August is usually one of the most exciting times for our kids. Many have left high school and are about to head off to college or begin a career. In as much as we, as parents, are excited it cannot be understated to make sure a ‘half-an-eye’ is focused on our children. Not denying the excitement that they face, it is also met with enormous anxiety of the unknown. That anxiety raises exponentially if your child is also at this age while dealing with their diabetes.
There are millions of questions that we need to be patient with and need to make clear of the messaging that we are available if, and when needed, while balancing the notion of giving them as much freedom as possible to grow and mature. Excitement and hope are at an all time high but so are the unknowns that lay ahead.
Alcohol, relationships (don’t be naïve—sex is part of relationships), new environments, new schools, new work places, different teachers, supervisors, university life, college life, parties, friendships, and so much more. Everything up until this time has been teaching and we are figuratively throwing them in the deepest part of the pool. My mon shared with me once that my Father’s iron fist would almost completely disappear when each of us six kids turned eighteen. I am sure that this was mainly because my dad lied about his age to get into the armed services before age 18 and if he could be at war when he was 18, we surely should be able to cope with life at age eighteen.
It was a new found freedom. But it was also a turn at navigation I never expected filled with decisions that could alter my life as well as others. My new rule of guidance was what was expected and what I wanted to do did not always match-up perfectly. Every decision I would make; had outcomes. Do not confuse outcomes with consequences. If one thought about the results ahead of time, the road was a tad easier to navigate.
I have stated a thousand times, I do not have diabetes and I truly have no idea the full impact if living each week, day, minute, while managing this disease. As a parent, we had to let our kids sail their lives with as much knowledge as possible. If the need us, we need to be around.
There are just too many possible scenarios each life will face for me to give specifics on how your life (and your children’s lives) will turn out, What I will share is the following:
1. You cannot say too many times how much you love them.
2. Be ready. To help, advise, and in some cases to act when appropriate (trust me, you’ll know when that is needed).
3. Don’t do all of their thinking for them. Guide them and let them try to figure it out. Falling down and the ability to get back up will make them stronger.
4. Don’t fear saying, ‘I don’t know:, but be ready to say, “we’ll figure it out together”.
5. Be available, Mostly for listening; when they need advice, they’ll ask.
6. Don’t be too quick to ‘jump in’ and save the day, you’ll know when that is needed.
7. You, are not them. Your experiences in life, are not their experiences. Surprise! We do not know it all.
8. If being away from home for the first time, help them to have all diabetes-needed- plans-with-back-up before they leave.
9. There are no permanent problems for temporary solutions and tomorrow will bring another day ‘to get it’ right. If it’s dented, it can be fixed, if it’s lost–new one can be found, if it fails–it can be righted, if it is fought over—forgiveness and the ability to move on awaits.
10. You cannot say too many times how much you love them. (Yeah, I know—I said it twice for a reason).
This time in life is so exciting. For them. For you. Be part of it. No one escapes life. But life is here to be enjoyed as much as it is to be taken by the horns. One day at a time, laugh, and as the saying goes dance like no one is watching…..but make your child your dance partner—-it will serve you well.
I am a diabetes dad.
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