A Father’s Tears

They took their six-month-old son to the clinic because of a cough.

The clinic thought something did not sound quite right and referred them to us.

We thought something did not sound quite right and sent the child to X-rays.

The baby has pneumonia, the X-ray revealed. Completely treatable; this baby with his healthy immune system and good nutrition would be just fine after a course of antibiotics.

But while watching their child cry as the doctors drew blood from him, first the mother and then the father became undone.

Afterwards, the father repeatedly asked what could have caused their child’s illness. Did they give it to him? Did they do something wrong?

We tried to explain that sometimes babies get ill, and that it is more common during the Winter months. Their command of English was slight, but they caught on to the word “cold”, and the father cried again because he felt that perhaps he had not kept his son warm enough. No matter the explanation, he continued concluding that the illness was his fault.

It wasn’t, I’m quite sure. But I know my parents were much the same while we were young.

In these parts we don’t often see fathers by the side of their sick children.

I know he will give his son the protection he so dearly needs from his father. I know that there is hope for fathers in South Africa.

The next day, not needing supplemental oxygen, the baby was sent home with his parents to complete the antibiotics there. The baby will be healthy, and his parents will be great.


  1. This is such a touching story! I never thought of it this way, but in your position of pediatrics, you really get to see the family dynamics. As a teacher, I see the same intricate details of families. It’s very eye opening. Stopping by from SITS.

    1. That’s the awesome thing about working with kids (no matter the profession): you think you teach or treat the child, but in actual fact you are treating or teaching the child’s entire family. Quite an honour πŸ™‚

  2. Rina says:

    I appreciate your insights as a med student. Thanks for giving us a glance at your world in South Africa. Even though you are on the other side of the world, the parents’ love and concern for their sick child is universal.. Stopping by from SITS.

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it πŸ™‚
      I think sometimes that in times where reconciliation is needed (such as in SA’s history), parents should meet in little support groups to talk about their children. I think their love for their children will unify them.

  3. ashleyinnc says:

    This totally made me cry. Beautiful. So glad you are out there helping to make the world better, literally and figuratively. πŸ™‚ Well done.

    1. THANK YOU! That’s really sweet of you.

  4. Alison says:

    Nothing like the love of parents for their child. Lovely touching story.

    Stopping by from SITS.

    1. Thanks so much – I agree. Every day that I work with parents and their kids, I appreciate my own parents more and more.

  5. Felicia says:

    That is such a sweet and touching story! That brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad to hear that the baby will be okay.

    1. Yep, it touched me to the core too. Thank you for visiting πŸ™‚

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