November is Diabetes Awareness Month. We Connect Now celebrates it by hosting the blog “How My Parents Raised A Diabetic Child” by Taylor Jones
The 3 things every parent should know –
There’s one story I always love to tell people. No, it wasn’t the story of far away kingdoms or of knights in shining armor and princesses in distress. It was something more meaningful, something more real and personal. It was the story of how my life was changed forever. You see, I was only five years old when I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (if you want more information about neuropathy or my battle with diabetes, check out my blog at Taylor Jones: Survivor)
I was the only one in the family who was diagnosed with that disease, so my parents were shocked when they found out about it. It was like their daughter was being pulled out of life even before she started living it. The doctors told them that I wouldn’t be able to live long, more so be able to live a normal life. I wouldn’t be able to play with other kids and do the activities people do. Guess they were wrong because here I am now, already 39 years old and still having the best time of my life.
My family, especially my parents, definitely played an integral role in my development in living life as a “normal” kid. Everything they did or said throughout my journey helped mold me into someone who even when physically weak is stronger than most. My Mom and Dad knew they couldn’t do anything to prevent this disease, but believed that there is still hope. Even though their daughter had diabetes, they knew there was still a way for me to live and enjoy life to the fullest.
Of course, there had been adjustments in our family, but my parents tried their best to resume all our normal everyday activities, which still included weekend trips and going out to eat. Instead of altering my life because of diabetes, they taught me how to accept it even as a young child and make it a part of my routine and everyday life. That for me is the best thing every parent could do in raising a kid with diabetes.
Here are the 3 things that I think parents of diabetic children should make sure to do:
1. Never hover. This may sound strange, but if you want your child to live a normal life, not limited by something beyond their control, then do your best to treat her/him like any other child. I remember at first, my parents didn’t know how to treat me. Although, I needed to constantly be watched since I would literally eat anything in front of me, they also knew that they couldn’t follow me around or be with me 24/7, so instead they taught me how to remember to take care of myself. If I fell, they were there to pick me up, but not right away. They would let me learn how to react with the pain and get back up on my own. I was never abandoned or felt unloved.
2. Teach. For instance they would make it easy for me to not eat sweets by telling me that if it starts with a “C” then steer clear from it. Cakes, Cookies, Candy and later they added Carbs. 🙂 Early, on I learned that portion control was the number 1 thing I need to do. As a child, it’s easier to be taught to only eat/take what you need then to not take it all. Sometimes they would need to threaten me with scary stories, but most of the time, they just needed to talk to me seriously. My parents didn’t limit the things that I could do, but taught me how to become more responsible in my actions whether I was at home, at school or some place else. They allowed me to participate in dealing with the disease. They taught me how to do the insulin shots myself and overcome my fear of needles. I also learned how to monitor the highs and lows of my sugar levels and control the food that I take. By sharing with me the responsibility of dealing with diabetes, I was able to slowly accept my situation as I was growing up– that life after all is what you make of it.
3. Cuddle the pain away. My parents loved me and definitely spoiled me more than my siblings (I’m 1 of 3). Since I’m the baby, I was already more spoiled than the rest. There were definitely days of pain usually beyond my control. Sometimes, all you need is for your parent to hold you, and remind you that you are strong and can make it through anything in life. I call this “cuddle the pain away.” It’s not about being overbearing, but responding in how your child needs you. Some children need words, some children need hugs, some children need just your presence, and yes, some children just need to be alone.
Having a kid who has diabetes is frightening and it’s normal for parents to protect your child as much as possible and have him/her enjoy life. The fact of the matter is, that diabetes is never going anywhere. Raising a child with diabetes is not an easy thing to do, but it can be done. If you want to see your child grow up and live a successful and happy life, let them do their part in accepting their condition. Just like what my parents did. Your kid will thank you for it.