I was amazed how many people responded to yesterday’s article about ‘diabetes meltdown’. As I read so many responses, I noticed an underlying thread in so many that I wanted to share my thoughts today. The constant denominator that I noticed was the question on how far is one permitted to go in caring for a child with T1 diabetes?
Surely one of the most brilliant answers on this topic came from none other, than the wonderfully brilliant Dr. Richard Rubin. (Oh how the world misses this incredible man well over a year since his death.) He said to me once, “It is about balance. You have to keep looking for that balance and constantly make it about choices.”
Me, in my always thirst to know more asked what I thought was a brilliant question; “We have been at this a long time, at what point do you find that balance?” To which Richard responded, “Never”.
He went on to explain that in some battles we will learn what to do but the disease is ever-changing as our kids are ever-changing; so the ‘balance’ is sought forever. But here is the catch. Number one: remind yourself in ALL things diabetes with your child (and hear me loudly) is not their fault.
We constantly yell and scream when people ‘get diabetes wrong’ saying things like “Did you give them too much soda when they were younger”; but when our kids are just too tired (tired defined as just exhausted from having it, having a bad day, a bad week, just not wanting it anymore) we get frustrated with them and it turns into a battle between child and parent.
We tell ourselves that this is okay to do. It’s our job. I’m not here today to argue that line in the sand and where it is or should be (only you know that); I’m saying that it is at these times more than any other that we MUST remind ourselves; it is not their fault they have it. This is not on the same shelf with the million times we tell them to pick up after themselves, clean their room, do their homework, or anything else in their lives. There is a difference and it should be recognized.
The words ‘being wrong’ are different dealing with something they should never have had to deal with in the first place.
I was the worst at telling Kaitlyn to ‘just’ take care of (or just do) it; way back when. For years I did this but at a CWD Friends for Life Conference (which if you have never gone to, you should beg, borrow or steal to get there—there are scholarships for families also) I learned that me getting mad at my daughter for not doing something to take care of something that she had nothing to do with getting in the first place (wow say that again—whew!) was sending a message from me that, once I understood it, made me feel horrible.
It became about choices. Asking questions to show them that their action will result in a result. For the most part it was with a positive spin. “DO you remember how bad you felt yesterday when your blood sugar went very low, do we want to see if we can try and to ensure it does not happen today?” Sound difficult? It isn’t, actually, and once you get the hang of it, it will filter into, and help with so much more of your parenting. Now I’m not stating that the “I said so” answer will never be used again, but I am saying that the use of choices was a huge help to us.
The second point is that we know there is no universal manual dealing with children and parenting. Add diabetes to that mix makes it more frustrating that we cannot always do X and get Y as a result. It changes daily, even hourly, and it is up to us to figure out what to do. There are books you can read that may offer some guidance but the truth is that when it comes down to your child (or children) and you; there is really no universal action/reaction to anything.
In as much as you cannot and should not be too hard on your child, give yourself a break too. People who have heard me lecture have heard me say that no one has made more mistakes at this ‘diabetes thing’ than me. That is the truth. I am the king at this and here is the point: one thing I know is that the sun will set and rise again. Time will always move on. We must learn to move on also. No matter what has been dealt,
I believe if we cannot accept what (whatever it is) has been dealt to us, we must learn to cope.
I wear my ‘diabetes police’ badge proudly. We must do what we need to do to help our kids. Keep reading, asking, and learning. No one can become an expert at anything unless they do it. No one got to the major leagues in sports without doing it every single minute of every single day. YOU are now in the major leagues when it comes to diabetes management; and my guess is that many of you should be listed as MVP.
I am a diabetes dad.
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