Anatoly Belilovsky, MD

Dr. Belilovsky is a father of 18- and 15-year-old sons, a board-certified pediatrician, and the medical director of Belilovsky Pediatric Centers in New York.

What’s your specialty? Pediatrics and pediatric asthma

What was the biggest challenge you faced while your wife was pregnant and/or as a dad and how did you overcome it? It had to be the resurgence of the “Sophomore Syndrome.” It is a well-recognized fact that medical students diagnose themselves with every disease they study. What’s less well-known is that, even with years of practical experience, doctors often allow themselves to view their own families with the same bias. This is why having someone else see them for medical care is a good idea.

Also, I’ve often had trouble reconciling the perennial dilemma of “bringing home the bacon” vs. staying at home and having it for breakfast with the kids. Like most doctor dads, I have probably erred on the side of the former.

What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? Your job is to act, not to react. “How do I respond if my child does this?,” is generally the wrong question. “What do I do to avoid this situation?,” is closer to the right one.

What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? Dithering and indecision are worse than being wrong. The job of a parent is to lead. You can be an imperfect leader; that’s fine, but you can’t fail to try.

What’s the one thing about being a new dad that shouldn’t be missed? Being the cheerleader for your children’s developmental breakthroughs.

What’s the most overrated thing about fatherhood? Narrowing the concept to “fathers.” There are many ways to organize the family in addition to “mom, dad, kids, dog, etc.” Everything I have applied to “father” is just as valid for other family members who take on a similar role.

What’s the most underrated thing about fatherhood?

Fathers in general are underrated, culturally and especially in the area of family law. I think the paradigm of the “useless father” has escaped from its bottle in the common law applying to marriage, divorce and custody and is pervading society at large. This is a bad idea.

Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? By consistently using one of those to counteract the stress caused by the other two