Choosing a pediatrician can be one of the most overwhelming tasks in preparing for children. Parents consider medical training, methods, insurance, age and religious affiliation. Many doctors offer office hours for meet-and-greets to learn a little bit more about them, but one thing that doesn’t often come up is the pediatrician’s own family situation. Some parents are more comfortable around a doctor who they feel can “relate” to what they’re going through, whereas others prefer doctors who aren’t biased by personal circumstances. I asked some friends for feedback based on their own experiences, and was surprised at the varying opinions on the subject.
Parents can relate
“Who could ever understand being a parent if they weren’t one?” asked a friend with a three-year-old daughter. This seems to be the feeling of most parents who seek out pediatricians with children of their own. “It gives me a sense of being on the same page when I know they’ve ‘been there,’” said Joann Wooley, who runs a baby sign language business. “If I had to make a split decision for my child, I’d want to hear from a pediatrician who could say, ‘if it were my child, I would do it.’”
Having kids is not a pre-requisite
The owner of Parentella chimed in, “Having kids is not a pre-requisite for being a good parent. Plenty of people with kids shouldn’t be parents.” I’ve personally met a couple of pediatricians who had children of their own but seemed very dispassionate. Having children could even sway a pediatrician’s personal opinion on controversial issues. Regardless of a doctor’s parental status, it’s important to find someone who will listen to your opinions and offer helpful advice.
Some say that doctors with children are bound to have more personal experience. They know exactly what it’s like to deal with colic, colds and growth spurts. However, children come in all shapes and sizes. One person’s parenting experiences and methodology may be entirely different from someone else’s. There is still a chance your child will have problems their doctor isn’t equipped to handle.
Does age matter?
“Choose a young doctor and an old lawyer” is an adage many rely on. Morgan from The Little Hen House doesn’t care if her child’s pediatrician has children, as long as they’re up-to-date on current medical knowledge. “Given most docs are busting their rears finishing medical school,” she explains, “it doesn’t bother me if they don’t have kids.”
How to bring it up
If it makes a difference whether or not your child’s pediatrician has children, just ask them. A simple question like, “Do you have children of your own?” is sufficient. Most doctors will tell you about their family. If they seem offended, that may be a sign that it will be difficult to have open discussions with them.
What do you think? Does it matter to you whether or not your child’s doctors have children of their own?