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Remembering the Greatest, Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

I cried and then I smiled. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I followed Cassius Clay, a young promising boxer through a career that took him, as Muhammad Ali, to the title of heavyweight champion of the world. Yet even more impressive than his athleticism in the ring was his conviction and compassion as a human being. Ali was a caring man and a true humanitarian.

As a pediatrician, I had the privilege and honor of providing medical care for one of his children. While his charming wife Lonnie usually brought their son to my office, The Champ would sometimes accompany her.

Ali lit up a room with his presence, wit and charisma, yet it was never about him. Sure he often played to the camera and bantered how “pretty” he was, but when talking with him individually, he focused on the person and made them feel special.


Lessons Learned from the Loss of a Gorilla


In a well publicized story last week, a 3-year old boy climbed a fence and fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo then was dragged out of the water and onto a landing by a western lowland 450-pound silverback male gorilla.

The incident exploded into a full-blown internet controversy when the 17-year old gorilla was shot and killed in order to rescue the child, with seemingly everyone weighing in and assigning blame to the zoo for not creating unscalable fences; the parents for letting their child slip away; and the zookeepers for destroying the animal rather than attempting to distract him. Even Jane Goodall weighed in with a gentle rebuke, suggesting that the gorilla was in an attitude of “protection” rather than the zoo’s description of him being disoriented and unpredictable.

While animal activists protested the slaying of an innocent animal in captivity, any parent will tell you that zoo officials did the absolute correct thing in shooting the massive primate.

Plain and simple, the child’s life was in danger, immediate action was necessary and correctly carried out. It is fortunate the boy only sustained minor injuries from the fall and, as a pediatrician, I hope precautions are now taken about the possible emotional scars or trauma.

I am sure both the zoo and the parents are mortified and deeply regret the incident and the loss of the animal’s life. The alternative, however – gambling the small child’s life – is too horrifying to consider.


Adam LaRoche and the Working Dads’ Blues

Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune

On March 16, Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche announced that he was “stepping away from baseball” and his 13 million dollar contract.

The reason he gave for leaving baseball was wanting to spend more time with his family and son, but the timing was key: he made the announcement after the White Sox team president requested that he not bring his 14-year old son Drake into the clubhouse on a daily basis.

As a father, I applaud Adam LaRoche’s commitment to his family and his son. When he announced his decision to retire via Twitter he used the hashtag #FamilyFirst. It’s obviously admirable to want to deepen his connection with his son.

As a parent, quality time with our kids is paramount to foster communication and forge bonds. When my daughters were younger, I certainly supported Bring Your Daughter to Work Day and my girls came to my office for short visits to witness their Dad in his environment as a pediatrician.


Ignore Your Relatives – Develop Your Own Parenting Personality

A scene from the film August: Osage County

Over the Holidays, I found myself attending quite a few family gatherings and having conversations with relatives I hadn’t seen in forever.

Most of my relatives were curious about my passion for helping parents develop their own Parenting Personalities. A vocal few of them, however, were extremely skeptical and kept asking questions like “When did being a parent turn into “parenting” and what’s the big deal?” My Uncle Hal insisted that his formula for successful “parenting” was making his kids play outside as much as possible so they’d use up all their energy. He also had made sure his wife, my Aunt Edie, gave them castor oil every day. That may help explain why my cousins were a tad weird!

As a father of 33 years and a pediatrician for 40 years, my life has been blessedly full of kids. I reflect a lot on parenting and whether or not it should be a “big deal.”


Remembering David Bowie – As a Parent and a Fan


The news of David Bowie’s death saddened so many of us. He was a true artist: a singer, songwriter, and musician, but also an actor, painter and record producer. His innovative – and constantly changing – impact on pop culture was enormous, from his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, to the Thin White Duke, to a producer who influenced the nature of rock music that followed him.

David Bowie opened a path for many doubting adolescents that gave them permission to feel good about themselves and that non-judgmental approach and openness to being an individual is something I have tried to share my own children.


Singing The Working Mom Blues to Some Very Special Ladies


I was very pleased to be able to spend some time with a truly inspirational organization last week. On September 19 I went to Houston to give a talk to Houston chapter of Dress For Success’ Professional Woman’s Group. Dress for Success does great work and I was struck by how organized, focused, and compassionate everyone was.

The women in the Professional Woman’s Group were truly inspirational. They came from all walks of life, including women from abusive situations and recovering from addictions and personal setbacks.