Congratulations! If you’re reading this then you got through the hardest part -- your T1D child’s first semester of college! The first break home is an exciting time for both you and your child, but it shouldn’t be ruined by unnecessary arguments over diabetes care.
WHAT TO EXPECT
THEIR SELF CARE PLAN HAS CHANGED
By the time your child comes home for break, there have been at least two months of time independently managing their diabetes. During that time, it is likely they have developed new techniques of managing their diabetes that might be different from what you are used to. Keep in mind that just because it is different, does not mean it is bad. This is all a part of your child becoming more independent in their care – be proud!
A HIGHER A1C
College life is an extremely tricky time for managing diabetes. Between a busy class schedule, adjusting to the dining hall, and balancing extracurricular activities, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome and adapt to when managing diabetes. It is normal for your child to return home with a high A1C. For the first time, they are completely on their own with their care. It is unrealistic to expect them to have it perfected their routine after a few months. Instead of worrying or questioning, ask them if they want help in brainstorming ways to better balance everything next semester.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO BE OPEN TO ADJUSTMENTS
Your child’s management routines may have changed from home to school. If they found something that works for them, let it happen. At the end of the day, it is their diabetes, not yours. It is important for them to have the control over their own condition.
DO ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE
The best thing you can do for your child home for break is to encourage them to be independent. Make diabetes something they can be proud of.
DO STICK TO YOUR COMMUNICATION PLAN
Whether you have a written or spoken plan, don’t be afraid to talk about what each of you expect from the other. Communication is the key to relationships and talking it out now can prevent later arguments. If you don’t have a communication plan, it might be helpful to set up some ground rules for the break (e.g. I promise not to ask you what your blood sugar is while you’re home if you promise to check your blood sugar before you drive).
DO TREAT THEM LIKE AN ADULT
After living on their own for several months, your child will likely expect to be treated like an adult. Respecting their newfound independence throughout the break will empower them to take control of the management of their diabetes.
DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE NUMBERS
By now, your child has gotten the hang of daily diabetes management on their own, so try to avoid falling back into old habits. Instead, try asking questions such as: How have you been feeling about diabetes since you’ve gone to college? Is there anything I can help to take off your plate while you’re at home for break?
DON'T QUESTION WHAT THEY EAT
Your child has been choosing what they eat for several months now, and you may have opinions about the choices they make during break. Analyzing what they eat will likely lead to frustration and arguments. Especially during the holidays, it is okay to stray away from the usual guidelines and indulge a little (we all do it). As hard as it may be, try to avoid judgmental comments or questions!
DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Mistakes made at home are not necessarily the same mistakes made at school. The transition from care at school to care at home is not as easy as you may think! Don’t let one mistake be the end of their independence. Continue supporting your child and encouraging the steps they’ve taken to become to taking over control of their T1D management. As much fun as college can be, college students always look forward to coming home on breaks. Diabetes shouldn’t get in the way of your child enjoying his/her time at home. The main thing to remember is to communicate and respect one another!