The Power of Positivity

By: Katie Murray, Michigan State University

Caring for a child with type 1 diabetes is extremely demanding. Parents faced with this complex caregiving role often report feelings of depression, loneliness, isolation, guilt, loss of control, anxiety and increased marital strain. These feelings are completely normal. Interestingly however, there is research that supports the power of positivity for people with breast cancer and parents of children with autism that can be translated to families impacted by T1D.

The power of positivity refers to the positive outcomes that result from viewing distressing experiences as beneficial in some way. You can also think about this as a purposeful act of being optimistic. The positive outcomes as a result of being optimistic can include: an enhanced sense of purpose, greater spirituality, enhanced relationship quality with others, and changes in life priorities.

Consider your role as caregiver for your child with type 1 diabetes. Do you typically think about the daily management in a negative way? Does your relationship with your child sometimes feel strained and like it is all about diabetes management? Perhaps give a thoughtful effort to re-framing how you approach the difficulties of type 1 diabetes. For example, when you feel yourself getting frustrated about your child lying about blood sugar numbers, take a deep breath and remind yourself that they may be lying to you so that they do not disappoint you. With this understanding in mind, approach the conversation with your child in a way that they feel supported, not attacked. This new positive frame may, little by little, improve your relationship with your child.

If you were to describe the impact of type 1 diabetes on your family, what would you say? Although your life would be less complicated without the burdens of T1D, what positive things have resulted from diagnosis? You may just be surprised with how you feel after a change in your frame of mind.

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