Raising a Child With Food Allergies Takes A Village

Family / Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Food allergies demand constant vigilance and effort of parents. But we can’t do it all without help from our community. It takes a village!

Allergy parenting requires effort, practice, persistence and vigilance. Like many parenting challenges, parenting a child with food allergies isn’t always an easy job.

Sometimes raising a child with food allergies feels like a lonely job. At times, the combination of ‘what ifs’, label reading and substitute-treat-making can weigh us down and consume our thoughts and time.

Sometimes raising a child with food allergies feels like a lonely job. #foodallergies #parenting #allergymama #thankyou Share on X
It Takes a Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies | thisgratefulmama.com #parenting #foodallergies #thankyou

A Rewarding Challenge

But it’s also a rewarding job. A smiling child eating a nut-free cupcake with his friends at a birthday party makes that late night baking worth it. And even the opposite, a child, disappointed they can’t enjoy a treat but safe from a life threatening reaction is a reward, even if it feels terrible.

This job is challenging, but always worth it. Every day our children stay safe is a reward in itself. A job well done. Prayers answered.

Not Alone

Even when we feel lonely, we are not alone. And, allergy parents are not the only parents striving to keep children safe from potential harm, whatever it may be.

The truth is, we cannot keep our child safe from food allergies or anything else out in the world without the help of community.

The truth is, we cannot keep our child safe from food allergies or anything else out in the world without the help of community. #ittakesavillage #parenting #community Share on X

Having a peanut and tree nut allergic child has opened my eyes to the great lengths those in our community will go to in order to protect just one child. Often, attention goes to those who refuse to accommodate an allergy – but in my experience those who take such a stance are few. 

In reality, most people in this community strive to protect any, and every child.

My child.

Your child.

It takes a village to raise a child with food allergies and keep them safe. We can't do it without community. | ThisGratefulMama.com #parenting #foodallergies #allergymama #community #ittakesavillage

It Takes A Village

In our community, examples of people who have gone above and beyond to protect our son are endless and often leave me choked up just thinking about them.Today the attention goes to those who DO extraordinary things, sometimes daily for our son and other children:

  • When my mother-in-law calls me from the store to read ingredient labels and confirm what she buys is safe
  • My mom often takes extra time to make homemade cobbler instead of buying a pie, even when she’s busy
  • My sister does the hair of a baker and trades for magnificent, delicious, professionally made nut-free cakes
  • Friends call ahead to confirm safety of snacks and meals before they come over or we go there
  • Parents help their children wash their hands after they’ve eaten a snack when playing with our kids
  • The preschool director and teachers enforce a nut-free food rule for the program
  • Volunteers and staff from church text questions about safe snacks
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends have learned how to use an Epi-pen and how to read food labels
  • Caregivers listen attentively and read and follow allergy action plans
  • We are included time and time again, even though for many, accommodating us takes some extra effort
  • Friends and neighbors check in before potlucks to tell us what they are bringing is safe for our son – and often point out items they know are not safe to keep me informed
  • A neighbor and daughter with nut allergies looking out for our son, sharing their experiences, doctor recommendations and encouragement
  • Last year we asked our church to pray for our son’s safety and for healing from his allergy. Our prayer note card was returned a year later, signed with dates and names of those who prayed all year long
  • Restaurant managers and chefs patiently answer questions and prepare food safely for our son
  • Friends and family spend time researching safe products on their own
  • People graciously allow me to hang out in their kitchen, reading every food label in sight and asking 20 questions
  • Members of the No Nuts Mom Group (and No Nuts Mom Group of MN) share their experiences and provide invaluable recommendations, advice, prayers, and encouragement – if you are a food allergy parent and NOT part of at least one of these groups, you should really check them out!
  • A neighbor texts me from Target with a picture of a new ‘nut-free’ product
  • And on…and on…

Unseen Help

These are examples we have been TOLD about. Without a doubt, there are efforts done silently, without recognition. People spend extra time grocery shopping, doing their own research, and asking questions on behalf of our son. This includes people who really don’t understand food allergies, but make the effort anyway.

Family, friends, neighbors, children, parents, educators, church staff and more, I recognize YOUR efforts. YOUR hearts and actions demonstrate love and service to our whole family as we all work to protect children. And you do so willingly and intentionally. With joy – without expressing burden.

Often, steps taken by others to protect our son take me by surprise; unexpected gifts of protection we didn’t ask for but gratefully receive.

Thank You

But mere words can not adequately express my gratitude. Most days, I find myself praying blessings over those in our life who have gone out of their way to bless us and to protect our son. Often I am at a loss for words, sitting quietly in the peace of knowing that God knows just how grateful I am even if I can’t adequately express it – grateful to others, grateful to God, grateful beyond grateful.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It certainly takes a village to keep an allergy child safe.

To all those who keep our child safe, Thank you. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, and efforts often stop me in my tracks. I joyfully thank God for each of you. Even the tiniest gesture means the world to us. You are actively invested in our son’s well-being and your individual and collective efforts matter.

How Can I Help?

I pray for chances to bless you and your family as you have us. If your family ever faces a challenge and needs a special accommodation, we are happy and ready to help and go above and beyond as you have for us.

I am grateful for each of you who invest in keeping our child and others in our community safe.

It does take a village.

And from where I sit, THIS village is fantastic.

Thank you.

16 Replies to “Raising a Child With Food Allergies Takes A Village”

  1. This gratefulmama, we are on the same page today. Talk For Me Tees launched our Kindness Campaign this morning on our facebook page talkformetees. We are so grateful for all the kindness that we see rendered on behalf of our little peanut allergy kiddo that we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to someone just for being kind. It sounds like there are many people that you could nominate! I hope you will come by and share your stories of kindness with us and maybe one of those individuals will be the winner of the gift card. If you feel inclined to help us spread the word about this that would be wonderful. We would love to have so many stories of kindness roll in that we wouldn’t be able to keep up!

  2. Great post! I sometimes watch other people’s children when they are in a pinch and need a sitter. I always make sure to ask about allergies to food. There are so many additives in food now I can’t even imagine what it is like to make sure that your are giving your child something they can eat without having an allergic reaction. Good job!!

    1. Thank you Autumn, I am sure every parent you help by sitting appreciates your efforts to keep their children safe. And asking questions of a parent with allergies makes them comfortable to explain what they need and opens up the discussion. Great job yourself 🙂

  3. We just got J tested for a peanut allergy. I’m hoping it’s negative, but it does run in my family. Reading this makes me feel like it will be manageable if it comes back positive. My biggest fear is that other people are sometimes ignorant about what food allergies really mean

    1. You are right that sometimes people don’t ‘get it’. But what I’ve found is MOST people are willing to learn and to understand if we are willing to share and invest time in helping them – even if it takes longer for some than others. One thing I’ve found is if talking through things does not work, writing emails, sending blogs to read or writing blogs has helped those who didn’t do well verbally! Praying the comes back negative.

  4. Thank you for this beautiful post. We are grateful for the friends/family/school staff who take an extra step to keep our son who has multiple severe food allergies safe. Your list is a reminder of these things (teared me up as well). Thank you and I just subscribed so looking forward to many more of your posts. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the note! I was reminded to be grateful this week as my son attends birthday parties where parents have kept food labels ready for me to read, and have called in advance to ask questions. Thanks for following! Looking forward to more comments and getting to hear from you more too!

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