How to transfer responsibility to adult son

I am new to this group and hoping to find some support in parenting our type I adult son. He is almost 24 and other than test and take insulin and of course count carbs, he does not take on the responsibility for his care; financially or responsibility-wise. I am not belittling the work in doing what he does, but he has to become independent.

He is a personal trainer and his care for himself overall is great.( He also has celiac and is very good about eating a gluten free diet.) Tonight he just told me that he is out of lantus (he doesn't want to be on a pump), has four test strips left, and out of pen needles. His lack of responsibility just became a big financial crisis to me.

He has no health insurance because our Cobra dropped us (another story) and his profession doesn't provide health insurance. So everything is out of pocket. He gets free insulins through the prescription assistance programs, but they make you jump through some hoops to keep the lantus coming. I normally have ordered pen needles through an online company at a huge discount, but he needs them now. I did just give him his Christmas money from his grandma to go buy his own pen needles. Felt guilty, but...

Anyway, I am so conflicted. He needs to be responsible for himself to truly grow up, but I am always worried he'll refuse the push to take his care as his own and do something terrible. 

Is there anyone out there who has successfully done this? Were you worried about how the adult child would respond? Please share your story.


Hi Julie,

I have no words of advice. That sounds really tough. Maybe electronic reminders in his phone might help. Children present so many challenges even when we they are adults. I feel like I am at the end of my rope with one of my kids. He is depressed and threatens suicide . Treatment is only helping a bit. He still goes into depressions that make him hopeless for the future. Me too.


It's not your fault that your son has diabetes.  It's his responsiblity to take care of himself.  You can be cool and help him occasionally, but he's taking advantage coming to you when he's almost out of supplies.

Once I graduated from high school and got back from my summer job as a camp counselor, my parents sat me down and said since I didn't want to go to college ( I eventually went a few years later) that I had a month to find my own place to live and take responsiblity for my living expenses, including medical supplies. I sometimes had insurance through my job but when I didn't, learned to use the generic meters  because the test strips are cheaper, and went to an urgent care clinic once a year to get a prescription for insulin.  I also used the cheaper insulins like Regular instead of Novolog or Humalog.  It wasn't ideal, but I survived.

After I got married my husband was insistent that I choose a job with insurance and that allowed me to get an insulin pump and have regular doctor visits.  My mom was generous and gave me part of the money for that initial pump copayment.  I didn't ask, she just knew it would help me and did it.  

Your son is capable of taking care of his needs.  Let him know it's time.  He'll be okay health wise and will be much better off as a person.



Thank you! This is very encouraging.  Hearing from someone who has been there definitely helps.We have switched him to the Wal-Mart Reli-on meter. The dr.'s endo office is always trying to force him to come in, even to the point of not getting him his refills for lantus until he comes in! A prescription should be good for a year. I don't know why they cannot honor that. Good to hear that at an urgent care you were able to get a prescription from urgent care and, I'm assuming, you just paid out-of-pocket for the insulin. I'm impressed. I know my son is capable to figure things out. Still just unsure how far to let him fall. With no insurance and because of the damage to his health, I don't want to let him not have insulin or supplies and go into DKA. Any thoughts on that front? I want him to do the leg work to get answers to caring for himself. I am happy to help if he has put some effort forth too.

I chatted with my son about all this and he said he needs to have consistent supplies to take care of himself, to which I responded, "then you need to get health insurance." He told me he needs more income to do that, so I asked him what his plan was? As crappy as it is, someone who needs health insurance either needs to be able to afford the pre-existing condition insurance (~$265 a month and ever increasing as you age) or a job that provides insurance. Even as a young healthy t1d he cannot go without.

At this point your son probably cannot get private insurance.  I never was able to as a type 1 diabetic.  That's supposed to change in 2014 with Obama Care requires insurance companies not to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.  But my guess is when that happens coverage for all people will probably rise dramatically.

The best way to get insurance is through a job.  If your son doesn't want to do that, then he will have to pay out of pocket.  Insurance is not required for diabetes, it just makes it easier.  From the time I was ages 18 - 30, I had insurance for maybe 4 years of that time.  

It's not rational that he won't have enough money to get supplies and will go into DKA. He has a job.  My guess is that he can always come up with money to go out with friends or pay rent.  Once he's responsible for his own diabetes supplies they'll be top priority.   And he might have to make some sacrifices, like using (and reusing) syringes instead of expensive insulin pens.  But that's what he can afford and it still delivers the insulin.

You can do diabetes on the cheap.  A prescription is valid for a year and is only requred for the newer types of insulins, syringes and pens.  Diabetes is primarily managed by the person who has it, not by their physician. Constant endo appointments are great if he can afford them, but they are a luxury, not a necessity for anyone who understands how to adjust their own insulin like your son does.  He could always get the money together for an appointment if something is wrong or his numbers are really off and he can't fix it.  The main reason most long time diabetics go to the endo is to get their A1c drawn.  But in reallity he can get an A1c test at the drug store or just averge the results on his meter.  And most of us know if we're doing well or not;  the A1c is just verification.

Your son won't go into DKA because he doesn't have insurance or because you don't help him.  He's just a human and people sometimes do as little as possible to get through life.  But like any person, he is capable of stepping up and taking care of what needs to be done.  Give him fair warning and then trust that he's an intelligent, capable adult who can take care of his own needs.


You are so helpful. This is exactly what I need to hear. I am beginning to feel like there is hope that he will not be our financial responsibility or obligation. You make some really good points on how care can be achieved on the cheap. He has said himself that we don't need to pay an expensive lab for an A1c because he knows he can go to CVS or Walgreens for the test. I didn't know that there were insulins available without a prescription for type I diabetes. I thought they were all for type 2.

His dr.'s office was really jerky not authorizing his refill for lantus. To the point it seems that they should be reprimanded. He was in for an appt. in March and they wouldn't authorize the refill here in December only 9 months from the appt. Left him with no slow acting which makes it really hard for him to balance his sugars. Hopefully moving forward we don't have any more issues like this. His endo (different dr.-same practice) wanted to see him again in a month, but said she understood if he couldn't afford to come for 6 months.

you are also so right that he knows how to adjust and manage his own insulin quite well on his own. He is impressed with this dr.'s knowledge and feels he could learn a lot from her. She was really trying to pinpoint with him when his lows hit after various workouts to adjust the timing of taking his lantus. He just loves to get to the nitty gritty of all this.

Again, thank you! I bought him some test strips, but told him that he would need to purchase the next box. That gives him a month. This all really boils down to him needing to take responsibility for his life. He lives with us, pays no rent, works less than 20 hours a week and ...It's a big task ahead, but you have given me some courage to press him to move forward.