Because you said so

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

Related Post Roulette

95 Responses

  1. RTod says:


    On one hand, I tend to like articles like this because they validate my own parenting choices. On the other had, they seem to be doing the same thing as those they criticize (i.e.: calling an alarm that our precious children our in terrible peril) only from the other end.

    When we were new parents, my wife an I heard people from both sides of every discussion like this talk passionately about how if we did not choose their way of child rearing our children would grow up to be addled drug ridden wards of the state who would need to rely on the kindness of strangers to dress themselves as adults.

    When I look at our kid’s teenage peers, though, none of these things seems to have been big factors in their development of ethics, work ethic or success. Similarly, if you work with a bunch of people equally successful to yourself, try asking them how their parents raised them. You’ll get a myriad of answers, which kind of negates thesee “there is only one way to raise your kid” arguments.Report

    • kenB in reply to RTod says:

      I was getting ready to post a comment much along these lines. One of the commenters to the Atlantic article pointed out that there really wasn’t anything in the way of actual evidence to support the assertions being made — just anecdote from professionals, which gave it a veneer of authority.

      However, that’s not going to stop me from forwarding the link to all the folks I know (mostly fathers) who’ve been complaining about the current culture of overprotectiveness (especially as embraced by the wives or ex-wives of those fathers).Report

      • Will Truman in reply to kenB says:

        My wife and I don’t have kids yet, but I’m filing this away for the battles that I know are to come. I think this is an issue where gender really at play. For us, added to this is the fact that my brothers and I had more freedoms than she and her sisters. My argument is hindered by the fact that she and her siblings are more successful (conventionally defined) than my brothers and I. We’re happier, but they’re up against some biology that we aren’t (as far as we know – one brother is adopted).Report

        • kenB in reply to Will Truman says:

          My wife actually led a freer, more dangerous youth than I did and survived it quite well, but that didn’t stop her from being over-the-top (IMO) protective of our kids. Seems like it’s driven more by culture (or gender-subculture) than personal experience.Report

    • Christopher Carr in reply to RTod says:

      I generally sympathize with this thread. Grandma recently showed my two-year old Barney On Demand, and now she wants to watch like six hours a day. At first we were really upset and fought it if only because Barney is annoying as hell, but now we generally let her watch when she wants because (1) my daughter used to pine for Barney like he was Davy Jones and throw violent tantrums if we told her no (we’d usually laugh at her in response), but now she usually just asks politely, so we reward this; (2) she usually multitasks: she plays with blocks or checks out books and only sings her favorite Barney songs when they come on; and (3) her English is actually improving dramatically just from watching the show.Report

    • Simon K in reply to RTod says:

      Indeed. We have a three month old, and even at that age the extremes of advice are extraordinary. Apparently we can cause lasting emotional damage by putting the baby down for a few minutes to go to the bathroom, but at the same time if we don’t leave him on his own to self-sooth at bed time he won’t sleep through the night until he’s in a his late 20s. From watching our friends new babies, the only thing I know for sure is that babies are different and what works for one child doesn’t work well for another. I wish people who write books would limit themselves a bit more to “hey, this worked for our kids” rather than “if you don’t do this your child will be an emotional cripple”Report

  2. Jesse Ewiak says:

    People have been saying the generation coming up behind them is coddled and will be useless in adulthood since Egyptian times.Report

    • You laugh, but when was the last time anyone you knew built a halfway decent pyramid?Report

    • Scott in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


      Just b/c it has been said for a long time doesn’t make it a false statement. When I played youth soccer only the season winner got trophies. Now everyone gets a trophy for participating. What PC BS! Even today I still savior the accomplishment the one year my team won b/c we worked so hard to win, as it really meant somthing.Report

      • RTod in reply to Scott says:

        But the question is, where are all of those kids now? I’d bet there is a good cross mix of winners and losers and somewhere in between. Just like there will be when this generation grows up.Report

      • Shannon's Mouse in reply to Scott says:

        Ahhh… the silly “participation trophy leads to the downfall of America” argument rearing it’s ugly head again.

        I find nothing wrong with participation trophies for the youngest kids in youth sports. For the 5-9 year old set, having fun should be of paramount importance when it comes to participation in organized sports. Kids appreciate the difference between winning and losing as they get older and are wise enough to recognize participation trophies for the shallow attempt at self-esteem building that they are at the appropriate time.

        Frankly, having observed the behavior of parents at U-8 girls soccer games in our town, more of an emphasis on fun and less on winning would do a world of good. I once heard a parent bitching about their daughter’s lousy teammate making them look bad in front of one of the U-10 travel teams coaches (not too early to scout for prospects, you know). Apparently, this girl’s life path is: U-10 travel team, HS varsity team, college scholarship, Team USA… and her teammate’s lack of effort is a slap in the face to this 7 year-old’s mom.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

        Not to worry — no one is being fooled. When mine were playing their first year of Little League, which was a coach-pitched, everybody gets to hit every inning, don’t keep score game, every kid knew damned well which team won, and the cleverer ones knew their own batting averages and RBI totals. (Admittedly, none of them had figured out yet that these were poor measures and started calculating WAR and OPS+, but they were only 8.)Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:


          When I was babysitting kids and driving them around, they would tell me about their soccer games and who won even though they didn’t keep score. I saw more contempt for how stupid grownups had to be to believe this than anything approaching pride in getting a trophy too.Report

        • RTod in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          True. I coached my son’s 4th grade bball team a few years ago, and on one game we were being shelled so badly that the rules stated they had to turn the scoreboard off, and any buckets the other team made would not be counted in the final tally. It was sooo much more humiliating than just playing the game out regular.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Scott says:

        Nothing wrong with participation trophies as long as there’s a bigger one for winning.Report

        • BSK in reply to CJColucci says:

          In my class, I tell the kids straight up that some games are winning games and some games are not. If they aren’t ready to lose a game, they aren’t ready to win a game. By December they are all okay trying to win but making peace with losing. They’re 4.Report

  3. DensityDuck says:

    If my own experience with my parents is anything to go by…

    Kids grow up to be like their parents. If their parents are wishy-washy frustrated fools who not-so-secretly believe that they’re failures and compensate for that belief by being tremendous jerks whenever they get the smallest bit of power…then that’s the kind of kids they’ll have.

    If their parents are competent, confident, capable persons who have their own interests and can be responsible but still have fun…then that’s the kind of kids that they’ll have.


    The problem with “negotiation” is that too many people think a successful negotiation ends with both sides getting part of what they want. “Negotiation” ought to be more about explaining why ice cream cannot be had at a moment’s whim, rather than just saying “no, because I said so”.

    It also means accepting a screaming, sulking toddler. It means going home early from the movie theater or the restaurant or even the grocery store.Report

    • The problem with “negotiation” is that too many people think a successful negotiation ends with both sides getting part of what they want. “Negotiation” ought to be more about explaining why ice cream cannot be had at a moment’s whim, rather than just saying “no, because I said so”.

      It also means accepting a screaming, sulking toddler. It means going home early from the movie theater or the restaurant or even the grocery store.

      This is a more nuanced way of putting it than I said above, and closer to the sentiment I was trying to convey.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck says:

      My kids rarely threw any kind of “I want this” tantrum in public, but when they did, my response was a simple “No. Let’s go home now.” Really, that’s all: no raised voice, no threats or recriminations, nothing physical. And if the child was really screaming, even that was enough to make people look at me like I was some kind of monster.

      On the other hand, if it had been a long day, and they got cranky because they were tired, well, little ones do get tired, and they got sympathy and a chance to lie down as soon as that was feasible.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I have found that experiencing my niece has made me, paradoxically, both more and less tolerant of screaming fits. On the one hand, yeah, I get that sometimes they’re just like that and there’s nothing to do about it. On the other hand, you know that it’s not going to stop; just give it up as a bad job and try again some other time.Report

  4. Steve Horwitz says:

    Russell: you need to go here right now: . You might also google the book “A Nation of Wimps.” Folks are all over this one.Report

    • RTod in reply to Steve Horwitz says:

      Though it should be noted that a big part of Skenazy’s message isn’t that parents who don’t parent as she does should; it’s that they should back off trying to coerce her to raise hers like them.

      Her intentions are the complete opposite of Marano’s call to arms in Nation of Wimps.Report

  5. James Vonder Haar says:

    “Because I said so,” is never an age-appropriate response. It teaches children to value arbitrary authority rather than the truth. Philosophically and practically, it’s a losing proposition- a refuge for the outgunned parent.

    I’m 22, and I think I’m of a similar enough generation to what oh comment on to share my experience. Some of what you say rings true, but I think you’re off base in much of it. If I had to criticize much in my upbringing, it would be the lack of agency. School and school activities institutionalized me. When I had a goal set by another and a clear way to meet it, I excelled. But when success required initiative and daring, as it does in the job market, I found myself quite unequipped to meet th challenge. Your “because I said so was partially responsible for this, as was the entire command-and-control structure in high school that embodies, but equally responsible was the unwillingness to allow myself and my peers to take risks and deal with the consequences that you decry.Report

    • When I had a goal set by another and a clear way to meet it, I excelled. But when success required initiative and daring, as it does in the job market, I found myself quite unequipped to meet th challenge.

      It seems to me that success in the job market requires at least a mixture of “initiative and daring,” of meeting a goal someone has assigned you, and of “doing what you’re told for a full day even if it’s boring or seems pointless.”Report

      • I had an ex-girlfriend who completely excelled at K-12. When she got to college, she completely collapsed and went from an honors student in high school to flunking out of college at the earliest opportunity. She learned how to jump through hoops, but not to guide herself.

        On the other hand…

        My ex-roommate is a genius. One of the smartest kids that I know. He’s now a physics PhD candidate at a well-regarded university (not an MIT, but think along the lines of the University of Michigan). But before all of this, he flunked out of college with a low GPA because (a) he thought he was smarter than the professors and (b) because he wasn’t going to waste his time with “bull****”. Well, what he perceived as bull**** was what others call “college.” (He only turned himself around after realizing that the “bull****” in the non-graduate working world was far, far worse.)Report

    • I think “never” is an awfully strong word here. If you don’t have time for an explanation, for instance. You can and should explain later, but I do think that kids need to understand that sometimes, you do what you are told.

      The other is when your explanations fail. To some extent, it’s not up to you to convince your kid of what you need them to do. When all else fails, you do what you are told.Report

      • RTod in reply to Will Truman says:

        “Because I said so” long ago joined “not while you’re living under my roof young man,” “this hurst me more than it does you,” “you kids have it easy today” and “go ask your mother” as things that I swore I would never say before I had kids, but am now just fine reaching into my hip pocket for upon occasion.Report

      • You can and should explain later, but I do think that kids need to understand that sometimes, you do what you are told.

        Just so.Report

        • Will H. in reply to Russell Saunders says:

          A few weeks ago, I saved a man’s life.
          I yelled, “Watch it!” twice. Odd that the others there heard me the first time, but he didn’t.
          Anyway, on the second time, he turned, and the pause was enough to allow the danger to pass.
          But he never did ask me, “Why?”Report

    • Simon K in reply to James Vonder Haar says:

      That’s a bit strong. Toddlers don’t always understand explanations, and they’re not always in a mood to listen. The correct answer to “Why will the electricity hurt me?” is not either a lecture in electrodynamics, or “go and try it then”. Its “because I said so”. While the amount of explaining you can do versus ordering increases as kids get older, tending to zero sometime around the age of 40, I don’t think it decreases as quickly as it seemed like it did from the kid end of the relationship.Report

    • > “Because I said so,” is never an age-appropriate
      > response.


      > It teaches children to value arbitrary authority rather
      > than the truth.

      Granted, valuing truth is great, and should be the target that you’re shooting at.

      However, there are appropriate explanations that are not capable of being processed at certain developmental stages. Also: parental authority isn’t exactly arbitrary. Yes, it’s the random forces of chance that put my offspring under my household. But the rules of the household are hardly arbitrary, and they apply to everyone there.

      A five year old does not have the mental map that allows for certain types of complex explanations. They simply don’t have enough context. It’s like trying to explain higher level metamathematics to someone who’s just taking high school geometry.

      A seven-year-old’s concept of fairness is deeply embedded in their selfish existence. When I say “selfish”, I don’t mean that pejoratively; seven-year-old’s are developmentally wired to be self-centered.

      Yes, explaining that is great. I do that with my seven year old, quite often. Powering through on this topic can take an hour, particularly when said seven year old is in the grip of a growth-spurt-hormone activated fit (which, in my particular case, occurs much less often than your average 7-y-o, for which I am grateful).

      An hour is not always readily available. Nor, to be frank, is it always appropriate *if* it is readily available. Checking out of the family’s collective existence to explain the realities of interpersonal relationships at the whims of the child’s freakouts teaches another lesson entirely: your need for attention and explanation will always be assuaged.

      Yeah, uh, that’s not a life lesson you want your kids to absorb, either.Report

      • Murali in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        It teaches children to value arbitrary authority rather than the truth.

        Which is not at all a bad thing if you really thing about it. The rule of law being a good thing for conducting business and general prosperity and all, encouraging the tendency to respect rules whatever they may be has its place.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Murali says:

          oog. “respect rules whatever they may be”? Like the rules about how black people have to sit in the back of the bus. Or the rule that the telephone company has total control over what you send through its wires. Or the rule that you aren’t allowed to take pictures of police officers. Yeah, those are some great rules that we should totally respect!Report

          • Well, “Don’t play with the 10,000 volt power lines” is a good rule. So is “don’t take a dump on the Koran if you’re in Saudi Arabia”.

            Note: the second one could be regarded as being arbitrary in the way the first one isn’t. It’s still a pretty good rule if “at the end of the day, make sure you go home alive” is part of your daily ruleset.

            Is it that far from “Black people have to sit at the back of the bus”? Depends on how you’re measuring “far”, I guess.

            Yes, there’s dumb rules. There’s good ones, too. Differentiating between the two is a learned skill. Cultural rules are different from the laws of physics, but they’re not exactly *entirely* arbitrary, either.Report

            • BSK in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

              Cultural rules are often (but not always) inherently and entirely arbitrary. Some cultures have a “rule” about shaking hands when greeting someone. Others have a “rule” about bowing. Now, if we are abstracting out and saying, “Well, the real rule is that one should greet others in a respectful, welcoming manner,” sure, we can probably agree that that is a rule with a certain inherent “goodness” or “rightness” to it. But the specific rules themselves are entirely arbitrary. Which is not to say bad or wrong. But arbitrary.Report

              • Pat Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

                Arbitrary would be Kim Jong-il waking up one day and announcing, “You will all greet each other with one terrorist fist bump, a low-five, and two two-hand snaps.”

                Cultural rules only seem arbitrary if you are introduced to them with no context. The handshake reportedly came about because you were demonstrating that you didn’t have a weapon in your hand, for example.

                Many cultural rules came from *somewhere*, they have a history themselves. That’s not the same thing as being arbitrary.

                Maybe I’m being a bit too pedantic.Report

              • BSK in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Great point. I guess I’m talking more about whether there is a “right” away to greet. Can we say objectively that hand shaking or bowing is more “right”? Probably not. But, yes, within a context, they don’t come from no where. I suppose how we define arbitrary.Report

              • BSK in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

                Though I wouldn’t be too angry if we moved away from lame hand shakes and towards fist bumps and high fives… Maybe Kim Jong Il isn’t so bad afterall….Report

          • Murali in reply to DensityDuck says:

            One thing a lot of people fail to realise is how much a culture of respecting laws contributes to good governance. A trip to India (Chennai at the very least) would show you how things go really wrong when people continue to do their own thing without any respect for rules, good ones or bad.Report

    • I read an article once about Miton Friedman as a parent. Apparently he strongly avoided using “because I said so” as a reason (this was from his now-adult children, so he might have done when they were too young to remember).

      Mind you, he spent his days explaining economics to politicians, so it may be that he found explaining things to children a simple task by comparison.Report

      • I was raised in a similar environment, and it has its downsides. One becomes so obsessed with truth and fairness and what’s right that the conspicuous absence of a lot of these things in the greater society is enough sometimes to make you want to go live on a platform in the middle of the ocean.Report

    • Scott in reply to James Vonder Haar says:


      This about what I would expect from a 22 year old. What are you going to do when your future boss tells you to do something and he reason is “because I told you so?”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

        If there’s no better explanation that that, I’d quit.Report

        • Scott in reply to Mike Schilling says:


          It’s easy to talk tough like that on the net when the job that supports you and family is not really at stake. I suspect that your answer in real life might be different. Not to mention that if you voluntarily quit I don’t think you’d be eligible for unemployment either.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

            You find another job before you quit, of course. But, especially at 22, you want a job where you’ll learn things from your coworkers, not one where they’ll treat you like a mindless slave.Report

      • James Vonder Haar in reply to Scott says:

        Employer/Employed relationship is different from Parent/Child. I’m not employed to become a better person but to exchange my time for money. To the extent that my employer has paid for my time, I couldn’t care less how they ask me to spend it.Report

  6. mwing says:

    I had very different reaction to this article. This woman is surprised that a lot of her patients who are in fact mentally ill or fragile did not have nasty parents at all but quite nice ones…and so she concludes that the parents must have been too protective? Really, this from a shrink in the year 2011? It all must somehow be Mom & Dad’s fault? Depression is a very common mental illness which is not (usually) caused by the behavior of one’s parents – (though it is often genetically linked and is certainly likely to be exacerbated by poor parenting.) It is a real illness, as real as, say, hyper-thyroidism. Last I heard, no-one was blaming that one on parenting styles.Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    The Last Psychiatrist has some thoughts on this article:

    • A bit too declarative, overall. Two side notes:

      > I’d like you to consider, for a moment, the kind
      > of atrociously malignant parent that does not
      > rush to comfort their toddler “even before she
      > starts crying.” Are you raising a ninja? …
      > No one who doesn’t eat human flesh would let
      > their kid cry and do nothing.

      I don’t eat human flesh. Sometimes when my kids are crying I’m doing “nothing” by what some people would define as “nothing”. So I’m thinking he’s taking this a bit too far in the opposite direction.

      > Along with the article, The Atlantic staff includes
      > a video clip of Gottlieb interviewing another
      > therapist. They did this because they are trying
      > to kill me. If you want your head to ignite, fast
      > forward the video to 1:05 and watch the next 9
      > seconds, then call Universal Studios and tell
      > them you’re the next Ghost Rider.

      That was awesome.

      > Note the phrasing– this is good for the kids,
      > which is actual kids, not the adults-that-were
      > -once-kids. Adults’ anger gets to remain justified.
      > And it’s a lie anyway. Sure, it is good for the kids,
      > but is there anyone who can’t see that the primary
      > reassurance is for the parents who can’t handle
      > being hated by their kids?

      That’s a really good point.Report

  8. The basic premise of the Atlantic article is a good one. We expect “happiness” without realizing that happiness can only be defined in opposition to sorrow. Without tragedy in our lives, without bad times, how can we possibly appreciate the good times?Report

  9. tom van dyke says:

    I’m just the type to complain about “kids these days.” The ones I meet are just so polite and genuinely respectful and appreciative of the Less-Than-Greatest-Generation, i.e., me.

    Actually, aside from the murderers and shit I haven’t met and glad I ain’t, they seem a little too deferential, y’know? It’s weird. I have no pontification on this. It’s just weird. Even when they get properly full of youthful piss and vinegar, it seems so half-hearted. I was raised by the Greatest Generation and they always told us their ambition was to raise kids who could stand on their own two feet.

    I just did a riff on “the kids these days,” didn’t I? What’s the emoticon for red-facedness? Heh heh.

    Hey, I like these kids, and they seem to like me, which is what sets my teeth on edge. Does this make any sense?

    I hope not.Report

    • Murali in reply to tom van dyke says:

      they seem a little too deferential

      Because we were always taught to be polite and respect our elders. Also, since our elders were rabble rousers in their day, we are being rebellious by not being rebellious…Report

  10. Anderson says:

    I read this worthwhile article as well. I found most of Gottleib’s conclusions fair (that “overparenting” leads to “children being treating like adults and then acting like children when grown up”, how a sound balance must be found between permissive and authoritarian parenting styles, and that children need to fail sometimes), but it seemed that alot of these conclusions were drawn from anecdotal evidence about a small, wealthy portion of the populace. Is there any hard evidence that overparenting is a widespread problem? Given America’s middling statistics on high school graduation, childhood health, and child abuse/neglect , it would seem to me that “underparenting” is still the more serious issue, despite huge improvements in the psychological understanding of child rearing. I admit that helicopter parents are frustrating and ultimately bad for children, but is Gottleib making mountains out of molehills on this issue?Report

    • I haven’t read the article, but I suspect that what you say has a lot of merit. It’s easy, especially when one has a job that perhaps overselects for meeting the “overparenting” types, to claim that “people these days overparent too much” whereas that claim needs much more substantiation.Report

  11. That’s why I’m applying to med schools. For sure. It’s the fast cash with relatively little upfront cost.Report

  12. All of “Mark’s” comments have been deleted for blatant trolling and personal attacks with zero substance even remotely germane to the topic at hand. This person is also going to be banned from the site unless they can prove to me, via e-mail, that they deserve reinstatement.

    UPDATE: I’ve also deleted all the responses to “Mark’s” comments due to the loss of context resulting from the deletion of “Mark’s” comments.Report

  13. DensityDuck says:

    I think my comment is lost in mod-land because of a link, but The Last Psychiatrist has a post on this article at his site.Report

  14. BSK says:

    I’m a teacher (Pre-K) and plan to share this article with parents. I never use, “Because I say so.” While the reality of the world is that sometimes you have to follow rules or face absurd consequences, I try to instill in them that we should pursue doing what is right and not doing what is wrong, with the rightness and wrongness of an act being inherent to the act. Hitting isn’t wrong because I said so, but because it violates the physical safety of another. Running isn’t an issue in the classroom because I don’t like it, but because the space is not designed safely for running. I also encourage the kids to appropriately and respectfully question authority. I’ve had kids say, “Why do we do things this way?” or “Can we do this another way?” and if I don’t have a legit reason for why things are the way they are, we explore alternatives.

    Kids learn as much through failure as they do through success. The fact that people question that makes my head spin.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

      > Running isn’t an issue in the classroom because
      > I don’t like it, but because the space is not
      > designed safely for running.

      Really? You sure there’s not a bit of rationalization there?

      Because I’ve seen plenty of playgrounds set up with the climbing toys impacting thoroughfares more than your average classroom. And kids run through those all the time without damaging themselves.Report

      • BSK in reply to Pat Cahalan says:


        My classroom has slippery linoleum floor with little give. It’s a small classroom with lots of moving bodies in it that aren’t exactly the most adept on their feet or known for being completely aware of their surroundings (myself included!). Our playground space has grass and wood chips, which offer better traction and are softer to land on (though I’ve never seen anyone die from a skinned knee on black top).

        You are absolutely correct that some playgrounds are designed terribly. And I would love to have the ability to make a classroom space that kids could move more freely in, but have physical restraints in my current space. I’m not dogmatic about the running-in-the-classroom rule (or any rule for that matter, even the hitting rule) and don’t freak out if a kid bounds from one table to another. But if a classroom turns into a track meet, with 14 kids careening around chairs on a slippery floor with shelves and tables around, that is a legitimate safety issue.Report

        • Pat Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

          Fair ’nuff 🙂Report

        • BSK in reply to BSK says:

          I think you also have to look at the “purpose” of a space. Time and place matter. On a rainy day, we’ll push furniture back and play some movement games which often involve running. We change the purpose of the room. In a Pre-K classroom, where the kids are with me 7 to 8 hours a day, sometimes the purpose of the room is for active and engaged learning. Sometimes it is a nap room. Sometimes a cafeteria. Sometimes (rarely) a space for more quiet learning. Some of these purposes lend themselves to bounding about and others do not. So, yes, harkening solely to “safety” might have been a bit simplistic, as it is one among many rationales.Report

  15. Pat Cahalan says:

    It occurs to me that I should have offered this comment right from the beginning.

    In my high school yearbook, one of my buddies as his “senior quote” had referenced his physics teacher, who once said to his class:

    “We’ll try it one way, and if you don’t get it… we’ll try it another way, and if you *still* don’t get it, accept it on faith and because I said it.”

    Which, all things considered, isn’t a bad way to approach teaching (or parenting, for that matter).

    Not because you really want anyone to have to accept things just because you said so, but because it’s not terribly uncommon for someone to figure out what you were talking about twenty minutes later or three hours later or two weeks later when the logical connections all get fused together via the amalgam of the lesson(s).

    People absorb data in all different ways, but it’s the meta level of information that has to be mapped inside their head for anyone to get to the meta level of knowledge. The goal is the knowledge.Report

  16. mythago says:

    Russell, I can’t speak for your practice, but as a parent, a large part of the problem you are talking about is shitty communication from doctors. If my kids’ doctor (who is awesome) says “This is a cold; it’s not bacterial; rest and chicken soup will take care of it,” I’m happy. Because I’ve been clearly told what the problem is and isn’t, and I trust my doctor.

    That is very different than being brushed off, given incomplete or vague information, or being told “oh, it’s probably nothing, come back in a couple of days.” As a parent, I have no way of distinguishing that from being told that the problem really is minor, vs. the nurse or doctor wanting to go home early and not really giving a shit about my kid.Report

    • If my kids’ doctor (who is awesome) says “This is a cold; it’s not bacterial; rest and chicken soup will take care of it,” I’m happy.

      Then your kids’ doctor is lucky. And yes, there are a great many patients/parents who do understand and accept this advice without any drama.

      But there are plenty of others who, after I have spent a full fifteen minutes recapping what I’ve found on my exam, why the symptoms are almost certainly viral, and why an antibiotic will make no difference except possible to add some side effects to the mix, still insist on a prescription. If I didn’t give a shit, I would scribble out a prescription and move on. It is precisely because I most certainly do give a shit that I bother to spend the time explaining in the first place.Report