Setting Our Kids Apart
Finding a sense of belonging with diabetes.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
October 2008 — My son came home from school today worried about his friend with diabetes. Earlier that day in class, the teacher had given out candy and she got upset because she didn't feel like she could have the candy. She is still on shots and didn't want to have an extra shot, and knew she would go high if she did have the candy. Whenever something like this happens either to Joel or another <a href=" href=" title="Child with Diabetes'>child with diabetes</a>, it makes me think about all the " little"="" things="" about="" diabetes="" that="" set="" our="" kids="" apart="" from="" their="" peers.="" as="" adults="" it="" is="" easy="" for="" us="" to="" say="" not="" a="" big="" deal,="" imagining="" how="" we="" might="" handle="" and="" move="" on.="" but="" when="" you="" are="" kid,="" or="" god="" forbid="" <a="" data-cke-saved-href=">teenager</a>, belonging and being like everyone else is everything. The worst part of all these things that set them apart from their peers is that there really isn't a thing we can do about it as parents. It is what it is and those things do set them apart. As much as we would like to, we can't change that for them.<br /> <br /> This is why I feel it is so important that our kids feel that sense of belonging in every other way they can. Maybe that can lessen the difference and isolation that they feel. We need to be there for them 100% and not minimize their negative feelings about diabetes and how it makes them different from others. We should make every effort to ensure that they know <a data-cke-saved-href=" http:="" www.dlife.com="" diabetes-blog="">other kids and adults with diabetes</a> and have them available to talk to when they need to. Our kids should know and understand that other people also have difficult issues that they face in life, even if it isn't diabetes.<br> <br> We should attempt to provide a <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes-forum/" href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes-forum/" title="Huge Support Network">huge support network</a> of people in their lives, and especially friends without diabetes who understand them and what having diabetes means for them. It is important that their friends without diabetes not be shielded from the negative aspects of diabetes. They should not have a false sense of what their friend or family member experiences having diabetes. A lot of parents of <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/daily_living/Viewpoints/karen_082608.html" href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/daily_living/Viewpoints/karen_082608.html" title="Kids without Diabetes">kids without diabetes</a> may want to shield their own children from these negative issues, but I feel it is important for both the diabetic child and their friends or family to see the situation for what it is in order for there to be a true understanding for all involved.<br> <br> That sense of belonging is important, and I feel it is our job as parents to work as hard as we can to make sure that our kids have it. But I believe it is just as important that we as parents don't try to convince our kids that they are just like everyone else by minimizing the negative. They are <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/daily_living/Viewpoints/christel_052907.html" href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/daily_living/Viewpoints/christel_052907.html" title="Not Like Everyone Else">not just like everyone else</a>. Diabetes does set them apart from others without the disease. Trying to convince them that it doesn't set them apart won't help them deal with feeling different from their friends. You can help them try to deal with feeling different, but trying to negate what they are experiencing will only communicate to them that you don't understand how they feel or think it is important.<br> <br> Think about the last time you felt like you didn't fit in. It matters. Now imagine you couldn't do anything to change whatever made you not fit in. As parents, let's try not to be one of the things that make them feel different or one of the people in their lives who just doesn't get it. Hopefully we can be the person who helps our child to see that their differences, while they do exist, do not need to define them and definitely do not need to isolate them from other people and experiences in life.</p> <p> <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes_resources/experts/karen_hargrave/karen_bio" href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes_resources/experts/karen_hargrave/karen_bio">Read more of Karen Hargrave's columns here.</a></p> <p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 20.0px; font: 16.0px Helvetica; color: #414141"> <span style="text-decoration: underline ; color: #0096c8"><a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/disclaimer/" href="http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/disclaimer/">Disclaimer</a></span><br> <i>dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.</i></p> <div> </div> <p> </p><p></p>
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