Joe Solowiejczyk is a diabetes nurse educator and family therapist who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 52 years. He is president and founder of A Mile in My Shoes, a company that publishes books and produces videos on patient self-management and psychological coping. A Mile in My Shoes also provides counseling and training to patients, families and health care professionals. Below is an excerpt from Joe’s wonderful book, A Type 1 Diabetes Guide to the Universe.
Section 2: The Importance of Support And Family
Joe’s 3 Parenting Rules:
1). Taking care of yourself is non-negotiable
- You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it. If you like it you’re nuts and you need medication (sort of like paying taxes!)
- Reframing non-adherence and mismanagement in diabetes related chores as any other act of misbehavior (this is the most important one!)
Successful Parenting Of The Child With Diabetes
I have three Rules for parents to follow regarding the parenting of their child around diabetes management. If you follow these three rules, I promise you you’ll never have a problem with your child and his/her diabetes. KIDDING! I wish it were true but it’s not. I can tell you that if you do follow these 3 rules, you’ll have a much easier time raising a child with diabetes who’s happy and well adjusted, across all stages of age, growth and development.
You may say, these are cruel and definitely not sensitive, thinking “I’ll traumatize my child psychologically if I discipline them around the diabetes management”! Quite the opposite! Trust me, I’m very aware of all the?courage, focus and determination it takes to manage this thing on a daily basis – from my own experience over the last 55 years of living with it and for all the kids and families I’ve worked with over the last 35 years. It is difficult living with this disease. There is a lot of work involved. AND YOU HAVE TO DO IT! Is it fair? No! Is it fun? No! Do you have to do it? YES!
This discussion always makes me realize one painful aspect of a child being diagnosed with diabetes –some of their childhood innocence has been taken away. They have to grow up a little faster than their peers in this “life reality”department. It’s our job to help them do it successfully and be fully engaged in?every aspect of it, no matter how difficult it might be.
Age Appropriate Behavioral Expectations
The three rules apply to all kids across all age levels, whether they are an infant/toddler or teenager. They need to be applied in an age appropriate manner; different parental involvement and behavioral expectations for different?ages – like any other aspect of parenting!? This is not easy, but adjusting your thinking along the lines of these three rules will help you and your child come to terms with the diagnosis and everything that it implies for managing it on a daily basis in a? psychologically healthy way.
What these three rules are saying is that behavior and “chores” around diabetes fall under exactly the same heading as all other behavior in other areas of life – cleaning your room, being respectful, doing your homework, etc. We want diabetes management to be treated exactly like any other behavior or responsibility.
The overall goal in managing diabetes is to achieve optimal metabolic control and a high quality of life; one shouldn’t come at the expense of the other. It’s in that spirit that I developed the three rules – to help kids and their parents do the best that they can do in diabetes and all other areas of their lives.
Many parents feel at a loss as to how to be effective parents around diabetes stuff if they’ve never heard a healthcare professional tell them that it’s okay to be parents around diabetes in the same way that they’ve parented in every other area. If your child has been doing well in school, is socializing appropriately, behaves herself in general and is a lovely person, then I’m saying that you should apply the same wonderful rules of parenting that made that happen to diabetes as well.
Once a child gets diabetes, parents naturally will feel guilty, more at first, less as time goes on. Over time you begin to realize that you didn’t do anything to bring this on. Over time you will come to some kind of acceptance and “spiritual terms” with what a burden this is to your child, yourself and your family. What you want to make sure of is that you don’t let the guilt, grief, shock, anger and sadness let you feel so sorry for your child that you compromise your parenting standards in any way! Your child’s physical and mental health depends on you being strong in this area. We’ll talk about this in every chapter, discussing the parenting thing as it applies to all aspects of child behavior in every area of diabetes management.
For more information and to get in touch with Joe, visit: www.amileinmyshoes.com (*live webinars, 1-on-1 counseling & training – coming soon**) & follow on social media: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram