The teen years can be a time of special difficulty and risk for a teenager who has diabetes, asthma, or some other chronic disease. The teen with epilepsy fears that he may not be able to get a driver’s license. The teen with diabetes has to eat on a certain schedule. This can also be a difficult time for you as parents. Your teen may rebel against parental authority and control by not taking medications, or observing necessary lifestyle or dietary restrictions. What can you do?
Express your concern, and then make management of the condition a matter between your teen and his physician. This can remove the incentive to rebel, with medical noncompliance. Also, encourage your teen to live an active life beyond special medical conditions. Listen to his negative feelings, and then help him to see that having to take an extra bit of responsibility can help him to grow as a person, and that taking good care of his health will free him to do all the things he wants to do.
Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.