Does Dad Need to Show Up for Every Doctor’s Appointment?
Who takes the children to doctor’s appointments? This is a conversation all parents have, whether or not they have a kid with special needs. It really is a universal issue, but often with a child with special needs, doctor’s appointments are exponentially more frequent. So, the answer is … it depends on your situation.
Every family is different. Many have two working parents, or Dad works full time and Mom stays home with the kids, but there are families where Dad stays at home and Mom’s working, in which case Dad goes to the majority of the appointments and the question becomes, does Mom need to show up? There are single moms and dads who are doing it by themselves. This is really a custom-fit for every situation, and I think the conversation needs to be about what works for the family, not about the appointments.
You may ask yourself why I am even writing this blog post. It may seem elementary info to some parents. But this has been the topic of a number of recent conversation I was around, so I thought I’d share my thoughts.
Parents need to consider things like: Do you both want to go? Are you both needed there? Is it that you’re needed because filling out paperwork is a nuisance, or are you needed because Mom needs your support? Understanding what each person will do at the appointment helps determine who goes.
Our daughter Ellah, who has a number of complicated medical issues including Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum and Coffin Sirus Syndrome, has a quarterly eye doctor appointment that I don’t go to because I would just be there to carry a bag. It’s more important for me to be at work, because my wife can handle those on her own. At this point, it’s not even a conversation.
After Ellah got out of the hospital most recently, and we needed to go to a specialist to discuss the issues we were dealing with, I had a business meeting at the only time the doctor was able to give us an appointment. My wife said to me, “I got it handled. I’m good, you don’t need to be there.” If she’d said to me, “I need you to be there because I need your help on this,” I would have called the person I was meeting with and said, “We need to reschedule.” And it would have been no contest in the other direction.
Working as a Team
So the answer to, “Does Dad need to be at every appointment?” really depends on what you and your partner decide as a team works for you. The team aspect of decision-making is one of the most important parts of parenting.
Last year, we had to go to Cleveland to meet with the Cleveland Clinic about a liver issue called Cavernous Transformation of the Portal Vein for Ellah. We both went to that. Moving forward on the follow-ups in Cleveland, it’s still a drive, it’s unique, so those meetings, there’s no question I’m going. The routine ones in general I’m not going to. It’s the ones in between where we ask, “Is Dad needed there?”
If Mom says “I need you there,” then yes, Dad, you have to be there. If Mom says, “I don’t need you there” but Dad says “I want to be there because I want to hear what’s happening,” you need to be there. On the flip side, if Mom is saying “I’ve got this handled” and Dad’s saying “I want to go to every appointment,” Dad, you’re not doing your job. Go to work, there’s money that needs to be made so you can feed the kids.
My point really is not to tell you which appointments to go to. It is to remind you how to evaluate whether you need to be at the appointment. Parents need to be well-balanced team captains, with everybody doing his or her job to keep the team going.