One of the things I love about my pediatrics practice is that I live in the community where I work. Parents are often asking me for recommendations for daycare, clothing stores, and weekend activities. We share resources with each other and I am always excited to share my favorite places with my patients’ families.
Not only do we talk about community resources, but we often run into each other while visiting these sites. One day I was telling the owner of Cloth that I tell patients about her store for cloth diapers, breastfeeding and baby-wearing supplies when a patient walked in the door at that very moment! I have seen patients at grocery stores, boutiques, concerts, department stores, playgrounds, farmers markets, restaurants, and even while visiting Santa. Sometimes I am alone and sometimes they are introduced to my family. I enjoy getting to share my family with my patients, although I am often fearful that they will catch us mid-tantrum. It never fails that the day I decide to run to Target with a ponytail and sweatpants, I will see at least 2 patients. On the days that I am bribing my toddler with junk food, I cross my fingers that I don’t see patients who I have admonished for their unhealthy snacking.
Pediatrician parents don’t always follow all of the advice that we give out and we know that our patients don’t either. My colleagues and I have discussed what topics we can’t help but comment on when we see patients out in the community and which we are willing to let slide. Our topics included things like car seats, bike helmets, sunscreen, and seat belts, showing that we weren’t willing to be polite when it came to child safety! Similarly, we would want others to tell us if our children were at risk. We agreed though that things that are more personal in nature, such as breastfeeding, ear-piercing, and discipline were more tricky to address and often avoided unless advice was solicited.
While my patients may see me disheveled or my kids misbehaving, they will see a real family like theirs. I think they appreciate knowing that while there may be many things about us that are different, there are things about all families that are universal.