What does unlimited mean for you?

I’ve been wondering about the notion of not being limited by diabetes and what that means.

For instance, I would think it a horrible shame if my son could be an Olympic swimmer or something and we dissuaded him because we were fearful.

But there is also a flipside, and I’m not sure how I feel about that – that is, things you push your kid to do as a way of compensating for diabetes. Is this also sort of limiting? And how much is too much?

An example: Our 3-year-old is not as good at walking as our older son. But we push him to walk the whole way home (about 1 mile) because we know that exercise (and especially aerobic exercise) is one of the few things that has shown to reduce certain types of complications independent of blood sugar control. Walking is one of the few ways to work towards aerobic fitness before he’s old enough for organized sport.

I also have a strong bias for his long-term sports… towards things like running, swimming or cycling because of those same aerobic exercise benefits. Is it wrong for us to push those types of activities because of their health benefits? And how much is it okay to override laziness/natural inclination to encourage those interests?

There are other ways I think diabetes is certainly shaping our decisions: For instance the types of skills and personality traits we want to encourage are likely different (greater focus on self-discipline, stronger encouragement of math, etc.).

General fitness is great for everyone. Good eating habits are great for everyone. As are a well-rounded education in various school subjects, and learning good social skills, and all the other things we encourage for our kids.

I think the best thing you can do is just to help him find his passion. See what it is he gravitates toward. Help him figure out what he loves the most. And then unleash him on it.

It doesn’t have to be a sport. Literature, music, art, teaching, medicine, public service. It can be anything.

One of the best things my parents did was never allow it to be a reason to not do what I was supposed to. If I was supposed to cut the grass, I did it. If my BG sucked, I fixed it and finished cutting the grass. The disease was not allowed to make a difference.

The best thing is to help him figure out his passion, and then make sure he knows there are no limits.

Interesting I hadn’t thought about this, mostly because my son is older, and so I haven’t had the chance to tailor any of his activities to diabetes.

Having watched a number of kids get pushed and others not get pushed, I would encourage you to just kick him out of the house when old enough, and see what happens. Then encourage based on interests.

With both of my kids, we ensured they surveyed a bunch of sports and activities including, hiking, backpacking, soccer, baseball, swimming, biking, triathlons, competitive running, etc. Then once they hit about 8 years of age we gave them a framework, which in our case included at least two sport seasons, focus on school, etc.

They each chose some similar and some different activities based on interest. My older son played two sports in high school, then settled on one sport and a robotics team.

We will have to see what my younger chooses, currently plays baseball and soccer.

As a family we have 1-2 backpacking trips per year, and the rest kind of takes care of itself. I like to think I would feel bad steering my kids to an activity because of diabetes, however diabetes was sprung on us late, so it wasn’t really a choice. As far as math, I am not sure that diabetes requires partial differential equations, but it certainly requires above average arithmetic skills which will help all kids diabetes or not.

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@Eric, we definitely don’t want to dissuade other natural interests within reason (i.e. not if he has a natural affinity for a life of crime, etc.). But obviously you push your kids a little bit more in some areas than others and sometimes it’s hard to know just how much to balance diabetes as one of the many factors influencing your decisions and choices.

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I don’t think diabetes should be a factor at all [Edit: a factor in what they want to do with their lives]. I am just saying - no kid should be allowed to be lazy and just sit on the couch all day, diabetes or not. No kid should be allowed to eat unhealthy. No kid should be allowed to slack off on their schoolwork. And every kid should be encourage to find their passion and pursue it. I think it should just be the same for every kid. I can’t think of a single instance where the disease would make a difference, other than things like not being allowed to be a commercial airplane pilot or whatever.

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Because of the roller coaster bgs it has to be a factor at this stage in their lives

I guess I disagree with this idea that diabetes should have absolutely no impact on our decision-making – but obviously I haven’t been doing this so long so perhaps you’re right and we’re assessing things the wrong way.

To me diabetes is similar to, say, the fact that my older son has more of a melancholic disposition and looks like a budding naturalist, or the fact that Samson has a very rowdy, rambunctious streak and is really into music. It’s just another fact about him to consider when weighing what’s best for him.

I guess to me diabetes care is more about balance: I also wouldn’t, for instance, want him to take his SATs with a BG of 20 or 400 – but would probably expect him to power through quizzes or tests ordinarily with high or modestly low BGs. That means diabetes is a factor in some circumstances and not in others.

I am not saying it that it is not a factor. Yes, I know everyday it is something you have to deal with. Every single one of us.

Maybe I didn’t express it well.

What I am saying is that it should not affect what they want to do with their lives. If they want to paint, paint. If they want to sing, sing. If they want to be a lumberjack, be a lumberjack.

Help them find their passion, and then encourage them to follow it. The disease will NOT get in the way. That’s all I was saying.

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