As a patient, I ask a lot of questions.  I may take up more than my allotted 3 minutes with the doctor, but I need to understand why a medication is being prescribed for me, what the test results mean for me (not the fictitious normal person), and the reasoning behind what the doctor is suggesting that I do.  It is very important for parents to do the same thing.  Otherwise they end up doing things that they partially understand or following a doctor’s instructions blindly.

Let me give you an easy example.  Let’s say I am a new parent leaving the hospital with a 9-pound infant.  This is my first baby, so I don’t know how much or how often to feed her, so I ask the doctor.  The doctor tells me to feed her 3 ounces of formula every 4 hours.  If I didn’t ask any more questions, I would take my baby home and feed her 3 ounces of formula every 4 hours.  I would try to make sure that she took the entire 3 ounces, just like the doctor said.  I would wait 4 hours between feedings and make sure to set my alarm clock at night so she got fed on time.

If I had asked the doctor why I needed to feed the baby exactly 3 ounces every 4 hours, the doctor would have told me that feeding a baby is not an exact science, the same as feeding children and adults.  Some days we are hungrier than others, so some feedings the baby will take 2 ounces and some feedings the baby will take 5 ounces.  Some feedings the baby will space 2 hours apart and some feedings the baby will space 5 hours apart. So basically, follow the baby’s lead when it comes to feeding.  She will let you know when she wants to be fed and how much.

For new and not so new parents, when you are told by a doctor to do something, stop and think about the instruction for a minute.  Make sure you understand why you are doing what you are doing and the actual instructions.  Then and only then will it make sense to you!  It you can explain it to someone else, then you know you understood the directions.