It seems like I often read posts from members here on Diabetic Connect that discuss the concerns that children have when one of their parents has been diagnosed with diabetes. Sometimes those questions are asked directly; other times parents assume that their children are concerned but the question doesn’t get asked.
Like any question that is on your child’s mind but doesn’t get discussed, the heredity question becomes an elephant in the room that everyone knows is there but tries to ignore.
This can be a difficult question to answer for a variety of reasons. In the first place, nobody can predict the future, and any question of heredity brings in a lot of medical and genetics questions that may or may not be answerable. Who likes to live with uncertainty?
And inevitably, lifestyle questions come up. Individuals diagnosed with diabetes can be made to feel defensive, as if they have to explain themselves and their past lifestyle choices, in the process feeling like they have to put themselves down as a way to reassure their children. One of my clients put it this way: “I feel like I needed to tell my daughter that if she took better care of herself than I did, then maybe she wouldn’t get diabetes. That made her feel better, but it made me feel worse.”
Of course, parents with diabetes can also be positive examples of self-care for their children, and this can be reassuring.
From my experience with clients, there are various ways to deal with this question. I talked about this in my discussion, “’Patient’ Education.”
Some clients have told me that they sat down with their children and brought up the issue with them, others waited until their asked the question. Unfortunately, I have also heard stories about how the heredity question was brought up not as a question but as an accusation, in a moment of frustration, fear, or anger, along with criticism about their parent’s weight or activity levels. As we often discuss here on Diabetic Connect, our loved ones aren’t always able to be as supportive as they could be.
I am interested in learning more about whether the heredity issue has come up for you. Any experience, positive or not so positive, that you want to share? If you addressed this question with your children, how did this come about? And how did you handle it?
If you are struggling with this right now, any way we can support you?
It would be great to hear from you!
Next Discussion: Sharing some news »