February is the month we celebrate love, and I want to take a moment to reflect on some relationships that are very important to all of us: those with our friends. We talk about loving our spouses or our girlfriends or boyfriends and our family members. But additionally, some of my most meaningful relationships are the ones I have with my friends! I hope that I can teach my children the importance of having good friends and being a good friend, because these people shape our lives I think more than we realize.

Kaitlyn has a great group of friends at school. She has an exceptionally kind and close-knit group of kids in her class, most of whom have been together since kindergarten. Her best friend, Elena, also started attending her school this year after being homeschooled for a couple of years, so Kaitlyn feels really lucky to have so many pals at school. I was talking to Kaitlyn’s teacher recently and she mentioned that Kaitlyn had nine girls waiting for her outside the nurse’s office while she checked her blood sugar the other day before they headed out to recess. They all are interested in her health with type 1 diabetes and want to take care of her. I think it’s the most adorable thing, and it just makes my heart melt! Isn’t that what every mom hopes for her kids? For them to be happy and well-adjusted, and have a support system when they’re away from home?

Making friends has always been easy for Kaitlyn. She is open and honest about everything, including her diabetes. She is kind and caring and has a quick wit. These are things that I couldn’t have taught her — she just was born with these qualities, I guess.

But what about those kids that have a much harder time making friends? We’ve definitely been on the other side of things, and we realize that friendships (or not being able to keep friends) can be a great source of sadness as well. Some of our children have an easier time than others in this regard. We do everything we can to help them: coach them, set up play dates and parties, encourage them not to be shy. But ultimately it’s up to them to form friendships.

In any case, we talk with our children a lot about friendships and family relationships, because these relationships matter. Whether friendships come easy or it takes a lifetime of working on how to make friends, they are worth having in our lives. Our friends help us face all of life’s challenges — and we know that our kids will be faced with many challenges, our kids with diabetes even more than their fair share. So this month, as love is in the air, let’s celebrate the friends we have and try a little harder to be a friend to those who need one!

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.

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