Broadthink was delighted to have the opportunity to talk with pediatrician, bestselling New York Times author, speaker and mom, Cara Natterson, about her consulting business, Worry Proof M.D., and the consulting services she provides to parents and their tweens and teens. Dr. Natterson’s unique perspective helps take at least some of the worry out of parenting.
BT: Why did you decide to become a consultant after having established yourself as a successful pediatrician for so many years?
Cara: I absolutely loved seeing patients in the office – it was a privilege and an amazing way to spend each day. But as my own children got older, the irony of being a pediatrician who never saw her own kids began to weigh on me. There are many ways to be a pediatrician and have a family – I just couldn’t find a balance that worked for me. I had also written a couple of books, and I thought: hey, I could write for a living. The decision to pivot entirely from a clinical practice to a writing career worked out remarkably well. But while I was at home writing, former patients who had my cell phone number would call for advice because they didn’t want to bother their new pediatrician who was busy in the office. I took the calls because I had the time and the knowledge, and these conversations kept me connected to clinical and parenting issues. My patients told friends and they told friends… that was the beginning of Worry Proof!
BT: What has been the biggest change in pediatrics since you started your career?
Cara: The internet! Parents have access to incredible amounts of information. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear what’s good info and what’s not. It is so easy to go down a rabbit hole when you are worried about your kid. The doctor-patient relationship has now become the doctor-patient-web relationship – sometimes this access to endless information is incredibly helpful, but at other times it can be anxiety-provoking and overwhelming for worried moms and dads.
BT: You are now also a bestselling author of books for both girls and boys and their parents. Why are these books so important?
Cara: When I was in the office, I could download my knowledge with only one family at a time. As a writer, I am humbled when I think about how many pairs of eyeballs read my advice. I am particularly proud of the body books because they give kids good, streamlined information, meeting the readers where they are developmentally. I write every book thinking about how my own kids will process the information. I can promise every reader that the content of my books is more than just valid, it’s what kids need to know at that particular stage.
BT: What has been the best reaction you have received from a reader of one of your books so far?
Cara: Fan mail from tweens is the best. There’s nothing like it!
BT: How many years have you been working as a consultant?
Cara: I have been a pediatrician for 19 years. Worry Proof has been around for the last 10.
BT: How would you describe yourself as a consultant to someone you just met?
Cara: In short, I give parents the time that other doctors simply don’t have to answer medical, biological, and parenting questions. I am the human antidote to Google.
BT: Are there unique skills you have developed as a doctor that are useful in your consulting practice or as a speaker?
Cara: Probably the most valuable doctor-skill that I use every day in my writing, speaking, teaching, and consulting is this: while statistics are helpful, any given person either has an issue or doesn’t. A medical diagnosis is 100% or 0% for any individual. This frame shift helped me build empathy when I was a medical student – life is not all about risk and statistical likelihood. It’s also about managing an issue when you need to face it head on, and breathing a sigh of relief when you don’t.
BT: What types of clients have you worked with as a consultant?
Cara: I have worked with a wide range of clients, from individual families to enormous corporations. I love applying my knowledge about how both kids and parents think (which are totally different by the way!) to all sorts of problems, from specific medial issues to bigger corporate challenges. Every parent I have ever met has told me, in their own words, that their goal is to keep their kids safe and healthy. If every business in America approached its consumer market like parents approach their children, well let’s just say it would be a boon for consumers.
BT: What are the most important topics/issues concerning adolescents you find that companies and parents are most interested in?
Cara: The biggest teen issues all boil down to this: good information. Kids want to be informed – I have never met one who isn’t grateful for an explanation about how something works or why they landed where they did. When we speak to tweens and teens as the knowledge sponges they are, when we explain not just a rule but why the rule is in place, they make different choices. Better choices. Take vaping: kids don’t want to be addicted to nicotine. They are angry that companies like Juul marketed to them and produced product to lure them. When we teach them about nicotine, when we acknowledge the cycle of addiction, when we express empathy for these kids who bought into something without realizing how much harm they would do themselves, the kids thank us and they are highly motivated to get help quitting. That example applies to every corner of tween and teen life. Say flat-out “No” and they often rebel but explain why and they engage in conversation around it.
BT: Is this your dream job?
Cara: YES! All of it – being a pediatrician, a teacher, a speaker, a mom. Roll it all up into one giant ball and it is absolutely my dream. I pinch myself every day.
Please visit Dr. Natterson’s website, Worry Proof, MD. Here you will find her articles, newsletters, videos, podcasts, and interviews.