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Parenting Success... Initial Stages of Diagnosis and Beyond
parenting expectations with type 1 diabetes

This is part of the series Parenting Success: Seven Steps to Navigating the Initial Stages of Diabetes and Beyond (by Michael Watts, Assistant Professor at Mount Royal University and former Medical Social Worker at the Alberta Children's Hospital).

If you have not done so already, we suggest reading the following as background information:
Introduction to the Seven Steps of Parenting Success
Step 1: Respect
Step 2: Structure

Step 3: Expectations

During a recent trip to the United States, an Immigration Officer asked me what it was I did for a living, and I replied that I’m a therapist and a professor.  The officer then asked me “what do you profess?” and I said, “I profess the expectation that every child be raised in warm, supportive, loving and caring environment.”  The Immigration officer didn’t have a response except to say “You’re free to go.” As I walked away I thought to myself, “This guy must think I’m crazy to make such a bold statement.”  The reality is not every child is raised in a warm, supportive, loving environment, however I figure if I consistently express that conviction when applicable, my expectation may someday be a reality for all children.

I hold the belief that in order for a child to be raised in a warm, supportive, loving and caring environment, it is important for parents to have expectations of themselves.  In the context of caring for a child with a chronic illness, here are a few expectations one may consider:

  • I expect to be the best parent I can possibly be, and to minimize the number of times I make re-occurring parental mistakes.
  • I can’t expect to be perfect with my child/adolescent’s diabetes management.
  • I expect to receive support, cooperation and teamwork from my family members.
  • I expect to engage in self care activities (at least 30 minutes each day) which allow me to focus on myself. This will, in turn, make me mentally and emotionally strong.
  • I expect my child/adolescent will have challenging days with his diabetes management and I expect to normalize and validate his feelings.
  • I expect to work with my family at managing diabetes and not allow the disease to manage my family.

Having expectations does not mean the expectation will always be achieved.  However, having an expectation creates a culture of getting things done, and holding oneself accountable if the expectation is not met.  If you expect to create a warm, supportive, loving and caring environment (all of which are protective factors for solid diabetes management), it’s important that you strive toward that expectation each day and have the awareness to explore obstacles which may interfere with your daily expectation.  

I hold the belief that having an expectation helps to develop patience. For example, fulfilling an expectation can sometimes be a timely process.  It is during that waiting period that people develop patience, and the patience-developing process is expedited if the expectation is routinely followed through on.  I encourage parents to expect meaningful and realistic things of their children.  As time passes and children learn to follow through with their parent’s expectations more routinely, parents are more likely to learn how to develop more patience for their children.   


Next... Step 4: Boundaries

Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.

The above information was written by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.

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