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Why this Pediatrician Decided to Write Books

Robert Saul, MD explains why the practice of pediatrics made him a better person.

For all children and families

Pediatrics is a great medical specialty.

Its impact on its practitioners and on patients and their families can be long lasting.   For me, the impact has been enormous.  I have felt that I have a tremendous responsibility to children and their families.  The practice of pediatrics has made me a better person.  Parents seek medical care and trusted counsel from a respected health care provider with the following abilities—to listen, to diagnose, to provide care, to empathize, to be trusted, to prescribe, to recommend, and to treat their patients like one of their own.  While pediatricians do not use holy water in their interactions, they do invest an incredible amount of professional experience and emotional energy as they engage in a partnership with their families.

I have always marveled at how my pediatric colleagues refer to their patients as “my children.”  Initially, I found that to be a bit presumptuous.

Families bring their children to the pediatrician for medical care, not to cede control of them to the doctor.  But now I understand the derivation of the rationale.  A physician actively engaged in the medical care of their pediatric patients really does (or at least should) invest their physical, mental, and emotional energy into the care of these children.  Their patients effectively become “their children.”  Years later when these children grow up and have their own children, pediatricians have the real privilege of seeing and often caring for this next generation.  The pride in this continuing relationship can be as palpable as the pride that pediatricians who are grandparents have in their own grandchildren.

 

I have always marveled at how my pediatric colleagues refer to their patients as “my children.”  Initially, I found that to be a bit presumptuous.

 

It is in this latter spirit that I have written a series of books (listed below)—to provide a legacy of thoughts and suggestions that could potentially have a positive and lasting impact on my children and their children, my grandchildren.  What do I mean by my children and their children?

First and foremost, I mean my own two sons and their children.

We are now blessed with two granddaughters.

Second, I mean the pediatric patients that I have cared for, in my over 44 years of primary care pediatrics, and now their children.

And, finally, I mean all the children that I can possibly have an impact on through my influence as a pediatric provider and staunch child advocate in my community and beyond.  I hope to positively influence these three groups to fulfill my nurturing role as a father, as a physician and as a fellow citizen.  I used the title “My Children’s Children” for my first book and now for my website to be inclusive for all children, not exclusively referring only to my children.

 

A physician actively engaged in the medical care of their pediatric patients really does (or at least should) invest their physical, mental, and emotional energy into the care of these children. Click To Tweet

 

As a tribute to my mother

I’d like to think that if I have been successful, I can thank my mother and pay her the ultimate tribute.  The ultimate tribute for a parental job well-done is the internalization of positive values from one’s parent(s).  They can make a difference in the lives of children for years to come.  And I hope that is what has occurred with my books.

My mother was a remarkable woman.  She was extremely dedicated to her two sons.  My parents divorced when I was around 10 years of age.  While we were a family of means based on the wealth of my mother’s parents, my mother had no substantive emotional support from her family and had to deal with issues of spousal alcoholism and my father’s propensity to verbal and physical abuse all on her own.  Her ability to essentially strike out independently and to empathize with, care for, and genuinely love virtually everyone she met was indeed remarkable.  I’d like to think that the values that I espouse now are those of my mother.  But I didn’t know it at the time.

My mother was always engaged in her community and genuinely cared for her fellow citizens and for the life of the community. My mother wrote a significant journal entry (Chapter 2, My Children’s Children: Raising Young Citizens in the Age of Columbine) during the turbulent 1960s with the Vietnam War and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  as the backdrop.  She was called to action from the events of the day.

It appears that the events of Columbine in 1999 were a similar call to action for me.  Since 1999, I have been on a journey, suggesting ways to raise young citizens in the years after Columbine or “the age of Columbine.”  Events and powers beyond my control have beckoned me to act on behalf of others.  I have welcomed the challenge.

These books are for parents who like my mother want to raise their children the right way—to be good parents and raise good citizens.  So, I hope to provide a framework that can help guide parents in the raising and nurturing of their children.  Healthy children (physically, mentally, educationally, financially and socially) are good citizens.  Healthy children are our future. Oh—and, thank you, Mom.

 

Books

MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: RAISING YOUNG CITIZENS IN THE AGE OF COLUMBINE [2013]

ALL ABOUT CHILDREN (children’s book and illustrated by Jan Yalich Betts) [2017]

THINKING DEVELOPMENTALLY: NURTURING WELLNESS IN CHILDHOOD TO PROMOTE LIFELONG HEALTH (co-authored with Dr. Andrew Garner, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics) [2018]

CONSCIOUS PARENTING: USING THE PARENTAL AWARENESS THRESHOLD [2020]

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