With an excerpt by Nancy Keene Building a positive relationship with your child’s medical team is one important key to your well being as a parent. Becoming a partner in your teen’s cancer treatment will contribute to everyone’s peace of mind – especially your teen’s. The following article by Nancy Keene highlights this approach.
Relationships with Physicians
(The following excerpt is taken form Chapter 6 of Childhood Leukemia: A Guide for Families Friends, and Caregivers, 2nd Edition by Nancy Keene, copyright 1999 by O’Reilly & Associates, Inc. Used with permission by the author.) There are primarily three types of relationships that develop between physicians and parents:
In a paternal relationship, the parent is submissive, and the doctor assumes a fatherly role. The problem with this dynamic is that although medical personnel never intend harm, they are human and mistakes occur. If parents are not monitoring drugs and treatments, these mistakes may go unnoticed. In addition, parents are the experts in their own children and their reactions to drugs and treatments. A surprising number of parents are intimidated by doctors and express the fear that if they question the doctors their child will suffer. This type of behavior robs the child of an adult advocate who speaks up when something seems wrong.
Some parents adopt an “us against them” attitude that is counterproductive. They seem to feel that the disease and treatment are the fault of medical staff, and they blame staff for any setbacks that occur. This attitude undermines the child’s confidence in his/her doctor, a crucial component for healing.
This is the true partnership in which parents and doctors are all on the same footing and they respect each other’s domains and expertise. Here the doctor recognizes that the parents are the experts on their own child and are essential in ensuring that the protocol is followed. The parents respect the physician’s expertise and feel comfortable discussing various treatment options or concerns that arise. Honest communication is necessary for this partnership to work, but the effort is well worth it. The child has confidence in his doctor, the parents have lessened their stress by creating a supportive relationship with the physician, and the physician feels comfortable that the family will comply with the treatment plan giving the child the best chance for a cure.