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August 25, 2000

Behavior

Question from Roanoke, Virginia, USA:

My 15 year old daughter has had type 1 diabetes for a year. At times, I feel so frustrated with her, even though I know that this has been a rough year for her. She hates to wear her medical necklace and usually does so only when I remind her. Her necklace is a small sterling silver one that is not obvious. She could have gotten her learners permit to drive several months ago, but I wouldn't let her until she wore her necklace on a regular basis. That has made very little difference. She refuses to even talk about diabetes. If I mention something that I've read about diabetes, she tells me to drop it and leaves the room. I bought her a book on teenage diabetes, and she refused to read it. I suggested diabetes camp and she refused to go. Her comment was that she didn't want to be with a bunch of diabetics and that she already had her own friends. I suggested the pump because I told her it might make it a little easier, and she said that she would never consider the pump. Her friends know that she has diabetes, but she doesn't even want them to see her meter. If she has friends over, she hides in the bathroom to test her blood. At times, she writes down the wrong results from her meter even though I never get mad at her for this. I just explain that we can't treat her correctly if she doesn't write down the right results. She says that the meter is wrong even though she and I both know that the meter is correct. How long does it take for someone to finally accept that they have diabetes? She takes her insulin and eats correctly some days. I know that on other occasions she eats too much when she is with her friends at swim meets or sleep overs. I've considered counseling, but she would only go if I forced her to. We don't have any other discipline problems with her. Should I just totally back off and let her do whatever she wants concerning her diabetes? I would think that after a year that she would at least talk about it a little. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:

Even if she refuses to go for counseling, you and your partner should go. Your daughter is clearly struggling with accepting her diabetes. However, if you push her too hard, then the goal of good diabetes care gets forgotten, and the goal of showing you that she has control over her life becomes the primary one. This often can lead to lots of frustration and arguing, and poor choices around diabetes care. It is important that you ask for a referral from your diabetes team. You will need to consult with someone who has expertise in working with families who have a member with diabetes.

JWB