T1 Teens…. what should parents know?

I have 4 kids.  2 of my kids have T1 and and 2 do not.  It is a lot of work raising kids!! I have to make sure that my T1 kids get the essential attention to keep them alive, and I also need to be sure that my other kids don’t feel left out or abandoned because mom is too busy with the T1 kids.. Even if I am up all night with several alarms of lows or highs with either kid, I have to be attentive the next morning for my other kids and their needs.  Its a rough balance for sure!

As a parent, Im pretty hard on myself.  I want my kids to be happy and healthy of course, but then throw in T1 and there is so much added pressure to get it all right! What if I don’t?? What if I sleep through an alarm? What if I dont teach my kids enough about health and carbs and insulin and they dont figure it all out? What will they do when they move out?  Will they be healthy and safe? What about that dreaded A1C? Pressure!!!!

Then add on the Teenage attitude.. oh man….

So I talked to Craig (who is 17 and dx at 12) and asked him what he thought parents of Type 1 Teens should know.

Here is what he sent me (and my thoughts on each)!

Number 1:  “I will mess up from time to time so be patient because I’m still learning just as much as you are.”

I think it is hard at times to be patient.. at least for me.  Im not the most patient person lol! But its true, they are learning just like we are! We can’t think they will do it all right either.  I am at fault for this of course ha, thats probably why he said it!! But it was a great reminder for me.  I hadn’t ever thought about it this way.  Yes, he is living with T1 and he needs to know how to take care of himself but I also need to remember that he has to learn for himself and that there will be good days and not so good days,  I think for me, this is hard because we have Madi (9 and dx at age 4)  who we do almost everything for. We calculate all of her doses and count all of her carbs where as Craig does it all independent so I may get more irritated when his numbers are a little crazy, but do I calculate Madi perfect all the time?? um, no! so just like us, he is learning and being patient is a good thing!

Number 2: “It’s frustrating for me too so don’t take it personally if I get very annoyed/annoying”
Lets be honest here.. when a teenager has an attitude, its hard not to take it personally! Right now I have 3 teenagers, 3 times the drama, 3 times the attitude!  There are times I see him huff and puff about something I say about his diabetes or give him a mini lecture and I think “Im just trying to help you!”  but he will usually come to me later and tell me that he appreciates me and didnt mean to get mad.  I think as parents we need to realize that our frustration is their frustration too!! It HAS to be frustrating for them when they try hard to take care of themselves and get good numbers and keep it all within range, and it just doesn’t work!  I totally understand, so I need to be aware that he may be frustrated as well, not with me, but with diabetes.
Number 3: “Trust goes a long way but I will still need to be helped and for you to check up on me.”
This one is huge!! Teenagers need time to learn to be independent but it wont happen all at once!! Checking up is a good thing, helping to find resolutions to crazy numbers is a good thing!  They need independence, but they will still need guidance.
Number 4: “When you hound me about my numbers I will get annoyed but eventually realize how important it is.”
wait a minute… “hound you?” really? hahahah Let me tell you , reading this made me smile!! It is a constant battle trying to get a teenager who is just too tired, or too busy or too “over it” to pay more attention to what he eats, when and how to dose!! When he wants a brownie, he eats one.. ya he doses but Id rather he wait until he was a good number to eat it.  Or when he never finger pokes ALL day and just uses the CGM.. Or when he wants 5 pieces of pizza (curse you pizza!!) and he is already 200… The struggle is real people!!  So knowing that some of that guidance is sinking in is a little gratifying!! Dang its a lot of work! But parenting is!! Its all part of the job.  Did we sign up for T1? not really, but we signed up for anything that parenting these amazing kids comes with.. and for us, its T1D…
Number 5: “Don’t baby me, gradually give out more responsibility.
Im guilty!! I don’t want my kids to grow up… I want them to stay little and I certainly don’t want them to leave for college!! But this past year I have really had to focus on letting go.  Craig just graduated high school and the realization that he will be on his own was crazy to me!! I had to understand that I cant be there all the time anymore!! He will have to take the reigns and be more responsible, more careful and more attentive to  all of it.

Thanks Craig for your words of wisdom!! I love you so much!

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