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Welcome Back Home, Kids!

(There Goes the Guest Room)

Welcome Back Home, Kids! (There Goes the Guest Room)

What do you do when your young adult with diabetes comes back home (or never leaves)?

Helping a young adult living away from home to manage type 1 diabetes can be a lot to handle. However, if your young adult moves back home for financial, health, or other reasons, you may find that you both really need to adjust.

Record numbers of young adults in their 20s (and even 30s) have had to move back into their parents’ homes. There’s even a term for it: “boomerang kids.” There are several reasons for this even beyond global events. High unemployment, student loan debt, and rising housing costs have made the move back home attractive, or even necessary, for many people in this age group. 

What does this have to do with type 1 diabetes? Parents with children who are now “twenty-something” or “thirty-something” with type 1 diabetes know that getting them out on their own and taking care of themselves can be a challenge. But if they come back home after living on their own, it can make for a confusing time in terms of diabetes care roles and responsibilities.

father and daughter over computer

If you are a parent of a boomerang kid, consider sharing these tips with them to help keep things moving forward. Encourage them to:

  • Stay in control of their own diabetes care. It may be your house, but it’s still their diabetes. They’ve worked hard to develop their own adult diabetes care teamDiabetes care teamYour diabetes care team may include: a primary care doctor, a diabetes and hormone doctor (endocrinologist), a registered nurse, a diabetes educator, a dietician, a heart doctor (cardiologist), a foot doctor (podiatrist), an eye doctor (ophthalmologist/optometrist), a kidney doctor (nephrologist), a dentist, a pharmacist, and a mental health professional. and self-management skills. Make sure they don’t go backward! Urge them to maintain their care routine and their confidence in their diabetes self-management abilities, no matter what else happens in their life
  • Make an effort to keep (or start) an adult relationship with them. Tell them, for everyone’s sake, that they cannot continue the role of “eternal teenager”
  • Make the most of their time back home. This is not the time for them to live on the couch! They need to regroup, not sulk. They need to look for a job if they are unemployed. They may find that if they can show progress, or at least make an honest effort, it can help them keep up their self‑esteem and make everyone more understanding of their situation
  • Have an exit plan. Explain that the situation is much more hopeful if there is a timetable for how and when they plan to leave. It’s also good to urge your adult child to have some kind of direction
  • Be responsible for their own meals, even if it means that they eat something different from the rest of the family or eat before or after them. It’s not your responsibility to watch what they eat anymore. The basics of healthy eating are the same for people with or without diabetes. So, if they want to take charge of making healthy, diabetes‑friendly meals for the whole family, it will be to everyone’s benefit!
woman folding laundry

Remind them that as a young adult with type 1 diabetes, moving back home for a while doesn’t have to mean going backward in life. However, urge them to keep their forward momentum going. Let them return to your home as a springboard, not a crash pad. Good luck!

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