When it Comes to Their Diabetes, are We Locking Our Kids…….In?

Hotel KeyIt seemed like a simple request.  I was in an elevator in my hotel.  A woman walked in with her two children.  Two fine young men both wearing North Carolina shirts.  The mom asks if the young man has the room key and he answered yes, “You gave me yours to hold.  Maybe next time we can get three room keys instead of two.”
Mom:  No we do not need three keys.
Younger child: What do you need a key for Timmy?
(Timmy thinks)
Timmy: Well for one, when mom has stuff in her hand I could open the door and also you and I have gone out a few times and we had to knock on our door to get back in.
Mom: I told you already you do not NEED a key.
Timmy’s face shows a little hurt.  Not a lot, but disappointed.

On face value, and I get the fact that Mom may have had a million fabulous reasons not to give Timmy a hotel key, but on face value, it made me think how many times we may miss the opportunity for our child to be more responsible, and we do not give them the chance.

To be clear, again; Timmy could have lost a thousand keys in their travels and Mom knows that but let’s assume for today’s article that she said ‘no’ just because it was the easiest route to take.

How many times do we do that?  I remember years ago, while at a conference I heard a child say to her mom, “I can do that.”  Mom was checking her blood sugar.  “No, I have to do it.”   Um……er……..no you don’t mom.  If your child shows the least bit interested in checking their own blood sugar or giving themselves their shot——it might be worth letting them try.

Your child’s diabetes does not belong to you, it’s the unfortunate truth, but it belongs to them.  It surely impacts all of you but I have said this before; the more you give it back to your child and the sooner you do it; it will be better for all.

And, yes, I have heard the statement that kids will have to take care of this their entire life so the more the parents do now, so the child does not have to—-it allows them to just be kids.

Not really.

And if you live by this philosophy and it works for you, I’m not here to convince you otherwise but rather just to ask you to consider the following: Every parent has to make the call to do what’s right.  But I WILL state this: In as much as you want your child to just be a child, them NOT taking care of their own diabetes means that wherever they go, whatever they do, whatever they are in the middle of; they need to stop and find you.  Whereas, the child who takes care of their own diabetes, takes care of it right then and there………………..and moves on.  Which scenario is a child being more like the child we would like to see?

What age should this happen?   Well THAT is your call.  Clearly infants and toddlers are not to whom I refer, but I have known parents who were still doing everything for their child, not only six years after diagnosis, but into their teen years.  I, honestly, question that.  The inclination may be to take the burden away, but think about all of the times your child MUST STOP what they are doing to find you, wait for you, do whatever task is needed; and continue on in their life.

Is it really just the diabetes stopping them from being kids?

Two kids with T1.  I get it.  I really do.  I’m not saying to just walk away and leave them ‘out there’.  I’m not saying there were not days when we just needed to help them because they were just ‘so tired of it’.  I’m saying that diabetes management is non-negotiable, they MUST ‘take-it-on’ at some point and the sooner they can understand it, manage it, and make it theirs……from experience…..I’m sharing they will function better in this maze of life as they develop into the young adults we want them to be.

So give them their ‘hotel key’…….trust me, it will open the door in their world like never before.

I am a diabetes dad.

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0 thoughts on “When it Comes to Their Diabetes, are We Locking Our Kids…….In?

  • I love your view on this. I’ve been diabetic since I was 4 years old (now 26). I learned to give my first shot by age 5 (with the old school injector and long syringes!). This was a requirement for me before I was allowed to do fun things like go to a sleepover at my friend’s house (who’s parents understood T1D). I do however remember my morning ritual where my father would wake me up, carry me downstairs, and test my blood sugar for me. Only that one test in the morning. I only got a pump when I was able to count carbs and enter the information on my own. I think it empowers a child to do this.

    I have also seen the other side by being a counselor at a camp for diabetic children. Some kids have come to camp as 12-13 year olds, diabetic for multiple years, and unable to do their own shots or infusion sets, or understand some of the basics about their diabetes. I understand parents want to do all they can for their kids, but it’s scary to see kids not have a clue what is going on with their own body. Nobody gets it perfect, but they’ll never get it if they can’t try.

    • Thank you Alex—your viewpoint about the camp is SO appreciated. Wow….an eye opener. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with those who need it and for chiming in on the post.

  • Can I agree with both philosophies?

    My daughter can do everything associated with her diabetes, there are some things she does all the time, there are some things she rarely does, but could if push came to shove.

    I do often think to myself – she’s only in the house full time for 8 more years. I’ll monitor her dexcom overnight and make those decisions for now because she’ll have to do it forever, not just for 8 more years.

    But when she goes to sleepovers . . . she takes care of herself overnight.

    She knows how to change the cartridge in her insulin pump and get it primed, etc, but (t:slim) it takes awhile and she’d rather do something else. So, I do that part for her.

    But when she was at D camp and the nurses had never seen a t:slim, she happily did it.

    She asks me – waving her hand around her dinner plate — how many carbs?

    But when she’s out with friends, she does it herself.

    I think the last thing she’ll dabble in is appointment making, supply reordering, etc. She’s never even made her own hair appointment!

  • Great post as always. I have always given thanks that I have T1 instead of my children. But if they developed Type 1, I would hope that I would have been half as good a D-parent as you are.

  • This is the approach we’ve taken on my son’s T1. He is 11yo and was dx on February 2nd, 2015; we are just 5 weeks in but he took charge of his diabetes since the hospital. Every now and then he asks me to pick his finger to test and every now and then he asks me, my husband or his grandmother (who is surprisingly gentle with a needle) to inject his insulin, but for the most part he does it on his own. Of course we have to be on top of him about the counting carbs, some of the measuring and we double check the math on the correction ratio, but it is mainly HIS responsibility and he accepts it like a Pro!
    See, I’ve raised him to be independent from day one. Even before T1 showed its ugly face, he was always very “in charge” of his life and his things. Of course the kid suffers from the usual “irresponsible bug” and “absent mind-ness” of young pre-teens, so nudging and reminding is always necessary. He also gets sick of this “new” life and reverts to a stage where he just wants mommy to take care of him and I happily oblige in those occasions, after all, he is my first born, my child, half of my heart. Him and his brother will always be my babies and I will always do my best to ease the burdens of their lives whenever I can. But for the most part, he takes care of his Diabetes. NOT because we don’t want to do it, but because the best thing we can give him right now, is the gift of knowledge and independence.
    I love that child more than I ever thought I could love another human being and the pride I feel when I see him taken care of himself is unmeasurable!

  • From day one (5/26/08) we have showed our son how to do everything. We knew we only had a few years before he became a teenager and who knows if they will listen at that age. We knew it was his for life and we needed him to be able to take care of it himself. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to put him in a bubble and do it myself because that’s what parents do for so many things. He started to do it after 6months. I still hovered and checked all he was doing for the next year. Then the pump came and we learned it togeather. He is now 15 and does everthing himself. I ask daily how his numbers are and sneak peaks at his meter.
    When he chose to go off the pump last year. The dr asked my husband why we would let him do this. My husband responded “because this is his Diabetes and this is what he wants. ” His a1c went from an 8.2 t0 a 7.3.
    When my son was sick which rarely happens his bg was going from 500 to 50 . He was not able to concentrate on anything. So I took over his management for 4 days till he felt better. When he came out of it he thanked me for taking care of it for him. I told him anytime you need me I am here. I know you like to do it yourself but glad you are strong and smart enough to ask for help when you need it.

    • Sorry I hit the send button before done.
      To sum up my reply. I believe it’s hard to give that room key but what they learn in return is so much more. Help your child succeed and be independent with the tools they need ,because that’s what being a parent is all about

      • hi everyone, i will not forget the date that my son was dx (feb 22,2015).At first we were in shocked (maybe that was the emotions most parents felt when your kids
        was dx with chronic disease?) It is very hard, YES but I know my son is a very strong young man, the following day after the diagnosis, he does his own pricking and admistered his own insulin injection, with the supervision of his pedia nurse of course. As a parent I know our children will always be our babies regardless of their age and accomplishemt in life, but I am totally agree to all of you whose point of view on giving them freedom to take care of themselves and to take responsibilities of their own illness will make them even more better person. We are just here for them if they needed help or anything, let us let them spread their wings and broaden their horizons like their illness never exist.
        Thank you diabetesdad for your words of wisdom, parents of diabetic child absolutely needed those.

        Have a blessed day to all.

        sweetlife

  • My daughter was diagnosis at age 10 and wanted to give herself the shot and check her bg while still in hospital. I absolutely let her, although I really wanted to help. She said something like I am going to have to learn how to deal with this, mom, so I want to start now. I think you are absolutely right; it empowers them and allows them to be more independent and responsible, traits we as D parents should embrace. Give ’em the hotel key! And be their support and backup, not their control.

  • Ugh, I was 10 yrs old in 1991. I wasn’t even allowed to hold my own glucometer. Every time I was low I was sent (alone) to the nurses office. It was horrible, I was embarrassed and it led to me trying to sneak snacks in class. But then I’d get in trouble so I’d try to wait it out. It made me hate my condition.

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