“Most parents feel anxious about sending a child to college,” says Amy Hess-Fischl, RD, CDE, coordinator of the In Transit Program for Adolescents, Teens and Young Adults at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, “but when he or she has diabetes, they need to arrest the impulse to be the diabetes police.
Lori Laffel, MD, chief of the pediatric, adolescent and young adult section at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, agrees. “Difficult as it might be to resist,” says Dr. Laffel, “your first question shouldn’t be: ‘What was your blood sugar?’ but ‘What can I do to help?’ ”
In addition, the College Diabetes Network (CDN), a nonprofit organization that offers support for type 1 college students nationwide at collegediabetesnetwork.org, recommends:
- Creating a contract. This can be an agreement that establishes when and how often you may be able to ask about your child’s blood sugar. For example, your child may be willing to discuss it during a weekly phone call. Or maybe he or she would prefer sending you an email. CDN founder Christina Roth, 21, a senior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who has type 1 diabetes, says her mom’s not allowed to ask her about her blood sugar levels on the phone. Instead, she emails her uploaded charts to her mom.
- Deciding who orders supplies. With your child’s permission, ordering supplies (and medications) can help take the burden off him or her, while allowing you to stay involved.
- Packing a “sick day” kit. Sending your child a kit that includes a thermometer, glucose tabs and OTC medications will give you peace of mind.
- Sending a supermarket gift card. This way, if the dining hall’s food options are limited, your child can buy extra groceries. Or mail a care package complete with healthy snack foods.
- Getting involved in a parent support group. There you’ll receive encouragement, connections and gain access to information that will help strengthen your relationship with your college-age child.