Help! Husband\'s family not supportive of son\'s PA

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 7:30am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I have a 1-1/2 yr. old son w/peanut allergy & ezcema. We have known since April. Everyone has been very supportive about not having peanuts, peanut butter, nuts, etc. out at parties this summer. UNTIL we went on a family vaca with my husband's family. He has 7 siblings and both parents are living. There are 13 grandchildren (all in attendance, 5 of which were born in '05). We sent them an email about not having peanuts, nuts, peanut products on vaca but they brought peanut butter and didn't tell us. I found it on Sunday before we were going to leave. I called a family meeting, showed them the EPI pens, told them how serious it was, etc. They gave me the lame excuses that one kid doesn't eat meat and other kids don't eat anything else at times. My husband and I are livid. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this??

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 8:29am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I'm very sorry that you had such a negative experience. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] Most of us have been there. How ugly, huh?
Advice? Sure. But you might not like it.
Until your child is old enough to protect himself, you have to do it for him. If your family intends to sabotage those efforts, you will probably need to stay away from them. There is simply no other way to keep a toddler safe.
We finally came to this (very painful) conclusion as well. My daughter has needed Benadryl on every "family" occasion we tried, in spite of our vigilance-- in other words, these were contact and aerosol reactions. We finally just gave up-- they aren't going to change anything for us, in spite of what they may [i]say[/i] they will do.
I'm not rude about it or anything-- like you, I long ago said my piece. I'm not going to try to teach pigs to sing. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]
SO. We just find that we "already have plans" or "just can't-- I'm sure you understand." If I'm pressed, I'll elaborate, but funny thing is, [i]I'm almost never pressed.[/i] They'd usually rather have whatever food anyone happens to bring than have us. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img]
It's either that or the magic "bonking" wand that most of us wish for on a regular basis. [i]"Well, All Gertrude will eat is--"-BONK- "Ohhhhh,, NOW I understand. Please let me get rid of all this dangerous food so that you can enjoy yourselves. KIDS! You need to go wash your filthy hands. Yes. Right now."[/i]
Would be nice, now wouldn't it? If you find a magic bonking wand, let me know. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 9:47am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Austin's Mom, wow, that's a lot of people. We lived away from family for six years and sometimes I analyzed if one of the reasons why we did was because I couldn't deal with family situations like the ones I had read about here - where family, the people we kinda expect to "get it" the most, just didn't want to and hurt people incredibly.
Now, I have been very fortunate since returning "home" two years ago that the small group of family members that we deal with do choose to "get it" to the best of their abilities. Are they always perfect? No. But at least they try really hard.
I'm thinking that with a group that size (not to say that large groups of family can't be educated and "get it") that there's probably always going to be someone that won't. What enjoyment is in it for you, your DH and your child if you constantly have to have hawk eyes?
I'm with Corvallis Mom - until your child is older - I wouldn't even bother trying to attend.
As far as family interactions period, if it's a much smaller gathering, I would give that a go and see how it goes.
I know that this past week-end we were invited to my cousin and his wife's house for the first time. I haven't actually socialized with my cousin in years and only saw him this year because of a funeral. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] At any rate, HE remembered that my guy was PA and he called the night before to check on the food that they were having and if it would be safe for my son to eat (it all was). He even checked on sesame seed hamburger and hot dog buns. So, I thought that was really cool [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/cool.gif[/img] - I think cool that he would remember my son's allergy in the first place and then to double check the food beforehand.
Some people do just "get it" and then there are others that just, well, don't.
On the whole, but again, with very small family things, we have been very very fortunate and for that I am thankful. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Welcome, by the way. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
------------------
If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I would walk up to heaven and bring you back home with me.

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:15pm
joeybeth's picture
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Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

where was one of those fabulous magic bonking wands when my kids were younger???? i certainly could have used one for all the extended members of our family...mine and his.

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 2:21pm
joeybeth's picture
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Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

not sure if anyone else has experienced this or not....but just wanted you to know that it HAS gotten much better for us as time has gone by. could be a combination of things...
the girls getting older and being more able to vocalize what they need (family always was more willing to listen to them than me).
family finally realized we weren't coming if they didn't do something different, and cleaned up their ways.
i became more insistent and less of a doormat.
family finally realized my girls are really neat little people and worth going out of their way for.
family members ended up with needs of their own (not fa's, but other special considerations) and realized how inflexible they'd been in the past.
stories in the media convinced them that i was not making this up. anaphylaxis really does exist and really has happened to us. could again at any time.
for whatever reason(s), family has come around so much more than i ever expected. no one forgets about the girls' PA anymore and i rarely have to be the one to bring it up.
it was so completely frustrating in the past though....skillet or wand, i'd have tried either at times or BOTH!!

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 10:48pm
saknjmom's picture
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Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

It is bad enough that they didn't follow your request, worse that they "Snuck it In", so to speak since you didn't know about it until the end of the trip. So, several of the kids could have eaten PB and you didn't even have the opportunity to see that they washed up or keep your child away from them. I would also point out to them that their younger children who haven't eaten PB should avoid as sometimes cousins can have the same risks....
Here is a letter I gave my SIL after she "goofed" and put out a cheese ball with chopped nuts and a bowl of mixed nuts out for a gathering....
Thank you for having us at your house yesterday. I just want to remind you that DS is highly allergic to all nuts...peanuts and tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) I would really appreciate it if you would consider his safety and food allergies when we are at your home and you are serving food.
I know from your point of view, I may seem completely irrational and over the top with this as a nut isn't going to jump off the plate and attack him. Please remember that my child nearly died from a tiny amount of peanut butter. He has tested positive as highly allergic to tree nuts as well. I hope you never see one of your children in a state of near death as we witnessed with DS. Not to mention the utter terror he experienced with his throat swelling shut.
What concerns me is cross contamination, contact to his skin via touch and even accidental ingestion. People with these allergies can react as badly by touching or being touched by nuts or residue as if they actually ate it. ie: Uncle touches cheese ball, eats nuts, has contact by touching or kissing DS. Or nut falls off cheese ball to floor or counter and DS accidentally touches it. It is the same concept as having a reaction to poison ivy, people react by touching it or being near it without actually ingesting it. This is a reality and a true hazard for DS.
It is not good enough to say, "don't eat what's on that plate or in that bowl." For DS, DH and I, the presence of nuts and peanuts causes a highly uncomfortable and stressful situation. For DS, it is almost hurtful because he feels he is not being considered. On the way home yesterday, he asked why Aunt and Uncle don't care that nuts could make him go to the hospital. I know that you both love him and would never want to see harm come to him. I reassured him of that.
I realize that there are going to be situations that I cannot control regarding food. We make every effort to avoid situations that pose a risk to DS. I understand that yesterday was most likely an oversight by you and I am not angry. You have been thoughtful of his allergies in the past and it is greatly appreciated. I only wanted to pass on a reminder and clarification of the situation so we can avoid it in the future.
Thank you, call if you have any questions.
This letter was well received by my BIL * SIL.
Maybe you need to send them something like this. Do they live nearby where you have frequent gatherings?

Posted on: Wed, 09/13/2006 - 11:56pm
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

You guys have really been helpful! Just to hear that you are not alone and that others have had the same experience takes away some of my anxiety. My husband and I have been putting together a comprehensive letter to send to them that gives them an education and at the same time tells them we can't participate in family functions if they don't have a peanut/nut-free environment. A magic wand would be excellent! Thanks again to everyone who responded!!

Posted on: Thu, 09/14/2006 - 12:31am
gvmom's picture
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Joined: 08/24/2005 - 09:00

[b]I'm not rude about it or anything-- like you, I long ago said my piece. I'm not going to try to teach pigs to sing.
SO. We just find that we "already have plans" or "just can't-- I'm sure you understand." If I'm pressed, I'll elaborate, but funny thing is, I'm almost never pressed. They'd usually rather have whatever food anyone happens to bring than have us.[/b]
My advice probably would have included something similar to this -- though I probably wouldn't have said it quite as well.
Corvallis Mom -- here is a case where I will agree with you. It is sad, but true, that this is where we stand with our family. I actually read what you put a couple times, sitting in sad agreement -- like the wand thing a lot. Wondering if it would work for other stuff?
This weekend, for us, there is a birthday party coming up, and, well, I don't think I was ever so happy for the whole family to actually end up sick. Last night DH was able to just tell his brother we all were sick - at one stage of whatever we've all got - so we wouldn't be making it to his daughter's party.
I do have to say, that they at least had asked what they could put inside the pinata that would be safe for our kids -- and that aside from that, everything else should be fine and not have nuts. (of course, our other son is allergic to eggs, and I wasn't really wanting to get into bakery cake issues, peanut oil in hot dog & hamburger buns, peanut oil on chips, etc.)

Posted on: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 3:29am
MimiM's picture
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Joined: 10/10/2003 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by saknjmom:
[b]It is bad enough that they didn't follow your request, worse that they "Snuck it In", so to speak since you didn't know about it until the end of the trip. So, several of the kids could have eaten PB and you didn't even have the opportunity to see that they washed up or keep your child away from them. I would also point out to them that their younger children who haven't eaten PB should avoid as sometimes cousins can have the same risks....
[/b]
Austin's Mom,
I think that probably the worst part of this is that betrayal factor! The sneaking and lying especially by family members is just wrong. If they had issues about not having peanut butter, they should have brought them up [i]before[/i] the trip. It still would have been unpleasant to deal with but at least then, you could have known what was in store and could have possibly discussed it and come up with a compromise prior to the trip.
Just out of curiousity, on this trip, were you all staying in the same house, perhaps sharing a kitchen and bathrooms or did you all have separate areas?

Posted on: Sat, 09/16/2006 - 11:59pm
McCobbre's picture
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Joined: 04/16/2005 - 09:00

In giving them one more chance, if you choose to do so, you might offer to take one of the big giant containers of Sunbutter (with a separate container for your child). I think it costs around $13. You would dispose of it before coming home, but those kids would have a great alternative.
My PS DS doesn't eat meat either. He turned vegetarian (his own choice--DH and I aren't) a year ago--and doesn't even depend on Sunbutter as a huge staple. He eats it a couple of times a week if DH isn't more creative for his lunch.
Oh--cool things that DS loves to have: hummus (we make it w/o tahini because I'm sesame allergic), lentils that are all mashed up with a peach and apple chutney. So your family is not likely to make the latter--but this is just an illustration of options for that kid. Being a vegetarian is no excuse.

Posted on: Sun, 09/17/2006 - 3:36am
Corvallis Mom's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I second that. I probably eat about half vegetarian meals (as I live with two carnivores and all three of us have FA). I do not like animal-derived proteins and never have.
We have an entirely nut and egg-free home, so I am not depending on EITHER source of protein. Ever. I also don't eat a large amount of soy or dairy.
That leaves a LOT (as you would instantly know if you took one look at [i]me[/i] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] ) in the way of other tasty and very healthy food. I have to confess to having a MAJOR Sunbutter habit... about a jar a week, and DD only likes it with apples. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
So, agree totally-- there is just no excuse for that kind of behavior other than wilfull ignorance and a thoroughly callous egocentrism.

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