Feedback is a gift. That’s the phrase my husband and I are constantly spouting to our kids when we’re trying to help them learn from their mistakes or make a change for the better. This phrase is often met with eye rolls, a grumpy face, or even some storming out of the room. Because, let’s be honest: No one likes to be corrected or told they’re doing something wrong. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when someone else tells us we haven’t been measuring up in some way.
A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to practice taking feedback, and I have to say — it didn’t feel like a gift! Kaitlyn and I went to her quarterly endocrinologist appointment, and it was probably the worst appointment we have ever had. Her blood sugar graphs were all over the place, her A1C score was higher than usual, and her percentage of time in range was a lot lower than it should be. Kaitlyn’s doctor was kind, but she had some honest feedback for us that was hard to swallow. It felt like getting a bad grade on a test or going to the dentist and finding out that all my kids have cavities and need to have better flossing habits.
We came back from the appointment and I felt so deflated. The way I reacted was like a cartoon character! I fell on my bed face-first into my pillow and started rehearsing in my head all the reasons why I was a bad mother. Over the last couple years, Kaitlyn has been doing more and more of her own care, which has meant that I’ve been doing less and less. While I was wallowing in my self-doubt, I somehow came to the conclusion that I had abandoned my daughter to take care of her diabetes all on her own.
My husband was kind enough to come to my rescue and snapped me out of my funk by reminding me, with the same words we say to our kids, that “feedback is a gift.” At first, I was frustrated and didn’t want to hear it, but after a couple minutes, I realized that he was right. It took me a while to reframe my thinking, but after a bit of self-reflection, this is what I came up with:
- One piece of bad news or feedback doesn’t erase all the good we’ve done for the last however-many months and years. We’ve had glowing reports in the past, and we’ve learned how to manage diabetes really well. We’re good at this, and we can overcome this hiccup!
- Feedback can provide us with the motivation we need to do better. Having a wake-up call is really helpful, and I’d much rather hear it now than many years down the road. Making tweaks and adjustments along the way helps us stay on the path of good health.
- Feedback can help us see different perspectives and give us ideas that we might not have thought of before. We sometimes think that when we’ve been at something long enough, we know the best way to do it and we don’t want to hear any other way. Our doctor asked us to consider a slightly different treatment plan than what we’ve been doing, and at first I felt like it was a slap on the wrist. After considering her suggestion, however, it seemed like a really good plan!
- Remember that failure is not the opposite of success but part of our learning and ultimately helps us be even more successful. Especially as Kaitlyn is learning to do more and more on her own, I think these experiences of having uncomfortable feedback will help us both! It will help me learn the right balance of how much to be involved and help her learn to be more responsible and independent.
Regardless of where you are on your diabetes journey, let us all try to learn from our bumps in the road and treat that sometimes hard-to-hear feedback as the gift that it really is.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.