Will Mothers Discuss Parenting Stress and Depressive Symptoms With Their Child’s Pediatrician?

Pediatrics — Abstracts: Heneghan et al. 113 (3): 460 Conclusion: Mothers are aware that their own emotional health has consequences for their children. Although many mothers experienced lacks in their social support systems, many are reluctant to discuss parenting stress and depressive symptoms with their child's pediatrician because of mistrust and fear of judgment. Mothers are, however, generally receptive to the idea of open communication with their pediatricians and are interested in receiving supportive written communication about parenting stress and depressive symptoms from pediatricians. These qualitative data are valuable in developing an intervention to help pediatricians assist mothers at risk.

This is an interesting paper from many standpoints – and surprises me little.  Comunication between a child's physician and parents is essential to the health of the family.  Pediatricians are ill-positioned for this task relative to family physicians.  I'm occasionally asked by parents why they should bring their child to a family physician rather than a pediatrician.  Because we have a relationship with the parents – family physicians are simply better positioned to build and maintain a relationship with them as separate people (rather than as extensions of the children).  Parents' fear of being judged would, I expect, be less in this scenario.