With father’s Day fast approaching we’re introducing you to a few of our many doctors who do double-duty as Dads! Meet Dr. Nicholas Bennett, division head of Connecticut Children’s Division of Infectious Diseases & Immunology!
How many children do you have and how old are they?
I have two kids – a young man aged 10, and a young lady aged 8 going on 18.
What do you love most about being a Dad?
The thing I have loved most about being a Dad is seeing myself in my children, only better. They constantly surprise me with their skills and insight. It’s also a great excuse to play Nerf wars and build Lego.
How does being a Dad make you a better doctor?
The most immediate thing about being a Dad is that you can instantly relate to parents’ fears about their kids in a whole new way. Being a pediatrician doesn’t make you a better parent, but being a parent definitely makes you a better pediatrician. It can be difficult to separate your parent role from a physician at times. My son was in the NICU, and my daughter gave us a couple of medical scares as an infant too. Your ability to think things through logically is definitely not the same when it’s your own child!
What has been the most challenging thing about being a Dad?
The most challenging thing for me as a Dad has honestly been finding that work-life balance. My children are great for me, in that they encourage me to leave work to spend time with them. I have colleagues without kids who find it harder to get balance because they don’t have quite the same incentive to leave work behind! It’s something that everyone has to work on to some extent, but it’s worth it.
What piece of advice would you have for other parents whose child may have a health issue?
I give this advice to parents all the time – never stop advocating for your child. Some parents are perceived as “difficult” because of how pushy they are, whether that’s in terms of demanding answers, treatments, tests or just someone’s time to listen. From their perspective it’s often that they are scared that something is terribly wrong with their child, and no-one is listening or addressing their concerns. It’s our job as healthcare providers to listen and try to provide answers, but we can’t possibly proactively identify every child with an issue – even if we try to. It’s a simple fact that we often cannot find answers to every question, and often the diagnosis isn’t what the parent wants to hear – but in that case their job is to do the best they can to get the best care for their child. Lastly, and this is especially true for kids with chronic health issues, is self-care. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen parents defer their own care of very serious health issues, such as autoimmune disease or cancer, in order to spend time chasing doctors for their child. If the parent isn’t well, they can’t take care of their child.