Q: My wife handles our daughter's type 1 care almost 100 percent of the time. How do I start taking part? She tells me it's a control thing for her, and she doesn't want to take the time to show me this stuff. But I want to learn! What if something happens to her, and I need to care for our daughter solo? I wouldn't know what to do.
A: As one of your child's primary caregivers, you're right in thinking that you don't want to be caught unprepared in case of an emergency. But also know that you don't need permission to start learning the skills necessary to manage your child's diabetes. If you are ready, willing and able right now to get started, there is plenty you can do.
Probably the easiest way to learn more about (or review) blood sugar management -- and something you can initiate all on your own -- is to simply make yourself physically present when your daughter has her blood sugar checked or receives an insulin dose at home. If your spouse doesn't want to field direct questions at first, just stay in observation mode as you pick up the rhythm of your child's schedule.
Do you attend your daughter's diabetes check-ups? Your diabetes educator and endocrinologist are there to help answer specific questions about your child's care, and depending on the circumstances, can set up a separate appointment for additional hands-on instruction. If your daughter's office visits tend to happen when you're at work, you're free to reach out to her diabetes care team on your own. In addition to training, they're great for connecting families with helpful community resources, including parent support groups.
Last, but in no way least, is your relationship with your spouse. Have you ever initiated discussion with her about why she has a "control thing" about type 1 care? What I often find with parents who display control issues or feel the need to micromanage care, despite offers from other caregivers to step in, is that it's often a mask for guilt. It may be extremely helpful for you both, and especially for your spouse, to clear the air on this issue.
As parents of a child with diabetes, the goal is to take a partnered approach to meeting your child's needs. Yes, it's completely normal and common for one parent to take the lead in managing day-to-day care, but both of you are needed on the playing field.
--Wynola Wayne, R.N., B.S.N., C.D.E., is a diabetes nurse clinician/educator in the division of diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
How Other Parents Deal
"Our diabetes educator handed us a calendar at our first appointment and said, 'Block out times each week when each of you can be alone while the other is in charge of your son.' I didn't really understand the importance of this until we got home from the hospital. Not only is it important to get that break, but sharing duties like this reminds us that we're in this together."
--David, dad of Tyler
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.