It Really Does Take A Village

May 24th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

It takes a village, or a team, or whatever you call it, to make it through your life.  Especially when you live with diabetes!  In addition to your regular team members including family and friends, you probably have at least one doctor, a certified diabetes educator, a dietitian or nutritionist, and then those I consider who are in the bullpen or on the bench: your eye doctor, podiatrist, dentist, pump trainer, etc. 

What a crew.


Most importantly, does everyone on your team play well together?

When it comes to family members and in particular parents of kids and teens with diabetes, these family relationships are crucial in management of the disease.

That’s when it gets tricky; adolescence.  Adolescence is when the parent needs to begin taking a back seat—likely it will feel like the team manager has to become a regular player and the regular player must start to transition to team manager.  If you’ve ever had a job with a boss, think about changing places with that boss and all the tricky weird emotions that would come up between the two of you.


No wonder it’s difficult!

It is essential, though, for parents to help kids transition intelligently into self management.  A 2008 study looked at these family relationships and behaviors and how they translated into A1c results and DKA events of more than 2,000 teens. 

Again I caution parents that this needs to be a TRANSITION; any overnight change may result in your kid feeling abandoned with their disease.  You need to be the one who is understanding, compassionate, and yet you are the one who needs also to lead the transition

Your kid hasn’t done the teen years before—you have. 

In a result I’m sure may be perplexing to parents, the more overly involved adolescents reported their parents to be, the higher the adolescents’ A1c and the more episodes of DKA experienced.   This makes sense if you recall your own teen years: the more your parents wanted you to do something, the less you wanted to do it!  But it is crucial to understand that a teen’s job is to figure out how to separate from their parents so they can live on their own in the world.  If diabetes is in the mix, then it will be a tool used by both to exert control over the other.  A parent wants to exert control by dictating a blood glucose check; a teen wants to exert control by skipping that same check.

Another piece of data that came out was that 22% of the teens reported that their parents acted as though the diabetes was the parents’ disease rather than the teen’s. 

To be blunt here, the parent isn’t the one experiencing the physical manifestations of the disease.  The parent isn’t the one with the bruises from a shot.  The parent isn’t the one with the sometime confusion resulting from a low, or any of a myriad of other aspects of living with diabetes.  The diabetes belongs to the diabetic.

It is the parents’ job to play on your teen’s team.  Be as valuable a player as possible, but don’t go out there and play without permission from the team manager if you’re playing to win. 

If you need some help on this strategizing and what may work with you and your family, let me know.  That’s what I’m here for!

With a good team in place, and a good strategy in place for joint management and eventual total transition, you will all win, every time.

Go Team!!

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