Dear Friend Of Mom With Food Allergy Kids...
I am so proud and honored to have my very first guest blogger post on the website today. My dear friend Sarah has walked by my side throughout our food allergy journey and has literally held my hand in some of the scariest moments of my life as a mom. I could not be more grateful for her message - as a mom of kids WITHOUT food allergies - to those of you just like her. Thank you, Sarah, for your perspective, your words and your heart!
Dear Friend of Mom with Food Allergy Kids,
I know you are hesitant, even scared, to invite them over. What if they eat or touch something at YOUR house that causes an allergic reaction? What if you must use an epi pen? What if they end up at the hospital because something happened on your watch? I know and understand this real fear because I’m the friend, too.
I can tell you one thing, though - if you think you’re scared, the other mom is beyond terrified of letting their child into what could be a potential “danger zone.” But guess what? Her child is still a child and not only deserves, but needs, playdates at neighbor’s houses, cookouts with friends and all the social outings that come with being a kid. Kids with food allergies are isolated enough, so if you’re truly a friend, you’re going to need to swallow that fear of yours and invite them over. I can promise once you do, your fear will relax (a little) and you will learn how to do what your friend does daily.
Let her teach you and you will be better for it. I’ve learned so much from watching my own friend alter recipes, grocery shop with a magnifying glass and educate all of those who come in contact with her kids. You can be an advocate for her and her child, and step one is to include them in your home, invite them out to dinner and even on vacations. Let their family decide when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Don’t determine the answer for them before you give them a chance just because you’re nervous. She’s nervous too and will make the best decision for her family; I can guarantee it – she’s faced with these decisions much more often than you are.
Don’t just stop at step one though! Being a good friend doesn’t just mean being inclusive. Listen to her worries and fears, pray for her family, learn from her teachings, research and educate yourself, tell others how to navigate food allergies and stand up for those kids. I have a feeling the little steps you take will mean more to her than you can imagine. Don’t hold back, friend of allergy mom, put your superhero cape on and help.
So, when your child comes home from school and announces they made a new friend and he or she has a peanut, tree nut, egg and dairy allergy, don’t you dare cringe or whine! Tell your child, "I can’t wait to have them over!" Call the mom and get the scoop on what the kid can or can’t eat – she’ll train you on snacks for them, washing hands often and clearing the pantry of danger items prior to a visit. There are a lot of allergy-friendly foods out there and more come on the market each day. You may even find a favorite allergy-friendly snack for your own child, even though they don’t require them. Kids see kids, not allergies, so let them play – pull on your big girl panties, do the research and be prepared. You will all be better friends for it!
A Friend Just Like You
P.S. When your child makes any new friends, it’s always a good time to ask a first question of “Does your child have any allergies and if so, what are safe foods for them to eat?” This question will do more than you know – taking pressure off the allergy mom to tell you first and ask for special circumstances. She will appreciate the relief and the offer to keep her kid safe; and, if there are no allergies, guess what? You just taught another mom “the first question trick” in keeping food allergy kids safe. Way to be proactive, friend!