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Parents, pediatricians, and privacy


In the Washington Post, a doctor argues that moms need to leave the examining room when sensitive subjects -- that is, sexual subjects -- are being discussed with teens. His goal is to make sure that his patient gets the best possible care: "If a teen is unwilling to admit to certain behaviors in front of a stubborn parent, I can’t order the right tests (HIV or sceeening for chlamydia) or the right medicines (birth control), and I worry that the teen is at risk."

But there's a lot more to the issue than that. Though Dr. Parikh claims to be all for openness between parent and child, it's hard to see how that can be achieved by shutting parents out of major discussions about their children's health and behavior.

Moms -- and dads, too -- I'd be interested to know what you think. (Non-parents are free to comment too, of course, but parents bring a crucial perspective to this one.)

Comments:

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Yesterday, John Stonestreet in his BreakPoint Commentary spoke to the larger issue underlying adolescent privacy laws:

"The “impulse” Deneen is referring to is the way that the modern state, as described by Hobbes, poses as a kind of “liberator.” In this case, the one being “liberated” is the individual. What he—or in this case, she—is being liberated from is interference, or even the fear of interference, from other individuals. The “liberation” offered by the modern state is the freedom to “pursue his or her own ends” as he or she sees fit.

"In other words, personal autonomy.

"Of course, there’s a catch: in exchange for being liberated, individuals must pledge their primary allegiance to the state. Every other traditional allegiance—to family, church and community—is seen as secondary and voluntary. They have no authority over us apart from what we choose to let them have, which, practically-speaking, means none at all, since we can always change our minds."
I hope it works out for you, Lee. There are some decent things about it, but also some things that have been driving me crazy. By the way, based on your description of waiting forever for updates, I was wondering if either of your phones is an LG. Apparently they are notorious for being slow with the updates.

To the topic at hand, I realize these are really sticky, complicated issues. I just keep coming back to the fact that caring for a child's health and safety is one of the most important duties a parent has, and I can't go along with locking a parent out of something this major. How does the state or the hospital or, God forbid, Planned Parenthood have more of a right to know about a girl's health than her parents have?
Also this is just a variation of an old point; that the decision of whether to inform or not is always a hard one. We all dislike the stereotyped Teacher's Pet who delights in getting people in trouble just as we dislike the stereotyped Mafia Princess who sees nothing and hears nothing. But their are a lot of issues which are troublesome. It may be that the doctor needs more sympathy then we are giving him. He made a hard moral decision.

On the other hand why did he even tell the Washington Post about it if he was not going to tell the parents? No one seems to have asked that.
A lot of the fault rests with a cultural system that cannot decide the status of teenagers. Personally my sympathy is for the girl; I have been a teenager but have never been a parent. However I do recognize that parents if they are to take care of teenagers must be allowed some latitude. In some ways I would perhaps be to instinctively sympathetic to maintain discipline and might well make a better uncle then a parent.
Memory loss is hereditary
. . . since you get it from your children.. I forgot to commend Gina's use of alliteration in her title, and I forgot to tell Kevin that my phone upgraded (if he'd agree that this is "up") to Ice Cream Sandwich.

So this teenager is pregnant, the doctor advises her privately about her "choices", she gets an abortion without her parents knowing, but she ends up with complications and a huge medical bill for the hospitalization. To explain my previous snarky comment, should the doctor's liability insurance pay the hospital bill and therapies?
It did seem as if the doctor wanted it both ways, Ellen. (If I remember correctly, one or two commenters on the article noticed this as well.)
Or perhaps the parent hasn't prepared the child well for times of privacy and autonomy.
I found one of the closing paragraphs very interesting:

"One of the promises with adolescent privacy laws, I hope, is to give a girl the space to learn to become a woman. But that day, I worried that the law was getting in the way of that promise, and I questioned its value. That girl should have told her mother, I kept telling myself. It would have been better for her, for her developing child and for her relationship with her own mom. To take responsibility for her choice. That would have made her a woman, confidentiality or not."

The adolescent privacy laws caused this doctor to take the pregnant adolescent to an empty room away from her mother to inform the girl that the pregnancy test results were positive. A minor is under the guidance, protection and authority of the parent, but such adolescent privacy laws separates a child from that guidance, protection and authority too soon in the name of privacy and autonomy. Perhaps drug use and sexual activity is caused by the parent giving too much privacy and autonomy too soon to their child.
Aha, very good, Kevin. I suppose there's the mobile web, and the . . . "immobile web", the latter being courtesy of what Mark Steyn calls "the dying monodailies".

One other parental thought for you, Gina: while they're at it, could the doctor's *office* leave me out of it too, and arrange the bill payment directly with my child? Especially the orthodontist.
Lee, if you tried it on your phone, you probably got a notice that the page is unavailable. On the bottom of that notification page is a link for the desktop version, and that works.
That's strange -- I just tested the link and it worked fine. Could you try it again, Lee? Maybe in a different browser?
The same physician argument works for drug use.

And would lead to the same tragic result, in most cases.

(I had trouble with the WaPo link, G.)
The same physician argument works for drug use.

And would lead to the same tragic result, in most cases.

(I had trouble with the WaPo link, G.)
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