It's Hard Enough Being a Teenager

Can you imagine being a teen with diabetes?

Karen HargraveBy Karen Hargrave-Nykaza

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for 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!

September 2010 —If it is difficult for a typical teenager to learn about relationships, date, and handle themselves in social situations, what must it be like for a teen with diabetes? I wonder if it is ever really possible to understand how diabetes is affecting my son's life as a teenager. I really don't think it is possible to know. I remember back to that time in my own development and remember how awful it was. I don't think I could have handled dealing with something like diabetes that was so difficult to manage and clearly labeled me as different from everyone else.

I am sure that a teen with diabetes has to weigh how much they share about their diabetes with their friends or potential dates. I don't think it is something that would come up when they first meet someone. There would have to be some level of trust present, or at least the reassurance that the person was "safe" to share something so important with. And then there would be the question of whether them having diabetes could become their identity. We have found that to be something that is always a little bit of a struggle in general. Having diabetes is only one part of who a person is, and I don't think anyone who lives with this disease would want it to define them, least of all a teenager. But I am sure it is hard for that not to happen to some degree.

Maybe if there is a positive side to how having diabetes affects someone's love life, it is that the person learns at and early age how to determine who will not judge them for having a medical condition, who they can trust, who will know they are still a capable person and who will want to support them in their efforts to maintain their health. Being able to choose the right kind of people to surround yourself with is a good skill to develop at an early age.

And as seems to be the case with many aspects of our son having diabetes, many things that present challenges end up making him stronger. He has developed coping strategies and life skills that he never would have at such an early age if he did not have diabetes. These challenges have created opportunities for learning and growth that would never have been necessary without dealing with something like diabetes. No one wants to hear that something so difficult builds character, but when I look at my son and compare him to other kids his age, I can see that it really does.

Read more of Karen Hargrave's columns here.

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.


Last Modified Date: July 15, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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