I had become quite a regular at the Maternity Ward of the Royal Women's Hospital in Sydney. After all, ten of my fourteen children were born there. One of the midwives even suggested that the hospital ought to put my wife on a "Frequent Flyer" program.

It was therefore very natural for me to receive reports from the pediatricians who checked the newborn baby. On all the fourteen occasions on which I became a father, I had wanted to make sure that the baby was responding normally, and I was anxious to establish whether the baby had my wife's looks or, G‑d forbid, mine.

When my daughters married and started having their own children, they wanted their parents to be by their sides during labor. After all, they couldn't get much more experienced coaches, especially at the price we were charging them!

In June 2006, my grandson, Shmuli, was born at the Royal Women's Hospital in Sydney. He didn't arrive easily and quickly. After eighteen hours of hard labor without any results, the cardiac monitor showed that the baby was under stress. The doctor decided to do a caesarean.

Just as all the doctors were about to start – surprise! surprise! – Shmuli came flying outBut Shmuli was as cheeky then as he is today as a five-year-old. It took thirty minutes to prepare for the operation. Then, just as all the doctors and the nursing staff were about to start – surprise! surprise! – Shmuli just came flying out.

My wife and I were waiting outside the operation room, expecting no news for thirty minutes, so you can imagine our surprise when, four minutes after we had kissed our daughter goodbye, my son-in-law appeared from inside. With a big smile, he announced, "It's a boy, and the delivery was natural."

As we were talking in the hallway, the operating room door flew open, and the pediatrician ran out carrying the four-minute-old newborn baby to the Intensive Care Nursery. My son-in-law rushed after her.

Luckily for me, the nursery had a window through which I watched them putting the baby in an incubator.

I was frantic. I desperately wanted to find out what was going on. All I could see through the glass was my bewildered son-in-law in conversation with the doctor. But I could hear nothing.

My parenting instincts got the better of me, and I burst into the nursery and rushed towards the doctor and my son-in-law. I was determined to hear the doctor's report of my 15-minute-old grandson.

The doctor, who was speaking to my son-in-law, stopped short. She turned to me and asked, "And who are you?"

"I am the proud grandfather," I answered, "and I am here to listen to your report about my now sixteen-minute-old grandson."

"Sorry," she said, "I have a duty of care to protect the privacy of this newborn baby. I can only disclose medical information to the parents. I cannot disclose any medical reports to you. You're not the father. Can you please leave the nursery so I can continue my report to the baby's father?"

"My 16-minute-old grandson needs his privacy? What is the world coming to?"I was in total shock and disbelief. "My 16-minute-old grandson needs his privacy? Isn't that over the top? What is the world coming to?"

Though I was upset to have been ordered to leave the nursery and to have been prohibited from listening to the medical report, I decided not to shoot the messenger but rather to put all my energy towards understanding the message. I was determined to allow it to sink in so that I could find its particular, special meaning. I asked myself, "Why did I need to hear this message? What's the lesson G‑d wants me to take away from it?"

In the following days and weeks, the lesson finally became obvious. The penny finally dropped, big time. If 16-minute-old Shmuli deserves his absolute privacy, how about the 16-month-old Shmulis of the world; how about the five and 25-year-olds, our friends, our children, our neighbors. Are we protecting their privacy at all times?

In our family, it has become a household saying. When anybody is about to step out of line and is about to disclose some information about a "Shmuli" of any age, size or form, the listener says, "Shmuli needs his privacy." That serves as a wake-up call and a reminder that if the 16-minute-old Shmuli deserves his privacy, how much more does someone older deserve his or hers.

It's important always to ask ourselves the question before we start speaking: Is Shmuli's privacy going to be violated by what I am about to say? After my many years of dealings in family counseling, I can say with certainty that often, the conflict that was presented to me started and escalated due to the fact that such a cautionary pause was not taken, and that question was not asked before the people involved started speaking. Doing so could improve many relationships: between husbands and wives, parents and children; between friends, and between neighbors.

The pediatrician who kicked me out of the nursery sensed that I wasn't too happy with her move, but that is not important. Little did she know that her one sentence – "The baby needs his privacy" – has created history big time in my life, in the lives of my family members, and in the lives of those around the world who read my books and listen to my lectures.