Ron Newth: Father of Lisa
Ron Newth, 63, and Lisa, 36
Life with diabetes isn't what it used to be—and that's a good thing, says Ron Newth, whose daughter Lisa was diagnosed with type 1 at age 11. Back in the late '80s, diabetes wasn't as accepted or understood as it is today. "In high school … they were hesitant to let her use the phone because she might give diabetes to someone else," he says, noting that Lisa was soon transferred to a private school that better accommodated her diabetes.
Even there, she was the only kid with the disease, which Newth worried would leave her feeling lonely and different. "Do what you can do to let [your child] know they are not alone," says Newth. His solution: diabetes camp. There, Lisa met children like her. The camp made such an impact on her life that she's returned every year since—even now as a 36-year-old—to help in some capacity.
The rest of the Newth family is also making a difference in the world of diabetes. "We had the ability to be involved in the community to raise awareness," says Newth, an executive with Bank of America. He took part in the American Diabetes Association's Father of the Year ceremony, years later launched Boston's first Father of the Year program, and has participated in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® events in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C.
According to Newth, it's important to stay connected to the diabetes community and remain involved in your child's diabetes care—even if she's well into adulthood. "You always stay involved. You always ask, 'How are your blood sugars?' and 'How are you doing?' " he says. "We've stayed involved into today just by asking."
Of course, after ushering an 11-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes into womanhood, Newth knows the opposite is also true. "Sometimes you can be more suffocating if you keep asking about it," he says. "Sometimes it's great to be concerned and involved, but sometimes [your child] needs some space to just cope."
As for the key to successfully parenting a child with diabetes, Newth says family support helps, as do open lines of communication. "You've got to just keep talking about things," he says.
Also crucial: letting your kid know that diabetes doesn't have to limit him or her. "We [said] there's nothing you can't do," Newth says. "Yes, you have this, but that doesn't mean you can't accomplish what you want to do."