veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Village and the Professional

They go hand in hand. If we only listened to the professionals we would all be perfect, right? Well, actually, we would be more like robots. Stepford Wives with Stepford children running around without drippy noses or muddy shoes. Life is not a text book or a lab room. It is messy with many unknowns popping up unexpectedly all of the time. Living life is not about blindly following the doctor’s orders. Life is about understanding the research and philosophy put forth by the professionals and then making it work for you in your life. I am pretty sure that can be applied to just about anyone and anything.

At the end of the day, “Mom knows best,” a pediatrician once told me. “If a mother comes into my office and says she detects eye-crossing in her child and I do not during my 1 minute eye exam, I tell that mom to go get his eyes checked by a specialist. Moms see their children all day long. We examine them for a short period of time with long periods between exams.” This is not the fault of the healthcare system. This is a reality. So it is mom’s job (or dad) to step up to the role of the person who knows what is best for the child. Yes you follow your doctor’s advice. But you also think before you act and make sure what your doctor is advising is good for your child, not some abstract, non-specific, generic child.

The other place of advice besides the doctor’s office is the “village.” The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child refers to the fact that we do not live in a vacuum. We live in a community. Whatever that community may be – a neighborhood, family, online community, mothers group, coworker group, you pick. These are all social networks that may provide support and advice to any of our parenting woes.

The village does not replace the doctor. But the doctor does not replace the village either.

Children’s nutrition has a growing gap between what the doctor is telling us (or nutritionist or nurse or chef) and what is actually happening down in the streets of every day life. We lead busy lives and multitask more than any generation before us. Parents need practical tools about how to feed their children healthy food without complicated recipes that parents dread making children hate eating. We need the village to take on childhood nutrition so kids will grow up making healthy choices for themselves.

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