Parenting style affects type 1 diabetes control in children

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Power to the parents: Higher authoritativeness of fathers, but not mothers, was associated with better treatment adherence and improved glycemic control in children, according to recent research. | File photo

The findings

A study published earlier this year about the affect parenting styles have on controling type 1 diabetes in children said:

Higher authoritativeness of fathers, but not mothers, was associated with better treatment adherence and improved glycemic control in the children.

Among mothers, a higher level of permissiveness was associated with poorer treatment adherence.

Authoritarian parenting styles were not associated with either glycemic control or treatment adherence, but when the analysis was limited to boys, a higher level of maternal authoritarianism was associated with poorer treatment adherence.

A higher sense of helplessness in both fathers and mothers was associated with worse glycemic control and worse adherence to treatment in the children.

Parenting style can play an important role in improving glycemic control in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in the August issue of Diabetes Care.

Researchers at the Israel Diabetes Center of Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel found an association between fathers who parent authoritatively and improved glycemic control in their children, while a sense of helplessness in both fathers and mothers was associated with worse glycemic control and worse adherence to treatment among their children.

The study included parents and children/adolescents ages 11 to 18 years who had been living with type 1 diabetes for at least a year. Researchers examined the children’s glycemic control (based on their A1C values); their adherence to their diabetes treatment plan; their parents’ parenting styles and sense of helplessness; and demographic information.

The parenting styles were classified as authoritative (characterized by setting clear limits to the child in a non-coercive manner), permissive (few efforts by the parents to direct and limit their child’s behavior), and authoritarian (coercive, harsh and punitive).

Higher authoritativeness of fathers, but not mothers, was associated with better treatment adherence and improved glycemic control in the children, the researchers found. Among mothers, a higher level of permissiveness was associated with poorer treatment adherence. Authoritarian parenting styles were not associated with either glycemic control or treatment adherence, but when the analysis was limited to boys, a higher level of maternal authoritarianism was associated with poorer treatment adherence.

Finally, a higher sense of helplessness in both fathers and mothers was associated with worse glycemic control and worse adherence to treatment in the children.

“The findings may help health care providers and parents in determining appropriate parental involvement in the daily management of children and adolescents’ diabetes needs,” said lead researcher Joseph Meyerovitch, M.D., of the Jesse Z. and Sara Lea Shafer Institute for Endocrinology and Diabetes, National Center for Childhood Diabetes, Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel.

“The association between paternal level of authoritativeness and diabetes control measures highlights the importance of fathers’ involvement in children’s diabetes management. Unfortunately, our clinical experience along with empirical evidence suggests that when compared with mothers, fathers tend to take a too-small role in their child’s diabetes management. We believe fathers should be encouraged and educated to be more engaged in their child’s routine diabetes care, specifically by adopting a more authoritative stance,” Meyerovitch said.

To learn more, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website at www.diabetes.org.