Chronicles of the Anonymous Dad – Why Dads are Reluctant to go to the Doctor.

Short of lots of blood, I am just plain old reluctant to make that trip. Is this a continuous manifestation of the stubborn streak found in most humans of the male species?

“When you were a bachelor, that was fine, but you have kids now and you can’t act that way”, says the wife. But am I really jeopardizing my own offspring when I don’t want to take them straight to the doctor at the sound or sighting of a cold, ache or rash? Would I allow a faulty gene found in the man pool to carry over into fatherhood at the risk of hurting my kids?

If it’s not bent, bleeding or broken, men don’t go, at least not initially. So, does a dad then apply that same approach to his kids? Well (mommies, you can begin to cringe now), I think so. And here’s the hard part to understand: We don’t see it as jeopardizing the children. The inherent deep embedded thought not known to most moms is that dads want to show that we are a resilient kind; we can fend for ourselves, seek help only when our way has not worked(ergo, the proverbial refusal to stop and ask for directions). And even then, the advice is often sought not in the form of conciliation, but rather, in the most blasé of subtlety. “This remote control doesn’t seem to be working. I am just going to go work out in the yard”. What I am really saying is: “I can’t fix the damn remote. I am going to just leave it here for awhile and when I get back, I hope you have fixed it so I can come back inside and watch TV, which is what I really wanted to do to begin with.”

Other than the guy who refuses to quit smoking cigarettes once he is a dad, I don’t think dads are teaching their children a lesson in being obstinate. Rather, it’s a lesson in independence, a lesson in self-reliance, a lesson in figuring our way to our own solutions, and a lesson in showing our kids that part of life involves thorns, bumps, bruises and poison ivy.

When does that “laissez faire” approach come back to bite me? Well, that’s where the fine line comes in. Truthfully, I just know and make the gut call. Yes, I would err on the side of caution, but at the same time, I take great pride when our kids go in for an annual checkup or shot, and the pediatrician says: “Well hey there strangers.”

I have a wide grin across my insides. In words, the grin says:”I am a good dad. I can fend for myself, take care of my kids while letting them learn that sometimes, just sometimes, rock candy and  hot tea with honey is a better way to get to feeling better, than a trip to the doctor and 10 mg of some awful tasting medicine, twice a day for 7 days.”The answers often find themselves within our own abilities to get through it.

Here’s is my approach to some common “ouches”:

  • Water in the ear = Q-tip and jump up and down on leg that is on same side as the problem ear
  • Fever= Ibuprofen, TLC, whatever he/she wants to eat, and if that doesn’t work, then a cool down with washcloths.
  • Rash= Benadryl.
  • Busted gums, tooth or lip & presence of fair amount of blood= Doctor. Having had that happen recently and having made the call to go to the ER, the doc’s conclusion was since it was her first set of teeth, there was no need to have come in and there was nothing he could do other than tell us to feed our daughter soft food for a few days.
  • Skinned knees=Hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, a colorful band-aid(or 2) and then a big push to go right back out there and continue to play whatever they were just playing.

What’s the downside to all this self reliance? The obvious answer is failing to provide proper and adequate medical attention for your child in a timely manner. But, let’s be smart about this. No reasonable dad is going to stop his child from seeing a doctor. The ultimate question is when, not if.
So, next time I fall and hurt myself pretty bad, just let me figure out my road to recovery. The next time our child falls and hurts herself, well, that may make for an interesting debate.

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