Parents: How do you talk to your kids about your chronic condition?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2013-02-19 12:43:33 -0600
Started 2013-02-16 09:38:42 -0600

“Mommy doesn’t feel good.”

Having a parent who is living with a chronic condition can have a big impact on children. And parents don’t always know how to talk about their illness with their kid. Especially when it comes to emotions.

How is that conversation going at your house?

Kids can be left with questions that they are afraid to ask, while parents do their best to keep life as normal as possible for their children and assume everything is fine. But appearances can be deceiving. All of this can leave children feeling confused and scared, even if they appear to be taking it all in stride.

Just because children don’t appear to be worried, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Children learn to stay positive out of fear that they will cause their parents additional worry. They may also interpret their parent’s insistence in maintaining a positive attitude as a signal that they aren’t supposed to express their own feelings.

What it comes down to is that when one member of the household is diagnosed with a chronic condition, everybody receives the diagnosis because they are all affected by it in some way. And the challenges that a chronic condition brings can leave everybody with a lot of feelings. Not talking about emotions doesn’t make them go away.

While stressful at times, having a parent with a chronic condition can also provide an opportunity for growth. Children can learn to be more independent, and compassionate, and you can develop a deeper relationship with your children that includes sharing of emotions and joint problem-solving.

Are you talking about emotions with your child? If you haven’t had talked to your children about how they are feeling, or haven’t done it lately, here’s a link to an article in Living with Diabetes to help you get started:

http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-artic...

Any ideas or experiences to share?


4 replies

nubody4life
nubody4life 2013-02-18 13:52:50 -0600 Report

Great insight. Ever since I was diagnosed I tried to keep a sense of normalcy in my home for my son. He is now 18 and in college. I talk to him on a regular basis about health and nutrition. When possible we do exercise together and I share healthy recipes with him. I know he will still splurge on the junk foods that college students tend to spurge on, but I still try to introduce new and healthy varieties to him. Anything I can do to keep him from the path of having to be diagnosed with diabetes is a movement in the right directions of a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-02-19 12:43:33 -0600 Report

Hey nubody4life,

Thanks a lot for sharing this.

It sounds like you never allowed your diabetes to be an elephant in the room but, instead, have taken a positive approach by intorducing teachable moments on nutrition and exercise. That's such a great idea. Focusing on the opportunity for a healthy lifestyle that living with a diabetic introduces.

Nice to hear from you!

Gary

ShellyLargent
ShellyLargent 2013-02-17 22:41:02 -0600 Report

Thanks for posting this! I've talked with my daughter (11 yrs.) about what to do in case of an emergency. What she needs to tell people or the first responders, but never thought to talk to her about how having diabetes makes me feel. She had asked me questions throughout since she was old enough to know that I have to do different things than other people. Also knowing what I have to do and seeing my pump (an Omni Pod that I wear on my arms) she was able to help a couple of other little girls at her school and at her Boys and Girls Club not feel so uncomfortable when the other kids were pointing out their pods. I was very proud of her for that!

I will be reading this article tonight before bed! Thanks again!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-02-19 12:33:46 -0600 Report

HI Shelly,

Nice to hear from you. And thank you for checking in.

I think it's really great that you have brought your daughter into your self-care strategy by giving her an important role. You have helped her to be a real advocate for kids with diabetes. What a personal growth opportunity for you, and a way to show compassion in action. Reasons to be very proud of her.

I am glad the article was helpful. I really appreciate this!

Gary

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