Dad's Attitude Helps Control Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes management is better in children who have authoritative fathers

(RxWiki News) Parenting style does not only affect how children learn social skills. For children with diabetes, the way that parents act can influence how well those children manage their disease.

Children with type 1 diabetes may have better blood sugar control if their fathers act authoritatively. On the other hand, diabetic children may have worse blood sugar control if their parents feel helpless.

"Be an authoritative father to get your kid's blood sugar under control."

These findings show how important it is for fathers to be a part of their children's diabetes management, says Joseph Meyerovitch, M.D., from the Jesse Z. and Sara Lea Shafer Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes and lead researcher of the study.

Mothers also play an important role in their children's control over diabetes. However, says Dr. Meyerovitch, it is usually the fathers who are not playing a big enough role in their children's diabetes management.

Meyerovitch and colleagues found a connection between fathers who were more authoritative and children with better blood sugar control. Children with more authoritative fathers also were better at sticking to their treatments.

For the most part, there was not a link between authoritative mothers and better blood sugar control. However, when just studying boys, authoritative mothers were associated with a worse adherence to treatment.

When either parent felt helpless, children generally had worse blood sugar control and were worse at sticking to their treatments.

Dr. Meyerovitch says that these findings may help doctors and parents figure out what kind of parenting is best for helping children and teens to manage diabetes. He concludes that fathers should be motivated and taught how to be more involved in their children's battle with diabetes.

The researchers came to these conclusions by studying parents and their children who were between 11 and 18 years old and had been living with type 1 diabetes for at least one year. They analyzed children's blood sugar control using the A1C test, which measures the average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months. The researchers also examined how well children stuck to their treatment plan and the parenting styles of their mothers and fathers.

Parenting styles were classified under three categories: authoritative, permissive, and authoritarian. Authoritative parents set clear limits to the child in a non-coercive way. Permissive parents did little to direct or hold back their child's behavior. Authoritarian parents were coercive, harsh, and likely to punish their child.

The results are published in Diabetes Care

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Review Date: 
July 27, 2011