Is this a moral dilemma?
This is an issue which tends to make hearts beat faster and voices raise.
At its heart I think the decision which is made by parents on behalf of their child is no different to any other decision they make as parents. They are forced to guess the consequences of trading off immediate risk to their child vs a long term benefit to their child. Of course, as any parent could tell you, it’s never possible to know for sure you’re doing the right thing. Even 20 years from now you won’t really know what might have happened had you chosen differently.
The most you can do is seriously consider the pros and cons and make the best decision you can at that time. Try not to buy into other people’s opinion too heavily…the same person who thinks it’s perfectly ok for a 5 year old to have their ears pinned back thinks it’s ridiculous for a 16 year old to have a nose job. Or similarly thinks that it’s ok to join the Australian armed forces at 17 but you’re too young to decide to have a breast reduction at the same age.
Your decision on behalf of your child should be on a balanced judgement of short and long term consequences.
I think a bit of common sense, a ‘don’t rush’ philosophy and a healthy regard for the intelligence of children goes a long way. They’re young, not stupid. It’s standard practice for me to ask teenagers to see a psychologist to help them think about the feelings and beliefs that have lead them to be considering plastic surgery. Apart from that I consider whether to offer surgery or not on a case by case basis and always strive to remain objective, practical and truthful. I figure it’s tough enough being a parent and finding yourself trying to make these decisions for your kid, preachy or judgmental doctors (or friends or family) are not helpful.
This opinion piece was brought to you by Dr Mark Baldwin.
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