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Why I Don’t Tell My Kids’ Doctor the Whole Truth

Posted by on December 7, 2011

YOU can't handle the truth!

I was going to title this post “Why I Lie to the Pediatrician,” but I thought that that title wouldn’t be totally accurate and might freak some people out.  I don’t actually lie to my kids’s pediatrician.  I tell her a lot of truths.  But I don’t always tell her the whole truth.  And not to get all cliche’ and A Few Good Men on you, but she probably wouldn’t be able to handle the whole truth in some cases.

I remember my first born’s first trip to the pediatrician.  I was a freaking wreck.  It wasn’t all because I was taking my kid to the doctor for the first time.  Some of my freaking out came as a result from just being released from a hospital, having a couple blood transfusions, being re-admitted to the hospital due to a possible infection and all the other hormones and crap that take over and invade your body after birth.  I had all of that going on along with this first trip to the doctor.

I thought of this doctor visit as being a test for both my husband and myself as parents.  Prior to having my son, the only thing that I had managed to keep alive was my chihuahua, and at times she acted a bit like Cybil, so keeping my new son alive, seemingly normal and healthy was a big deal to me.

I remember going in and being asked a shit ton of questions that ranged from how often does he wet and soil his diapers to how often were his periods of alertness.  I have to be honest, I never kept a diaper count.  I just knew that he went all the freaking time.  And I was hardly aware of my own periods of alertness let alone alert enough to time his.  I’m joking, but I’m not.  I felt like I was being given a final exam for something I didn’t even know I was suppose to study for.  Several questions and nods of the heads later, I left with a crap load of handouts and a headache.

I decided that I would better prepare myself for the next go-round.  Going into the second doctor’s appointment I would know all the answers…or at least was prepared to BS a bit.  It was during this doctor visit that the doctor inquired about my son’s sleep habits.  I told the doctor that my son didn’t really sleep well on his own, but slept great in bed with my husband and I.  This doctor gave me a look like I farted in church.  He promptly told me:

“Babies die everyday in bed.  Don’t ever do that again.”

I smiled awkwardly, nodded my head and left feeling like an idiot.  I had grown up in a household where my sister always slept in my mother’s bed.  I never once thought that something that seemed so normal and non-newsworthy would mean so much to a guy who could barely remember how to pronounce my name.

A couple months later my family had moved back to my hometown, and I got the pleasure of hunting down a new pediatrician.  I found one that was recommended to me by a few people I knew and was hopeful.  Well, this asshole told me that at four months my child was ready to be weaned from breastfeeding and ready to go on solids.  My mother came on this trip with me, and I am pretty sure that had there not been other people with us, she would have told him to go bleep himself.

I have been on a ton of doctor’s appointments now between both of my children where doctors tell you to do shit that you can literally google in less than  5 seconds and find to be totally false.  So, when it was my Mush Man’s turn to go to his first pediatrician visit, I decided to put the pediatrician on a need to know basis.

But when you think about it, shouldn’t all doctors, unless you are a complete dumbass, be on a need to know basis?  They are doctors, not priests; so what is the need for the confessional of every single detail of your child’s daily routine?  I constantly hear people say, myself at times included, “I want to do “x” but first want to check in with the doctor.”  Now, I know that doctors are good and necessary, but let’s keep in mind that 50%  of doctors graduate in the bottom 50% of their class.  And to quote Carlin, “Somewhere out there is the worst doctor in the world, and some idiot has an appointment with him tomorrow.”  You should never rely on the advice of one person in regards to important decisions.  Yet, many parents feel as though they need constant permission from a doctor in order to successfully raise their children.   Please keep in mind, this theory of thinking does not apply to dumbasses, so if you know a dumbass and they read this, make sure you tell them that they need to ask a doctor first.

For instance, my Mush Man’s doctor asked me once whether or not I minded my son’s sleeping habits.  Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone enjoys the sleep habits of anybody who is trying to dictate their own, but I told her that I was fine with it.  I told her I just take my cues from him and roll with it.  She told me that what I was doing was perfect (and I am a child that went to school to work for grades and praise so I did enjoy the compliment).  But she also told me not to attend to him the minute that he started crying.  She told me to let him figure it out in his crib.

At this point, I could have told her that my baby doesn’t sleep in a crib, but who was I to ruin the nice visit we were having?  So I just smiled.  I mentally put her on the need to know basis, and I personally didn’t think that she needed to know this.  Now, if my kid breaks out in blue spots and starts growing feathers then I will totally be calling up the doctor and throwing her ass into our inner circle, but until then, I think I will just stick with my instincts and perhaps a little bit of Google.

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When my third had horrible allergies as an infant, we took him to an allergist. At the end of the inconclusive tests, he "gave me permission" to start solids at 4 or 6 (I forget when we went) months old. I looked t the man like he was INSANE and asked why I would possibly do that if he was still clearly reacting to the things *I* was eating and that exclusive breastfeeding was probably the only reason that he was still as healthy as he was.

He looked startled, then admitted that if it was HIS child, he would continue EBF as well and for as long as possible. Okay dude, so I know this and you know this, but why are you giving out bad advice to the REST of the clients???

He also didn't seem surprised when my baby used the potty chair in their bathroom instead of getting a diaper, which was nice for a chnge.

I think Doctors are overly cautions, probably partially due to people being extremely sue-happy. I also think Doctors don't have the time to devote the time families need from them. A lot of people end up sleeping with their babies at some point, I did for quite some time because I was too tired to sit in a chair and breastfeed at night, but there IS a risk. But just Googling can be dangerous because I'm betting most Doctors are far more knowledgeable (even the one's that may not have been the top of their class) than at least half the crap you can read on the internet. Asking most Doctor's off the record, they would probably say they believe a majority of parents are smart enough to trust some of their own judgements, like with co-sleeping and when to introduce cereal, ect. But taking your children to the Doctor for regular check-ups is HUGELY important. They're trained to spot illnesses and abnormalities that could be potentially life saving!

I am writing a post about doctors and suing. I think you are so right, Claire.

I decided at the first appt that it would be on a "as needed" basis with out dr. He pushed solids at 4mths (cereal - ICK!) and when I questioned the weight charts and how they related to ebf babies, he told me that ebf were always much bigger than formula babies. We held off on solids to 6mths (low supply and I didn't want to supplement with formula) and then basically gave our LO whatever sounded decent to us. When he asked at the next appt if we had done cereal, we said "no" and then he drew up an eating schedule (which we ignored as LO was eating when he was hungry and eating all good foods).

Love this! First time reading your blog but it won't be the last. Glad I am not the only one!

I am a doctor, too (one of those quacky chiropractors, so maybe I don't count), but I stopped taking my daughter to well-child visits at 15 months. I was sick of our MD pushing vaccines I was sure she didn't need and then judging my parenting style. She's a good doc for the RARE occasion my daughter gets honestly sick (once in 2.5 years), but otherwise, I see visits with her as largely unnecessary. As a physician myself (licensed as a PCP in my state, though w/out Rx privileges), I think I'm fully capable of determining whether my own child is healthy or not. Most of the moms I know with a slightly crunchy inclination would much rather bring their kids to me and my colleagues who are not going to push vax's (in fact, we'll give you the info you need to get around those pesky "requirements"), we'll encourage BF'ing, and not give you any grief about whatever sleep and schooling arrangements work for your family.

Kudos to chiropractors! We go to chiro first, NP 2nd, then an MD. We rarely need to go anywhere after chiro. Ours gives out info about vaccines & why not to do it, the kids love her, she's a friend outside of the clinic. Thanks for being a voice of reason in your community!

I definitely put my dr on a need to know basis, but there are reasons to go to well-child appointments. Doctors ARE trained to spot illnesses, as was mentioned. The grandchild of someone I know was not taken to well child visits, where normally head circumference would be checked. It turned out that his head was not growing properly, he had hydrocephalus and it was too late, they put in a shunt but he has a mental handicap now. I would strongly recommend going to well-child visits, and maybe the doctors are behind in things like breastfeeding and co-sleeping, but they can spot serious problems like I mentioned.

I've come under scrutiny because we homeschool. The doctors act like your child couldn't possibly be healthy if you do that. Very few doctors we've ever seen think that homeschooling is a good idea, you know because of all that "social development" stuff. Did they ever think that not all "social development" is healthy, and maybe that's why we keep ours at home? :)

Sadly, bedsharing is a really poor example to use here. It's no different than your doctor suggesting you shouldn't ride in a car with the baby on your lap. The peer-reviewed recent academic research strongly and solidly points to bedsharing as a risk of infant death (as in under 3 months), even for attached breastfeeding mothers. And yes it's still absolutely your choice, but it's just such a poor example for such an otherwise absolutely correct article.

Bedsharing is actually a wonderful example of not getting all the facts from your doctor and is part of the reason why it is so important to do your own research as a parent. Bedsharing is one of the most common and beneficial parenting practices in the world. Countries with much lower SIDS rates and where crib death is unheard of practice bedsharing as the norm. I don't know what research you are talking about, but I don't doubt it exists. However, for every article that you can find that supports you, I can find one that supports me by doctors just as qualified if not more. Most people are not informed on how to safely co sleep. Dr. James McKenna, the world's leading researcher on SIDS, has a wonderful body of research and functioning sleep laboratory devoted to co sleeping. Please take some time to review his site, if you feel so inclined.

I used to think giving up well checks was a good idea...then I had sick kids, several children services investigations and other medical drama. I found much benefit in having an established relationship with a doctor. When the child knows the doctor, multiple hospitalizations are less scary. I was especially glad for this relationship when children's services deemed my children "too small" "too fat" and wondered why the other one was not implanted (with a cochlear implant...that she was not a candidate for). When I was questioned, Doctor M stood up for us and offered to go to court if it had gone that far. Now, I am fortunate enough to have a doctor who does not push vaccines (she asks every visit if we are still holding off but that is all...she is legally required to ask/offer) and has been good enough to at least look into any crazy idea I come to her with.

This is a good article, but people that read this have to keep in mind that most doctors are coming from a stand point of playing it safe. I am a firefighter and have responded and work with people that have responded to infants that have been suffocated in their parents beds. I know that when a doctor tells you not to sleep with your child, he definitely has your childs best interest in mind.

If doctors were interested in the safety of co-sleeping, they should educate themselves, and then parents on how to safely do it--nor with parents who smoke or drink, or who sleep so soundly they can't hear their baby. No soft blankets on bed, never on a waterbed or couch where a baby can be trapped between parent & side of bed/back of coych. Moms who co-sleep feel babies movements and hear them. i was always aware of where my child was in bed.

Amen. I quit going to "well baby" appts. at 9 months. By that point I couldn't take anything else the woman was saying. 20lbs at 6 months and she told me I was nursing him too often and should cut it in HALF. Then called him a poster child for breastfeeding in the next breath. Say what??? And the vaccines. So pushy! No matter how many times I said I wasn't interested, they would come in with them all ready on a try. I would say "No vaccines." and they would have word vomit, spilling out the "benefits" of them. Like I would change my mind over what one nurse said. Ha.

Your cavalier attitude regarding vaccines is alarming. You seem uninformed and naive about how vaccination works. You put everyone at risk not just your child by refusing vaccination. I guess you better hope your kid isn't exposed to the horrible diseases that have been minimized due to vaccination. If everyone thought like you, polio would still be rampant in the western hemisphere, etc. The bottom line is that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh what will happen to your kid if s/he gets one of these diseases. The reason that may not happen is because everyone around you HAS been vaccinated. However, the more people like you ignorantly convince others that vaccination falls under the personal choice/belief category instead of the communal responsibility category, we are at increased risk of these diseases making a massive comeback...

I couldnt agree more.... I keep my kids dr on a need to know basis.... if it doesnt have to do with why were visiting then they dont need to know.... keeps all the rude and unneeded comments and ugly looks at bay......

I totally agree with you! At first I told my doctor everything and he had me freaking out... need to know basis now and I'm much more relaxed! Doctors are important but they are not gods!

I'm another that has just stopped going to well baby exams. My almost two year old has been to the pediatrician twice. She's healthy. I don't see the point. And I've been very fortunate not to get any ridiculously mean or pushy doctors. Still, I don't feel like I have any need for "expert" advice in matters that are better figured out internally by parents who actually know their children.

I live in the UK, where things are a little different. We don't see doctors on a regular basis, just if we think a child is ill. Instead, specially trained nurses called Health Visitors manage the day to day stuff of parenting and childrearing. This is because doctors are trained to look after SICK people, and being a parent is not like nursing a sick child. So, they are not experienced, trained, or in the mind-set of 'healthy, normal, empowering' professional interactions. I'm not saying our system is perfect but, if your child is well, it's quite possible to never see a doctor. HVs can diagnose minor illnesses (like thrush) and prescribe accordingly, too. Your wonderfully honest account demonstrates that medicine and pathology are becoming the normal ways of seeing the world, and it really is worrying. I reckon most parents feel like you do (I did, but mine are now left home) and it is not a good way to fill them with confidence in their own ability. Well said!

My primary care physician is actually a Nurse Practitioner. They can do many of the same things Doctors can do like check-ups and write prescriptions. It's much more focused on wellness and if there's something they can't handle, you're referred to a Doctor. I much prefer it this way!

Omg so funny!! Can we give this to in laws too!!! And people who tell you what to do with your kids!!!!!

I'm so glad there is a population out there who thinks this way and can remind us we're not alone. Even good doctors can be stupid sometimes. There have been numerous times when I've thought, "Well if you can't figure out what's wrong with me, can you please just admit it and refer me to someone who can?" Too many doctors are too proud to admit their own limits on knowledge and revert to blaming the patient for faking stuff or being stupid. Take all medical practice with a grain of salt. You know your own (and your baby's) body. Do what you feel is right.

Ha! I thought I was the only person who had experienced this! I have gone through a lot of doctors just because they acted like if you tell them the baby farted this morning, you weren' t a compliant patient. I've never been a compliant anything, and they are doctors, not gods. And really it's funny, because they just go on what the "studies" say, which if you notice seems to change every other month or so. "Eggs are good!" "No, eggs are bad!" "Salt is bad for your bp!" "No you need to add more salt!" , and so on , and so on........gimme a break! People were parenting waaaaaay before there ever were pediatricians! :)

I LOVE this!! I'm a Certified Pediatric Nurse and I can tell you, I've worked with more dumbass doctors (and a handful of brilliant ones) than I care to ever count.

And on the rare occasions I actually bother taking my children to a doctor (usually just sports physicals. Let's face it, I love my family practice doc, he's one of the brilliant ones, and I still know more about kids in general and MY kids in particular than he does!!) they are DEFINITELY kept on a need to know basis.

I had one idiot NP that wanted me to tell her my homeschooled children's reading grade levels. I actually did look at her and say, "We unschool. How the crap do I know what grade level he reads at? He's 10. He can read anything I put in front of him and if he doesn't know a word he asks me. Good enough??"

lol, I did the same thing with our ped with our first. Then when we had our second and went to see the NP I told her flat out that he was sleeping with us. She gave me this dirty look and asked if we had done it with our other son. I told her yes. She said ok, then you know the risks. I was like yeah, I know how to do it safely and I know the benefits. She didn't sayanything else.

I love your note about 50 percent of doctors graduating at the bottom of their class! true and hilarious and a really great point. But..I have a you live in a small town where you aren't able to find a pediatric naturopath or attachment parenting-friendly pediatrician who you don't have to leave things out for?

I don't live in a particularly small town. I have just resigned to the idea that I can't be too honest with any doctor without hearing criticism that I don't particularly need or already know.

After receiving looks of discuss and unwanted advise or advise I too, don't agree with... I just stopped going to well checks. I use my doc for testing and diagnosis, that's it. Then, I take the diagnosis to my naturopathic doc for treatment. Regular med docs are on need to know as well. :)

Best post ever!! I feel like this could have come out of my mouth!

That's why I don't even bother going to well-baby check ups. ;)

Ha! I was just recently thinking about the same thing. especially about the sleep issue. I also remember the 4 month appointment with my second when he asked if I had started solids. I said I was waiting until closer to 6 months or beyond. He said, "yeah, you can do that, too". I thought "Yes, I can. He's mine". I remember thinking I needed his permission to do things with my first son, and getting yelled at because I fed him meat before the doctor's "schedule"....

I hate it when people tell you that you "can" do something in that way you described! So annoying!

I myself am a Dr...and I couldn't agree more! I go to the pedi...take her advise...and decide if I want to use it. She doesn't know this and I don't plan to tell her anytime soon, but I'm a smart person and capable of making good decisions so that's my plan.

Love it. Totally how we do it, too! I couldn't comment on fb because I'm friends with our ped, lol.

Laura, that is too funny! LOL :)


  1. [...] don’t tell your kid’s dr everything “But when you think about it, shouldn’t all doctors, unless you are a complete dumbass, be on a need to know basis? They are doctors, not priests; so what is the need for the confessional of every single detail of your child’s daily routine? I constantly hear people say, myself at times included, “I want to do “x” but first want to check in with the doctor.” Now, I know that doctors are good and necessary, but let’s keep in mind that 50% of doctors graduate in the bottom 50% of their class. And to quote Carlin, “Somewhere out there is the worst doctor in the world, and some idiot has an appointment with him tomorrow.” You should never rely on the advice of one person in regards to important decisions. Yet, many parents feel as though they need constant permission from a doctor in order to successfully raise their children. Please keep in mind, this theory of thinking does not apply to dumbasses, so if you know a dumbass and they read this, make sure you tell them that they need to ask a doctor first. [...]