People in the Know: Dating With Type 1 Diabetes

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Q: Our daughter just went on her first date...and then ended up at the ER when she almost passed out at the mini putt range and the manager called 9-1-1. We think she was nervous and didn't eat what she needed to (though she denies it). She wants to go out on another date, but I don't think we can trust her so soon again, especially since she seems to be in denial. What do we do?

A: Can I first say here that I really feel for your daughter? It does sound like her nerves got the best of her -- after all, who doesn't have a serious case of butterflies on their first-ever date? However, you're right to view this incident as a red flag that she may not be mature enough yet to balance these kinds of social situations with her type 1 care. Before you make any hard and fast decisions about dating, however, check in with your daughter to see if you can have a more fruitful discussion about the incident. It sounds like your daughter may need education around the issue of expressing her needs. In your conversation, it's important for her to hear the message from you (even if you have said it before) that asking for help whenever she feels a low or otherwise needs assistance is a very grown up and mature thing to do.

Whether you decide it's next month or next year, there will come a time when you agree your daughter is ready to venture back out onto the dating scene. Before this next date, communicate some basic ground rules you expect her to follow. These might include:

 

  1. The person she is going to be with must know she has diabetes.
  2. Before the date, this person must be educated about the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar and how to respond.
  3. Your daughter must always carry a meter, supplies and treatment for lows (fruit juice, hard candy, etc.) when she leaves the house.
  4. She must follow her normal eating and diabetes care routines while on the date.

For this last one, create scenarios with your daughter and work through them so that she can see how to handle new challenges. Did she check her blood sugar and see that she's a little low? She needs to know how to say, "Let's stop for a few minutes so I can have a quick snack." If she forgot her meter, she needs to understand that this is a non-negotiable and to say something along the lines of, "I forgot my meter at home. Let me call my mom and have her bring it to me."

Of course, your daughter will also need all the safety and smart decision-making advice that every teen and tween does when dating, from just being herself to keeping her phone fully charged and knowing it's OK to call you for a ride home at any time. Remind yourself that your daughter is going to experience new challenges as she continues to grow and mature. It's vital that you work together to develop action plans to address these issues, rather than deny her the opportunities of being an adolescent. If you need further help dealing with this particular incident, don't hesitate to reach out to your diabetes educator or the counselor assigned to your care team.

Angie Burris--Angie Burris is a registered nurse in pediatrics and certified diabetes educator at Children's Medical Center of Dallas.


How Other Parents Deal
"Our daughter picked out a hip and trendy handbag to keep her supplies in when she's out with friends. Instead of conveniently 'forgetting' to bring along her old backpack, she now coordinates outfits with her new carrier!"
--Katharine, mom of Arianne



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Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.