Kaitlyn is our middle child (number three of five), but you would never know it by the way she acts and is treated by the rest of the family.

In fact, our fourth child, Jonathan is much more likely to fit the description of “middle child.” The middle child stereotype I’ve always heard is that they often misbehave to get attention, play the peacemaker, are creative, and are more often “lost” in the shuffle. Kaitlyn really doesn’t fit most of these descriptions. But Jonathan, on the other hand, fits almost all of them. I often reflect on why the family dynamics have played out this way and how Jonathan has become the one that I worry might be getting lost in the shuffle.

As my husband and I have discussed how to parent our children, we clearly recognize that type 1 diabetes has significantly impacted our family. Kaitlyn was diagnosed soon after she turned 3. Jonathan was 1 at the time, and ever since then, Kaitlyn has received a huge amount of attention. She was the one we were up at night with, the one whose health we most worried about and looked after. We were constantly checking her blood sugar, preparing her meals, and giving her shots of insulin. We didn’t trust anyone else to look after her, so we once took her on a weekend trip away while we left baby Jonathan and his oldest two siblings with Grandma. On top of all that, Jonathan was always a very easygoing baby who didn’t demand attention, so he often got overlooked. It breaks my heart to think back on that time, but he kind of got his “baby of the family” status taken away in some sense. A couple years went by and we had another baby, Lily. He got his baby status taken away again — but officially this time.

I share this with you not as a story of failure but as a word of caution. Do I think Jonathan is going to be okay? Yes. Do I think we’re going to be able to continue to build a positive relationship with him? Yes. But it will take a concerted effort on our part as parents to really listen and connect with him and make sure he feels loved and valued. If you are new in this diabetes roller coaster, I would caution you to be very careful about how you treat your kids who don’t have diabetes. We have a tendency to throw all our energy into taking care of our kids with type 1, but if we’re not careful, this could come at the cost of the well-being of our other kids. Balance is the key, and I wish us all the best of luck as we continue to figure it all out.

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.

Related topics:
Balancing the Needs of My Other Kids
People in the Know: When Siblings Act Out
In the Spotlight: When a Sibling Has Type 1

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