It’s not your diabetes

Parents of young people with diabetes are incredible – I’m constantly in awe of how knowledgeable and dedicated they are towards their children. Whenever I meet a parent of a type 1 in person, we always get along like a house on fire as they love to chat about what their kids are achieving, and the challenges they face.

However, there’s been something that’s been grating at me lately in the online diabetes community, and it’s parents that see their child’s diabetes as something that they are entitled to dictate. Complaining about their child’s reluctance to wear a CGM, or their child’s ‘negativity’ towards diabetes.

“He doesn’t want to go on a pump!”

“She’ll only test before meals!”

“He refuses to even try a CGM”

“Her levels are always so high, she doesn’t care!”

As much as you have done an amazing job raising your child with type 1 diabetes, there comes a time when they are old enough to dictate their own healthcare. This is different to your ‘normal’ kids – you tell your daughter to get a vaccination and that’s a non-negotiable! With a type 1 kid, they grow up so much faster. They are asked to make more healthcare decisions in a day than most of their peers make in a year. When they are little, we have to make decisions on their behalf (a four year old doesn’t like injections but they have to be done to keep them alive…), but as they get older, these decisions must be gradually handed over.

Diabetes is an invasive and personal disease. To have your parents overriding your decisions takes away your bodily autonomy, and will either create resentment or a young person who takes no responsibility for their disease. Do you really want to drive your child away, or have a child who sees their diabetes as your problem?

“He doesn’t want to go on a pump!”
It’s a personal preference – it took me 2 years to go on a pump as I hate being attached, and I regularly take pump ‘holidays’. Work with your child, and respect their decision. It’s not your body that will be connected and sore!

“She’ll only test before meals, and she won’t show me!”
At least she’s testing!! She’s still taking responsibility. Talk about it – is she in burnout? Testing everyday is HARD – sometimes there are days where I can only bring myself to test once or twice. BGLs are private – I get snappy if anyone looks at mine without asking. She may be scared of judgement, or sick of being told how much insulin to give herself. Cut her some slack sometimes, and talk to her as an equal if you are worried.

“He refuses to even try a CGM”
Would you like a plastic device attached to you at all times, along with a pump? Would you like to have numbers in your face 24/7? It is a personal preference, and it is his body. Ultimately, as much as you may be involved in his management, it is his body and his decision. There is a reason for it, and you must respect that.

“Her levels are always so high, she doesn’t care!”
Nobody with diabetes just ‘doesn’t care’. There is always something behind it – mental health is a major issue for those of us who have diabetes. Please don’t put their apathy down to ‘non-compliance’. You probably have a beautiful trusting relationship due to you both tackling this disease together, so talk to your daughter. What is bothering her? 

What is the common theme? Respect your child’s decisions, and discuss their diabetes with them as an equal – they live with diabetes and at the end of the day, you are there as a support, not a manager. You guys are a team as they grow up, and as they mature you step back to let them take the stage!

7 responses to “It’s not your diabetes

  1. I agree with you ! I was never forced to do anything with my diabetes as a child and I think it is great my mom supported me instead of forcing me. She was picky sometimes but since I am a grown up she let me handle it with no questions and it is great. As you said it is private and if I want to keep it for me then it is my choice.
    have a good day ! =)

  2. This is so good! It’s a weird gig as the mum of a teenager with diabetes. In so many areas of life, as a parent, you do have to be the boss as you want your child to grow into a great adult. When diabetes joins the family, you have to accept an inferior role as a parent and let your child take the dominant role! It’s a humbling experience and if I could have the diabetes for my son, I’d take it in a heart beat!

  3. Pingback: Around the Diabetes Blogosphere: Hello, 2016 Edition – Diabetes Bit

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