Parent of a non-compliant teen

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum, but wanted to vent and maybe get some suggestions.  My 15 yr old girl who was diagnosed last year, and seemed to be following a good regimen, has rebelled.  She is on lantus and short acting, and some days, only checks her BG once, doesn't take her insulin when she should and is exhibiting an "I don't care" attitude.  It is very frustrating and her mood swings because of her high and low sugars are very trying.  Any suggestions?  Is anyone else experiencing this? Thanks

Hey there Dixie (is it Dixie?),

We have a couple families in our community that we're pretty close with that are going through this.  From what I understand this is way more common with girls than it is with boys (not to say that it doesn't happen) but at our clinic there is a pamphlet that says that almost half of teenagers will do this.  It's also more common for teens that are diagnosed with the disease, versus kids diagnosed while still young.

It's tough enough having to deal with a rebelling teen (my wife thinks even harder with girls), but to have a health issue in there as well makes it difficult.  I suppose the same thing goes with anything when they put themselves at risk: let them know you care, you are willing to help and make sure they have someone to talk with.

Our endo is great for correcting teens, by accredation of the parents we know from our clinic, so maybe a visit to a doctor?

I think the important thing as a parent is to recognize that you might not be the one your daughter needs to hear from.  It goes against everything you want to do for them as your kid, but the reality is that if they're not listening to you they need to hear it from somewhere.

Is there an older sibling that understands what is going on, or maybe another parent-figure in her life that could talk with her about the importance of self-care?

Don't feel as though you are the only one going through this, and don't feel as though you are doing anything wrong!


Thanks James,

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one going through this.  I will make an appointment with the doctor, and maybe enlist her older brother, whom she admires. 



So good to hear that there's an older brother there.  Best of luck, Dixie, to you and your daughter.



My goodness you are not alone! Take a look at the sick of diabetes group forums and you'll see sooooo many teenagers sick of their diabetes. These kids have had it, just as we have, but they are teenagers and express it differently. The desire and need for control varies at all ages and can be relinquished by the parent to differing degrees at various ages. Most teenagers make their own decisions. We as parents are there to educate and support them through good and bad decisions. Knowing that a teenagers (neurological) development of discernment is still in situ, communication and involvement is more important then when they were toddlers! This becomes extremely complicated with a Type I teenager. Logically, we know that she simply can't make such a poor decision because we as parents know the damage that she is doing to herself. Yet, we know also that she is going to do this to herself because she is not with us 24/7. So the answer may lie in what is going on with your daughter psychologically. How can she be made to feel like she has "control" and some kind of decision making power but also maintain good, tight glycemic control? She is working through something right now and "you need to get to the bottom of it". God bless you with the difficult time you will have doing this! Use all the support systems you can get; family, (her) friends, endo, primary care provider and psychologist/counselor if needed. Also, read some of the blogs to see what other kids are saying so that you may be better prepared to talk to your daughter about this directly.

Thank you.  I am thinking of taking her to a counselor.  Unfortunately, she is resistant to that too.  So, I will have to be creative in figuring out how to get her to go.  Have a Happy healthy New Year.

I can soooooo relate to what your going through only my child is still a child. She is however a in the pre-teen stage and is completely driving me up the wall.  Sarah has always been very mature for her age which is making things a little more difficult at this time in our lives.  We have started seeing a psycologist at Joslin and the 1st couple of meetings have been ok.  It's really hard when I'm working all day and she's left to the care of her school & after school program.  The teachers there do try to keep on top of everything but they are not her "parents" so it's not that easy.  I'm just hoping life will get easier and a cure will be found soon!!!

Anyway, I wish you and yours a very happy and of course, a very healthy new year!



Sarah & Lauren's Mom!

I have a 16 yr old son that has been like this for a few yrs now.  Also looking for help.

Hi everyone - I am new to this forum too, and having some of the same problems.  My 16 y/o daughter was dx'ed when she was 5, and has always had reasonable good care.  Since she turned 15, everything has changed.  Her attitude became horrible, she began skipping school, she experimented with drugs, and she developed very oppositional behavior towards any type of authority.  She has been in counselling for about 2 months now, and we are slowly starting to see some improvement.  I feel like I have been through the wringer emotionally.  We have always been a very close-knit family, participating in lots of sports and activities, vacations together, and I have always been very involved in my children's lives.  Her A1cs have averaged around 8, so although not in horrible control, it's certainly not as good as it should be.  She began experiencing problems in school, and is now homeschooled.  She was very active in sports, so now I worry about her lack of exercise.  I could go on and on about all of things I am concerned about...that's why I came to this site.  Her counsellor suggested it, and here I am :)

I can daughter has developed very oppositional behavior towards me and also towards her father when she is with him.  I wish I could get her to counseling, she refuses.  At this point I'd be happy if she got onto this website and spoke to other teens with Type 1, but she's adamant about not discussing her diabetes with anyone.  She was diagnosed over a year ago, and by now I thought she'd get around to seeking out others in her situation, but it's not even close.  I live with the stress that my daughter can not be trusted as to checking her BG when she says she does, or taking her lantus nightly.  Talking with other parents here is my only therapy.  I just wish I could find a way to get my daughter some help without so much resistance.

Good luck and hope you attain some peace!

I cannot even begin to relate since my son is a fairly compliant three year-old.  But with that said it seems like a lot of psychological pain is going on through the fault of no one.  It has got to be tough to discover type one later in one's life when you remember what it was like before.  And being a teenager is so hard as it is!  Teenagers, I know and remember well go through that stage of, "I know everything and no one else knows anything."  So even great, involved parents can seem like they do not have the "right stuff"  A psychologist, primary care physician, or the endo should be able to step in and help.  If that does not work than it is sort of like a drug addict, unfortunately they have to literally hit rock bottom, realize they have a problem and then decide themselves to take the right steps.  I was a very rebellious teenager and played with my life too much, but I had to come to that realization on my own terms.  I am getting off on a tangent I know, but friends of your children, family members, whomever.....should be able to help get your message through (the parent or parents).  I do not even know how scary it must be to watch, but your love, support, etc. will win the battle!  I do not pray but know that I am thinking about all the parents out there with a non-compliant teen.  I wish you all the best and hope things turn around for your sons or daughters soon!!! 

Oh and I should also no way shape or form am I saying that diabetics are drug addicts or even making a comparison at all to them.  I mean no offense to anyone at all and just meant that the pain that is felt or what these teenagers are going through is major and has to be realized by the individual first to have any sort of "turning point."

I wish you the best of luck - we pretty much had to make going to the counsellor a condition of having any privileges at all.  She didn't want to go, but agreed, and I do see some improvement.  But whenever I am so foolish to think everything is going well, we seem to have some type of big blow-up - like tonight.  Another parent called to tell me that my daughter's myspace had some really inappropriate stuff on it, and when I talked to her about it and told her we needed to go through her myspace and delete anything that was not appropriate - she went off! She threatened to leave, in which case I told her if she walked out the door I would have no choice but to call the police.  I told her ahead of time I would not ground her or take away any privileges; I just wanted to go through with her and delete certain things.  After much coversation back and forth, she reluctantly agreed, and we went through and deleted stuff together.  But she feels like I was out of line and invading her privacy.  I explained to her I love her and care about her and what she does, as well as what people might think of her.  We ended up going to get a slurpee together, but to top it off, her blood sugar was 515 before the slurpee.  I sometimes wonder if we would be having these same struggles if she did not have diabetes, and I really think we would.  Diabetes just makes it worse.  I read someone else's post about having to hit rock bottom before you can begin to pull yourself up, and I agree with that theory, however rock bottom for a teenage girl with diabetes can be fatal, and I don't think I'm willing to let that happen.  This is my only therapy too - I can't afford to pay for my own therapist and her's too lol!  Sometimes everything seems so hopeless - I have other challenges in my life too.  But ususally after the tears stop, and I write a little and pray a little, I always feel better.  I am generally a very upbeat person who is very optimistic, but this struggle really gets me down sometimes.  Thanks for listening.

No offense taken - I know exactly what you are saying.  I agree with the rock bottom theory, however rock bottom for a teenage girl with diabetes can be fatal, and I don't think I'm willing to let that happen. I'm also afraid that rock bottom could mean severe depression for her, and that scares me too. 

I sincerely hope that it is obvious that I do not wish rock bottom for any diabetic.  I truly hope that someone or something (non-emergency) triggers these teens into not wanting to hurt their bodies anymore.  I also think in my limited experience and time with this that since they may or may not be testing and/or giving insulin that they tend to the hyperglycemic side...which from my basic understanding you have a little more time to handle before it gets to emergency status.  Probably stuck my nose in a little far on this one...but really, I wish the best to all!!!  Maybe my nonsense inspired a few..."Oh my god, what an idiot (giggles on the dark inside)" or something to that effect.

Really, I completely understand what you meant.  No harm done - I wish we all had the answers of what do to :)

Oh my that would be something wonderful!

I'm sure that you've spoken to the counselor ad nauseum but have you ever tried contracting with your daughter? Quid pro quo may be helpful too. I have 6 children and only my youngest (7year old) has diabetes and I am not looking forward to adolescence with her, especially with all of the blogs that I am reading! LOL Anyway, adolescence is a significant time of struggle. Their brains are developing intellectually but the one part of the brain that has not yet developed is the area responsible for discernment. So, one must appeal to their logical and emotional side to make it easier for them to discern between right and wrong. This involves significant and constant communication. Positive communication. My theory with my adolescents is keep teaching them until they make the right decision and never criticize the worng decisions, simply re-teach. Just like when they were two years old. And I never trust an adolescent. I always assume that they will make the wrong decision always, so I am mostly pleasantly surprised and praise them for just being them. (Of course, they don't know that I am so skeptical, but I do say to them a lot, "Well when I was your age I would have made the wrong decision) It's completely ok to let your teen know you were just like them or went through the same or similar things. One of the big emotional hurdles of adolescence is realizing your parents aren't perfect and dealing with anger over that. When you have a teen that is sneaky, secretive or withholds their feelings, this makes communication unbearably difficult. There are a bunch of family games out there which inadvertantly teach communication also. Fact or Crap, Moment of Truth, Truth or Dare (for teens), and team games where you need to cooperate with a partner. I never liked adults against kids games and this was one of those reasons. Creativity and spontaneuity is great during adolescence too. Weekend overnight excursionwith one parent to a nearby city to see a play or attraction. By removing them from the status quo it reboots their brain and helps them to refocus. The problem with a noncompliant diabetic teenager is that every time their glucose raises over 150, it can lead to end-organ damage. We as parents know this. The "I will live forever" mentality of adolescence doesn't care. So, we have to do all of the caring about their future. It's a great burden, I know. A physician friend once told me that he had never met a diabetic child that didn't have an inner spark that made them special. And that their parents were blessed with these children and blessed to be caregivers of these children. I agree with him. What you are dealing with is adolescence, not diabetes. Diabetes is just the unfortunate confound that causes fatigue, anger, and pain to everyone involved. Perhaps you and your teen may be able to separate the two somehow. God bless you both.

Thank you so much for your encouraging words and ideas.  Sometimes I get so bogged down in the drama of the day, I lose my creativity, and even my logic, so it feels really good to hear your words of advice.  Contracting with her is something we will definitely try - we sort of do it now, on really short terms goals, and we use quid pro quo quite often.  I did the same thing last night - I told her I made a lot of the same mistakes that she is making now, and I was pretty rebellious, and I think back now all of the times I could have gotten into BIG trouble.  Her having diabetes makes everything she does seem multiplied times 100.  It is also so easy to forget that her brain is not fully developed and she doesn't have the same reasoning and judgement skills that we have.  A lot of times, again, I get bogged down in all that is going wrong and I forget to think that she is very much like plenty of other adolescents her age.  I used to work at a psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents on the adolescent unit, but all of my training and wisdom seem to go out the door when it comes to my own children.  What makes it so difficult...she was the sweetest, most caring child with the softest feelings when she was little.  She would be so upset and cry if she thought she hurt someone's feelings.  Now it seems she could care less how she hurts us and how much stress our family has been under since all of this started.  Her counsellor is the one who suggested this site - my daughter has indicated to her that because of her diabetes, her life "sucks." Anyway, we are trying our best to get through this, one day at a time.  I am going to try to take a little "getaway" with her, something fun that she would enjoy.  I liked that idea of "rebooting" her brain :)  Thanks so much for all of your wonderful suggestions, and God bless you and your family!  How is your seven year old daughter and the rest of your family handling her diabetes?

Awesome backround! Use it well! I always tell myself that whenever I get upset with someone, just treat them as I treat my psych patients. And boy does it take the stress off of me! Really. (I'm a Nurse Practitioner)

I'm doing a lot of "preventative psych" with my daughter. She's a very stubborn, smart girl who I am sure will be rebelling against me one day. (I think that this personality will also one day keep her on track and in control, though.) But I'm trying to prevent her from rebelling against her diabetes. I speak for her a lot because she can't always express in details why diabetes sucks. But as soon as we say something bad about diabetes, we talk about how well we're doing managing her diabetes.

You want to laugh? Background: My nine year old son is very accustomed to acting quickly to her highs and lows. My mother lives 5 houses away. Over the holidays, all my boys were home. (My oldest is 19 and away at college) I was at work. I got a call from my mom that Carol Ann had the stomach virus and wasn't keeping anything in. I called my sons and my nine year old answered. I told him that Carol Ann needed bananas because she was having diarrhea and asked him or his brothers to run them to Grandmom's house. My mother called me laughing hysterically. He had run the bananas over to her house wearing nothing but boxer shorts and shoes. In freezing weather. I'm new to the neighborhood so I can only imagine what the neighbors think of me now. LOL