It is the elephant in the room. It is what every mother of a child with type 1 diabetes dreads. How can we discipline our children when they have such a burden to bear? How can we discipline a child who is high or low...especially when that high or low was from boluses that came from our very own hands?
Don't they deserve some mercy? Their gene pool didn't give them any, the world isn't giving them any...
Isn't it my job as a mother to give them a break?
How can I discipline a child who bears the world of this 24 hour disease on their little shoulders. A child who single handedly captures my heart as he smiles through tears during a set change? The child that already suffers, and struggles, and needs my support and love more than anything in this world?
This is how...
I want you to think about the people you know in your life. People you KNOW. People you have met, who you have spent time with...people throughout your life that somewhere in the attic of your brain, you have filed away relationships with.
Now...what percentage of these people have problems?
I hope you said 100%. Because if you didn't, then maybe you don't know these people as well as you think you do. Or maybe you have kidded yourself into thinking that other people, who do not have disease, have perfect lives.
Everyone has problems. Their problems can be intricate, they can be simple, they can be heartbreaking, they can be terrifying, they can be hidden...more problems are hidden than are not.
Now think of your children. Do you think that life is only going to hand them problems that relate directly to diabetes? Can we say that our children's hand has been dealt? That they stood in line and received the burden of diabetes and they are free to forget everything else?
Unfortunately, I can answer that one for you with a definitive no.
Is it fair?
As a mother, I would have to say no.
But life has a way of moving on no matter what your disease. No matter what our ailment. No matter what is fair.
Life continues...and the burdens of life are like the smoke of a fire. It gloms into the pours of our souls and can't be washed away with emotion...or fairness.
Our children must be prepared to live as adults in this world of drama and confusion.
They will be handed more problems to solve.
They need to learn how to work with people who are rude.
They need to learn how to take care of their bodies and their surroundings.
Even though they have diabetes, they still need to know how to make their bed and put the dishes in the sink.
Our children need to grow up and learn the same lessons everyone does. They need to know that it isn't ok to hit their brother, or it isn't ok to scream and have a tantrum when they are no longer a toddler.
I've struggled with this issue for years...because I'm not a callous human being. I love my bundle of joys more than my own life. Punishing them is the LAST thing I want to do.
But I made a mental list of rules...and my children know that no matter how cruddy they feel...some things are just not ok.
I feel strongly it is our responsibility as parents not only to raise responsible diabetics, but responsible adults that don't feel like they are owed anything.
Because the world doesn't give a yankee doodle dandy that our children have diabetes.
So when I punish, (which honestly doesn't consist of more than timeouts and privileges taken away,) even though it hurts me as much as it hurts them, (or more,)...I KNOW...I am doing the right thing. I know that I would have given them a time out if they didn't have diabetes...so why wouldn't they deserve one even with diabetes?
Maybe, because of diabetes, I'm kinder about it all. If I believe it has anything to do with their blood sugar numbers I give them a hug first. I let them know, that I know, they aren't feeling well. I give them insulin, or food...or water...and then I leave them in their time out. Because it isn't ok to turn your anger onto the people around you. It isn't ok to take your stomach ache out on your brothers.
I'm not pretending that I have it all figured out...I've made my share of mistakes.
Hand to heaven...I fail a lot, or at least I feel like I do.
But it is the question I get asked the most.
And my answer always is...if your child is acting in a way that is not acceptable...than it isn't acceptable. Even if his or her sugar is whacked out. Sure, they are allowed to be grumpy. Sure, they are allowed to vocalize the miserableness of this disease...but there are lines that you need to draw. And when you do, you can't feel like you are adding more weight to your child's shoulders.
Because in fact, you are taking the weight away. As adults they will thank you for allowing them to feel...but at the same time, not allowing them to walk all over you.
I've had to dethrone the king before. It is not easy...not even a little. But if your prince or princess has taken over the palace...and they are no longer a toddler...it is time.
It isn't your fault they have diabetes.
It isn't your fault.
It isn't your fault.
No, it isn't their fault either, but setting limits is ok.
You will find one day, that it is the kinder thing to do.