As many people know, I am very active with the Friends for Life (FFL) conference organized by the organization Children with Diabetes (CWD), which takes place each July in Orlando. I have been involved since the beginning of FFL and it has been nothing less than an absolute honor and joy.
Years ago, during the conference, I took a poll. Now in fair disclosure, this was by no means a scientific study, just a survey question. But the response was startling nonetheless.
I asked parents, what was the #1 thing, dealing with diabetes, they would want from their spouse?
The number one answer given by moms was that they wished their husbands would help more with their child’s diabetes management care. What was the number one answer given by the dads? It was that they wished their spouse would allow them to do more with their child’s diabetes management.
I kid you not.
There is no blame here. It is, and was, just an interesting tidbit in the ongoing discussion of diabetes under one roof. But even when I work with just the dads at FFL (I regularly coordinate the Dad’s Discussion Group), I get the feeling that they are still trying to find their own pathway in their child’s diabetes world.
My advice to them, and to parents like them everywhere? First thing, relax. We have all been there. Moms and dads have been trying to figure the way to navigate this world together forever and in the words of my late, and wonderful friend, Dr. Richard Rubin, “…….it’s about balance and communication.”
Diabetes is a tough world in and of itself. Whether you are new, or have been at this a while, there are a two basic rules for communicating effectively and managing diabetes together.
- Figure out which way is up, together. Whether it is a husband and wife, wife and wife, or husband and husband, there is usually one person who handles most of the day-to-day management in their child’s diabetes management. Don’t assume who that person will be. Have a discussion together, even if from the onset one of you is leaning toward taking control. Know why one person is better suited for the job and make sure you come to an agreement.
- Do not let the other person rely too heavily on the primary diabetes caregiver. Both parents should know as much as possible about this disease. Those who know me, know that I have stated a million times: education is the equalizer in diabetes. The one person stepping up is not the only one needing to step up. Partners need to both be able to care for the child at any given time. There will be times when the person who does most the work will need to leave the child in your care.
If you are reading this and saying to yourself, “crap, that scares me,” guess what? You do not know enough, so get out there and start learning. THAT is the first step, and we will discuss more in later articles.
I am a DiabetesDad.
-Tom Karlya, Diabetes Dad and VP of Diabetes Research Institute Foundation