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Elissa Charbonneau, DO

Dr. Charbonneau is a mom of an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter and the medical director of the New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland, ME.

How many children do you have? I have an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter.

What’s your specialty? I’m a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist. We take care of people who have been injured, such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and trauma, stroke patients and other neurological diseases. We also are trained in physical medicine, such as treatment of low back pain, or sports related injuries.

What’s your favorite parenting tip?  I remember being very upset about my children not wanting to do something that I wanted them to do. And someone asked me, “Who’s really upset about this? Is this your issue or is it you’re kids’ issue?”

I think sometimes we put pressure on our kids to do things, or to like things, just because we like them. I try to ask myself, Is this important to them, or is it important to me?

For example, I really wanted my kids to ice skate. I had it in my head that if you live in Maine, you should ice skate! But both of my kids hated ice skating. I realized that it was something I wanted them to do, not something they wanted to do. And so I let it go.

How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? When they were young, we chose healthy foods for them. Now that they’re older, we model healthy eating. We talk a lot about making healthily food choices and why we eat well to take good care of ourselves.

How do you work exercise into your family’s life? Well, we don’t ice skate, but we ski! But we do lots of other active things as a family. We take walks, and when my kids were little, we spent a lot of time at a nearby playground. We encouraged our kids to try lots of different sports when they were young, but we did not encourage them to get too carried away with one sport. I think sometimes parents put too much pressure on kids to participate in competitive sports.

How do you recharge your batteries? You have to make the time for this. We’re pulled in so many different directions. You need to carve out some time for yourself to do the things that you enjoy.

I joined a book club so that once a month I spend time with friends and discuss a good book. I also take time to exercise, and I have taken art classes in the past.

Dr. Charbonneau’s Q&As

This is the strangest thing. I’m in my first trimester and smells really bother me. Did this happen to you?

I feel badly even thinking this, but I’m pregnant with my second child and I wonder, how could I ever love this baby as much as I do my daughter? Did you feel this?

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.