By Dr. Lisa Rubin, Ph.D. (my beautiful wife and guest blogger)
Director, Life University, Student Success Center
If you want to know the true story about chiropractic, just watch a child. Kids instinctively know how to play and have fun; we dont have to explain to toddlers and preschoolers how to enjoy themselves. They just do it naturally. Children even know how to innately bend down and pick things up properly by using their legs. How come no one needs to explain this to a youngster? Chiropractic kids think differently because they are exposed to different ideas about health and life choices.
We share the chiropractic story with our children in many ways: The body heals from the inside out, The power that made the body heals the body, and The body heals from above, down, inside, out are typical examples. Chiropractic, for many families, is more than just a health care choice. It is a lifestyle. To illustrate, we have chosen to bring our son up as a vegetarian. One afternoon we were going through Whole Foods and my son asked what was rotating in a glass case, (it was rotisserie chicken). Four-year-old Palmer was horrified and started chanting, Dont kill chickens. Dont kill chickens. He did not yell this out to have others feel bad about their choices, he explained. Palmer was trying to educate people about other life choices that they could have. That was pretty profound for a kindergartener.
An important lesson we learned early on was to reach out to other chiropractors to help us on our journey. On one occasion, Palmer was playing with friends. They were pushing him in a cart and he fell off and cut his lip so badly that his lip was hanging away from his mouth, halfway to his chin. We had to choose between getting it stitched up, or letting it heal on its own. After several hours of agonizing debates, we finally decided to take him to a plastic surgeon. This was the third time he busted his lip at the same location. The first two times we allowed it to heal naturally, but the tear appeared to be progressing with each injury. Palmer was just learning how to speak and we were concerned that maintaining an open wound this time might affect his speech or his ability to eat properly due to the size of this large tear. The stitches went fine but Palmer developed a horrible eye infection. We finally got on the phone and called our chiropractic friends for their advice. They told us to have him drink Eye-bright tea and put the cooled tea bag on his infected eye. What a miracle it is to have others help. We have relied many times, before and since, on our chiropractic friends to offer guidance culled from their own experiences.
When our kids go to school they stand out. They sometimes eat different foods and practice different health choices. On one occasion, a female classmate came to school with a cast on her arm. Palmer was very upset that she had gotten hurt on the playground the day before. He asked her, in a very worried tone, if she had to go to the hospital. She responded that she did. He looked grief stricken and queried whether she needed to get shots. That was the beginning of a very interesting conversation.
Of course not, she responded. She went on to explain when shots were given. Palmer had never heard such a thing, and responded that he never had shots. She argued that not getting any shots was impossible. I stood back watching the interaction wondering if the teacher was going to intervene. She absolutely did! The teacher reminded Palmer that, when born in the hospital, you receive your first shot. Palmer then responded proudly that he was born at home. Here we go The teachers expression was priceless. She gave him a sympathetic look that he must be a bit confused. She eventually gave up trying to convince Palmer that before you come home, one is born in the hospital. This issue did not disappear. When Palmer was in fourth grade, vaccines were brought up again. A classmate said she had a flu shot. Palmer reminded her that he never had shots. She told him, If you dont have shots you will die. Palmer retorted, Then why am I still living?
Our children are very powerful people. They are asked to stand up to challenges that even give us difficulty. I tell our son that it must be hard to have us as his parents because we ask a lot from him. We make so many different choices than the bulk of society, from being born at home, being a vegetarian, consuming no milk or meat, eating mostly organic food, taking no vaccines or drugs. The list goes on and on.
I walked into school one day when Palmer was in first grade. All the childrens artwork from the day was hanging up. I knew immediately which one was Palmers. His painting was out of the lines and all the colors were different than the other childrens patterns. I looked at that picture and said, of course. We taught him to think outside the box; exactly what chiropractic philosophy has taught us. Our son has all the qualities a parent would hope for in a 20 year old but as a child it is a tough road to be a free thinker. Chiropractic kids tend to explode with many inquisitive questions they want answered and are not afraid to question authority. Weve made sure Palmer at least understands how to do it courteously.
Our children constantly see chiropractic in everything they do because that is what we share with them. One such example was when my son was in my husbands chiropractic office playing with the photocopy machine. I noticed about 20 pages of paper lying on the carpet. I asked Palmer, age 5 at the time, what he was doing, realizing he was on a mission. He responded that he was taking x-rays. His tone basically said, Come on Mom, dont you know this? I told him I could tell he was taking x-rays, but was wondering why there were so many taken, (of course, he must realize it is important to not overexpose patients to unnecessary radiation, right?). He stated in an exasperated tone: Heres the before chiropractic x-ray, (the dolls head was turned to one side). Heres the after chiropractic x-ray, (the dolls head was perfectly straight, looking forward). I saw in his eyes and voice inflections that he was thinking, Okay, Mom. Ill just have to explain the obvious.
Another time, I picked up Palmer from school and he had fallen in the playground. He stated that he needed to go to Daddys office to get adjusted before we went home. Upon arriving at the office, he realized that his dad had just unveiled a holiday poster/writing contest for kids. He wanted to participate, and liked the idea of winning a prize, (which, knowing his daddy, meant everyone gets to win). Since Palmer was only 4, he asked that I write his story. These are Palmers words: I hurt my knee because a little bit of subluxation was squeezing on two nerves. I went to Dr. Drews office and he adjust me. I almost felt better. But, after it was almost better, G-d healed up the subluxation and I felt much better. Kids get chiropractic. It is plain and simple to them.
Many of us also have children that adjust while they are pretend-playing as toddlers. I remember one time my son was playing with his cousins. Their father is a medical doctor and understandably they were giving shots to their dolls. Palmer stated he was going to show them something cool without shots. Guess what? Moments later, all the kids started adjusting the dolls. Another time, my son was at a chiropractic seminar with us. He was sitting with a chiropractic student who was trying to keep him busy. Jesse asked if he wanted to draw a picture of his hand and traced his hand for him. He was excited and asked if she would trace his other hand on top of the first one, so it looked like he was adjusting.
We also have to guide our children. In first grade, Palmer happily came home one day announcing that he had adjusted his friend Zach on the playground after his pl complained of a headache. My husband asked Palmer what he had done. Our son casually explained, (with that look once again that said dont you know already?), that after his buddy told him he was going to the school nurse to get an aspirin, Palmer replied in a horrified tone: Dont do that! I can adjust you just like my dad does. We asked Palmer to refrain from adjusting people until he gets a license.
When Palmer, now almost 11, was asked for his opinion of what to put in this article, he said, Tell them that chiropractic will give them a much happier lifestyle. So just follow these steps:
1. Start from day one explaining your philosophy to children and include why you do things.
2. Talk with other chiropractic families for support or advice; you dont have to do this alone.
3. Keep informed by reading constantly. There is a plethora of books, magazines and websites about every alternative health option you could imagine.
4. Go to holistic seminars with your entire family, whether they are just a local Saturday night or four-day intensives. There you will either be reinforced for your choices or be exposed to new ideas.
5. Ask lots of questions until you know what your choices are, and then make your decision and stay strong.
6. Understand that your family and non-chiropractic friends will think you are nuts most of the time, so dont let them talk you out of what you believe in. Share with them in a loving manner; dont let your different choices make them think that they are wrong for following the conventional approaches. Remember, it is better to be loved than to be right. Let them have their opinion, just as you have yours.
7. A crisis is not the time to make a health care decision. Try to make as many choices as possible before big events like birth, first vaccinations, breastfeeding, family bed, etc.
8. Answer all your childrens questions without biasing others choices. Answer them honestly and dont hide the facts. Offer them a chance to be part of the decision making process and they will eventually be able to make these same choices as they get older and reach the more difficult peer pressure years.