What would you tell your daughter if she wanted to be a neurosurgeon? 

My daughter had a birthday recently. At her party one of her friends, whom I had just met, invited her over to her house to play. 

I knew someday soon this would come but I am not ready!

As a kid my parents would not allow me to go over to friend’s houses except on rare occasions and I was never, ever allowed to spend the night. They were absolutely terrified that I would end up molested by someone.

So I found myself telling her little friend and her friend’s mom, who both seemed perfectly nice, that we would make plans to do that sometime.

But I lied. 

I don’t want to make plans for that because I am afraid. 

The odds are 1 in 4 for girls, right?

Don’t sit in your uncle’s lap….

I want to protect her from things that might hurt her.

So what if she wants to pursue medicine? 

Medicine will hurt her.

Approximately 400 physicians per year commit suicide, leaving over a million patients without a physician. An entire medical school is wiped out every year. And those are just the ones we know about. In fact, physicians in the US are more likely to kill themselves than any other profession. While male physicians are 70 percent more likely to die from suicide than other men, female physicians are 250-400 percent more likely to kill themselves than other women. The younger you are, the worse it is. 

I will be honest that there have been times in the past that I have wanted to fall asleep and not wake up. Not that I had a plan per se, but I knew how to do it…

Therein lies the problem. 

I know how to do it.

Chasing her dreams. I owe her the freedom to chase hers because I have mine. Yet medicine is changing. In just ten years I have watched it happen. I was told that they worked for me when I started. Now I am reminded daily that I work for them, that I am replaceable. That I am only as good as their protocol.

I want to protect her from all of the hurt I have seen and felt. Isn’t that what we all hope for, especially for our daughters?

I cannot hold on to her forever. I know this. But knowing does not make it any easier. Letting go is not for the faint of heart.

Thank you Jane, from Out of The Rabbit Hole, for asking the question! She asked a few more, so stay tuned…

(This week I will also be participating in the Black and White Challenge from Cordelia’s Mom. This is Day #1. In theory I am supposed to nominate someone. In truth, I am not sure who I want to torture.  So…. Since this is starting with Jane’s question, I nominate her!) 


158 thoughts on “Protection

  1. Yep, the statistics are appalling and say so much about how medical professionals are valued…or not… for the job they do.
    I understand the desire to protect your children all too well. Letting them go starts so much earlier than we would like too! Yet there is such a fine line between protecting them and refusing them the chance to grow from their own experience too.
    Even knowing that, I still felt all the completely irrational of failing to protect my own son… even though he was a hundred miles away and a grown man.I thnk it goes with the job description of ‘parent’.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think 1/4 is low for molestation. I’da thought more like half or even higher.
    I’m extremely protective myself. My husband says paranoid, but what does he know? lol
    Ugh on the doctor suicide rate. That’s shocking. That’s much higher than I would have expected.
    I just tried it out, and neurosurgeon sounds groovy with my girls’ names, so I guess I’d say, “Let’s start with pre-med and see how that goes” for two of them, but one of them literally swoons and panics at the sight of blood, so not her. For her, something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You want to protect them from anything that can hurt them, but that is an impossible dream, and it wouldn’t be good for them, anyway. What you really want is for them to grow up to be independent, healthy, productive adults. You can’t keep them locked in the back bedroom and have that happen. Even if I could have kept my daughter locked away, she might well have gotten the breast cancer that has been her last year, but she wouldn’t have had the support of husband and children to get through it. She wouldn’t have been as strong and self-sufficient as she is, and she might not have survived.

    Keep your fears in check, let them go, and be there when they crash. That’s how they grow.

    It’s good that you recognize your fears, but you also have to let yourself go along with your children. That’s how you grow.

    Liked by 6 people

      • It is hard. And you can’t always fix all the problems. I went to my daughter when she first started her chemo, and I wanted to drop in and fix everything like every parent should be able to do. When I got there, I was shopping, and cooking, and walking kids to the bus. It was all necessary, but it wasn’t the big stuff. I felt so helpless.

        Even so, you still have to let them go to be what they can be.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Tough one VIcto. Another blog mentioned the high rate of suicide among male doctors. I was wondering if they had to run a lot of patients through to keep their incomes up and this would certainly take any joy out of what ever you are doing. However, if that was what she wanted to do I would be behind her 100% and I know you would too.
    As for the molestation issue, I’d teacher her that it would be okay to sit on her uncle’s knee but if he tried anything funny a deliberate poke in the eye would sorts things out in a hurry.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I didn’t know the numbers were so high for physicians and suicide, but interesting that it is not the case in the UK. I’ve been reading a lot recently about the high rate of suicide among veterans because my daughter’s fiance is a veteran–not that I think he’s suicidal, just that I’ve noticed more about veterans since he’s become a part of our daughter’s life.

    It is difficult to let your kids go, but as Dave said above, you want them to grow up to be strong and independent. I guess it’s a combination of knowing their personalties and educating them and making them aware of what to say and do in various situations. You’re worried about your daughter going to someone’s house, but you’ll also want her to have friends. Later there will be driving and dating, and on and on. Then you just have to trust them, and keep communication open. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

      • Yea, we have 3 daughters, and I distinctly remember when the youngest was about 14 or so…things were sailing along pretty smoothly, and I thought to myself..don’t kid yourself..this can’t last..(and I was right..a few months later my worst fears were realized..she was head over heels in love with a looser..a big looser. To this day, I would love to break his knee caps..just to get his attention. (sorry about the tangent. I must still have a little unresolved anger rumbling around in there) # 1 suggestion I would have for you as your kids hit the teen years..have some other parents you trust as a support group. In the end, all 4 of our kids turned out amazing, it’s just from about 12 til early 20’s when it can get a little dicey )

        Liked by 1 person

  6. As far as the sexual assaults, it does happen, my daughter was the one in four under the age of 5, by an another child, my older sons friends, unauthorized sleeper over while my son was the baby sitter. They all got drunk, my ex’s-husband came home early.
    Children will be do or be whatever they want to be, if you deter them, it only drives them more. It’s more important to praise them for their hard work, and ethic above everything else.
    Right now, I have to explain to myself my 14 year old girl is not a 5 year old child. She doesn’t need me to hover over her. I trust her. If not I will lose her.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How awful. In our sons’ preschool (ages 2 1/2-6) one of the older girls was abusing the other children–trying to perform the sex act with them, handle their privates. Don’t know if oral was done.

      Who would or could expect or prepare their child for abuse from a preschooler? It turned out her liberal hippie-like full-professor PhD parents had her sleeping in their room, uncurtained off from their passionate affections “because it’s natural”. (Brother.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I live in CA, so we have those “free range” parenting styles, I don’t understand it, I don’t pretend to understand it, nor do I agree with it. Children can find themselves when they are over the age of 18, on their own dime, and when they are responsible for themselves.

        As for informing small children on sexual predators, I am super direct,I put it all out there, “no one is to touch you ever, doesn’t matter how old they are or who they are”.

        I am very sorry to hear this happened with your children at day care. I have a hard time comprehending how this happened. I get the older child acting out, (when she’s acting out naturally at 13, there’s a word for it too, let’s see how liberal they are then?), but why was she unsupervised? There is usually a child/adult ratio, (in CA everyone sues everyone, which is why it’s in place). I have a girlfriend who was always on me, “most molestations occur by other children, or slightly older children”, being a victim herself at age four, having never been a victim of anything myself, it was unimaginable to me. I wish I would of listened, crimes against your child never heal.


        Liked by 1 person

      • This happened in L.A. at a hoity-toity private university preschool. No one knows the grand total of children affected. The psychologists felt that the youngest children were best left unquestioned unless they showed signs of stress–bedwetting, nightmares, or what have you. Trying to get info was like pulling teeth. Suits were not as common back then–twenty…three years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Just discovered your blog and I’m glad I discovered you…I actually am surprised of the high suicide rate among physicians. I assessed clients who were suicidal for two years and at one point, I attended a training by Jack Klott who considers himself a “suicideologist.” What I learned was to look for a certain combination of mental disorders with alcohol/drug use or hopelessness. Klott stated the profile of the suicide competer/attempter he found was: male; caucasian; lived alone and unemployed; and had extreme issues of fatalism, despair, and self-devaluation.
    Also, I hope you let your daughter experience all that life has to offer. I attended many slumber parties at friends houses growing up. The memories I have from them bring a smile to my face even now, at the age of 41.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and reading! I think your profile also bears through for physicians, too. The numbers so high in women is probably related to completion rate being the same for male and female physicians. That is not something that is seen in the general population.


  8. With you as her mother she will
    grow up with a global and truly world wide view, she can choose any country and any healthcare system to work in if she becomes a neurosurgeon. She will have the support of a wonderful mother, who manages to run a busy blog, a busy medicine practice and a busy home. I think you can only do your best with the personal safety side. When she knows that her privates are private, or that the parts covered in underwear are not for touching and is independent with toileting it’s easier, 4 is still quite small. Until then…it’s play dates at your house!


  9. I have a 14 year old son and we’ve never allowed sleep-overs; he’s fine with it. I know other families who have the same policy. And I know families who send their kids on sleepovers and don’t see them for days. Set your rules of your household early on.


  10. I had only one daughter. I was over-protective. She went ahead and did what she wanted whether I thought she was right or wrong. It killed me when she left home. I worry about my granddaughters now.
    The statistics are shocking. I had no idea at all. this was happening. ❀ ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t recall how old your daughter is. But learning to socialize without Mom and Dad is vital. As is learning what kind of touching is appropriate.

    Molestation can happen anywhere, even at home. Teach your daughter to recognize abuse and it will serve her for her whole life. And then let her have some fun.

    Of course, I have one boy. So …. but still it happens to both sexes.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Wow Victo, those are brutal numbers -both the suicide and the molestation numbers.The suicide numbers could likely be ameliorated with personal support structures for an individual. and a less inhumane system. As far as your daughter is concerned Victo – all you can do is use your best judgement, follow your gut. My wife and i had a son and a daughter and although it was a concern, once you get to know the parents and the children, you can feel pretty comfortable allowing visits and sleepovers. Children who showed aberrant behavior were welcomed at our home but our kids were not allowed sleepovers or extended visits. It is my belief that children that are endangered show hints in personality or behavior patterns. Our kids had a few good friends that they favored with sleepovers and visits. Casual friends they were kind to but did not seem to desire to spend a lot of time with. Kids are pretty sensitive to situations – especially if they have a good home life. They seem to know intuitively where they are safe. Don;’t over think it Victo, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Trust your gut instinct and remain aware around other kids and adults. We actually encouraged others’ kids to come to our place and made them feel comfortable. That satisfied the need for a sleepover without losing too much control. .It also allowed us to get to know our kids’ friends. That turned out to be useful later in the teen years when peer pressure is so important to the kids. Um, in full disclosure it had a negative effect the grocery bill though.

    Hang in there, the problem is surmountable to produce healthy happy safe kids.

    Oh, as an aside, I have a new guest post over at Cordelia’s Mom I would be honored if you could find the time to drop by. Thank You..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is scary being a parent. If it is her dream, a well researched and well founded dream then support her.

    You love your daughter so much. She knows no matter what that you’ll always be there for her and because of that she’ll do great, no matter what she does.

    And you never know, things might change in the medical profession by the time she gets going on her career. You never know.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hey Doc, your stats about child sexual abuse is correct, 1 in4 for girls 1 in6 for boys. But scary is that the perpetrator is often family, not someone from the “outside” The best protection is to educated your kids early.
    So sad about the suicide info on the medical field. The pressure is crazy and I certainly do not get why it has to be that way…. don’t you ever get there, please. We need more Docs like you.
    Thanks for the nod. Its Out of the Rabbit Hole though….lololol wrong direction..
    And thank you for the nomination…is there something I am to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m not sure about either of this. When is the time to stop being so projective? Are teenagers safer from harm? I doubt it. We cannot protect children from life.

    And pressure? My colleagues keep talking about that, too. But maybe they would feel even more stressed in a low paid job in a supermarket,a job they can lose any time… And sometimes it is just the question of a glass half full or half empty.
    A doctor’s work is full of satisfaction . At least for me. But for you, too, it shows in all your other blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So sad that the “other stuff” is what drives the pressure to physicians. It just seems there should be a way to fix that ! I never hesitated to let my kids go to sleepovers, but did prefer to host them myself when I could. I did balk when the co-ed sleepovers started up in high school….but..I trusted my kids and their judgment. They never let me down. ☺ Van

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I was not as paranoid about sleepovers. I would eyeball the parents and usually these were people who were our neighbors and our kids went to school with them so I knew them pretty well. I think I worried about them walking to school alone and other things. My daughter wanted to ride her bike down the hill to school. This is a nice suburban neighborhood but I would almost feel I had to follow her all the way. I would sometimes drive by the school to make sure I saw her bike there. My son probably thought I was really nuts because I would not let him walk to school alone when he was little when we lived in a more urban area. I think you have to let them have their dreams. This struck a cord with me. I told my father I wanted to be a brain surgeon when I was a little girl and he laughed. In those days girls never did that. I got the message. Doctors need to have support groups I think or definitely someone to talk to.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. My daughter had several dreams growing up. I gave her a high five on all of them. When she was fourteen, that’s when we talked about a game plan to make her dreams happen. She still kept dream hopping, and I decided to become her cheerleader for living an authentic life. She’s got you. She’ll be fine!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I know I will support my daughter no matter what she decides to try for (and that’s a long way away, she’s just two and a half!), but if I had my way, I’d never let her become a doctor. The profession just isn’t worth the effort you have to put in it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s appalling that the top level healers in the US are subject to such an unhealthy system. I would love to see health care workers organize a movement for their own health. Maybe the revolution will start before you daughter gets to med school. But you know, she could change her mind. As far as protection goes, that hits home. My kids did sleepovers eventually, after I got to know the parents well. Now my kids are technically adults, and I still worry about them.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Terrible statistics for doctors in the US. What a waste of life. Why can’t we care for our doctors as they care for us. All the amount of time to study and learn to care and yet self care is left behind. The pressures need to be lessened, a tired stressed doctor cannot make better decisions than one who has had a decent amount of sleep. Paperwork, pharmaceutical lobbies, and the fear of being sued must make it a job not for the faint of heart.
    I never really went to sleep overs because I wet the bed till late. The thought had never occurred to me that I missed out on that type of experience. There is a fine balance between freedom and safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What are you going to do? Lock her in the basement for her own good? It’s admirable that you want to protect herβ€”it’s part of our DNAβ€”but she’s going to get hurt despite your (our) best offorts. I still struggle with it on occasion but I’ve worked past it. Can’t visit a friend or follow in her mother’s footsteps? What’s that?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Pharmacists as well? I know a lot of pharmacists who are dissatisfied with their work (I’m a pharmacist, myself) but I would never have thought it bad enough to lead to suicide. I suppose it is like you said, Victo Dolore – we know how to do it, and we have access to the means…

        Also, my sister is a dentist, so I hope our parents don’t get a hold of these statistics! Not that they have anything to worry about, but they will probably worry anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Had I followed my family’s dreams, I would have been a civil servant with a pension. Dream big, right? I found my own way. No matter what YOU suggest, I have a suspicion that your daughter will also follow her heart. Shocking statistics, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: My Article Read (4-5-2015) (4-6-2015) | My Daily Musing

  25. What I have seen within medicine and the decline of it, is the reason I stay far from it, as far as I can. My Heart weeps for those caught in this system gone bad for those whose intent it was to help others, are actually harming others, due to what the system tells them to do. Doctors have less and less freedom to treat their own patients in the way they would like to. People are being treated with labels dictating what course of action is to be taken. I’ve been at the mercy of the system, and have run as hard as I can from it. I am so so so so grateful, that I do have a GP who is fighting back as best he can, refusing as best he can not to compromise his principals.

    And as for your daughter, again my Heart really goes out to you. As a parent all you want is to protect your child, yet in a world gone mad, how can you? I wish I had encouraging words to say to you, and I do not wish in any way to add to your anxiety. Will Faith be enough? It is not logical nor healthy to keep your child in a safe bubble. So what is the answer? I don’t know.

    Anyone with children these days, my Heart literally goes out to. I pray that a HUGE CHANGE comes to this world in order to turn the insanity once more into Love and Peace. Your daughter and you are in my prayers. This is all I know to do for you. Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  26. you are very strong willed, open minded individual and have gone through a lot of different experiences than your parents did. therefore you raising your daughter she will be a lot stronger because of your supportive nature and how understanding you will be for her, compared to how things were growing up. the best you can do is give her as much knowledge and support and maybe pray she becomes a Pharmacist πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I don’t know how I missed this post – I try never to miss one of your posts!

    Kids change their minds a million times before they choose their career, and even then, they often switch in college or decide the career they trained for really isn’t the right one.

    Maybe she’ll grow up to be a really good, successful photographer. Or a scientist. Or President of the United States. Whatever she wants. All you can do is guide her.

    PS: Thanks for accepting the photo challenge. I knew your black-and-whites would be awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I was not aware of this statistic. My doc-sister works part-time but she is still the primary breadwinner so the pressure is still on her.

    We lost a sister to suicide when she was 50 yrs. She left 2 lovely adult children and loving hubby. We had no idea how long she had been dealing with depression. Because she was a pharmacist, she really didn’t want to take drug therapy ..and I, would have supported her no-drug therapy need. All of us in the family are affected in different ways by the loss of sis.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. My parents never allowed me to attend sleepovers as well! The physician suicide rates are alarming & scary. I also wonder what the rates are for stress-induced health issues in physicians (i have several patients who are health practitioners who see me for stress mgmt due to having likely stress-induced heart attack & stroke!). Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: The View From Here | Behind the White Coat

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