Dr. Damon Raskin
Dr. Raskin is the father of two children. He is board-certified in internal medicine and has had a busy private practice in Pacific Palisades, California, since 1996. He also practices addiction medicine at the renowned Cliffside Malibu Residential Treatment Center in Malibu. He is on staff at St John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica and is medical director of Fireside Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica, where he treats many geriatric patients.
How many children do you have, and what are their ages? I have 2 children: a bright bilingual 7-year old daughter, Skyler, and a very energetic 2-year-old son, Stone.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a dad, and how did you overcome it? The biggest challenge that I face as a dad is finding the balance between work and family. It is constantly a struggle to be able to give everyone the attention they deserve … my patients, my wife, and my kids. It is never easy, but I always have to prioritize and sacrifice something. If I can’t read my daughter a story at night because I had to go see a patient, I will make sure we go for a bike ride on the weekend. It’s also about setting boundaries with patients, and making sure they know that if I am with my family and not on call, I will have another excellent physician covering for me who can help them. I work extremely hard and very long hours, so taking some time off work to spend with family is time you can never get back as a dad. That is why I make vacations a huge priority, and patients understand.
What’s the most surprising lesson that being a dad has taught you? The biggest surprise about being a dad is how fast it all seems to go. Although it is a cliché to say, it is so true. It seems like I was just changing diapers, and now my daughter is asking to go on sleepovers, and my son can already use my iPhone!
Since you can’t slow time down, just appreciate all the fun little moments, because they are what you cherish most.
What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? It is very important to not forget about spending time with your partner alone. Having date nights and a little time away without the kids is also vital to reenergizing the marriage, which in turn provides for a happy loving home for the kids.
Why are fathers important? Fathers are important because kids need balance and both a masculine and feminine influence. My wife is super neat, and cleans things before they can even get dirty. I like to let my kids get dirty in the park, and they will come home with mud all over their clothes and ice cream all over their faces. Also, my wife can’t ride a bike, and my daughter and I are currently bonding over the bike learning process.
Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? In addition, I practice what I preach to my patients about exercise. I try to get to the gym at least 3 days a week, and find that this is the best way to keep my sanity with the juggling act that I described above with work and family.
When should I start talking to my kids about drugs and alcohol?
Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: Parents sometimes ask me when to start talking to their kids about drugs and alcohol, since they know I help a lot of people with those problems. I tell them it is never too early to start modeling responsible behavior, and start talking to kids as early as six about the dangers of smoking and drinking. I do have patients who have addiction issues who have kids, and I do everything I can to help them get in to treatment to be a better parent and help prevent their children from going down the same path. It is impossible to be a good parent while struggling with addiction, so this is one of my highest priorities as an addiction specialist.
Just as an addicted parent cannot be present for their kids, neither can a dad be present who is getting constantly bombarded with emails and text messages from patients. I am still learning that sometimes I just have to put the phone down, and listen to what my kids have to say. After all, they can teach you as much as you can teach them.
– Damon Raskin, MD, is the father of two children. He is board-certified in internal medicine and has had a busy private practice in Pacific Palisades, California, since 1996. He also practices addiction medicine at the renowned Cliffside Malibu Residential Treatment Center in Malibu. He is on staff at St John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica and is medical director of Fireside Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica, where he treats many geriatric patients.