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Respect a mother’s right

A mothers concerns are legitimate, and stem from a deep place of care and compassion (Helena Lopes - Unsplash)

By: Nor Malina Manan

A mother’s concern for her children is unwavering. We often hear stories of mother pandas, elephants, or giraffes exhibiting sadness when separated from their young ones. Their protectiveness knows no bounds; their children are their very essence and strength.

Nor Malina Manan

The role of a mother, though fulfilling, comes with its own set of challenges in their daily endeavours. From the moment they become mothers, they embark on a journey filled with hurdles and sacrifices, all for the betterment of their children. Whether it’s staying up all night to comfort a crying baby, juggling multiple responsibilities to provide for the family, or advocating tirelessly for their child’s needs, mothers demonstrate unwavering dedication. Such sacrifices exemplify the lengths to which mothers go to ensure their children thrive. It is crucial not to disregard a mother’s apprehensions regarding her child’s well-being, as they come from a place of deep care and commitment.

And it is a mother’s right, sanctioned by law, to safeguard her children. Their consent is therefore lawfully required before any action is taken concerning their child, whether it be medical or dental treatment, or any situation involving physical contact. According to a report in Pediatric Dentistry in 1992, a mother is also the best ‘proxy’ or next of kin for her child, as she understands them better, especially in situations involving pain.

To all healthcare professionals, it is imperative to acknowledge the concerns of mothers, who may at times seem overly protective about their children facing new challenges in life, particularly medical or dental procedures. Mothers’ protective instincts often manifest in various ways, such as meticulously researching medical conditions, seeking second opinions, or expressing hesitation about treatment plans. For example, a mother may insist on accompanying her child to every doctor’s appointment, ensuring no detail is overlooked. Understanding that these actions came from a place of love and concern is crucial in providing compassionate care to both the child and the mother.

Consequently, some mothers accompany their children everywhere, even into the treatment room, due to this constant concerns. This inclination comes from an inherent need to remain by their child’s side during medical and dental procedures. It’s essential to recognize that there is nothing inherently wrong with being overly protective. It is an instinct deeply ingrained in a mother’s psyche, driving her to safeguard her child from harm at all costs. Attempting to suppress or dismiss this instinct would be useless, as it is an integral part of maternal instinct.

From another perspective, healthcare providers must empathize with mothers who are anxious about their child’s safety under the care of a doctor and their team during treatment. Empathy plays an important role in fostering trust and understanding between healthcare providers and mothers. By acknowledging a mother’s concerns and fears, healthcare professionals can create a supportive environment where open communication is welcomed. Empathy also allows healthcare providers to tailor their approach to each individual mother and child, taking into account their unique needs and preferences.

Therefore, before initiating any treatment, it is the healthcare provider’s responsibility to thoroughly explain the procedure, ensuring the mother comprehends and remains calm about her child’s condition, particularly if they may be in pain. Failure to adequately explain the procedure can lead to increased anxiety and confusion for both the mother and the child. Without clear communication, mothers may feel overwhelmed and powerless, worsening their distress and hindering their ability to support their child effectively.

Remember, unresolved concerns can escalate into frustration and mistrust towards the healthcare provider too. By taking the time to explain the procedure in detail, healthcare providers can reduce anxiety, foster trust, and empower mothers to actively participate in their child’s care. This proactive approach not only enhances the overall experience for the mother and child, but also contributes to better treatment outcomes and long-term patient satisfaction.

It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure that mothers, who play a crucial role in caring for their children, fully understand the details of their child’s condition, the proposed treatment, its benefits and risks, alternative options, as well as the risks and benefits associated with each option.

Respect her right to authorize treatment; for every mother desire the best for her child.

The author a lecturer at the Department of Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya, and may be reached at drmalina@um.edu.my

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