3 Things Every T1D Parent Should Know (That Your Endo Hasn’t Told You)
As the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes (T1D), do you ever feel like there’s more to know about diabetes than you could ever learn? You may have an attentive and caring endocrinologist but still find that there are gaps in your education as a parent. It could be tangible tools, holistic resources, or more support that is missing, putting you in a constant reactive state chasing highs and running after lows.
It’s like you’ve been handed the keys to a car and given a few vague, verbal directions of how to get to your destination. That’s far from the ideal set up for a road trip! You need a map, a full tank of gas and snacks for the ride. The same is true for a journey from childhood to adulthood with T1D.
Today we are breaking down the top three cornerstones of our family coaching programs that will help parents like you ease the future roadmap for your T1D child.
1. Challenge everything
If your GPS tells you to take the main road, but you think the back roads would be faster, what would you do? Make your own route! One way isn’t better than the other, but the best route is the one that feels natural, easy and meets your needs.
It is okay, and encouraged, to question what you’ve been told and follow your instincts. An endocrinologist is one of several resources available to you, but not the ONLY resource. By actively participating in conversations with your child’s endocrinologist about their diabetes, you can become the leader of your child’s diabetes management and model for them what it means to be self-reliant and self-advocating.
2. Your family, your rules
While there are certain rules of the road we all have to follow, like staying within the speed limit and stopping at red lights, you get to set the expectations within your own car. As the driver, you get to determine how loud the music is played and the frequency of bathroom stops. Your family has the flexibility to create the road trip experience that works for you.
Checking blood sugar and giving insulin are two rules you can’t change, but other strategies are more fluid based on your child’s unique patterns and needs. Some kids’ blood sugars go low after sports practice. Others have a delayed high. Some need a snack before bed, while some don’t. It might take some time to understand what your child patterns are, but it’s key to recognize that not all bodies are the same and there is no one-size-fits-all diabetes management routine. So, discovering what works for your child, and your child alone, is the primary goal.
3. Holistic approach
When you get in a car for a road trip, it’s about more than just getting from one place to another. The drive is a whole experience of its own! The music, snacks and pit stops along the way are just as significant.
Similarly, holistic diabetes management is more than counting carbs and giving insulin. The other macronutrients, fat and protein, have an impact on blood sugars too, but this is less commonly understood. Beyond food, exercise, sleep, stress, hormones, relationship to food and mental health are important elements of diabetes management, which is why over-simplifying diabetes just leads to more frustration and challenges. A holistic scope that takes in all of the factors is the key to a deeper understanding and more empowered relationship with your child’s T1D.
As a parent, you already know that kids are unpredictable and being adaptable is basically a parenting survival skill. While adaptability is always needed, it’s possible to get diabetes from interrupting your child and family’s life as much. For more support on an integrative approach to taking care of yourself, your child and their T1D, click HERE to download this free video resource.