I’m 16 years old and when I go to the doctor, my mom insists on staying in the room. I have an upcoming doctor’s appointment and I want to ask some more personal questions. Do I have the right to talk to the doctor without my mom in the room?

This is a great question! Kudos for wanting to begin understanding what it’s like to take charge of your own health, that’s great! It’s important for you to learn how to take responsibility for your health, know what medications you take (if any), and how to use your health insurance.  You will be transitioning to being an “adult” in less than 2 years when you turn 18 years old, so it’s good to have practiced making healthy choices.

It’s totally normal to be a little nervous about asking for your own independence, as it’s a big change for everyone.  Most health care providers (HCPs) would have already asked to see you for “time alone” as part of the visit. So if you think you can have an open conversation with your parents, start there. Explain that you want to start learning about how to handle your own health care. Be honest and let them know that you have questions for your HCP, but you’re embarrassed to ask them with your parents in the room, their reaction may surprise you!

It’s common for health care providers to automatically ask parents to step out of the room during part of your appointment. This gives you time to ask questions or answer questions truthfully without feeling awkward or embarrassed in front of your parents.  If your provider doesn’t do this and you don’t feel like you can have an open conversation with your parents, call your HCP office. Let the office know that you’re planning to come in for an appointment, but that you have some questions you’d like to ask without your parents in the room. Your provider can act as a great buffer between you and your parents. During your appointment, ask about your provider about their confidentiality policy. You need to know if personal information is kept private unless your provider believes there is a danger to you or to others, that you are being abused, or that you are not able to make safe decisions.