Have empathy: parenting students with type 1 diabetes during the pandemic

February 2, 2021
Tara Bryant-Gray, left, and her son.

Tara Bryant-Gray, left, and her son. 

For Tara Bryant-Gray, a psychotherapist and an alum of Penn GSE’s School and Mental Health Counseling master’s degree program, the fall semester brought a new challenge: supporting her son, Jack, who has type 1 diabetes (T1D), as he started college at American University virtually.

“Embarking on college for T1Ds, whether they were diagnosed as babies or at any other time in childhood or adolescence, signals a vulnerable time for parents who have kept a steadfast watch on their children’s tricky condition,” writes Bryant-Gray in Diabetes Daily, confessing that she felt a bit relieved when American announced they would be virtual and she could continue to help monitor her son’s diabetes at home. But she notes that their initial routines weren’t working for their family.

“I kept being reminded of one of my brilliant grad school professors at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Sharon Ravitch, and her writings at the beginning of the pandemic,” Bryant-Gray reflects. “’Flux pedagogy’ was her trauma-informed characterization of how to thrive amid constant, and often frightening levels of change and threats. Dr. Ravitch applied this to teaching and learning, but I borrowed from it heavily in terms of my parenting. Taking an ‘inquiry stance’ as she said, would allow me to back off of my usual burdensome need for control.”

For more, read her full piece in Diabetes Daily.