Young parents and their children often face many health and social problems, requiring interactions with a wide range of health professionals, such as midwives, doctors, and health visitors.

This qualitative interview study aimed to explore young parents’ views and experiences of interactions with health professionals.

Researchers recruited ten young mothers and fathers from youth groups and Sure Start parenting classes in Newcastle upon Tyne. They took part in one-to-one or small group semi-structured interviews regarding their experiences of interacting with health professionals about their health and their child.

Emergent themes included: beliefs about children’s health, proving oneself as a parent, and positives of parenting. All the participants distinguished between being a ‘first-time parent, not just a young parent’, and all, to varying degrees, challenged medical and nursing practitioners’ authority and judgment concerning their children’s health.

This study’s findings highlight the need for health professionals to be particularly aware of the sensitivities arising from the power imbalances perceived by young parents of ill children. This can be achieved by following communication skills frameworks that emphasize the importance of active listening and building rapport.