Kids First, Diabetes Second Book for Parents


Most people have no idea how complicated it is to parent a child with Type 1 Diabetes. They might see families testing blood sugars and giving shots at a birthday party or baseball game, but they don’t realize all the other issues that parents deal with on a regular basis such as ketone testing; sick day management; having test strips, meters, lancets, glucose tablets, insulin, the dreaded glucagon emergency kit, juice boxes, and snacks, as well as backups and double backups of these items, always on hand; working with technology such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors; checking blood sugars multiple times overnight and during physical activity; dealing with mood swings and other symptoms from rapidly changing blood sugar levels; and we can’t forget carbohydrate counting, which involves counting and weighing just about everything that goes into a child’s mouth.

Raising a child is a difficult job. Raising a child with a chronic illness such as diabetes can be a difficult job with a side order of special challenges. Leighann Calentine’s book, Kids First, Diabetes Second, is a must-read for parents and grandparents with a newly diagnosed child. Leighann’s blog, D-Mom Blog, is an invaluable resource for parents and caregivers of children with diabetes and her book has the same warm and down-to-earth tone.

In a style both practical and affirming, Kids First, Diabetes Second presents Leighann’s advice to help parents and caregivers enable children with diabetes to thrive. They learn how to automate tasks, navigate challenges, celebrate achievements, establish a support group, relieve stress, and avoid being consumed by management of the condition, while focusing on what’s most important: raising a happy, healthy child.

All D-parents will relate to the story Leighann shares of her daughter’s diagnosis and hospital stay. They will immediately feel as if they have found someone who not only understands the hardships, but is an inspiring role model for how to help these children thrive. The book is packed full of tips such as having glucose tablets and cake icing gel opened ahead of time so shaky fingers don’t need to struggle with the packaging during a low blood sugar incident; what to pack in a backup emergency kit; creating a chart of serving sizes and carb counts of your child’s favorite foods; how to pack insulin when traveling on hot days; snack ideas; tips on working with schools; and how to get involved with advocacy and fundraising.

The resource list in the back of the book, which highlights blogs, organizations, products, camps, events and other useful tools, is a valuable addition. I liked how the book offers tips for parents of children, teens and college students so that all families can find something relevant. For example when your teen starts driving, she recommends buying key rings with holders for glucose tablets built into them. Who knew that something like that even existed?

I wish parents didn’t need to read this book as in a perfect world, diabetes wouldn’t exist. However, in the real world, children are diagnosed with diabetes and parents need support. Kids First, Diabetes Second is a wonderful book to help caregivers get started on their journey.

For other diabetes posts and reviews, visit the Character Crossroads page.

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  1. Thanks for sharing all the details of this book. I wish I had found this book 7 years ago when my husband was suddenly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 36. Over the years we have been learning through trial and error, but as you know, there is so little room for error when dealing with this. We carry glucose tablets but carrying them on a key chain is an incredibly smart idea.

    And you are right, other people have no idea how complicated it is to deal with diabetes. Even my immediate family has no idea and I see them just role their eyes when we talk about the stuff we need to have on hand with us, as you described.

    I know it sounds like it should be easier for an adult to deal with this versus a child, but that isn’t always the truth. But we do our best and try to take things one day at a time.

    • Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to read the review. That must have been hard for your husband to adjust to this as an adult. I don’t think there is any easy age to develop diabetes. Each age presents its own challenges. Adults have to manage responsibilities like driving, working, and parenting, and having fluctuating blood sugars must make those tasks more difficult. It seems as if there is a lot of research going on, though, and I hope that in the not too distant future, it will get much easier for people to manage diabetes!

Stacy Juba