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Any input on dealing with siblings during this transition time?

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by Rocky Mountain Mom, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Rocky Mountain Mom

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    It's been 8 days since my son was Dx'd with t-1 DM. While I am doing my honest best to "be there" for his two siblings, they are still REALLY acting up.

    One of them has ADHD -- off the charts, and he's driving me crazy. (While his behavior is a constant in our lives, it happens to be a VERY difficult time for him to be acting up even MORE than usual. Now, I need him to "grow up" a bit. I need his help. DM affects all of us.)

    The other child is provoking and bickering with both of her brothers at every possible chance. She is doing her best...I know she is trying, but she is stressed, too.

    While I totally "get" that they are afraid, jealous, angry, etc., I simply have not got the time to be everywhere at once. I am learning all of my new responsibilities, as well as spending energy dealing with all my emotions, and I am getting to the point where I feel I cannot also handle these other non-life-threatening issues....

    Did you deal with sibling issues around the time of the new diagnosis? Probably, right? How did YOU manage?

    I am trying to divide my attention, and not "dote on just one." I am trying so hard to be fair, equal, and everywhere. These older two need me, too...and I am max'd out. (My husband is gone from 5:30 AM to almost 9:00 PM, M-F.)

    We homeschool them. I used to have 3 hours "off duty" once/week, and another 5 hours "off duty" once a week, as they are involved in two programs. Now, it seems I have NO off duty time.

    I am exhausted...and the way the other two are acting, there is no end in sight to the chaos.
     
  2. skimom

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    Just remember that fair is not always equal.Right now your priority is getting your newly diagnosed child on track and learning what is involved. The other two are having to take a back seat and they don't like it.They are acting out as any attention is better than no attention right now.
    It sounds like you need a family meeting with dad there where you clearly outline what has to be done, what you need them to do to help support you and each other and why. The kids can express their concerns and fears( my bet is that they are scared that they are going to get diabetes too). Your kids need to understand that this is serious stuff and their poor behavior is not only disrespectful to you and their sibling but very selfish.I personally would set very clear expectations as to behavior etc and the consequences.Your child with ADHD may be particularly challenging but he is capable of controlling certain behaviors if he chooses-(I work with a lot of kids with ADHD) I would also consider assigning him a "job" so that he feels that he is part of the process ( for instance could he help with logging or something that makes him feel important and involved).
    Bottom line - you need help and you need the family to work as a unit.These diagnoses affect the whole family.Is there any way that dad can take some time off to be around and support you? I would also find out if the endo clinic has a social worker or psychologist that can help you through this time. Believe me - I have been there with my kids - it isn't easy but at the end of the day when the parents are gone, all they have is each other and they need to be there for each other.

    Good luck
     
  3. obtainedmist

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    My kids were older, but still there have been tensions because the 22 yo who lives at home doesn't get the serious nature of D and why we do some things. I know that he's jealous at times. Also, their relationship has never been close and the dx hasn't helped. Still, I think my daughter has accepted my sons limitations and has moved on.

    How old is everyone in your family and what sort of relationships did they have before the dx? Some of these things just smooth out as you learn to deal with it and feel less like you are in crisis mode. It's so hard to deal with the dx (and you are so new and raw!) along with these behavior issues. However, if you feel you need some additional help, or that the other kids need someone to talk to about their issues, I would encourage you to make an appointment with a therapist who specializes in chronic illness. Our endo's office has some therapists on board and my husband gained so much benefit from talking with them.

    It also sounds as if you might need some extra help in the house as well...or make some plans to have the kids busier outside of the house so you have a break. Do you have family nearby or neighbors that could help you out? Can you reschedule your home schooling schedule to make it easier on yourself? There are so many things we can't control about type 1, but if you can identify the things in your life that you can control to make yourself feel better, I'd try to work on those to the best of your ability! Hoping things feel better soon. I know it might not help to hear that it gets better...but it really does!
     
  4. Rocky Mountain Mom

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    I 100% agree with every word you said! I know they are scared, and I am trying to help them. However, they need to help, too. A family meeting -- probably without my youngest there -- is a GREAT idea! Thanks so much for the input!

    (Dad is unable to take time off during this time, as finances are very, very tight.)
     
  5. Rocky Mountain Mom

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    You have given me some good ideas, also. I like the part about identifying what we CAN control about this chaotic time!

    The kids are very close to each other, and have been so for their whole lives. I am quite sure the older two feel a threat, as they have lived with their dad's T1 DM Dx for 9 years. They know it's serious, and I'll bet they are scared. (My oldest son spoke of a dream he had, in which every time we took his brother back to the doctor, a new disease was discovered. That tells me a lot about his inner world, and how scared he's feeling.)

    One day at a time, right? Thanks for your input!
     
  6. 5kids4me

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    I get it. When Josh was diagnosed, we had his 4 siblings to care for as well... 2 older and 2 younger (1 was 3 months old). It was very hard-still is. Our daughter still has jealousy issues. We tried to give 1 on 1 attention as much as possible, but sometimes it just isn't. Just do the best you can...sometimes an extra hug or saying to the siblings that you know and understand that this is hard on the non-D child as well, helps. Letting them vent but

    making sure they do not resent the sibling with type 1 is important and something we are struggling with. Josh's personality has changed and his siblings miss the old Josh.

    I am afraid I am not very helpful with this...sorry! Good luck !
     
  7. hdm42

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    I'm sorry for your son's dx and the rough time you're going through. I'm sure all the kids are shocked and frightened by all of this.

    I think a family meeting is a great idea. Maybe give each child some warning and a chance to write down their thoughts/fears/questions ahead of time. Or suggest during the meeting that they do this to be discussed at the next meeting. I think regular communication is key, so nobody feels ignored.

    Our endo team at dx was great and included a social worker. She met with my D son on his own and with us as a family. A few months in, my younger (non-D) son seemed to be having a tough time with it all, so I called her and she had a couple of sessions with him on his own as well. Talk to your endo's office if the issues persist, and they may be able to put you in touch with a good counselor. They may have someone in their office who could work with you.

    Good luck and hang in there.
     
  8. mocha

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    I remember when my older brother was diagnosed.

    I was in second grade. He'd had the flu for about 3 weeks, and was so, so sick. I remember coming home and my parents explaining what was going on. I remember being scared. Would I be able to get this from him? What did diabetes mean?

    I think your kids have less questions than I did way back then, but they are probably scared, just as much as you are.

    I think a family meeting would help. Try some active listening, and let them know that you need their help. Try and think of specific things that they can do to help you. Having marching orders can help them feel like they have control in a very stressful situation.
     
  9. Lisa P.

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    My kids are good kids and when times are tough, they step up.
    But. . . then. . .. sometimes all of a sudden they are just being such little handfuls, and they seem to not "get it" that we need them on board to help, etc.

    What I've found is that sometimes when my kids feel the ground is shaky under them, they need confirmation that mom and dad are firmly in charge. The best way to get that confirmation? Push me until I come down like a load of bricks.

    So when they start acting up and I am more patient than usual because I know they are stressed, that actually makes it worse, because it kind of freaks them out when mom's too patient. :eek::p My oldest is particularly bad for this, she needs to know that she can't "beat" me, because if I can be defeated by a ten year old that means I'm weak and the world is a scary place. How can I defeat the monsters if I can't deal with her?

    Knowing this helps me to approach firming up their world with love, instead of trying to be patient and then snapping when they push hard enough and having a hissy mom fit.


    Not that I'm suggesting coming down like some strict disciplinarian, what I'm saying is that they may need some kind of sign, whatever works in your family, that things are stable, they are under control, the world is still the world, the family is still the family -- you know, all those reassurances we adults would love to have, too.:eek: This might mean a return to a schedule, an institution of firm boundaries and consequences, whatever means "stable, and mom and dad still rule the world" to your kids.
     
  10. obtainedmist

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    This is a wise reminder than kids love a world that doesn't change!
     
  11. dejahthoris

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    Get them involved

    I would definitely get the siblings involved in their sibling's care as much as possible! My older daughter went to all the training sessions at the hospital and now is a huge help. She has specific knowledge on this condition.This is a family affair regarding a potentially serious condition, not a popularity contest. They need to help and support their sibling as soon as they are old enough. Even a little one can bring a snack or run get a bg kit. With the whole family helping, it is much much easier, and much safer for him. Plus you have more minds at first remembering all the things you need to remember, helping estimate carbs at restaurants that have no nutrition info, etc etc!:eek: I am also teaching my D son on an ongoing basis. We are reading a chapter Pink Panther book every day. I want him to be READY and KNOW what to do when he moves out. He is already getting superb at figuring carbs and figuring his insulin dosages. Knowledge is power.
     
  12. Amy C.

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    I would try to be sure that you are dealing with the diagnosis as well as possible. If you can, get away from the kids so that you can talk to someone. Children do a reflection of how the parent deals with stresses placed in their lives.
     
  13. DsMom

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    I am sorry for the dx and the difficult time you are having. We've all been there--but have experienced it in different ways. My older son was quite jealous of the attention Daniel got--and actually wished out loud that he had D. He even wanted me to test his BG. He had his own issues at the time as he had just started pre-first grade--which was at a different school than he went to kindergarten at--and was angry to be at a new school without his friends.

    Daniel also has ADHD--so I feel for what you are going through there. I find that you homeschool them heroic!:p I hate to admit that I breathe a sigh of relief when I send Daniel off to school. He is on meds, but they take time to take affect in the morning--so he's always wild in the am. It's such a hard thing to deal with--at times, harder than the D because it affects his schoolwork.

    This may seem counterintuitive with all that you are going through right now and the stress that you are feeling--but maybe a fun family outing may help? Sounds simplistic, but maybe just a day or evening spent doing something you all enjoy as a family will reassure your other kids that some things will stay the same--and you can all de-stress a little and have some fun. Take a vote on what you might do--and enjoy looking forward to it. Maybe even doing this on a monthly basis will bring some of the joy back to your house.

    It may not seem like it now, but life will get back to "normal"--you all need to realize that. This is an extreme disruption to your lives and is so scary and stressful--but a new routine will emerge from this and things will one day be second nature. Things that used to freak me out so that I couldn't breathe (like seeing a 70 or 300 on the meter) I can now handle pretty much in stride. A family meeting sounds great and will surely be helpful and reassuring to your kids--but know that some things will just take time. Not sure how old your kids are--but maybe you can make a parallel to another situation in which they had to get used to something that eventually felt normal? A new home, new school year, a new sibling, etc.?? Those things can be stressful at first, but you eventually settle in and things calm down. D is not as positive as some of those things--but just focus on the fact that it is something they will all get used to.

    I feel so much for you--as I'm sure everyone here does--because we've all been there. Just trying to survive each day with so much to learn and so many new worries. If you can, look 6 months or a year down the road. Know that you will know more and be more comfortable--and so will your family. You will have a routine. You will have the basics down. The shock will have worn off. You will enjoy the same things you enjoyed before the dx. I am still learning new things 2 1/2 years into this--but I am much more confident, and you will be, too. Your kids will settle in with time.

    I wish I could be more helpful. Just hang in there, take your time, be kind to yourself and patient with yourself. You will get through this hard time.
     
  14. DsMom

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    I also wanted to add how important extended family is at this time, if you are lucky enough to live close to them. My in-laws, who live only minutes away, learned how to take care of Daniel as we did--including when we started him on the pump. Although they do not know everything, they know enough that he can eat at their house and can even sleep over. It is INVALUABLE to know someone else knows how to care for your D child. You are going to need a "B" team that you can turn to who can care for your child when you need a break or if you need to go out to "kids not allowed" events. The sooner you start training them, the more comfortable you will be when you need to leave your child. And you WILL need to do that to get away from D stress if only for a few hours. Leaving will be hard the first few times--but thank God for cell phones!! You will only be a call away.

    Sorry for the long post!:eek:
     

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