In my post, "The Day I Became a Divorced, Special Needs Parent" I revealed something about our family that I am still having a hard time coming to grips with, my son is a Type 1 Diabetic.  

While diabetes is not a terminal illness, his diagnosis will change our lives forever and make the difficult job of co-parenting, well...even more difficult. 

After my ex's lack of commitment from the onset, I knew it was going to be up to me, and me alone to learn everything I could about dealing with diabetes, how to help my son understand, and deal with his tears and frustration of being "different".  

While infrequent, my son does visit his father and it is those times that I fear the most. My mind races constantly with, Did he check his sugar?  Did he give him the correct amount of insulin?  What is he feeding him?  

For those of you that are familiar with diabetes it is like one big science project; enough insulin must be given to account for the intake of sugar, and it can all be negated by physical exertion. While we have learned a lot about diabetes management, everyday is still a numbers game and some days it is all very overwhelming. 

Overnight visits 

In addition to the regular backpack I send with clothes, pjs, and his "essentials"; a Nintendo DS, Pokemon cards, and his lacrosse stick, I must now make sure he has his "diabetes bag". The diabetes bag consists of two separate insulin pens; one containing short-acting insulin to be administered before meals, one containing long-acting insulin to be given at bedtime, his blood sugar meter, needles, and test strips.  

Not so bad--it's all in one place, but wait there's more: a glucagon pen for emergencies, candy in case of a low blood sugar, keto sticks to make sure he is not developing ketones, and a notebook where everything is tracked. "Everything" includes his 4 daily blood sugar checks, his insulin doses, and EVERYTHING he eats.  

This is a lot for me to remember and I do it everyday, for his dad it is going to take a miracle to remember all that; thank goodness my son has taken his condition seriously and knows for the most part how to take care of himself on his own, but still I worry... 

 An Expert Weighs In 

According to Lisa Helfend Meyer, a writer for Huffington Post Divorce "Raising a special-needs child after divorce requires a high degree of collaboration between the parents. Even without this dynamic, parents will often use a child as a pawn to get back at their ex. A parent may reject a choice of school or camp simply because the other parent supports it. In extreme cases, a parent in denial of the child's needs won't take the child to appointments or administer medication. Putting a special-needs child in the middle of this kind of tug-of-war and manipulation can only have harmful consequences, both to the parent but more importantly to the child." 

What you need to know: 

  • The Court will often order a co-parenting counselor for one or both parents. These counselors, who can be psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers or marriage and family counselors, will help parents forge a working relationship that puts their child's interests first.   
  • For parents who find communicating with each other extremely difficult, there are tools available to allow the court and attorneys to monitor emails between the parents on the child's school, tutoring, doctor's appointments, play dates and other activities.   
  • This is how a legal team can help ensure that the parenting plan is being followed and the child is getting the support she or he needs.

I vowed to always protect my child no matter what the cost. Biting my tongue, looking the other way, and engaging in friendly conversations with my ex may not always be easy, but I know it's the right thing to do. 

Our Co-Parenting Plan 

I say "our" because I always notify my ex of our son's doctor's appointments, lab results, and any complications with his diabetes. This is not to say he always shows up or antes up to pay the bill, but sometimes he does.

Scheduling of appointments, keeping track of results and adjusting meds is all up to me; so is taking off work to attend appointments and care for him when he is sick. 

I am certainly not complaining, I love my son more than anything and I will do whatever it takes for his health, safety and well being even if I have to do it all on my own.  

If you are co-parenting a special needs child I would love to hear from you! Make sure to look for the next installment in my story...the expense of a special needs child! 

Related Posts:

Are you still responsible? Debt after divorce

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...Your Credit after Divorce 

Suzanne CramerSuzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor for CareOne Debt Relief Services and is a Social Media Specialist. Suzanne supports our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and writes for our A Straight Talk on Debt and Divorce, Debt and Finances blogs. You can also follow Suzanne on Twitter where she shares the latest debt industry news, and tips to keep your finances in check with her @AskCareOne and @ADivorcedMom accounts.

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