Now that our son is almost 2 years old, we are starting to find it more and more difficult to spend quality time with family members who continually introduce his most severe allergens into his environments. When these allergens are introduced, it creates an unsafe and uncontrollable environment that can be fatal.
Which raises the question, at what point do you just stop visiting with family to protect your child with food allergies?
Avoiding food allergies when visiting family.
During a recent visit with family who know our son’s most severe allergen is peanuts, drum sticks were purchased for all the children to eat for dessert. Yes, the beloved dessert with chopped peanuts on the top which have a tendency to fall off the cones when you eat them, leaving a trail of nuts all over the floor which our youngest son could easily pick-up and eat causing a possibly fatal allergic reaction.
This wasn’t the first time a peanut product was set free to be eaten throughout the house by children during a visit with this family either. We had a similar incident with peanut butter stuffed pretzels last Thanksgiving which did cause our son to react immediately, and we had to leave early to stop his reaction from escalating and keep him safe.
Unfortunately, because of the possibility of the unsafe and uncontrollable environment that was about to be created again with the drum stick desserts, we had no choice but to leave early. Not only did our food allergy son miss out on spending time with family, our older children did too.
Why won’t family include my our with food allergies?
Another issue we are finding with family is our son being excluded from family events like birthday celebrations along with family desserts.
We have always stood firm that it is our responsibility to manage our son’s food allergies, not anyone else, and we have never expected others to go out of their way to assure our son’s safety, but it would be nice to know when something is planned so we can come prepared with a safe treat so our son can be included and not the only child sitting with nothing to eat.
Sadly, it feels like we are never considered when family plans are made. This isn’t just with eating and keeping our son safe either, this is with everything. But when it comes to the possibility of life or death situation for our son, I don’t understand why a simple conversation can’t be initiated to keep our son safe and included in family events.
When keeping you food allergy child safe dubs you the bad guy.
The worse part of managing our son’s food allergies is hearing the family doesn’t think we trust them with our children. At times, protecting our son to keep him free from a food allergy reaction feels like a double-edged sword with all the criticism we receive.
But how can we trust someone with our child who has multiple food allergies when he is constantly put in unsafe situations? How can we consciously leave our son knowing this family doesn’t understand food allergies or the severity of a possible reaction? Who would be to blame if something tragic happened to our son in this family’s care? Wouldn’t it be our fault for placing our son in a high risk situation? I could never live with the guilt of being the reason our son suffered a severe reaction or death.
What challenges do you face when visiting family with a child who has food allergies? How do you secure a safe environment and help them feel included? Have you ever had to stop visit family to keep your child safe?
Image courtesy of Flickr.