Ut Oh. That’s what I said when I read this yesterday at ParentingDiabeticKids.com

July 15th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

My daughter was diagnosed at 4 years old. She is now 9. She does not take her diabetes serious at all. She sneaks food constantly. We hide her 100 cal. snacks because she will eat them throughout the day. She is always high in the evening, and I mean high. I am worried, I don’t feel we are doing enough. We address this with her Dr. every time we go. She says this is normal for her age group. She loves grapes and her snack. 1 point a piece. But I can’t really buy them for her, because she sneaks them at other times in the day. Any advice, I am so worried about her. What do we do to make her believe this is serious. Just a little background…she was adopted at birth so counselors say her diabetes just may be one thing she feels like she can control. HELP

I feel pretty passionately about the fact that kids need help dealing with their diabetes.  Good, quality help and support.  They need tools they can use for the rest of their lives as they encounter the daily struggles diabetes and their lives will bring.

Okay.  So.  Back to the ut-oh.

1. I get how horrifying this must be for an adult watching her child sneak food; I mean, I understand that it is horrifying.   I can imagine how difficult it is for a parent of a diabetic kid.  I think they reflect on their own childhood and project that nostalgia onto their child’s childhood and feel like any opportunity for a carefree life has been stolen from their child.  I think they spend so much time feeling anxious and worried and trying to control their child’s diabetes they are robbing themselves too. 

This all makes sense and is completely understandable.  I feel for each and every one of you. 

I just think you need to do more than worry and try to control the disease and your child’s response to it.  I think you need to deal with YOUR feelings about the disease, too, and let your child do the same.

2. She’s nine years old; how seriously do you want her to take anything?!  Diabetes takes a really long time to ever deal with, and it’s a daily thing even long time diabetics continue to struggle with.  In this particular case, I think her parents here are setting her up for a lot of years of disordered eating by attaching emotional responses to food not only on her part as she hides her eating but also on her parents as they react to her eating.  I am saddened at the thought she may turn to diabulemia as a “solution” at some point to deal with food and her weight and her disease.

 Type one diabetes messes with how we see food mainly because it messes with how our bodies deal with food.  It’s tough; I wouldn’t ever say otherwise.  But just like we need to remove emotion from blood sugar meter readings, we need to remove emotion from the kitchen table, from the kitchen cupboards, from the refrigerator, from the grocery store, from the nearest convenience store or vending machine.  Food is food; just that.  Don’t give it more power than it requires.  It isn’t a menace, it isn’t a salvation, it isn’t medicine, it isn’t poison.  Diabetes dictates how we deal with food when it enters our bodies—let it only dictate that much when it comes to the eating parts of life, and leave it alone beyond that. 

3.  I read a lot of responses from parents to this post and several said they explain to their child that if they sneak food or don’t control their diabetes they will die

EXCUSE ME?!?!  Are you SERIOUS?! 

Sorry for this gut-level response on my part: I simply do not think it is appropriate in any way.  A child’s brain is not as developed as an adult’s brain and won’t comprehend “death” like an adult does.  That’s why we’re called the adults.  To use a scare tactic the child cannot comprehend on a child is useless to create anything but an unhealthy relationship between a child and his or her parent.  You have those fears, just like any parent has those fears for his or her child.  Your child simply does not understand how much you love them and how much you would do to protect them, and how threatened you feel on an instinctual level when you see their blood sugars going one way and them behaving a different way. It’s why they are called kids.

So stop using pointless and dangerous scare tactics.  I am confident you won’t like the result.

4. WHY IS THIS KID NOT ON A PUMP.  Really.  Why is she not carb counting and bolusing and beeping and dear me why is she not on a pump.  The pump is one of the most freeing tools a kid living with diabetes has at their disposal.  This girl needs to be on a pump.  This girl’s parents need her to be on a pump.  PUMP.

5. I also disagree with the expert on this, for the record.  I think he’s missing the point.  Although, he hadn’t see the responses from parents when he responded to this initial question, so maybe my perception was skewed differently than his.  I just don’t think he got to the heart of the matter between the parents and the child.  To punish a nine year old child for not taking proper care of her diabetes just seems ludicrous to me. 

I’m sure each parent reading this just rolled their eyes at me.  I’ll take that.  I don’t have kids, much less misbehaving kids.  I just don’t think that “diabetes care” and “behaving” belong in the same sentence.  Diabetes isn’t a chore; it’s a chronic disease.  You can forget to make your bed or clean up your toys, but when you are sent to your room for not checking your blood sugar I think it puts out a dangerous, unnecessary, and unhealthy power play.  Diabetes is hard enough; work together to fight the daily struggles and remove as many emotional power plays as possible.   



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