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At a PEP Squad conference, family therapist Patti Sinkoe MS, LMFT, worked with a group of children and teens who are living with diabetes or who are the siblings of someone with diabetes. According to Patti…

We had the opportunity to share everyone’s experiences of living with diabetes. We laughed together, shared diabetes insider “stuff” (like where blood from a finger stick gets wiped when no one’s looking), and nodded in agreement when someone said that parents can be so annoying!

The kids generated a list of things that may be tough for them to say to their parents, but they wanted their parents to know. This thoughtful group generated many useful, funny, and meaningful ideas that are shared below.

Mom and Dad, here’s what’s on our minds:

• It can be really annoying when we are asked the same question over and over, like “Did you check your sugar?”

• Its not that you’re asking questions about the diabetes that bugs us…it is how you are asking. It helps us feel better about our efforts and ourselves when you ask in a positive way. When we feel less defensive and judged, we just might open up and give more info (yes…even teenagers!). How ‘bout something like “How were you feeling the last time you checked?”

• Have more confidence in us. (BTW – We know that trust has to be earned, and sometimes we disappoint you. We’re kids and teens, and we’re human.)

• It’s not all about diabetes. When we come home from school, how about asking, “How was your day?” first, before you ask, “What’s your blood sugar?” or “What did you eat for lunch?” We are normal kids who happen to have diabetes, and our world doesn’t always have to revolve around the disease.

Your kids without diabetes would like their life to not always revolve around diabetes, too! We want a turn to pick the restaurant and then we all should go there just because it is our favorite. Yeah, we know it might be tougher for our bro/sis to eat there, but we have had to make a lot of adjustments and changes, too. We love and support our sib, but we still need some of the attention and choices we would get if no one in the house had diabetes.

Sometimes, we need a break from diabetes, and we might like it if you offered to do some of the things we do for ourselves day in and day out. (Oh yeah, while you’re at it, you can do our homework and our chores, too!) Just ask us first if we need a break and whether we want you to take over for a few hours or a day every now and then. We might say yes, we might say no, but either way, we’ll appreciate the thought.

Sometimes, we need a break from diabetes altogether. And guess what…we bet you need a break from it sometimes, too!

We get it. Even though we get annoyed by your questions, instructions, questions, directions, questions, and did we mention…questions, we know that it comes from your love, care, and concern for us and for our health and well-being. We love you and we truly appreciate what you do for us each and every day!!!!

PS – We also came up with a list of good things we have gained from having diabetes:

•Our entire family is eating and living in a healthier way.
•We’ve learned good time-management skills that help us now while we’re in school, and will help us down the road, too.
•Self-acceptance–diabetes is a part of us; we accept it and we are ok with who we are even though we don’t want it to define us.
•Stronger family bonds and closeness!
•Strength and resiliency-–just look at how we’ve been able to manage and cope pretty darn well.
•We are able to help others learn to cope with diabetes; it makes us feel good to give back.

As the co-facilitator of this group activity, who also happens to be a normal adult with type I diabetes, I was privileged to work with this bright, expressive, and normal group of kids, who just happen to have diabetes.

Parents, you should be very proud!

SOURCE: Patti Sinkoe, MS, LMFT

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