Are you the health advocate your child needs you to be?

Parenthood is tough at the best of times. Add underlying health conditions to that struggle, and doing the best for your kids can seem like an insurmountable mountain. While they’re the ones who have to deal with sometimes painful conditions, up to a certain age and perhaps even past then, you need to be in their corner fighting right along with them. 

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After all, health conditions often come with a lot of appointments, and your diary is likely always full with hospital checks, bookings with their physio and podiatrist clinic, and perhaps even further appointments for mental management. It’s a lot, but such is the nature of living with ongoing problems.

As difficult as all this can be for you to manage, it’s guaranteed to be a whole lot harder for your kids, and thus, it’s up to you to keep the show afloat and, more importantly, to act as their advocate whenever necessary which, unfortunately, is likely to happen more often than you’d expect.

The fact is that kids don’t always know what’s best for them, nor should they need to. Yet, crossed opinions and sometimes frankly poor treatment from healthcare professionals can leave them at risk, take them down unsuitable treatment paths, and generally make life harder. With that in mind, you must ask yourself these questions about whether your advocacy is up to scratch before their next appointment rolls around.

# 1 – Do you know the questions to ask?

We’ve all been in that chair with our kids when doctors have hit us with a barrage of medical jargon. In some cases, this is because they simply assume that you’ll know what they’re talking about but, often, jargon is simply a way of making sure that you don’t ask questions. Which is all the more reason to make sure that you’re armed with all the right questions at all times. After all, if you don’t understand a diagnosis then the chances are that your child doesn’t either. Rather than just nodding along because you don’t want to highlight your lack of knowledge, ask what each term means, and what the treatment options truly entail. You certainly don’t want to leave questions hanging in the air that leave you, and more importantly, your child, facing an uncertain treatment future. 

# 2 – Are you confident enough to ask for a second opinion?

One medical opinion can differ vastly from another, meaning that a doom and gloom diagnosis should never be taken lying down. Certainly, if a doctor tells you something that doesn’t sound right or seem to fit within the larger context of your child’s overall health, you should always seek a second opinion

You don’t need to be rude about this, but it is important to utilize your right to hold off on treatment until you have a consultation elsewhere. After all, every medical professional is likely to have a different opinion, and only by seeking two, or even more, outlooks can you truly begin to understand the bigger picture. You could even then share these inclusive findings with your final doctor of choice to ensure a treatment plan that accounts for everything, and thus suits the situation a whole lot better.

# 3 – Always check in with your child

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Remember that, ultimately, this journey isn’t about you. Your child should always come first and checking in with them after every appointment is fundamental. Too often, kids don’t feel like they can speak out in front of a professional, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have concerns or opinions. 

By taking this time to check how they’re feeling, you’ll give them a safe and non-judgemental platform on which to air these concerns. You’ll then either be able to raise these with a professional or seek further clarification that can help your child to fully grasp what’s happening and why. And, that’s fundamental for getting them on board, and giving them control of their own health journey at last. 

A final word

Health advocacy isn’t always easy for ourselves, let alone our kids, but this is something that you can’t negotiate on. After all, those little lives are under your care, and they rely on you to make sure that they get the healthcare they need.

Of course, this should be a given but, as any parent who’s attended regular appointments will know, it simply isn’t. Sometimes, pushing, pulling, and questioning is the only way to diagnosis and treatments that help rather than hinder your child’s health moving forward.

This is a contributed post and therefore may not reflect the views and opinions of this blog or its author.

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