What are the chances my child will develop diabetes? That’s been a question that has come up a few times since I fell pregnant and have seen been asked about in the community. Of course it’s also a question I’ve mulled over many times. Recently, while I was being interviewed by a friend about living with diabetes as part of her Masters thesis, we discussed this at length. We ended up having a pretty deep chat about it especially as she lives with diabetes herself.
Statistically speaking, the answer to that question is readily available on the web. You can read about them here. But I think often people who ask don’t just want to know the science. Some might want to know if we have considered this chance of passing on diabetes to our children and the ethics of doing so. I have seen comments online and heard of people who say people with diabetes are selfish for having children, knowing that they could pass the condition on; like diabetes is the worst thing in the world they could have (I would argue being rude would be far worse but anyway…).
How would I tackle the question? It would probably depend on who was asking it and the tone they had approached this. I am all for having an honest discussion about this topic. However, if the question was asked in a way to set me up for a big guilt trip, then I would have no interest in entertaining them.
Having children is such a personal and huge decision and responsibility. It’s one I don’t take lightly and have debated with myself internally for years. I remember someone once said to me I was still too selfish to have a child. I wanted to travel, and splurge money on delicious foods and tech gadgets. Now I realise that it can also be considered quite selfish to have a child. AND I don’t necessarily have to give up all the things I want to pursue and indulge in.
What if my child does develop diabetes? The more I think about it, the more I realise that it doesn’t really matter. Yes my heart will ache for them. But if diabetes is the worst thing to happen to my kid in their life, then they’re doing pretty well. Being diagnosed with medical conditions, whether they are chronic or short term, is a part of life. You can never guarantee someone a perfect life without any adversities. How boring would that be?
I know that whatever happens, we will support our kid however way we can. If my child does develop diabetes, I’d almost be relieved, as I know what we will be dealing with and our kid will be surrounded by some amazing role models to learn from. If anything living with diabetes has taught me so many valuable life lessons that perhaps they will come to learn and apply to other situations too.
Overall, I think it’s important that people understand that being diagnosed with diabetes does not diminish a person’s worth or a parent’s love for them. So next time you want to ask a person what the risk of them passing on <insert health condition> to their child is, I would implore you to give serious thoughts before you do. Think about what you’re actually trying to ask and how it may impact them.
2 thoughts on “Think Before You Ask”
In the 70’s and 80’s where we were deciding if we wanted children we consulted with a genitisit. His take was that we had about as much chance of having a child with diabetes, as we did a child with two fingers on his foot. So I said what is the chance of that? About the same as having a child with diabetes.
If that sounds like a round robin discussion of the genetic lottery you would be right. We simply had no idea, so we tore in and did it. I lived the next 40+ years scared to death that one of them might. Now I am in fear that my grandchildren would be Dx’d.
Compare that to my me and my mom. She had T1, so she figured I would have T1. Not if, but when. I did, my children don’t. My grandchildren do not, but my cousin’s children do. It seems so random.
The thing is I answered these questions so much growing up that i grew to envy my mom. She just always said, yes he will. Mater of fact, straight forward, no more questions. It seems her answer was better.
It is so random isn’t it. I also think that with the advancement of diabetes medication and technology, it’s made life with it a bit more manageable. Yes, it still absolutely sucks. But it’s not the end of the world.