Summer is in full swing and so are people's mouths. Don't you find that lots of sun and casual attire can lead to loose lips? Most people have put their foot in their mouth at least once in their life and would like to avoid it happening again. So, here are some tips when it comes to talking about food allergies with food allergy mothers.
- The number one thing never to say to a food allergy mother is "Why did you let him/her eat that?" Most food allergy parents are attuned to their child's special dietary needs and do their best to avoid allergens that would cause their child to have a reaction. Since food is a constant part of any child's day, there are many situations where a child can inadvertantly be exposed to an allergen and possibly suffer a reaction. When this happens, a food allergy parent will be experiencing much stress. Many will be already asking themselves, "How could I have stopped this from happening?" "Was this my fault?" Most food allergy parents do not need someone else questioning them insinuating blame. They already feel guilt. Don't heap it on.
- We can't eliminate all foods! This statment shows your frustration at a food allergy parent's requests. It also throws a large generalization across what is really being requested. For example, if a parents requests that no nuts be served at an event, a good response would be to ask that parent what safe food choices they would recommend. Eventhough multiple food allergy restrictions can be frustrating, it is not kind or appropriate to take your frustration out on a food allergy parent. These parents are not trying to make your life difficult. Don't strive to make theirs difficult either.
- Can you bring your own food? This is not an unreasonable request. In fact, most food allergy parents will do this anyway. However, this comment basically says it is too much of a burden to try and accommodate their child. It is much better to tell the food allergy parent what foods will be at the event, and ask what you can do to have safe choices for their child. Most food allergy parents will not request much if anything at all, but the gesture will be greatly appreciated.
- I thought you were overreacting last year. When food restrictions have changed for a child, it can be tempting to tell the parents how much better you feel things are now. This is a backhanded compliment, which is no compliment at all. It also shows that you did not understand or support their needs last year. If you want to understand why a friends food allergy restrictions have changed, simply ask them. A good way to do this is to ask, "I've noticed that Charlie can eat ice cream now when last year he could not. What caused the change?"
The best thing to remember when dealing with food allergy restrictions is to assume they are necessary, not optional. Food allergy parents certainly feel this way.
If you are a food allergy parent, please share any other comments you have heard and would like to avoid below.
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