How to deal with Friends and or relatives that mean well, but just don't get it

Okay for all the D-parents out there. How do you deal with that one person who tries to be your go to pal, but just doesn't get diabetes? They say they will watch your child or care for them and then does everything you ask them not to do? Grandparents, Aunts or Uncles? Neighbors or friends? How do you tell them time and time again, what to do, when to test, what to feed, how to handle highs and lows, running the meter and the pump. Let alone all of the other everyday normal kid stuff.

My wife and I just got home from an event my wife was honored for at and received a award for. Big deal to us as we have really only have left our son at home for the second time to be looked after while we went out. Two and a half hours later, our son should already be in bed, but he is up, and my mother in-law is feeding him over 100g's or carbs for his bedtime snack. In the text it reads, "He was hungry so I let him have some of the left over pizza in the fridge.". Ten minutes later, another text. "Well he ate all three pieces, he must have been hungry. Do I need to bolus for those?"

I don't know what to do anymore, we have no one around to help watch him, babysit or help in an Emergency with us. But she has no clue on what she is doing and thinks its a big joke when we go over directions with her.

He is now two hours past his bedtime, loaded with carbs and has hockey practice to get up for at 6am.... It will be a very sleepy and awake night for me to watch over him.

So frustrated!!!

Just a thought. Does your local hospital offer classes for caregivers or relatives of type one children?

My mom took a class like that at CHOC right after my son was diagnosed. The first thing they taught her is that type one and type two are very different. She recieved training on how to use glucagon, how to count carbs, info. on high/low bgs and how to handle them. They even gave her a cookbook of things she could make for him. They did not charge any money for the class. Now when we go to her house, she has her fridge stocked with healthy snacks for my kids to eat and with some sweets (with the carb count pre-figured out). She also reviews how to use the glucagon before babysitting the kids, just in case it is needed.

On the other hand, my in-laws have no clue about how serious diabetes is. My mother-in-law has type 2 diabetes and its hard to get them to comprehend how different type one is. They sent him a postcard the week after he got out of the hospital (from DKA) and the postcard said that they hope he is doing well at testing his bg once a day. My son was insulted. That was the least of his problems. He was testing 15 times a day, felt sick all the time, and was taking multiple shots. They clearly had no clue what he was going through. I have since told them, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

I wonder if your in-law doesn't understand the serious nature of diabetes type 1. Our son almost died in the hospital from DKA.

Do you know any other parents that have a diabetic kid in your area? If so, maybe you could swap babysitting with them. I was thinking about doing that with a friend from church that has a diabetic son my sons age. I'm sure my son would love it and my husband and I could go out on a date and not have to worry about him.

Sorry about your sleepless night.

Hey Theo,

I totally understand what you are going throuhg. Since our son was diagnosed in November 2010 at age 8, we have no one to leave him with. My in-laws are too old and cannot look after him and my mom passed away in December 2011 and she was willing to watch him but was not comfortable with shots and so we sometimes left him but it was never more than an hour or two in between lunch and mid-day snack or mid-day snack and dinner and we were never far away.

We always get advice about what to feed him from family members but they just don’t understand it is more about the carbs than the actually sugar.

We had family members who at first were willing to be trained and when I started going over his routine, carb counting, his meal plan and shots, they found it overwhelming and I gave up. My in-laws were willing to also possibly learn but as soon as they spent time with us on vacation and saw how much responsibility it was they said they were not comfortable.

So, sadly it is very hard to find someone to watch your child other than ohter parents of Type 1’s that may be willing to co-babysit.

Lastly, sadly it really is a big responsibility to ask someone since as you know we don’t usually sleep through the night and meals/activities/boluses etc…are very structured.

For example, since my son is on MDI’s, when he is invited at the last minute to stay at a friends home for dinner we usually have to say no because we need to know the nutritional content and then we have to go give his shot and then go home and then go back to pick him up.

Good luck!!!

Hi Theo -

My take: if people choose not to understand or to attend how important D care is you can't make them - it is like they have blinders on - they can't see what is going on inside the body so they ignore it... I know this doesn't come from a mean place or even an intentional disregard - it is just something they can't handle - I am sure Grandma just wants her grandson to be happy and can't bear the thought of denying him anything!! Perhaps Grandma is not the best choice as a caregiver until your son is old enough to participate in his D care or she understands the implications of her actions.

A great little book that you can download for free on (which appears to be down right now) called My Own Type One Diabetes Book (disclaimer - this is my wonderful mother's site and work) explains T1D in easy and simple language - we had all sitters and teachers read it - so they would understand what D is what it isn't and how it 'works'. It might prove useful for you.

When Malcolm was little (dx@2, 1996) and I needed to find sitters I found the local colleges were a great place to go - I think there are nursing schools in Surrey/Langley - or even calling Vancouver Community College or UBC nursing - they will put ads up on the student job boards and I bet there are students who live in White Rock or close by. I found the students really liked having hands on experience with D and it was a win/win for all of us! I used the UBC Nursing school when I was up visiting my family and it was a great resource over many years.

All the best,

I would suggest that you ask your son's doctor or a local diabetes clinic to post a notice for you that you're looking for a babysitter who is experienced managing Type 1 diabetes. There are teens out there who have siblings with T1D (my stepdaughter is one) who have learned what to do, or those who have it themselves, who might make the best babysitters.

For what it's worth, my mother "gets" diabetes, AND she took the training, but she still gets too confused about how to deal with anything other than taking BG for me to leave Eric in her care... and it's been almost 5 years that she's been "watching and learning." Thank all that's holy my daycare provider was able to learn the ropes, and more importantly teach her staff what to do — because not only can I trust Eric to be OK with his daycare, but also, all of her former staffers are capable of babysitting for me :)

Also sounds to me like I wouldn't want someone like your MIL watching my kid even without the diabetes in the mix. Because, seriously? Feeding the kid extra when he's supposed to be in bed? Because "Grandma knows best" or "Grandma is your pal" or whatever little myth is going on in her head? that's just wrong. My mom may be no great shakes at handling Eric's diabetes, but if I told her to put him to bed at 7:30, he'd be in bed at 7:30. Or possibly 7:00.

Do you have a local JDRF chapter? Maybe other D-moms have someone they could recommend...

I feel for you. Our son was diagnosed at 9 yrs. old and has had 2 seizures at 5am and also went into the hospital for DKA, at the time of onset and once more since then. He is now 13 and the only way we have found that he can do the normal overnight things that other kids do, was to get a cell phone for him. Because he is so responsible with his diabetes we feel comofortable with this. MY inlaws are terrified of his T1 and don't want to do anything with it. He went to my bro. inlaws house for an overnighter. I explained that he needed to be awake to test at 2am (after staying up til 12am). My Bro in law came down, shook him awake and walked back to bed! No clue as to how to make sure he wasn't low.
We have no one to stay with him over night husband and I haven't had an overnighter alone for a long time. It is always hard to allow John to stay overnight somewhere and the older he gets, the more things there are to contend with.

A cell phone helps, but of course this is very dependent on age. We don't have a CGM won't pay.

I don't know if this helps you, but as they get older it can get easier if your child is good with handling it all.

What is a MDI? Just reading and wondering.

MDI means multiple daily injections - so a regimen of shots rather than a pump.

I am so lucky, my dad helps with kennedy's diabetes, and he was a chemist, so he takes this diabetes stuff very seriously. Unfortunately my husband does not help at all, in fact jeapordizes kennedy with poor nutrition and absolute lack of understanding or even interest to learn... so that balances out, I guess.

I know how you feel, my husband brought ice cream home tonight ( a new and unknown brand) that kennedy had right before bed, and we had a bad time of lows ( high fat i guess) I am going back up now to see what is going on with her ( we have a dex g4 thank god... )

It is sad she thinks it is a big joke, it couldn't be true?? I wonder if she thinks you are being condescending in your explanations? are there control issues? There must be something deeper there///

we are cash pay for the dex, it costs a fortune, but we make sacrifices, and it is worth every penny. We stretch them two weeks, and it costs us, therefore, 150$ a month. also we were paying 200$ a month for strips, but now she uses drastically less ( two to three a day) so cost wise its almost a wash!

If you can afford to pay a babysitter, maybe you can find a teenager who has type 1 to babysit. We asked our diabetes center in our local hospital to help match us up with babysitters. Funny thing is that we ended up just happening into finding the girl we've used. Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to pay for a babysitter, so we don't use her anymore. It did work out great the few times she sat for us, though.