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Teaching My Children About My Diabetes

By Naomi Kingery

Social Community Manager

Posted:  4/30/2013 3:00 PM


Today we’re bringing back another blog from one of our community favorites, Cheryl, a Medtronic employee, person with diabetes, and a mom! Diabetes is a family disease, and no one knows that more than someone who lives with it every day. Today, Cheryl opens up with The LOOP on what it’s been like to educate her children about what’s involved with her diabetes management. Read on for a dose of encouragement and wisdom, and then let us know if you’ve ever been in Cheryl’s shoes.

I’ve been caught. Two sets of eyes peer at me as I stand in the pantry sucking down juice from a cartoon character juice box. You see, I have just told these two little ones that there are no more snacks before dinner, but here I stand-both snacking, and on their beverage none the less. What they don’t understand is that if mommy doesn’t partake in this snack, I will be both in a scary mood and what could be a scary situation as well. But how does one explain to their kids that mommy must drink this juice and no, they still can’t have one before dinner? Talking to children about diabetes has proven to be more challenging than I thought.

When I had my children I was never shy about my pump and why I wear it. They know that it has medicine that keeps Mommy healthy. They know I have diabetes and that if they drink one too many sippy cups or have one too many wet diapers they are liable to get a finger poke “just so Mom can check.” But what about when I do have a low, and what about explaining the realities of diabetes?

After our pantry incident, and the tears that ensued about being one juice box down, I consulted an article from the May 2011 issue of Diabetes Forecast. The article, titled “How to Talk to Children about Diabetes” read my mind. It broke down just what information to provide children based on their age and the difference in conversation if one was diagnosed before having children versus after. Since my children are small, keeping the conversations light is the best. Explain to them that this is something Mommy or Daddy has to do every day to stay to healthy. And in my case, I also explain that there will be times I have to stop what we are doing and have a quick snack to feel better; otherwise I will be very tired and not feel well. If they ask questions, such as what a glucose meter is, answer them but in a way they can understand. As they get older it will be easier for them to understand the physiology of diabetes; the true disease state, secondary complications etc. Since diabetes may have a genetic component in some families, addressing that in an age appropriate manner is also important. One suggestion when asked, “Will I ever get diabetes?” is to say, “Chances are you won’t, but if you do we know what to do.”

Recently I was touched when a friend’s daughter was diagnosed with type 1. My son, who is 4, asked what we were talking about and why she was crying. I explained that her little one had just found out she has diabetes. My son looked at her and with a huge smile said, “We have diabetes in our family but my Mommy wears her pump and it makes her super healthy.” And he’s right, we do have diabetes in our family, but we work to manage it the best we can, and  handle it in stride…until you steal a juice box that is!

- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. 
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms. 

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. 
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately. 



Posted on Tue Apr 30 23:51:40 GMT 2013

Could you provide a link to her blog? I enjoyed the article, it is something I have thought about on occasion as my husband and I don't have children yet. It's easy to think about th pregnancy and what to expect, but thinking about their development and curiosity does not come as easy. I appreciate Cheryl sharing her story and providing advice and encouragement.


Posted on Wed May 01 00:09:58 GMT 2013

Hi Amanda, you can find the How to Talk to Children About Diabetes article using this link: You can also read the other blogs that Cheryl has written for The LOOP here,-or-Something-Like-It and here Please let me know if you need anything else.


Posted on Wed May 01 02:39:24 GMT 2013

Ha! I've had to use my daughters juice boxes plenty of times AND I had a bag of Halloween candy--starburst, skittles, lifesavers in the car for emergency relief of a low while on a long drive. My daughter and her friends would pounce on it after school and I would have to tell them to leave me the Skittles and Starburst. Everybody knows now that Skittles and Starburst are off-limits--though they can eat any of the other candies in the bag. My daughter knows how to deal with a low and she, unfortunately, has had to do it a couple of times and luckily she knows to get me OJ when I'm semi-concious.

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