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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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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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Moms are children’s first teachers and so much more

a mom and babyA while back Public Radio ran a story about Michele Flournoy, a former high-ranking Pentagon official who is married with two young children. They reported that her work days required her to spend many hours on the job and most of that time away from home. She decided to resign her job and spend more time with her family. They posed the question, “Can working women make it to the top of their profession?”

This resulted in a long discussion of how women have not reached the pinnacle of their respective chosen roles in society, particularly in the corporate and political worlds. Many bemoaned this fact and noted that it signaled yet another glass ceiling in the world of women’s rights. Barely discussed was the importance of Mrs. Flournoy’s vocation as mother.

Unfortunately, society is less likely to acknowledge as legitimate her “career” as a stay at home mom. But why!!?? There is no more important role in life than that of mentor to children! If we rightly consider teachers an essential and irreplaceable part of the upbringing of our youth, why do we dismiss the roll of stay at home and other mothers, who fulfill a similar and arguably more important role in the all-around education of children?

In the movie “A Man For All Seasons” the following exchange occurs between Sir Thomas Moore and Richard Rich:
Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

Moms are children’s first teachers and so much more. I think that you, your children, the rest of your family, your friends and God are a great public. So, thank you to my mom and my wife – the mom of my children! And Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere.

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For true happiness, “be fruitful and multiply”!

Group of ChildrenWhen was the last time you saw a news article encouraging couples to have 3 or more children?   This thought came to me one day in clinic when I saw a particularly smiley mom and her three children.  I recalled a chapter from the Birth Order Book and seemed to remember that 3rd born children tend to be more laid back.  They bring something extra to a family (as do subsequent children).  Factbook on my iPhone tells me that the fertility rate in the US is now at 2.06.    This is the average number of children born per woman.  We rank 121st in the world.   This number ranges from as high as 7.52 in Niger to as low as 0.78 in Singapore.    These numbers are referred to as Fertility rate.  Somehow I just cannot believe that  women from Niger are that more fertile than those in Singapore.    All of that aside,  I continued my study of smiles and consistently noted that there are more smiles the more children there are in the family.   There seems to be some tacit belief that countries that have more children are full of sad people that only wish their fertility rate was not so high and that those of us from “enlightened” countries should intervene and cause a reduction in the fertility rate.    Since almost everyone can agree that this world could use many more smiles, I would like to do the politically incorrect – and recommend that parents consider raising our fertility rate in this country to at least 3!   Ancient writings say, “Happy is the man whose quiver is full.”  This refers to having many children.  In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day (May 11) and of the upcoming Father’s Day (June 15), I say be fruitful and multiply!

See this post from a colleague: Are you done yet?

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In Light of Ft. Hood, Some Thoughts about Guns

gunJust last month I came home to find police in our yard. They informed me that they had a fugitive in the woods who had escaped following a nearby burglary.  We were thankful for the police protection, but they can’t be everywhere at all times, and may take 20 minutes to show up where we live. I possess a gun that I will use to defend my wife and children when the police can’t make it in time. And if I was living through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans I would want a gun to protect myself.

The United Kingdom, D.C. and Chicago have banned handguns, and yet it is still the primary weapon used to commit homicides and violent crimes perpetrated on good people in these places.  Because you or your children may encounter a gun at some point in your life, I would like to suggest some simple things you and your children can learn about gun safety.

Kids:  There was a study done in 2001 with 64 boys ranging in age from 8-12 where the pediatrician left the child alone in an exam room with video surveillance and a handgun (cleared and checked without ammunition) in a drawer in the room.  75% of the boys found the gun, 66% handled it, an amazing 33% PULLED THE TRIGGER, and only 1 boy who found it immediately left the room to get an adult and report it.  The whole experiment is a testament to the curiosity of children. Teach your kids: Talk to your children about the dangers of handling firearms and clearly instruct them to never, ever touch a gun or allow a friend to touch one without getting an adult involved.  There have been too many injuries from children playing with a gun – don’t let your child be another statistic.  After all, we tell them not to play near the street and not to smoke cigarettes, so why don’t we tell them not to touch a gun?

Gun Owners: WAKE UP and keep your firearms safely locked up 100% of the time.  Quick combination safes and biometric fingerprint safes have become extremely affordable and conveniently sized.  Even if you don’t have children, you may have friends or family that visit and wander through your house without your knowledge and cause damage with an unsecured gun – it’s happened before and there have been bad outcomes.

Know and memorize the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety.

1. Always consider a firearm to be loaded

2. Always keep a firearm pointed in a safe direction (keeping in mind that a bullet can travel several miles once it leaves the barrel).

3. Keep your finger OFF the trigger until you are ready to shoot and

4. Know exactly what your target is and what is behind it before pulling the trigger (keeping in mind the distance ammunition can travel).

Adults That Do Not Own firearms:  Be aware that your children may be playing or spending the night at a friend’s house and the friend’s parents may own firearm(s).  Many gun owners do not let others know that they own a gun for a variety of reasons. Ask about guns in the homes where your children play in a non-judgmental way.  

To Congress: On April 3rd, economist John R. Lott, Jr. commented about his son, a soldier at Ft. Hood, who recently returned from Afghanistan…”Ironically, my son is a concealed handgun permit holder. He can carry a concealed handgun whenever he is off the Fort Hood base so that he can protect himself and others. But on the base he and his fellow soldiers are defenseless.”  The same holds true for schools across our nations and college campuses where tens of thousands of people are contained in a bubble of non-protection that almost cries out for criminals to have their way without fear of reprisal. Let’s change that.

To those who would prefer guns did not exist:  I get that, I really do.  Guns are very powerful and can be very dangerous when handled improperly.  Unfortunately any laws preventing gun sales or ownership will simply keep them out of the hands of good, law-abiding citizens.  Criminals will arm themselves irrespective of the law.  Even if all gun manufacturers were shut down in the United States, firearms and ammunition would quickly make it back (illegally) into the hands of criminals. Our Founding Fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Constitution to allow individuals in our nation to defend themselves and our country from attack.

To Perpetrators of Violent Crimes:  “Do Not Trespass — Survivors will be prosecuted!”


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Making Adjustments: When One Thing Doesn’t Work, Try Another

Our third child struggled with impulsivity and inattention even though we home-schooled and provided a far less restrictive academic environment than most students have.  This was interfering with his learning so we took him for an evaluation by one of my pediatric partners. A decision was made to try a medication to help his focus and decrease his impulsivity.

Our little boy was a wonderful ball of energy with a sweet disposition to match (and he is still a great kid!).  He was never down or discouraged for long and was always quick with a smile.  Shortly after starting medication, he was chided for a typical childhood infraction. Ten minutes later, his older brother found him sulking on the backyard swing. The observant teenager said, “I don’t know what medicine he’s on…but that’s child abuse.” And he was right. We stopped the medicine.

Fast forward about 5 years.  This same child is now being sent to school outside the home for the first time, without any medication.  He’s a bit nervous.  We’re a bit nervous.  After a few days of school, he walks into the house and without saying a word takes a sheet of paper out of his book bag, adds a piece of scotch tape from the kitchen drawer to it and attaches the paper to the knob of the door he just walked through.  It turns out that the sheet of paper was a form all the kids had to have signed by their parents and was due the next day.  He knew his limits and, without having to be told, he devised this strategy to avoid forgetting this important assignment.

As parents – we make the best decisions we can for our children, and we practitioners do the same for our patients and our own children.  We thought starting our son on medication was the right thing to do and we reversed course as soon as we recognized we were wrong. That may not be every parent’s  experience; but it was ours. Wise parents consider input from multiple sources and make adjustments as necessary.  Apparently…so do our kids.

Visit this link at the College website for tips on helping the inattentive child.

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It’s All Good

Long ago, in a kingdom far away, there lived a kindly king and his prime minister. Whenever news of any sort was presented to the prime minister he would always say, “It is for the best, it was meant to happen that way.” The king didn’t object to this characterization as the kingdom was doing well.

thumbOne day the king, on an accident, amputated his thumb. News of this was brought to the prime minister who responded as he always does and said, “It is for the best, it was meant to happen that way.” The king was outraged when he heard of the prime minister’s pronouncement and ordered the prime minister thrown into the dungeon. This was done promptly and the prime minister remained in the dungeon until…

Many months later, the king decided to take two of his closest advisors and go hunting. As they pursued a deer, the group inadvertently strayed into the neighboring kingdom in which lived cannibals. They were captured. The cannibals had a ritual when preparing to eat. The “food” was placed alive over a pile of wood. A medicine man would then perform a ceremony “blessing” the “food” and would then set the wood on fire. He did this for both of the king’s advisors. When he came to the king, he stopped abruptly and said, “We can’t eat this food. He is missing a thumb and it is our practice to eat only complete humans, not humans who are missing thumbs or any other body part.” The medicine man ordered the king freed and it was done.

When the king returned to his kingdom, he immediately released the prime minister. He praised him for his wisdom regarding his amputated thumb. “But tell me,” he asked, “what was so good about your time spent in the dungeon?” The prime minister responded, “It is for the best, it was meant to happen that way. If I wasn’t in the dungeon, I would have been on the hunting trip and I have both thumbs.”

It is hard to be always cheerful and is unrealistic to always think, “It is for the best, it was meant to happen that way.” On the other hand, seeing things in a positive light and making the best of bad circumstances has been shown to increase health and well-being. So be of good cheer!

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