Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Like Mother, Like Daughter


Since when is it OK for a pediatrician to scold me? Don’t get me wrong, I value her medical expertise, but I don’t appreciate her making me feel like I don’t know how to raise my children. Lest I sound like I’m just on a rant, I’ll explain my frustration.

Two weeks ago, I took my seven and eight-year-old in for their annual well child visit. The first thing their doctor said after she walked in the room and looked at the chart the nurse had just updated with their height and weight was, “Both of your children are alarmingly underweight.” I’d had some concerns last year when my daughter Liv was in the 1st percentile, and I’d voiced those during last year’s well visit with this same doctor. She’d told me not to worry, laughing and saying, “Look at her mother.” I reminded her of this conversation and asked, “What’s different this year?” Her response was scathing, “Last year she was at the bottom of the growth chart. This year, she’s fallen completely off.” I had to bite my tongue from coming back with, “Are you kidding me right now?”

In that moment, I felt sympathy for my mother. I remember discussions among various adults about my brother and I being “malnourished”. We were no such thing; we were just skinny as rails, probably because we were high energy, like my kids. But that didn’t stop the threat of Child Protective Services being called in. Nearly four decades later as I sat helplessly while my children were interrogated about what I feed them daily, I felt my mom’s pain. Despite them naming items from all the food groups, the doctor eyed us all skeptically and scribbled something on her pad.

Referral to Children’s Hospital and her growth chart in hand, Liv and I saw the nutritionist a few days later (I wasn’t about to risk not acting quickly enough). Though Levi is also “underweight”, he weighs more than his sister and so didn’t get a referral of his own; I was just instructed by the doc to apply whatever I learned about proper nutrition to him as well.

Fearing a reprimand more severe than the doctor’s, I nearly cried tears of relief when  the nutritionist greeted us warmly, took one look at me and chuckled, “Well, that explains it.”

Following a non-threatening series of questions about our family’s eating habits, I learned what I already knew: my children eat well-balanced, healthy, nutritious meals. Still, I’d arrived at the appointment willing to make whatever changes necessary for Liv to get back on that growth chart. Turns out I should add more fat and sugar to her diet, like ground beef instead of the ground turkey I cook with.  And sweets! In moderation, of course. And I need to give her Boost or Kid’s Essential drinks to supplement the large amounts of Vitamin D milk she already drinks.

The good news is, even though Liv is a size 6x, just like I was at her age, according to her growth chart she’ll end up right about 5’1” and a hundred something pounds. A mini-me. The sad news is I’m switching pediatricians. Not because she referred us to the nutritionist, but because of her implication that I was either ignorant or negligent or both. She should’ve known from years of dealing with me that I’m on board with anything that will help my children thrive.

What we expect as parents is that the professionals in our lives will not view us as part of the problem, but partner with us to find solutions. The ability to recognize a parent’s strengths and a situation for what it is, like a simple case of like petite mother, like daughter, are qualities I’ll be looking for in our next pediatrician.

– Tammi

Photo courtesy of Elliot Margolies.

8 thoughts on “Like Mother, Like Daughter

  1. You sound like a good Mom. If Liv grows to the projected 5’1″ and 100lbs, then she’s at a 18.9 BMI. 18.5 is the lower end of healthy, so I’m not sure there’s really much of a problem there.

    Anyway, good call meeting with the nutritionist and taking their advice! I definitely agree with you about how the ideal medical professional will partner with you in the interest of your child rather than degrading you. Everything in life is better that way. 🙂

    Also, for the sake of your pediatrician, I really hope she was just having a bad day rather than actually treating every parent this way. She’ll probably lose her job eventually if she doesn’t start treating people with respect.

    • Hello. Thank you so much for saying I sound like a good Mom. I try to be. I’m glad I did visit the nutritionist as she not only affirmed my belief that I am providing the proper nutrition for my children, she suggested realistic ways to supplement their diet to ensure they are getting even more of what they need. The way she interacted with me felt more like collaboration than degradation. A much better experience! I too hope the doctor was just having a bad day because I agree with you. She’ll either lose her job, her patients or both. I appreciate your feedback.

  2. Good for you Tammi. Your experience just reaffirms that parents are experts on their own children!

    • Deb, it’s funny you said that about parents being the experts on their own children. I almost entitled this post “Mother Knows Best”. : ) Even though a doctor has medical history, parents have a lot more. Like their own genetic makeup, that of the other parent and family members . Liv is made just like me and my paternal grandmother, so it’s no surprise to me that she’s small. I’m glad the nutritionist got that.

  3. This is definitely an important reminder for anyone who works with parents or children. Parents are trying to do their best for their kids–so treat them as allies in solving a problem instead of as the problem!

  4. Well said, Kelsi. Like an earlier comment suggested, hopefully the doctor was just having an off day and normally works with parents instead of against them.

  5. I applaud your actions, Tammi. I doubt I know a better mom than you, and I share your outrage at that doctor’s attitude. Not only should she have known from knowing YOU, that your kids were no doubt being well cared for, but she ought to have recognized, just like the nutritionist, that a petite mom may have petite children! I’d switch doctors if I were in your shoes, too.

  6. Thank you, Linore. I’ve seen you with two of your daughters, so having you say you may not know a better mom than me means so much! Part of what I love about blogging is the sense of community and support it creates. Because of responses like yours and everyone else who chimed in, I feel infinitely better than I did when I posted. : )