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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Booty duty

surprised boyOne of the more frustrating pests parents deal with is the dreaded pinworm.  Even pediatricians’ kids are prone seeing as how they are no less likely to play in the dirt and put those same dirty hands in their mouths throughout the day.  Soon they’re scratching their backsides before bed and, following a quick peek to verify the diagnosis, it’s off to the drugstore to pick up the appropriate prescription.  Even with proper treatment, however, the itch doesn’t disappear over night and I recall one such evening when this particular son of mine was in just such a predicament.  Now, one of the time-saving moves my wife and I came up with over the years was to place a toothbrush for each child in both their usual bathroom and our own, since you never could predict where they might be come bedtime. As I entered my room to gather up the little ones for bed my then three year old passed me by with the business end of a toothbrush shoved up his you-know-what.  Though his pajama bottoms were in their proper position it still made for an amusing if somewhat disturbing sight. Not one to let a teaching moment go by, I quickly chimed in with “Matthew, you’re not supposed to scratch your booty with your toothbrush”.  To which he promptly replied with an innocent smile on his face: “it’s not my toothbrush, Dad…it’s yours.”

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imagineOne night, during a visit to New York City, my family was walking along the western edge of Central Park with some college friends of mine who had moved to Manhattan many years earlier. We stopped at an intersection along the way and my friend pointed out that we were just a few yards away from the spot where John Lennon was killed some 32 years earlier.

One of Lennon’s most famous songs is “Imagine.”  It’s a beautiful tune that somewhat sums up the liberal mantra of the 60s & 70s:  “imagine there’s no heaven…no hell below us, above us only sky.”  It was during this period that America started moving away from a country of faith toward a more secular state.  The idea, according to Lennon, was that without a god to distract them, one that compelled people to fight and kill, there would be a “brotherhood of man” because people would be “living for today.”

I think John Lennon got it wrong. Right outside our hotel window was a huge billboard for a popular soft drink filled with pictures of scantily clad women and depicting heavy duty partying.  There were only three words in the ad:  Live For Now.  You see, when God is removed from the picture, something else must fill the void.  John Lennon “imagined” that it would be love and brotherhood.  That’s not likely.

G. K. Chesterton said that the only truly provable theological teaching is the fact of Original Sin.  When left to his own ways, man lives not for others but for himself. If peace and brotherhood are what liberals are looking for, they would be better off hoping for an increase, rather than a decrease in faith.  Imagine that.

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Wait Times

waitingOccasionally, I will find myself running an hour or more behind in clinic.  Sometimes the delay may be the result of a particularly ill child requiring more of my time or an urgent C-section at the hospital where a pediatrician was needed. Most parents understand and while no one wants to wait to see their doctor they are typically sympathetic to the situation and, quite honestly, they would rather not trade places with the patient in dire need.  The same can’t be said when I’m just too busy in the first place and don’t have openings in my schedule for same day appointments.  It always irks me when I hear that a patient felt the need to take their child to a “doc-in-the-box” center (or Emergency Department) because our office was unable (or unwilling) to see them that day in our clinic. Though their particular problem may not have been truly urgent, in their mind it was and they wanted their child seen. As a fellow parent, I can’t blame them.

On a national and international level, however, problems involving delays in seeing patients is nothing new.  Long before its current woes, the Veterans Administration formed a national task force eleven years ago to look into this complaint  and noted that over a quarter of a million veterans waited more than six months for an initial doctor visit or first follow-up.  Overseas, the British National Health Service, where wait times for both specialists and primary care providers are at a five year high, gives us an idea of what our own looming National Health Care scene might look like since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  While we are always looking to improve scheduling problems, suddenly my own office wait-time issues don’t look so bad.

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siblings fightingI felt like I was in one of those contests to see how many folks can fit in a phone booth or VW bug.  I was trying to obtain the history of a sick 9 month old child.  In the background, the 3 year old sister was grabbing the 2 year old brother’s pacifier.  The five year old would wait to see whatever toy the 2 and 3 year old wanted so he could grab it and make them cry.  There seemed to be a lot of punching, eye gouging and ear biting going on (or was that the Mike Tyson fight?).  Eventually we got to the end of the bout…er… I mean visit and I was looking forward to escaping to a little quiet.  However the mom had one of those “by the way questions” that we all hate as I was edging toward the door.  “Doctor, we’re thinking about having another child but we are wondering what the best spacing between children should be.” To be honest, I didn’t know how to answer such a personal question with so many unknown variables.  However, as the 3 year old stomped on the 2 year old’s foot, I came up with the perfect reply: “About 10 feet.”

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The Facts of Life

dad with son on shouldersArnold Glasow famously said, “Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”  As a parent, I remember dreading when I would have to give “the talk.”  However, I knew that kids learn earlier than ever these days  and I wanted him to hear it from me  So as a dutiful father, I sat my young son down and discussed it all… in great detail.  I went over everything from conception to birth.  I could not believe the feeling of relief that I had afterwards, knowing that task was behind me.  I will never forget that day.  My son was six months old.

Okay.  Only kidding.  I believe that when a child asks a question about sex, the parent should answer accurately but with as little detail as possible.  When they are ready for more detail, they will ask for it.  My son asked “where do babies come from?” and I answered, “They grow inside the tummy area of the mommy,” and he left happy.  The day eventually DID come on a move from one state to another.  Since we had to drive 2 cars, Mom drove one and Dad the other and our child took turns in each car.  On one leg of the trip, he kept asking for more and more detail so indeed I did discuss everything as prodded by his questions.  We had about three hours alone in the car.  Eventually all his questions were answered and he spent time staring wide-eye out of the car window digesting this new information.  Later we met mom at an agreed upon stop.  Our son erupted from the car running to his mother shouting.  “Mom you will NEVER believe where babies come from!”  I guess he expected her to be surprised?

Happy Father’s Day!

Good resources to assist you when speaking to your children about the facts of life:

Kids’ Questions – Parents’ Answers

Tell me now! (DVD)

Focus on the Family Guide to talking to your kids about sex


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monsterI think every child has that stage where they are afraid of the dark because of monsters either under their bed or in their closet.  I remember when that happened to my son.  He wanted me to check in his closet for monsters whenever he woke up.  From his fertile imagination, he would describe these monsters in great detail.   Finally I came upon an idea to make a monster-avoidance device which is guaranteed to keep all monsters at least 5 miles away.  We took a shoe box and some CHRISTmas lights.  I poked holes in the box, lined them with aluminum foil and poked the lights through the holes.  My son decorated the box with crayons, tape, glue, buttons, glitter and anything else we had around.  The more he worked on it, the more convinced he was that it would work.  The more he colored, taped and glued, the stronger the protection became (in his mind).  He plugged it up himself each night until that stage passed.  I thought it was neat that now, instead of his imagination bringing up scary monsters, his imagination was protecting him from fear.  I wonder whatever happened to that monster avoidance device?

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Yo Chrissy!!

child yellingA five year old child in my exam room wanted the attention of his mother so he repeatedly yelled “Yo Chrissy!” until his mother paid attention to her.  There was no emergency; this child just felt that it was okay to interrupt the adults that were speaking. I disagree. I was shocked this child interrupted our adult conversation for a non-emergency.  Likewise it was shocking to me to hear a child refer to his mother by her first name instead of respectfully calling her “mother” or “mom” followed by an “excuse me please.”   I worry about children raised where respect for others is not demanded by the parent.  Billy Graham said,

“A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents, will not have true respect for anyone.”

This is so true! Do all of us a favor and teach your child about proper respect.

For helpful information, visit this link to “Meeting the Challenges of Parenting.”

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law of privilege“You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else that you get is a privilege.” 

Thus read a sign posted at Alcatraz for the reading pleasure of its inmates.

In my medical practice, I am constantly irritated by patients talking on the phone or listening to their iPods as I am trying to get a history so that I can help them.  These children have such a sense of entitlement; they feel that they should be able to do what they want while “the grownups” take care of all their problems.  They actually get offended when you have to push to get some direct input.  Now, I am not saying that we should treat our children as prisoners.  However, with the addition of the word “love,” don’t you think it might be a better world if the words from the Alcatraz sign were posted in the bedrooms of all the children in the country?

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Who’s the boss?

child bossI was appalled at the condition of a three year old child’s dentition.  Instead of white teeth, there were merely black nubbins – rotten teeth that will be extracted – uncomfortable dental surgery was needed. This condition is called baby bottle tooth decay – an avoidable condition that pediatricians routinely discuss with parents. The family had attended the 2 month visit and at that visit our office routinely discusses the importance of never letting a baby take a bottle (or later, cup) to bed.   Likewise, they attended the nine month appointment and at that appointment we discussed weaning (this child was still taking a bottle to bed). In fact they still had the handouts from those visits and remembered the discussions.  So, I asked the parents why this young child was still taking a bottle to bed.

The mother’s response? “Well he still wants it and he won’t go to sleep without it.”  It appears that this child is in charge at home, not the parents.

One job we parents have is to give appropriate rules and guidance based on superior knowledge and experience.  In fact, it seems to me children love and respect parents more if those parents care enough to enforce rules designed to help them.  People need to learn that families work best when parents lead and children follow.  The other way around doesn’t work out well at all…..

For more information visit this link, and see this page, “Lead Your Child to Good Health.”


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Reputation vs. Reality

On a recent visit to San Francisco we got to ride the famous cable cars.  However there were problems.  Although they are supposed to arrive every 5-7 minutes, we waited at one stop for half an hour.  Finally we decided to walk a stop in the direction of our destination.  We waited again yet no cable car arrived.  We kept doing that until we arrived at our destination by walking (no small feat considering the hills).  There were other times when cable cars would just bypass a stop because they were too full so they wouldn’t let you on.  A cable car ride costs $6/ride for each person.   In our experience, it was cheaper, more comfortable, more dependable and faster to hire a taxi that would take you to the door rather than stand in a crowded cable car that took you within a few blocks of your destination.  Despite the fame and reputation, we found cable cars were an expensive, crowded, uncomfortable and undependable method of transportation compared to the area taxis.    Yet cable cars have the reputation of being the best way to travel the city.  This knowledge put me in mind of a pediatric organization that purports to support children.  This organization encourages the adoption of children by homosexual couples despite studies demonstrating that children raised in this environment have higher rates of mental health problems.  This same organization demonizes corporal punishment despite studies showing benefits when done appropriately.  This same organization actually supported female circumcisions until public outcry made then back down.  In contradistinction, the American College of Pediatricians, supported by scientific evidence, supports the ideal of a two parent married family including a mother and a father.  The child’s right to a healthful supportive family trumps the right of adults to do what they want. Likewise the American College of Pediatricians supports the rare use of appropriate corporal punishment when needed.  The American College of Pediatricians is cheaper to join as well.  In this analogy, which organization is the taxi and which is the cable car?


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