'ER Dr. Mom' shares her house rules
'I feel very strongly about this,' says Dr. Kelly Levasseur
ROYAL OAK, Mich. – It can be hard for all of us to leave work at work sometimes, but when your job is caring for sick and injured children, it's not surprising that it would influence your parenting style.
As the division director of pediatric emergency medicine at Beaumont Royal Oak, Dr. Kelly Levasseur is ready to handle any emergency.
"What I'm trained to do is as a pediatric emergency medicine doctor is to think about the worst case situations," said Levasseur.
But Levasseur is also "Mom" to 10-year-old Jack and 8-year-old Kate.
She says her job has had an impact on her parenting from the very beginning.
"I don't think that anyone could do what I or we do every day and see the accidents that happen and not bring it home with us," said Levasseur. "I'm always thinking about what potentially could happen, and at the same time thinking, 'Accidents happen,' and it's okay if something happens, and we can fix it."
Levasseur says certain rules are non-negotiable.
"My kids when they are riding their bikes, when they're riding their scooters, they always have helmets on, they always have closed-toed shoes, and that's just because I've seen so many kids come in, their toenails coming off or the skin has been completely scraped off or they've fallen and didn't have a helmet and they hit their head on a rock or a tree," said Levasseur.
Water safety is also key.
"We have so much water around us, and there's always someone watching them in the water, and if they're in a lake, they have their life jackets on," said Levasseur.
But trampolines are particularly tricky.
"American Academy Pediatrics says no trampolines, and it's hard for me to let my kids go on a trampoline," said Levasseur. "If they go, it's one child at a time, there's a netting around it, but even that isn't going to guarantee that they're not going to get injured in some way."
Jack and Kate understand why their mom is more strict than some other parents.
"Because she's a doctor," said Kate.
"Because she's seen it happen all the time," explained Jack.
Levasseur says she's also vigilant about wearing sunscreen and sunshirts and using the appropriate car seats for your child's height and weight.
But it's not just about preventing physical injuries. Levasseur is also concerned about kids' mental health.
"I feel very strongly about this that children should not have phones and access to social media until they're about 12 or 13 because access to them before really seems like it can lead to more social issues, more anxiety, higher rates of depression," said Levasseur. "We have 8, 9,10-year olds now coming in saying that they are feeling sad, that they want to hurt themselves. It does seem like a lot of it is related to social media, and if we wait a little bit longer to introduce them to the social media, then they're more mature to handle it."
The "no phone" rule is the toughest, says Jack.
"I think it's good, but I still don't like it."
In spite of her job, Levasseur said, as a mom, it's important to keep the risks in perspective.
"We have to have fun, we gotta be outside, we have to play, you want the kids to be outside," said Levasseur. "It's about letting them do fun activities, but in the safest way possible."
Levasseur says having children has also helped her at work, especially when it comes to communicating with families.
"Every stage, I've learned things that I've said, 'Okay, here's what medicine says. And here's as a mom, what I've really found that works,'" said Levasseur. "I treat your kids the exact same way I would treat my kids."
Her biggest piece of safety advice for today's parents is simple.
"Put your phone down more and pay attention to what your kids are doing. Especially around water, playgrounds because the more that you're watching what they're doing, the more you can intervene, if you see something that's not going well," said Levasseur.
Advice she follows herself, says her son.
"She's always watching us, and she always makes sure someone else is watching us if she isn't watching us," said Jack. "Sometimes it gets irritating, sometimes it's also good."
So will they be as strict as their mom with their kids someday? Kate says, she will.
"Because I want to follow her and be like her," said Kate.
A ringing endorsement if we've ever heard one.
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