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We are new parents with no family or friends around to help. This morning our 3-month-old daughter fell off the couch. I was watching her closely, but she moved when I turned to change the TV channel. She landed on her tummy and cried for awhile. My husband now thinks she doesn’t seem right. Could she have messed something up? I also have a question about a red spot on her head, behind the ear. I’ve seen it before, but I don’t know what it is. Can you recommend a Web site that can help?
Yes, it’s possible your daughter hurt herself. However, the vast majority of falls from couches result in nothing more than bruises that quickly heal. You didn’t say what “doesn’t seem right.” Are you in agreement with your husband on this? Take the safe route and see a doctor.
That’s right, a doctor. Not your neighbor or a well-meaning grocery clerk or anyone you meet online.
As for the red spot, there are many potential explanations. Possibilities include an abrasion that hasn’t healed, a birthmark, or any one of dozens of skin rashes, most of which are not serious. If the spot doesn’t bother the girl, don’t worry about it, and ask your daughter’s doctor at her next checkup. If you’re concerned about irritation, rub calamine lotion on the spot. If itching or irritation persists, see the doctor, and don’t rely on answers from a Web site.
Medical Web sites can help you ascertain the symptoms of illnesses, and in some cases give you advice on how to treat minor ailments. Unfortunately, many symptoms apply to multiple illnesses, and amateurs who try to make a diagnosis based on third-party information are very likely to draw the wrong conclusion. In order to get the right answer, you must ask the right person the right question. Unless you are confident enough in your knowledge to ask the right question on a Web site, you’re better off seeing a professional about the problem.
We’re also talking about an infant. They react differently to stress and trauma than the rest of us. They’re also fragile physically. You or I might take the risk of not seeing a doctor when we’re not sure what is wrong because we can afford to wait and see what happens. However, with a 3-month-old who is unable to communicate whether and where it hurts, the risk is greater.
Bottom line: Your daughter is probably fine. But if you notice any odd behavior, if she is crying more or at a greater intensity, or if you’re just worried, take the girl to see her pediatrician. As you gain parenting experience, you’ll become better able to discern what requires a trip to the doctor, and what will go away with some fluids and a nap. Today, however, err on the side of caution.
My 15-year-old daughter dyed her hair a bluish purple. Should I be angry? Should I try not to care?
You have every right to be angry. People feel very strongly about their hair color – as evidenced by the more than $600 million in hair-coloring products sold annually. However, 15 is far too young for anyone to make such an important decision about her appearance without parental input.
While society has become more accepting of unusual hair colorings in recent years, teens with blue hair still attract attention, and not always the good kind. For better or for worse, many people stereotype youths with garish hair as troublemakers, slackers, druggies, etc. Dye jobs like your daughter’s will make some aspects of life – such as getting a job or convincing adults to take her seriously – more difficult.
Perhaps that’s OK with her. Perhaps that’s even OK with you. But regardless, you’re within your rights to be upset about your daughter’s actions. She should have talked to you about her plans beforehand.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org .