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9 Ways Dads Can Nudge Their Child’s Doctor

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Jul 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released a significant report on the importance of dads to the health and well-being of their child, and to the health and well-being of the mother of their child. The report arrives 12 years after the AAP’s first report on the importance of dads.

While even that first report was quite tardy to recognize the importance of dads—a ream of research stretches back nearly five decades on dads’ importance—what’s significant about this report is the recognition by the AAP that pediatricians must be more proactive when it comes to involving dads in the care of their child.

As a result, this report issues 14 “opportunities” for pediatricians to involve dads in the ongoing care of their child. The challenge, however, is whether pediatricians will take advantage of these opportunities. As the authors of the report note:

The field of pediatrics remains slow to incorporate these findings into practice and into the conceptualization of family-centered care. Although mothers continue to provide the majority of care for the well and sick child, fathers are more involved than ever before. Yet, cultural and structural biases still play a role; pediatricians still see a majority of mothers at clinical encounters and therefore may not have changed their practices to be family-friendly in terms of available hours, comfort in interacting with men, and addressing fathers’ unique concerns regarding their children.

Therefore, dads shouldn’t passively wait in the hope their child’s pediatrician will proactively involve them. So I’ve turned nine of those opportunities into tips for dads on how they can take charge of their own involvement and, in doing so, gently (or not so gently) nudge their child’s pediatrician to proactively involve them in the future.

  1. If the pediatrician always or almost always addresses mom during visits, tell the pediatrician to address you as well.
  2. Tell the pediatrician about your cultural and personal beliefs about your role in caring for your child.
  3. If you and mom disagree on certain aspects of how to raise your child, ask the pediatrician for their advice and guidance—to act as a mediator of sorts.
  4. If you feel a little blue after the birth of your child, ask the pediatrician to screen you for depression. Like moms, dads can become depressed after their child’s birth.
  5. Ensure you’re up to date on your own immunizations. You don’t want to give your child the flu or whooping cough! If you know you’re not up to date, or aren’t sure, ask the pediatrician to recommend a course of action.
  6. Ask the pediatrician what changes a baby might have on your life (e.g. general fatigue, interruptions in and altered sleep patterns, emotions, etc.). Ask for advice on how you can best handle the changes.
  7. Whether mom breastfeeds or formula feeds your child, ask the pediatrician how you can support her and take on some of the feeding responsibilities.
  8. If you are concerned about whether your child is developing physically, emotionally and socially as they should, talk with the pediatrician about your concern. This, free growth and development tracker, created with the help of pediatricians, will help you learn the milestones your child should reach at certain ages. It allows you to record and print out questions you might have that you can ask the pediatrician.
  9. Tell the pediatrician to involve you in decisions about medical procedures your child might have to undergo. In most cases, the pediatrician has to gain the permission of only one parent and might naturally gravitate to getting permission only from mom.

Here’s a bonus tip. Tell the pediatrician about the AAP report! They might not know about it.

Are you a dad looking for help or are you interested in volunteering to help fathers and families? Please visit our Fatherhood Program Locator™ and enter your city and state on the map to find programs and resources in your community. 

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Topics: General Fatherhood Research & Studies, Tips & Tricks

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