The clock is ticking: Parental stress around emerging adulthood for adolescents with type 1 diabetes


      • Parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes reported significant stress.
      • The balance of involvement and allowing autonomy is difficult.
      • Parents continued to support their child in extensive ways.
      • More attention and direction for parents from the provider team could be beneficial.



      Our goal was to explore parental views on the challenges and stressors of transition to young adulthood for adolescents with type 1 diabetes and to describe specific strategies used to reduce parents' own stress during this time.

      Design and methods

      Focus groups with 39 parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes were conducted in the greater Seattle area. Semi-structured prompts addressed adolescents' self-care tasks, parental assistance with care, challenges and barriers with self-care tasks, and stress/pressure around self-care. Data was analyzed using qualitative methods for emerging themes.


      Parental stress was heightened when adolescents were approaching common developmental milestones such as driving, moving out, and engaging in risky behaviors that could be exacerbated by poor diabetes management. Thus, most parents reported providing assistance even late into adolescence. Parents shared strategies for guiding adolescents' transition from assisted to independent care with an emphasis on active behaviors parents could continue, thereby lowering their own stress.


      Parents of adolescents with type 1 diabetes experienced significant stress around their children's transition to independent diabetes self-care management.

      Practice implications

      As part of overall preparation for transition, care providers should be encouraged to communicate with parents about these common stressors and promising avenues for nurturing a teen's independence.


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