issues that will be affected by his decisions, I'm sticking with our choice so far.  I'm pretty comfortable not following orders.  orngbiggrin.gif


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Old 03-13-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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We looked for a pediatrician who is supportive of breastfeeding, is not a fan of antibiotics for every little thing, interested in good nutrition, and is not vaccination happy. With regards to sleeping/napping, doc believes parents need to do what works for them and every situation and child is different. We absolutely love our pediatrician. I trust him and he respects our decisions. I also trust him to tell us if he thinks we are making a bad decision. And he loves children.

 

 

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Old 03-13-2012, 10:04 AM
 
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Hello,

I did not read any of the other replies you received so I apologize if I repeat or seem contrary to any other responses.

 

When we chose our pediatrician I interviewed prospective doctors. We ended up choosing a more mainstream type of physician. We were not convinced that no vaccines were for us but didn't want any flack about choosing to not vax for anything optional or to delay vaxes. Our pediatrician is supportive of alternative medicines that have proven studies on children. For example, chamomile tea has been used for thousands of years so it is safe... certain other herbs may not have a long record of dosage/results in children and he would be hesitant to support usage. We felt that was a more rational perspective than "go ahead and try it if you want" response we got elsewhere. So I would say to be discerning. Total agreement with your treatment/medical/lifestyle desires may not equate with what's best for your child and you need to decide first what matters most, what you're open to discussion about and what you plain just aren't sure about and want to be educated about. Choosing a pedi who is open-minded, a constant learner (classes, reading current medical journals, lecturing, etc.) is, IMO the best choice. I was a vegan for years but transitioned to vegetarianism. Our office is supportive but asks questions -- not from a mere critical standpoint, but a nutritional standpoint. Children need certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids for development so you definitely need a pediatrician and staff of nurses who are familiar with veganism. I always found it a bit challenging to make sure I was truly getting everything necessary in a vegan diet and I do truly admire anyone who puts in the necessary effort!

 

Secondly, and more in response to your question, I can't help but think how great it is that you're asking this question. I didn't really consider things from that angle, but if I knew what I now do, I would have definitely asked when interviewing. Obviously, no one pedi is going to agree soup-to-nuts with your choices (and then there's the nurses each w/ their own personalities and convictions). I think that again, open-mindedness and education are the best things to look for. Pleasantness and courteousness. Ability to get you into the office asap for any concerns. Not imposing their personal views on you. And also you will know when you "click" with somebody. So ask your questions and see how you feel about the responses. You should never walk away feeling put down. I can't say that the nurses and our pedi are jumping for joy to know that my 4 year old still nurses before bedtime but after a tiny surprised look they shake their heads "yes" and agree that it's fine. So I don't feel bad. They explained how to do CIO when as an exhausted, constantly nursing mother I expressed interest (doh!) but told me to knock it off when I called crying b/c my baby was crying! I was very fortunate to find a mainstream pediatrician who is able to offer advice when I need it. When your toddler smacks you in the face for the first time, what will you do? What if they are freaking out, out of control? Or what if something you could never imagine, behaviorally, happens? You could read a book... ask other parents... look online... go back and forth with your in-laws... or if you have a pediatrician with a compatible child-rearing philosophy you can call and get immediate advice. If that's what you want. I was fortunate enough to have this invaluable advice. Other than you, your pediatrician is the most familiar with your child from a medical standpoint. They know the questions to ask, they know when something is out of the ordinary, they can follow up and look for patterns or trends that can be concerning or when to not worry. They can offer peace of mind and tell you when to just let things go (like when you toddler decides to spit on the floor when you tell her to pick up her toys) and when it could be a sign of something more serious. Sometimes you may need to just be told you are doing things right and you will need that support. In terms of child-rearing philosophy, I would be discerning again, just like choosing your pedi from a nutritional standpoint. Would they encourage you to call in w/ behavioral questions? Our pedi says, "we are always available for any kind of question!" and sometimes I call, sometimes I don't but knowing I'm encouraged to makes a big difference.

 

All this being said (in my novel, sorry!) we did decide to have a naturopathic pediatrician as well. I enjoy treating with gentle homeopathic remedies when I am able to. I like the option of having a choice -- should we go for the medicine, or do we have time to try something else? I may not tell my pedi that I decided to give my 4 year old 100,000 IUs of vitamin A to knock out a virus, but stopping a bout of diarrhea quickly was, to me, worth not having that conversation and just dealing with the naturopathic on that one.

 

Hope this was helpful if you were able to read it all. And I hope you are able to find a pediatrician you mesh well with -- within a 15 or 20 minute ride from home :)

 

 


Loving wife and SAHM to our nursing 5 YO ~ We''ve started our home school adventure!

 

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Old 03-13-2012, 11:21 AM
 
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All I can say is when me and my fam doc/pedi dont agree, they are my children and my way goes. 

She respects my opinion because I do not give her any choice lol. 

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Old 03-15-2012, 12:55 PM
 
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On my list of pediatrician interview questions was "Do you give parenting advice in addition to medical advice, about discipline, sleeping, etc?" I ended up asking something more like "What happens at a typical well-baby visit? What do we talk about?" to kind of feel out what kinds of things the doctor feels the need to advise us on.

 

One doctor I interviewed used the phrase "anticipatory guidance", which I saw as a red flag for "unsolicited parenting advice". For a host of reasons, we ended up going with our family doctor, who answered the question with "You're the parents. It's my job to let you know what the recommendations are, but let you make the decision for your child"- and she has held to that, and not given us any unsolicited advice or pressure- or even ASKED about cosleeping or our vaccine schedule or non-medical parenting-type stuff. I LOVE her.


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Old 03-16-2012, 02:52 PM
 
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I do not ask my kids' pediatrician for parenting advice but part of why we chose him is his support of our general parenting philosophies.
I consider this extremely Important for a number of reasons. Most important in my mind was the case of a baby or child's hospitalization and the pediatrician's support of breast feeding and sleep sharing. At minimum, I would want to know that the pediatrician would support a parent rooming in with a hospitalized child - and be willing to go to bat for it as the child's best interest. I can also imagine other worst case scenario situations. I see our pediatrician as back up in case we need him. So we have developed a relationship of repect and trust over the years and I know I could count on him to advocate for my child/me if necessary.
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