Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Parenting a teen who lives with T1D: Tips for preserving your relationship

September 05, 2022

Raising a teenager (or tween) who lives with type 1 diabetes? You probably have questions about how you can preserve – and even strengthen – your relationship with your child while balancing their health concerns and T1D management.

After all, the pressure of normal teen development is hard enough, before adding in the self-awareness, restraint and routine that’s needed to manage living with a chronic illness.    

We know that this can all be a common cause of conflict for families living with T1D, so JDRF brought together a panel of experts to give parents practical, helpful advice during the 2022 Type One Summit.  

Featuring Simone Collins, a senior diabetes social worker who specialises in paediatric and adolescent care, Samantha Barry, a paediatric diabetes social worker, and Melanie Cullen, a paediatric psychologist and program lead for the Insulin Pump Program, the chat covered a wide range of questions to help parents and teens maintain a strong relationship in testing times.

Watch the discussion here. Article continues below.


Some of the highlights and questions answered during the chat included:

02.24: A look at JDRF’s new free teen T1D resource (download your copy here)
03.36: The adult brain vs the adolescent brain
04.45: Teen mental health: wellness, not illness
05.45: Things to consider & keep in mind when raising a teen with type 1 diabetes
Audience questions
06.42: “Why doesn’t my teen listen and follow their diabetes management plan? How can we help make that happen?”
09.22 “Why does my teen feel like their care is for me; how do I help them realise that it’s actually for them ?”
12.17: “How do I work with my teen as a team?”
17.12: “We’re struggling with our teen sneaking food, or eating very unhealthily. What can we do?”
21.07: “How important is the friendship cycle when it comes to good eating habits and mental health with teens?”
24.13: “What’s the best way to go about teaching your teenager how serious the complications of diabetes can be?”

>> Download free T1D guides for you and your teen here

Top tips for raising a teen living with T1D

The panel also offered some important tips to keep in mind throughout the teen and young adult years:

  • Healthy relationships are a huge priority. This is a strong protective factor that signals to your teen that they can trust you and let you know when things aren’t working for them.
  • Every step of the journey requires an equal measure of empathy and validation. Validate where young people are at. Autopilot is a myth when it comes to relationships!
  • Support an open dialogue/environment. When teens feel safe and supported, they are better able to make sense of the world around them.
  • Provide the space for your teen to ‘practice’ the skills of being an adult. With practice comes stuff ups/mistakes, and with this comes the opportunity for growth.
  • What do you do when internal resources are burnt out (for both teen and parent) – where do you go? Know where you can find mental health support and have a plan in place.