Grandma doesn't understand food allergies... Help!! - Peanut Allergy Information

Grandma doesn't understand food allergies... Help!!

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My mother-in-law just does not get it when it comes to my son's allergies. He is 1 1/2 years old and allergic to peanuts, milk, beef, and peas. So far his worst reaction has been breaking out all over in hives and throwing up all over the place (this is what prompted us to have him tested).

Anyway, my mother-in-law is constantly arguing with us to give him foods while out at restaurants, weddings, etc. We say no because of not seeing ingredients, shared equipment, cross-contamination issues. She gets angry and argues with us. She accuses us of being over-protective and says that if we don't expose him to the stuff he is allergic to on a regular basis, he'll never get over his allergies.

I've tried discussing the issue with her, but she is stubborn and frankly not very bright so she has trouble really understanding things.

Does anyone know of a good book or article or such that can explain these food allergy issues to the older generations so that they get it? Apparently showing her his test results and her seeing him get hives on his face is not enough. I hate to isolate her from my son's life, but I may be forced to. Any suggestions?

By EEH on Jun 21, 2011

Unfortunately, I don't have a good recommendation for a book. However, we have had similar problems in out family with certain people not "getting it". (I also have a 1.5 year old son with severe PA & mild egg allergies.) What I found worked was playing the doctor card. As in "You can not give that to him b/c his doctor said so." For some reason, people who thought they didn't have to listen to me, were OK with following directions if they came from a doctor. Annoying for sure, but it has made family get-togethers safer for my son. Good luck!

By lelandclark on Jun 21, 2011

Thanks for the suggestion. My wife does that to me all the time. She will not listen to my opinion, but if a doctor says it, it is the gospel.

I actually went ahead and scheduled a check up with my son's allergist and I am trying to convince my mother-in-law to come along. The doctor is in his 70s, so if she will listen to anyone, it would be him.

By GnomesRule on Jun 8, 2012

We have similiar problem with older relatives not taking our sons peanut allergy seriously. People of our grandparents age RARELY HEARD of food allergies when they were growing up, and just simply do not understand them. Because of this, they might think todays parents are being either overprotective, or- unfortunately- making things up for attention. It is a good idea to take them along to the allergists office and hear this from a doctor IF POSSIBLE. Often a doctors opinion bears more weight with that age group. We live close to most of our older relatives, so we simply HOST dinners at our home- which saves money in this economy anyway.... and also can control the environment with a food allergy. When we DO go out to eat- our son is a very picky eater and it will either be grilled cheese, or chicken nuggests everytime... somehow older relatives seem to UNDERSTAND "Picky eater" moreso than food allergy... sometimes after attemting to educate time and again about the allergies- it is easier just to play the "picky eater" card. So what if they think you are a bad parent who spoils them as far as allowing picky eating habits- YOU KNOW BETTER!

By Gina Tucker on Oct 22, 2012

The older population didn't grow up with as many food warnings as kids today face. It's not that they didn't exist, just fewer people knew about it. It's harder for them to understand that we now know much more about the deadly risks of allergies. You should show her some relevant news and data about the severity of food allergies, and how bad it is when someone accidentally comes in contact with a food they are allergic to. Let her understand that you aren't spoiling your kid, you're just looking out for his health.

By Leanne Hall on Oct 26, 2012

I'm sorry that your mother-in-law doesn't understand and can't seem to accept your son's food allergies. I don't have any suggestions other than to keep insisting to her that he cannot simply eat anything that's available.

Several of my family members seem to ignore and brush off my food intolerance and believe it's more psychological than physical. Perhaps some people just can't wrap their heads around something that doesn't affect them directly.

Best of luck to you and your son!

By isaakssmiles on Oct 29, 2012

My son was about 2 years old when I had this battle with my step mother. She just did not get it. She kept making comments about how I was just being over protective. When I told her he could not have something she would say how that was rediculous and just turn around. One day I had had all I could take, she invited us over for my father birthday party but refused to get cake that was peanut free so my 2 1/2 year old could not have any and started to cry. She told me I was mean for not letting him have any. I told her that was it, if she was not going to respect me, to acknowledge that this was a serious matter then we would have to stop coming over. She again started to blow me off until my step sister asked her if she wanted to be the person that killed him, could she live with that decision. I told her it was not a joke that her decision to feed my child something with peanuts could kill him and did she want to spend her life looking at me knowing she killed my child. I took my son and I left. That was in June. We went over on Christmas and she took me aside and gave me all the packages to all the food and snacks she had in the house and told me if there was something he could not have to let her know and she would put it away immediately. I think you just have to keep trying because at some point something is going to sink in and she'll get it. Good luck!

By FoodAllergies on Oct 30, 2012

My nephew is 2.5 now and we have had many struggles with trying to get family members on board, some are more understanding than others. We have had to avoid family functions due to the risk of foods that he is allergic to. My step brother has two daughters and we would like to have my nephew around them more and have suggested play dates without food or we can provide food but for some reason everyone always wants to bring their own foods.

I think it is easier to accept that the topic may be something you constantly have to bring up for your own sanity. It is for your child's safety not to argue. If your mother-in-law could go to the doctors with you that might help, or perhaps keep trying to direct her towards all of the great foods out there that are allergy safe. Maybe even bring some of the following children's books with you.

"Food Allergies and Me" and "The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies"