Self Esteem
About Judy
Press Room
Speaking Services

Got A Question?

click here

© 2001-2003
Judith Loseff Lavin
Links to Resources
My Story
Problem Solvers
The Chat Club
Parent to Parent
Contact Judy


By Judy Loseff Lavin, M.S.W.
Author of Special Kids Need Special Parents

Jessica’s Smyth’s (not the real name) mom and dad, actually believed they would save Jessica emotional pain if they told her they were going for a ride, instead of the truth which was that they were taking Jessica to the hospital to have her tonsils removed. Needless to say, when the 7-year-old discovered she was at the hospital about to have an operation, instead of in the car driving through the country, she was practically hysterical and enormously confused. The experience registered as a shock and a betrayal by her parents, who she had previously trusted. The entire ordeal was excruciatingly painful for Jessica, where it might not have been so if her parents would have leveled with her from the start.

Believe it or not, we parents do all sorts of odd things to shield our children from emotional pain and many times, in doing them we make terrible mistakes that actually cause our children more harm.

Damaging trust is one of the more destructive things you can do to your child. If a person lacks trust, they see the world through cloudy glasses making them misread situations and cause them to relate poorly to others. Therefore, it’s important to work on building trust between yourself and your son or daughter. And, when children have repeated medical procedures, it’s crucial that parents be not only reassuring, but also honest about what will happen.

For example, in Jessica Smyth’s case, a better approach would have been having her parents explain to her that she was going to have her tonsils removed at the hospital. They might have visited the hospital prior to the surgery, if Jessica wanted to do so. The parents could have answered Jessica’s questions, too. For example, if she asked if she would feel them cutting into her, they could have explained that the doctor was going to give her a special medicine to make her sleep, so that he or she could remove her tonsils without her feeling it.

Most kids want to know if medical procedures will hurt. If the procedure will hurt, you can always say something like, “Yes, it will but not for very long.” Or if it’s a question about post-operative pain, you can tell the child that he will probably be sore and uncomfortable after the surgery for a short while but that the doctors will make sure to give him or her medicine to alleviate the pain or soreness.

When the child undergoes surgery, parents should reassure him or her that they will stay with their child as long as the hospital allows them to do so. And, then, of course, parents have to do what they say.

An important aspect of trust is making sure that someone’s words and behaviors match. If you say one thing and do another, then, it’s difficult to trust the person. So, in order to build trust, parents need to remember to stay honest, even when answering a child’s difficult questions and to be sure their actions and words match.

Being able to trust is the building block of healthy and intimate relationships. It’s crucial to be reassuring but honest whenever you are dealing with your child.

For more information visit

Judith Lavin, M.S.W., author of Special Kids Need Special Parents, and a former journalist with the Chicago Sun-Times, recognized the need for an easy-to-read resource for physically and emotionally exhausted parents like herself, as well as their families, teachers, doctors and others who work with them. Lavin speaks to numerous organizations and parent groups around the nation, giving them inspiration and hope.

Lavin’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Newsday, Washington Parent and Chicago Parent. In addition, she has appeared  on radio and TV news and talk shows around the U.S., including NBC-TV's Today show, PBS-TV's Small Talk for Parents and the CBS Radio Networks. You can visit Judy at