I want to be 100% clear that I’m not judging one way or the other with today’s article. My answer and what others say; is not your answer, nor should it be. This is one of the toughest articles I have written but I just felt it needs to be addressed. Perhaps it might open a discussion and if that happens, and one family feels the need to change and does, we move forward and that is always a good thing. If it helps you somehow deal with diabetes just a little bit better, that is not such a bad thing either.
(Editor’s note added at 5:15pm EST—when I wrote today’s article, I had no idea that today was National Grandparents Day)
SO I do not have to clarify throughout this article, when I say grandparents I mean your parents, your spouse/partner’s parents, your ‘ex’s’ parents (when you ‘ex’ is the parent of the child in the household with diabetes).
Again I ask you to reply (parents, grandparents, and every thought is welcomed) here as oppose to the FB page where you saw this post so everyone can be part of the comments and can read, and can learn—-let’s do that together.
Our Parents and/or our partner/spouse’s parents and our child’s diabetes? Grandparents.
That sentence probably had one of two reactions in the pit of your stomach. One being, “thank God for my parents because they are amazing when it comes to my child with diabetes”. Or there is a pain that is there because the relationship with your parent is not what it should be, could be, or was before diagnosis became the new normal.
I have talked to literally hundreds of grandparents in my life about caring for a child with diabetes. My results are skewed, I admit, because much of these conversations occurred with grandparents while attending a Children with Diabetes Conference. If a grandparent is attending, they are already looking to become involved.
One of the first questions to ask yourself is what was the relationship before diagnosis? If it was strained before, do not all of a sudden think that diagnosis will help; but in some cases I have heard where the relationship changes for the better and I have also heard that diagnosis resulted with grandparents greatly distancing themselves like never before after diagnosis; there are no hard-and-fast rules.
There is a bumper sticker I saw once and it said, “If I knew they would be so much fun, I would have just had grandchildren.” Many grandparents will laugh at this and smile as they admit, ‘at the end of the day, they (grandchildren) go home.”
That is the ‘once removed’ topic. Outside of the percentage of grand parents who live with, or care for the grandchildren daily, the kids do in fact ‘go home’. As I travel and speak to parents, I have heard very sad tales of how grandparents just could not handle diabetes. I have written and spoke many times that in many instances grandparents are the most ‘forgotten group’ during diagnosis. They want to help but do not want to be where the parents’ do not want them and that balance is hard to find.
Some dive right in. Others either do not know where they belong, have no desire, or are scared beyond our wildest notion of what runs through their heads. Now I’m sure that many ‘a professional’ will tell you that there needs to be a dialogue created to see how this might all play out. That dialogue, in some cases. is as much a problem as the problem itself.
If the ‘non involvement’ is due to the possibilities that they may live too far away or the parents HOLD ON to too much of the care and DO NOT allow grandparents involvement (for whatever the reason), is not what this is about and you need to ask yourself if it is and if YOU CAN CHANGE something to make it work, you need to take those steps.
I think it’s important to understand that what we ‘would like’ is not always what it is; and what it is may not be subject to ever change. If everything that can be done is done to include grandparents and grandparents do not choose to be involved, it is not your fault.
It is not the ‘fault’ of your parents either, it’s their choice. We may not agree with it, it may infuriate us, and above all it may really hurt us; but if it cannot and will not change, it becomes up to each of us what to do next.
As if it is not enough to deal with diabetes itself to also have to deal with a parent or family member that is not involved the way we think they should be can really be frustrating; but it comes down to the choice being up to them. Whether we like it or not.
I also know that we cannot merely ‘justify’ those bad feelings away. The entire situation can not be resolved by reading anything I can write or jus say ‘that’ will not bother us. I DO KNOW that you are not alone. Like the diagnosis of diabetes itself, we all learned that we are not alone, and neither are you in this instance.
I witnessed a FB thread recently and I saw many people try to help. I also saw that certain situations may also come down to the fact that the situation will just not change no matter what others may suggest. No one knows like you know. Coming to grips with that point is up to you. Just as we worked through the fact that no matter how much we want, no matter how much we were in pain, we came to grips with the fact that a diabetes diagnosis was here to stay.
You were strong enough for that and you are strong enough to handle this. Just as you worked through focusing on your child and did not compare what you go through or what others go through dealing with a disease; do not compare what other grandparents do or do not do; again focus what YOU NEED to do with your child’s diabetes.
It will take time. It will still hurt. It will still anger you. But if everything you tried to include grandparents in the mix has not worked and that RULES YOU, your child will lose. No one has been better at avoiding that than you.
One can only hope that something at some point will ‘turn on the light’ in the grandparents’ life. Should that happen, be ready to help them help you; if it does not happen know and remember this; you STILL ARE THE BEST THING in your child’s life………some days you need to be reminded that having you may very well be all your child needs.
I am a diabetes dad.
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