For the first day of Diabetes Parenting Week, I am honored to have Scott Benner from Arden’s Day. Below is a brief bio on Scott, and then right after is his post on Letting Kids be Kids Even with Diabetes.
Scott Benner began his life as a stay-at-home dad when he and his wife Kelly decided to give role reversal a try after their son Cole was born in 2000. Some years later their daughter Arden was diagnosed with type I diabetes just after her second birthday in 2006. Scott began writing about life as a type I diabetes CareGiver on his blog ‘Arden’s Day’ soon after.
Scott’s book, ‘Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal’, from Spry Publishing, will be on shelves in April of 2013. You can follow Scott on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram or any number of other social media portals by clicking on these links or going to his blog www.ardensday.com and choosing the ‘social’ tab near the top of the page.
I’m always scared to write a post of tips because the cynical side of me is afraid of how they can feel if done poorly. I’ve read more then my fair share of pieces meant to help that leave me with the notion that someone pulled together a few pompous bullet points, laced them with common sense and tried to pass it off as wisdom.
With that in mind, this is how I keep diabetes from interfering with life as much as possible.
In the abstract I don’t see diabetes as much different then any other aspect of life that feels like it was sent to screw you up. Living with diabetes is like a theoretical flat tire on a rainy day or a dinner invitation from a friend that arrives on the second day of your new diet. It’s not the obstacles that we face that shape our days but how we choose to evade them and your response dictates the mood and direction of your next steps.
How do you react when your child’s type 1 diabetes throws up a road block? Do you keep moving without pause or lower your head? Do you make that face that says, “this is terrible” or do you smile and indicate that there is no problem that we can’t handle together? I am not inferring that you should pretend to be happy when you aren’t but I do want to stress that you must find a way to get to the place where happiness, in the face of adversity, is your honest and immediate response. The journey to that place takes time but it goes faster if you don’t stand in your own way. When you do that, when you can find a way to live above the fray, you won’t need glossy tips for how to let your child be a child, even with diabetes… you’ll just be doing it.
It’s our job as parents to not only show our children the way, but to make them feel safe even when the day goes off course. I’m a huge proponent of children knowing the truth but that doesn’t mean bringing them into the drama that goes on in our heads. Really consider how important it is to hear a reassuring voice in your ear when life is getting the best of you. Be that voice for your children, even when you can’t do it for yourself.
Negative moments should be met with positive but not improbable statements. During the periods of time when you are figuring out the bigger diabetes stuff, the stuff that takes months to begin to get right. Maintaining a message of forward motion is an important step in finding and keeping your footing. No need to promise the impossible, but making sure that you believe and are conveying that this is no more then a storm that will be weathered is key. The message that, “we are learning and learning is a process that takes more then an afternoon” is a positive one.
I won’t try to make parenting a child with type 1 diabetes sound like an easy assignment. I’ve struggled just like you have and there have been times that have felt intensely more difficult then others. I respond to those days just as I do to the good days, by never changing my expectation of what winning means. My only goal has and will be to live as unencumbered by type I diabetes as each second allows. That is how we face not just diabetes but all matters of life that try and throw a monkey wrench into our days.
Finding the balance that is required to live gracefully with type I diabetes takes time. There will be moments that feel like you are never going to get there but you will. Expecting setbacks and confusion is a great way of not being knocked over by them when they inevitably arrive and try to take away your spirit to go on. Fight those moments by knowing that their coming and not seeing them as failures but expected bumps in the road. Go with the tide and do the best you can to keep your head above water until it stops pulling and then swim like hell. One day, sooner then you think, you’ll be standing on the shore and smiling in the sun.