Monday, October 20, 2014

Take a breather.

When I listened to Joe Solo talk a few weeks ago he gave very smart advice on handing the ownership of the diabetes over to the child with diabetes from the parent.

This is one sticky subject that I can never seem to be able to approach with parents of CWD because I am always nervous to offend, and I don't have a child. However, I have diabetes. I grew up with diabetes, and I have a great deal of concern for others living with diabetes.

I saw, in passing, a parent of CWD comment that they would love to have the cloud/CGM in the cloud set up for their child who is going off to university soon. My alarm bells were ringing. As I continued to click my way around other social media sites, I saw another parent ranting about how their 18 year old child doesn't check its blood sugar at 3 am so that parent was checking blood sugars at 3am.

Dear parents: give yourselves and your child a break. If your kids are in their late teens, they should be managing their own blood sugars. I say this because I lived it. I also say it because it was backed by Joe Solo, and I thought if he shares my opinion, then there has to be something there.

Here's the thing, once we become adults, parents don't get to have ownership over our health. They get to be interested, and they get to care and love and be concerned, but not monitor everything. In order to grow, accept and flourish with T1D we need parents to cut the cord.

We need to make mistakes. We need for our parents to chastise us for the mistakes, but not for the outcome.

What I mean by that is: if a high school student doesn't get up at 3am to check, and wakes up low at 4:30 am and eats 150g carbs and sleeps without correcting and wakes up super high, the high school student needs to be chastised for being irresponsible...not for the high blood sugar. It should get the same attention that missing a curfew, or not doing an assignment can do.

And I took that example directly from Joe. He knows his stuff being a CDE and a family therapist and all.

I just really feel for parents who are always stressed. I wonder if part of it is because they feel they are trying to take some of the 'stress' of living with a chronic condition away? Here's a hint: you can't. You can't fix it right now by staying up and checking someone's blood sugar, monitoring their food intake,  or making sure they rotate their infusion sets. You can't take away that your child is living with a chronic illness. I know you want to, some parents more than anything in the world they would take that burden away. But you can't.

What you can do is fundraise. You can fundraise for JDRF, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Spare a Rose or any of the various diabetes charities. This means the world to me. When someone I love fundraises for my future it means more to me than any number or any question or expression of concern ever could.

You need to give yourself a break. Your teenager and young adult needs you to be their parent, not their pancreas. They should know to check their blood sugars throughout the day and if they don't you chastise them just like if they don't do their chores that day. You don't tell them it's because they could lose their kidneys or eyes or legs, you tell them because in order to be a functioning member of society, they have to live within boundaries and respect the fact that they have an extra task in life.

I know that I sound preachy and like I am dictating how to raise a child. I am definitely not. I don't know how to raise a child, but I know how to raise a diabetic.

I am saying that as a person who grew up with diabetes, using much scarier and less predictable insulins....we want our parents to take a break.

We want you to step back and trust us.

We want you to know that it is going to be ok.

As your (probably) peer, I want you to be healthy, happy and to live life to the fullest.

Please note this is not in reference to young children. If you wouldn't trust your child to cook themselves a grilled cheese or be able to stay home by themselves for a few hours, this probably doesn't apply.


  1. Yes. Exactly. But I would venture to even add that it's not about being given a break. It's about moving on with a new phase of life. You'll be a parent forever, but you cannot physically be in charge forever. You have to cut the cord eventually, in more ways than one. You have to think about what this is psychologically doing to the child, by enabling this kind of behavior. I wonder what other kinds of "help" the child is getting. I personally believe that diabetes independence should be given as early as it is safe. That might look differently for different people. But there is a point where you have to say "listen, it's your life." I mean, we make the decision to do unsafe things all the time -- it's our right as adults. If they don't test at 3 am, they don't HAVE to. But that does not mean the parent GETS to either. There has to be a line drawn, whether the parent wants it or not. Otherwise it's the diabetic equivalent of having your 30-year-old son living in your basement. (Ahem, not that there's anything wrong with that...)

  2. This was a really great post and I think it echoes what many people think and what many people are probably too afraid to say.
    I always love your point of view.

  3. You're right. As parents our job is to guide our children and teach them how to take care of themselves and become functioning members of society. As a parent of a CWD my job of teaching them to take care of themselves also includes teaching them to care for their disease and how to make informed decisions. It doesn't mean doing it for them.....forever.

  4. (I think Blogger ate my first attempt at a comment. Here's the short version.)

    I agree with you. Particularly about chastising kids if they don't come through on their responsibilities, D-related or not. Having gone from childhood to adulthood with D, and now being a parent myself, I can understand both sides of the issue. But if you nurture a child and make them feel fragile and delicate, they will never develop the confidence they need to be successful in life.