Parenting a Diabetic Child and Listening to Many Opinions

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • We don't all parent the same way, and we don't all manage our children's diabetes in the same manner. I know I'm stating the obvious, but with the return to school it's important to remember that what's right for Sally may not be right for Johnny.


    Physically and emotionally healthy kids who effectively manage their diabetes with an appropriate diabetes team is the goal (oh yes, and a good A1C). How we get there may vary.


    It's not rocket science -- we all parent differently. For instance, there is the very involved parent at school and the marginally involved who is rarely present, and many, many parents who fall in between. Some parents want to see more homework, and then there is the chorus of parents who think there is too much homework. Some want to see more arts and music and some want more focus on the three Rs. The bottom line is we only agree on one thing -- we want a good education for our children, and we will tweak what that means specific to our child. The same variability exists when managing diabetes.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    We all want healthy children, but parents will accommodate diabetes in different ways. There is nothing wrong with that as long as the child is safe. The challenge comes in when the diabetes police rear their opinionated heads or when we try to seek comfort in how we manage our child's diabetes by denigrating how someone else manages their child.


    I was struck by the responses to Ginger's blog It's Not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder -- It's Diabetes! Comments ranged from complete agreement with her structured approach to a plea for flexibility and spontaneity. This is a balance everyone with diabetes must make. It's a balance that parents must strike and teach to their children.


    Oh, and wait for the tension involved when the parent and child disagree about the structure vs. flexibility. Should you let the child sleep late on weekends? What about incorporating occasionally sugary, fat laden desserts? Isn't dinner the same time every night worth it for consistent overnight blood sugars? What about when sports practices get in the way of our dinner time?


    The push-pull is made worse when others pass judgment on the quality of our diabetes parenting. There is only a "right" way specific to your child, specific to the situation in the tapestry of living with diabetes every day. Find it, use it and hopefully you will not have to defend it too often to others.


    Here are tips for making diabetes management work in your household.

    1. Listen more to your child
    2. Encourage frequent blood sugar testing
    3. Use a schedule and be able to identify when you deviate and realize the consequences.
    4. Teach how to deviate from the schedule safely.
    5. Remain neutral about blood sugar data and teach how to address highs and lows
    6. Make safety a non-negotiable priority -- especially when it comes to driving, treating low blood sugars and treating high blood sugars.
    7. Compliment your child and compliment him or her in front of other people.
    8. Seek professional help if A1Cs get out of control or when the emotional challenges of diabetes get overwhelming for you or for your child.
Published On: September 24, 2007