People in the Know: Family Comparisons

Q: Whenever my friends post photos of their family events and trips online, I feel so jealous, because I know they didn’t have to deal with type 1 diabetes on these outings. I’ve actually distanced myself from some friends because of it. How do I get past these feelings?

A: When jealousy or other negative emotions related to diabetes bubble to the surface, consider it a sign for you to check your perspective on type 1—and adjust as necessary. The truth is, a child with diabetes can take part in the same activities as other children, and your family can go on the same excursions you see your friends posting about on social media. Sure, trips and outings will require a few extra steps in order to manage your child’s type 1. But living with diabetes instead of letting life be controlled by diabetes means accepting this and moving on.

One concrete way for you to shift negative thoughts and energy into a more positive direction is to stop focusing on your friends’ outings with their kids and instead plan some family-friendly excursions of your own. In today’s world, with insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors (CGM), and other high-tech management tools, few parents or children are limited in where they can go or what they can do. Want to spend a day at the beach? Take a trip to an amusement park? Go camping for a week? Wherever you end up, spending special time together as a family is a powerful way to show your child (and prove to yourself) that anything is possible with diabetes, including having fun.

I also challenge you to share your family’s happy times by choosing three things that you would like to post to your online community. Think of some moments with your child that you’re especially grateful for and share your own updates! Your openness can help show others that life with diabetes is just as joy-filled and vibrant as without it. Plus, positive feedback from your social circle can be gratifying validation for the work you’re putting in to allow your child to live a happy and normal life. If friends you’ve grown distant from chime in with comments, social media is also a great place to start to rekindle these relationships.

Ellen Bradley-Windell—Ellen Bradley-Windell, L.C.S.W., is a family and child therapist with a private practice in Valencia, Calif., co-founder of Valencia Relationship Institute, and parent of a son with type 1 diabetes.

 

How Other Parents Deal
“I stayed off social media after our son’s diagnosis, because it hurt so much to see the ‘perfect’ lives of my friends. Late one night, after a particularly bad day with diabetes, I posted an extremely rambling update explaining what we had been through the past few months. When I checked my page the next morning, I had almost 100 comments from friends and family giving me their support. I even had people tagging their own friends with diabetes so I could connect with them. It was amazing and a way to finally feel less isolated.”
—Angela B., San Jose, Calif., mom of 8-year-old Matthew

 

Related topics:
People in the Know: Grieving “The Good Old Days”
In the Spotlight: Managing the Stress of a New Diagnosis
Tackling Outdoor Family Adventures

See more People in the Know questions and answers >

 

Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.