At a dinner party a young physician who specializes in children’s diseases was asked where he encountered the particular difficulties of his profession: were the mothers or the babies harder to deal with? Were the grown-ups or the tots more of a problem?
He answered that neither mother nor child gave him any trouble. With kindness and patience, he intimated, one can win the confidence of a sick child, and the mothers were always touchingly grateful and unfailingly eager to follow all directions.
“No,” he said, “the only problem I have to cope with is the Lady Next Door.”
“Your neighbor?” asked his hostess. “Anybody’s neighbor,” he answered smilingly and, when pressed to explain, he said:
“The modern mother still retains one habit which is not only old-fashioned but almost atavistic. When her child is ill or feverish she does not immediately call the doctor but first goes to the Lady Next Door. And the Lady Next Door, though possessing no medical training, is ready with advice.
“The darling has a stomachache?’” she says for instance, “‘give him a dose of castor oil.’”
“Nine times out of ten she is right, but the tenth time the apparent stomach ache may be an incipient appendicitis and the castor oil does untold harm. And so it goes with other things: colds that are the beginning of a more serious trouble, headaches that should not be doctored with some patent medicine but recognized as the symptom of a deep physical disturbance.
“The Lady Next Door means very well, but she is a menace, and the wise mother will avoid her. Especially the Jewish mother should never consult the Lady Next Door nor ever consent to become such a Lady Next Door herself. For the Jewish child possesses a nervous sensitiveness as a racial heritage and only the competent hand of the physician should be permitted to adjust the delicate mechanism of the child’s physique. Visit with the Lady Next Door, chat with her, ##sip if you must, but never never ask her for medical advice, and never give such advice yourself. In doing this you will make inno###ous an enemy of the healthful development of your child: the insidiously, dangerously kind Lady Next Door.