a 2 minute read (photo courtesy of Linda Nickell)
“He’s never going to read all this,” complained my 14 year old son as he leafed through 5 pages of questions and diagrams in the waiting room of the orthopedic office.
“You’re right, he probably won’t, but we will be stuck here in the waiting room if you don’t fill it all out. It will also be a reminder to him on your next visit about what your injury was. And do you know how many patients he has to examine each day? Can you imagine remembering every patient’s injury, all day long?” I lectured.
I’m pretty sure my son tuned out after, “You’re right,” but ever since I had listened to an audio book about having your children take on more responsibility, we were requiring our children to do more for themselves in order to gain more independence and experience. He did fill out the entire form and I helped him with questions that he really could not know, like our insurance policy number. He gained confidence that day that would help him in other areas of his life, plus he learned to fill out forms that are a continuous part of adult life, like job applications, medical questionnaires, sports camp documents, college applications, and even grocery lists. We also required him to put away his phone when the doctor and nurse came in and have him explain to them where his pain was. We usually rehearsed this a little beforehand or had him write notes on his phone so he wouldn’t forget anything. Although it was difficult at times, I tried very, very hard not to interject comments, unless he forgot something major. And then I just threw it back to my son, “Why don’t you tell him about…?”
Fast forward 4 years, my son is now a young adult with experience filling out numerous forms. While he was attending college 4 hours away from our home, he was injured playing baseball. He needed medical care and we, his parents, were working and too far away to get to him in a timely manner. My husband quickly researched suitable doctors near his location, sent my son the information, and he walked into an unfamiliar doctor’s office confidently, knowing how to fill out the forms, converse with the doctor, and pay for his visit.
The most surprising thing that happened though, was the next time we were at the doctor’s office for my daughter, I started filling out her forms and she politely said, “Mom, I am 14 now, so I have to fill out my own forms.”
“Yes, you do.” And I handed her the questionnaire.
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