When you think about it, probably the one thing that our children need most in order to grow up feeling loved, happy, and empowered enough to give of themselves to others is our commitment to them as parents. Our children must know that we have made a commitment to them and we must demonstrate that commitment constantly. When we decide to have a child we take on this commitment. It is the biggest commitment we will ever make. When one of our children is diagnosed with diabetes the commitment, significant enough to begin with, takes on a completely new and demanding aspect. We as parents are responsible for and to our children. We tie ourselves to them, sometimes at considerable cost to ourselves. We are required many times to put our children's needs before our own.
When we show our commitment to our children they feel we value, love and welcome them in our lives. When we don't they feel neglected, abandoned and alone. Think about how loneliness and abandonment affects you as an adult. One of our missions in life should be to never allow our actions to be the reason our precious children ever experience these feelings.
We can demonstrate our commitment to our children in various ways. When we are there to ask our children about school or their day. When we are willing to see things from their point of view. When we oversee and support their daily diabetes management. When we make sure they are clothed and fed properly. When we add privileges as they show us responsibility. When we show them respect and love.
Our children may perceive we are not committed to them for various reasons as well. When we aren't home much to be with them. When we are home but don't appear interested enough to play or talk to them. Separation or divorce, our children don't understand the intricacies of an adult relationship until they grow up. They often feel their parents didn't try hard enough to stay together. When one parent finds a new partner, children may see the transfer of some commitment to the new relationship. This can also cause our children feelings of vulnerability.
If our children feel any reason to doubt our commitment to them they may feel very vulnerable and find it hard to trust or commit themselves to other relationships, as they grow older. To be able to commit yourself to someone you must be willing to give and to lose something of yourself in the process, knowing that you will gain from the other person in the end. If our children haven't experienced our commitment they will defend themselves against more rejection. This will make it very hard for them to give of themselves in the future.
Our greatest fear should be that children who have not grown up in the love and security of committed parents, who haven't developed the ability to give of themselves and share love with others, will one day have children of their own.
Then the cycle will continue, and another child will be raised without the love, feelings of safety and belonging that committed parenting ensures.
Russell Turner is the father of a 10 year old diabetic daughter. After she was diagnosed he soon discovered he could find all sorts of medical information on the internet. What he couldn't find was how to prepare his child and family for living with this disease. He started his own website for parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children http://www.mychildhasdiabetes.com