When Should Parents Let Children Advocate For Their Own Health Care?

“Tell me what’s happening, sweetie,” the pediatric rheumatologist instructed my 10-year-old daughter Isa. Her pen was in hand, ready to take notes.

“My fingers swelled up after I hit my head and got a concussion. It hurts to open and close my hand,” she replied, nervous, sandwiched in between the doctor and me.

“She’s been—” I started to say, but the doctor cut me off and continued to ask my daughter questions as if I weren’t in the room.

My cheeks burned red. I was her mother after all—I did not like to be ignored by healthcare professionals. As a Latina, I had been failed by nurses and doctors for being a woman of color. One experience left me in a coma and permanently brain-damaged. After that, I changed careers from attorney to narrative medicine advocate.

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25 March 2024

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