I feel ready to take care of my own medical appointments and paperwork. But
my mom won't let me. When I ask her why she says, "Because I'm the mom." I think she
is afraid I'll run into trouble. But I know when to ask for help and I want to learn
how to do this stuff. – Adrianna*
Doctors recommend that we start getting involved in our medical
care during our teens. It helps us be prepared to handle things as adults.
Still, some parents don't feel comfortable with the idea. The reasons why depend
on the parent, of course. But most of the time, parents don't want to let go because
they care and feel responsible. They know how complicated the health care system
It's great that you're already talking with your mom about managing your medical
care. Here are some tips and ideas for your conversations with your mom or dad:
Start by asking for their help and guidance. Sometimes, we can
be so eager to learn and take charge that the person trying to teach us doesn't feel
needed anymore! Your mom probably has to ease into this, like you do. It's a learning
experience for her too.
One thing you can do is show that you still value her support and knowledge. Say,
"Mom, I know you've been doing this for me all my life. Now that I'm older, I want
to learn more about managing my health. Could you help explain what's involved in
making an appointment and filling out paperwork?"
Next, suggest that you handle a specific task. For example, say:
"I'd like to try making an appointment myself next time so I can get confident about
handling that kind of thing on my own."
Your doctor may have already seen you alone
without a parent in the room. If you feel comfortable doing so, you might want
to include your mom in some appointments so she feels more involved. For example,
if you need to get a test
or procedure, you could say, "I want you to go with me for this visit. I need your
moral support!" This shows your mom that you will ask for help if you need it.
Keep the conversation going. Make talking about your health more
than a one-time thing. Show you really want to learn by asking questions. For example,
ask about injuries or illnesses you had as a child. Or find out about health problems
that run in your family (like allergies or migraines, for example). Knowing about
these can sometimes help you gain insight into your own health issues.
Show you're serious. Read up on things like health
insurance and medical records.
Ask questions. For example, "Hey, Mom, could you help me understand deductibles?"
Or, "I'd like to learn more about health insurance. How long can I stay on our family
plan and when will I need to get my own?"
Be open about what's bothering you. If your mom still won't let
you get involved in your medical care, have an honest
conversation with her. Ask what she's worried about. Gently let her know that
when she doesn't offer details (like saying, "Because I'm the mom!"), it means you
are left guessing about why and it feels like she doesn't believe that you can learn.
Be patient. It can seem like parents stay too involved in our
lives. Chances are, they're doing it out of love. So try not to get upset if things
don't go as fast as you'd like. This isn't only about you learning the ropes; it's
also about your mom getting the reassurance she needs to let you take charge. So keep
talking — and learning!