Remember when the children came in to the pediatrician’s office so frequently in pre-school? (Sorry to those readers who are still at this stage! It gets better over time.) It’s a little better in elementary school and more so in Middle and High School. Well, we miss your kids when we don’t see them often!
Summer time check-ups are a great way to reconnect with your pediatrician and dig a little deeper into ideas for healthy living, so don’t skip them. They are an opportunity for doctors to inform and educate where it sometimes is hard for parents. And one of those classic places is the discussion of puberty. It sneaks up on many parents, and I can always tell who those parents are when I begin to ask about deodorant and pimples.
One of my favorite books to recommend for parents is called Everything you NEVER wanted your kids to know about SEX (but were afraid they’d ask) by Justin Richardson, MD and Mark Schuster, MD, PhD. These experts capture the essence of every parent’s struggle when they quote a typical parent. “A father who looked to be about forty-five recently asked one of us a question, and as he spoke, it seemed as if he was voicing the dilemma of an entire generation. ‘How can I give my daughter a healthy attitude toward sex,’ he asked in earnest, ‘but prevent her from having any?’ … Think of this book as a compass, not a road map.” Every parent should read this book.
As for the kids, I like to think my patients are pretty smart. They certainly are tech-savvy and have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But knowing how to sift through a Google search for reliable information is a function of maturity as well as intellect. And emerging maturity is at the heart of every question and answer when it comes to growing and developing bodies. I try to make sure adolescents (I call them emerging adults) know that TeenHealth.org, IWannaKnow.org and SexEtc.org are great websites to gather reliable information.
What prompted this column was a short video clip that one of my patients sent to me today… a really clever tampon commercial that I thought might spark some discussion at home.
The patient emailed to say “thanks for asking about tampons in my check-up last week because my Mom still thinks I’m too young, and I’m sure I’m older than the girls in this commercial!!!!! It’s really great to know you are on my side.”
One check-up after the next… yep, that’s me… on your side. Asking all the good (and sometimes hard) questions but always encouraging my patients to learn as much as possible to make healthy choices every day. So… about that wellness visit?
Gayle Schrier Smith, MD
Wellness Visit Supporter