When it comes to the technical aspects of medicine that affect your child, the doctor is the one with formal training and experience. This is why we go to doctors for advice: we assume doctors always know best. Or do they?
Is there a particular circumstance where parents may know more? To put it a different way, are there times where a parent’s knowledge of their child should carry more weight than what the doctor thinks or says? Yes.
In every medical decision that is made for a child, parents always know their own individual child better than any doctor ever will. A doctor may see that child for 10 minutes a few times a year, but parents are around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The doctor may know medicine: but YOU know your child.
Robert De Niro recently spoke out on the Today Show about his role as a parent in medical decision-making. And he included a controversial topic – vaccines. He emphasized that he isn’t against vaccines, but thinks people should be able to talk about vaccine safety. In fact, he, like many other prominent educators, medical professionals, and researchers, wants America to have this conversation openly.
“Vaccines are more dangerous to certain people if they’re susceptible [to a negative reaction],” he shares. “Nobody seems to want to address that. There are many people who will come out and say ‘I saw my kid change overnight [after getting multiple shots at one visit]. I saw what happened. I should have done something and I didn’t.’ “
And it seems we’ve come to a point where the parent’s concerns don’t hold any weight. Parents have been consistently dismissed by their pediatricians, the media, and the medical community as not having a worthwhile opinion since they lack a medical degree — or worse yet, go against the norm on this topic. But aren’t parents really the experts when it comes to their own children? And isn’t the well-being of the child the parent’s primary concern?
It’s hard to understand what it’s like to be a parent if you don’t have kids. Young adults, whether in the medical field or not, don’t grasp it. They are book-trained and idealistic, and certain they know everything. Even experienced doctors don’t know what it’s like to be a parent to YOUR child. They don’t know what is typical for your child’s behavior or when something is out of the ordinary. And medical researchers and policy-makers are creating laws and standards for children they will never meet or have to care for if something goes wrong.
“There are some people who cannot take a vaccine,” continues De Niro. “They need to be found out and warned.”
All medical decisions for your family are ultimately up to you and no one else, because nobody is as qualified as you are when it comes to the health and well-being of your child. Doctors are considered to be experts in their field, but they don’t always value the parent as a partner in medical decisions. Vaccines begin with an honest discussion. That’s all. Asking questions doesn’t make you anti-vaccination; it makes you a concerned parent. Be willing to have the conversation.