Parenting In Pediatrics


“Aren’t you a pediatrician?”  This rhetorical question was hurled at me while discussing my own frustrations and limitations in potty training.  Although I spend a good portion of each day doling out parenting advice,  I often struggle to meet the demands of my own recommendations.  Over the years, I have gained firsthand knowledge of how difficult these parenting tips are to execute.  Potty training has certainly been one of those things.

It does not matter how confident I am in the office with the textbook approach to potty training when I am on the front lines with my toddler.  My residency training taught me some basics, but the rest I learned through my own experiences.  After some failed attempts, we ultimately resorted to bribery and promised him a trip to Diggerland, a construction-themed amusement park, if he consistently used the potty for a week.  I informed him that you are not allowed to drive diggers at Diggerland unless you wear undies, which is not an official policy but luckily 3-year-olds can’t read the website.  Sure enough, a few days later we had successfully transitioned away from diapers and into superhero adorned underwear.  Shortly thereafter I found myself driving a skid steer around a dirt lot.  This isn’t exactly how the potty training books told me it would go, but it’s real life.

Potty training is just one example of the many parenting challenges that I bumble through like everyone else.  Friends often look to me as the “expert,” but there are so many parenting tasks that pediatrics training fails to prepare one for and instead experiential learning is required.  As much as others seem to expect that I would hold up the gold standard, I sometimes see some relief on their faces when I slip up too.  For example, when discussing how to get our toddlers to eat a healthy lunch, a friend seemed relieved to hear that my son eats macaroni and cheese most days of the week.  My struggles give a sense of normalcy to theirs.  However, it always stings a little when I show my vulnerability as a parent and am judged by my profession.  Yes, I completed my M.D. degree, but I am still working on my degree in parenting.

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  1. Re the photo- that is one very unhappy N!
    I have an old baby potty under my bathroom sink, it almost looks like a large porcelain coffee mug. (It’s an antique) Per my Mom, she used it to potty train my brother & I at a very young age. I must have asked at one time or another what that was used for. I was told when Mom thought it was time for baby to do the pee & poo, the pot went on her lap and baby on the pot. It was a successful method, B & I were both potty trained. Apparently that was how people potty trained kids back then, but I don’t think you will ever find a new one now, I doubt you’d even find an antique, I think I may be one of the few people that have saved a baby THUNDER MUG!

    1. Carol, that’s quite the unusual antique! I bet there are some antique dealers who would like having a novelty like that. Pretty cool.

  2. Awesome post. Not looking forward to potty training in the somwhat near future but will keep the bribery in my back pocket for sure.

    1. Sticker charts and bribes were what worked for us. I’m sure there are less costly ways to go, but at some point you just want to get it done! Good luck when your time comes!

  3. I just stumbled on your blog and think it’s great. I’m also a pediatrician (subspecialized though) and always struggle with advice on gen peds topics like potty training, food etc. I never want to tell my non-doctor friends how little their doctors learn about these things during residency and how much is on the job training. I’m a 1,000 times better pediatrician through my experience as a mom. I do think there’s a lot of (self-inflicted) pressure on pediatrician moms to provide only healthy meals, know how to discipline correctly etc. I’m looking forward to reading more!

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences too. Yes, so much of the advice we give in Primary Care is learned through experiences, both in clinic and at home, and not what we learned in residency! Hope you keep reading and enjoy!

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