Intended for healthcare professionals


Managing communication with young people who have a potentially life threatening chronic illness: qualitative study of patients and parents

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 08 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:305

Marginalizing Parents

Dear Sirs:

I am very troubled by the philosophy of Bridget Young, et al, in
suggesting that parents are often an obstacle to the perceived right of
medical professionals to have unimpeded communication with the children of
those parents. Young pays passing lip service to not undermining the
parent's role, but, make no mistake, she is definitely undermining the
rights and responsibilities of parenthood.

Obviously, sometimes parents can be overprotective. However, until
solid evidence is presented to the contrary, I think that the average
parent is much more likely to make a better guardian for his or her child
than the average treatment professional.

There seems to me to be absolutely no reason why medical
professionals shouldn't work with and through parents instead of around
parents as suggested by Young. Her unwritten conclusion of finding
multiple parents being "obstacles" in her very small sample is much more
an indictment of the inadequacy of communications with parents by
treatment professionals than it is evidence that a substantial percentage
of parents aren't able to make reasonable decisions about their own

Although we have the same powerful governmental usurpation of
parental authority trends in the U.S., I have long noted
that Europe is more prone to this philosophy than we are. Perhaps, in
some small, but cumulatively important way, such governmental attitudes
has something to do with why so many people, especially educated
Europeans, are opting to have so few children of their own.

England's planned implementation of a "children's national service
framework," which has the declared aim of putting children and young
people at the centre of care and building services around their needs, is
very frightening to me. Clearly, the author sees parents as lacking any
right to control communications by outsiders with their own children.

Perhaps, sometimes a parent can be educated; perhaps, sometimes a
parent knows better than a therapist or their own child. I personally
don't think any medical professional has any right to bypass any parent
unless there is solid evidence of abuse. I often long for the world my
own parents raised me up in where government was far less intrusive.
Perhaps, English therapists and physicians have much better interpersonal
judgment than that which we find in America. Somehow, this article makes
me think otherwise.

Thomas E. Radecki, M.D.
psychiatrist and lawyer

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 February 2003
Thomas E. Radecki
U.S. Clinical Psychiatrist and Lawyer
705 W. Oregon, Urbana, IL 61801