Raising (Hopefully) Healthy Kids, (Am I Doing this Right?)

02.20.2018 Life
Ashley Stephenson
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As a stay-at-home-mom of three kids, including a 10-year-old daughter with autism and a six-year-old son with seasonal allergies, I am quite familiar with following medical protocols, i.e., the consult, the questionnaire, the exam, maybe a specialist, the waiting list, a second opinion, the results, the diagnosis, and the prescribed treatment or remedy. Of course, this well-established medical model is proven extremely helpful for many, and I am grateful for our revolutionary advancements in medicine. Yet, when my kids start “feeling sick” I am more pressured than pleased to visit the doctor and go through these processes over again. After all, what if it is something serious?

Over the past two years, my six-year-old, in particular, has had over 15 doctor visits for ear aches, sore throats (including strep), seasonal allergy flare-ups, temporary hearing loss due to a double ear infection, and even misdiagnosed asthma (which resulted in multiple prescribed medications).

As expected, the common way to take care of sick bodies and under-functioning minds is simply to swallow artificially flavored “magic juice” or pop a pill to cover up symptoms — not to solve the problem.

In fact, my son developed Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on his throat (aka: MRSA, the infamous resistant bacteria caused by the over-prescription of antibiotics), which is not only scary, but frustrating and disheartening since it was only eight weeks after his last ear infection antibiotic treatment.

While child-rearing warrants common sense, I now question how effective relying on Western practices really is, and find myself constantly wondering if I’m making the right choice. Perhaps it’s the current culture of modern motherhood that makes me second guess myself: it may guide in our search for trendy back-to-school clothes, Magnolia inspired home decor, or our desire to mirror picturesque portraits of stay-at-home-mom mundanity, but when it comes to actually raising healthy children, the sophisticated terminology of research-biased information creates even more insecurity about knowing what’s best for my child and family. The truth is, I cannot ignore this gut-wrenching quest for transparency when I am questioning if my doctors are manipulated and coerced by pharmaceutical and insurance companies to fatten their own pocketbooks.

In facing this dilemma, there is an incredibly huge responsibility one must make to maintain composure.

Bringing children up according to socially expected norms of maintaining health and wellness is not required.

The standards in place do not have to be mine, and I realize there may be risks if, and when I veer away. This is especially true when I refuse the flu shot for my family, explore natural, non-FDA approved supplements, or let my children go through the symptoms of sickness with no intervention. Thankfully, there have been plenty of social change that gives parents more freedoms and support, even when my limited life experience, non-doctoral degree, and quasi-holistic ways are not enough to change the extensive network in place. For now, I take the following steps to finding balance throughout this whole process:


Ask questions, be confident and trust in our innate, evolutionary abilities to take care of our young as responsible caretakers.


It’s easier said than done, of course, but there are so many options out there. Test out different diets, exercise routines, morning and evening schedules, etc. until you find one (or a few) that work best for your family.


Though the paternalistic, male, doctor-knows-best attitude has changed, it is still strong in our culture. There are other options and answers… as long as you are open to it.


Making informed choices on routine practices should not be shamed and judged, but rather celebrated, encouraged and respected. In the end, parents can responsibly raise children to maintain healthy bodies. This RX problem is multi-layered with various industries at political play (pharmaceutical, insurance, agricultural, environmental, etc.), but I still have hope. I can be informed, choose healthier lifestyles (even when my four-year-old had Apple Jacks and pretzel sticks for breakfast), remember our ancestral ways, and co-exist with the opposing forces.

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