How do you explain to your child that some family members can\'t be trusted

Posted on: Tue, 07/10/2007 - 6:23am
Laifong's picture
Joined: 07/12/2004 - 09:00

I've been thinking about this and wanted to hear how others are handling this. My son is five. I think he finds it confusing that even though grandma and grandpa are part of our family and they love him, he is not supposed to trust/believe them when it comes to food issues.

His grandparents (my in-laws) know just enough about his food allergies to not be a serious danger to him, so they see him once a month. But I don't leave him alone with them; either my husband or I will 'chaperone'. I don't trust them because beyond the ability to follow simple rules (i.e. don't bring food to our house) they haven't shown any initiative or aptitude to learn about what it takes to keep him safe on a daily basis.

So going back to the original question...I find it very hard to explain to my son why he can listen to his grandparents about some things (not food-related) but must NOT listen to them about others (like when they try to offer him food). I think in my son's mind, everything is either black or white; you either trust someone because they are good, or you don't trust someone because they are bad. Recently, after a family gathering where grandma tried to tell him to eat some cookies (to which he said "no, thank you", to my joy and relief), he said to me that maybe
they shouldn't be his grandparents anymore (because they wanted him to do something unsafe).

We spend time with my in-laws because I do want my son to have some relationships with family members (my own family is too far away). But I sometimes wonder how meaningful those relationships can ever be if there can't be complete trust.

I should add that if my in-laws had tried to offer him food while he was too young to speak up for himself, I wouldn't be asking about a relationship now because there would be none! Now, I see it as training for my son to do the right thing when anyone other than his parents offer him food.

I'm hoping to get some pointers from those of you who have family that don't completely 'get it' but you still have good relationships with them. Or at least your kids have good relationships with them.


Posted on: Tue, 07/10/2007 - 7:40am
Sarahb's picture
Joined: 01/22/2007 - 09:00

The way that I look at trust is that you can trust people to know what they know - or be who they are. Trust doesn't mean that they will do what you would do all the time.
So in cases like this (and I am very new to this) I have told my son that so and so does love you but Mommy and Daddy have studied and learned many things about this that so and so hasn't. So Jimmy's mom may offer you an apple and she certainly THINKS it is safe...but that is because she just doesn't know the dangers. We know them..and we have to know them...but she doesn't.
Now....if I could explain to him why is school is filled with ninny's and witches that would be something!

Posted on: Tue, 07/10/2007 - 7:55am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

This is a really hard thing.
I wish there were a good one-size-fits most answer. But I think a lot depends on your family's dynamics and your child's personality.
My daugher, for example, has never cared very much about what other people think [i]of her choices.[/i] She is gregarious and unfailingly polite, but really doesn't wrestle with this very much. My mother and her family, OTOH, are [i]very[/i] difficult in this regard. They want 'points for trying.' And close doesn't count except in horseshoes and handgrenades, as the saying goes. [img][/img] The answer is still "No thank you." Even when it is clearly offensive to the person hearing it. And this side of the family [i]totally revolves around FOOD.[/i] Like a never-ending progressive potluck dinner with boardgames and chaos...
We have always emphasized to DD that we love her, and that her family loves her as well. Even though she cannot trust them with food. Trust is not a binary thing-- but this is a VERY difficult concept for some kids, just as it is for some adults. I mean, I have friends that I 'trust' to pick up my newspaper when I'm out of town. I have friends that I would 'trust' enough to leave them a key so that they can feed my cats. But I wouldn't want them to open my mail and tell me what's in it. KWIM? For someone with a LTFA, trusting another person to prepare food for you is literally placing your life in their hands.
'Food trust', for my DD, is about as big as it gets because the consequences of her bad judgement could be fatal. Anyone who does NOT understand and respect this about her has already failed the pretest. KWIM?
So I would explain it this way to a 5yo, using examples of his/her friends and acquaintances.....
Take your three favorite toys. Which friend would you loan your favorite to? Why not all three? Why [i]that[/i] person? What about one of your less treasured things? Why?

Posted on: Tue, 07/10/2007 - 9:45am
lakeswimr's picture
Joined: 02/01/2007 - 09:00

My grandmother can't remember the details of my son's FAs and I have to watch him around her. she used to sneak candy to us when we were kids against my mother's wishes and I can picture her doing this. She always asks if DS can eat X and X is always something to which he is allergic. I have just told DS the truth--Grandma loves you but she can't remember about your FAs so don't take food from her unless you check with mommy first. He understands this and isn't hurt or upset by it.
I would just tell him that your parents aren't good with food allergies because it is very tricky. Tell him they love him very much but because they don't fully understand food allergies he has to check with your or DH before eating anything. In a few short years he will be reading labels himself.

Posted on: Tue, 07/10/2007 - 10:03am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

I don`t really make it case by case. I have always told dd not to accept food from anyone but me. (I am a single mom, otherwise the rule would have been no one but me and her dad). We didn`t really get into who to trust and who not to. There are lots of things that other people can be trusted on, but food allergies is not one of them. She`s always known to accept food from no one other than me and now that she is 12 she reads her own labels and decides for herself what is safe. It really doesn`t have anything to do with trust for us. It has more to do with unless you live with it, you really can`t fully understand the fine points of what food is safe and what isn`t.

Posted on: Wed, 07/11/2007 - 12:36pm
hopechapel's picture
Joined: 12/11/2005 - 09:00

my family does not live close and I do not have huge issues with them --some but not major. However, my mom is too old to babysit and my MIL has never offered really. BUT, I am resonating with this because I just had an occurence in my house that brought up the trust issue. I have a retiree "mothers helper". I KNOW I told her about PA, but she forgot. (She says I never told her - but she is wrong). She began to question my child about food choices and she began to tell him how much she likes Reeses cups. My good little boy told her they have peanuts (I did not even know he knew what a Reeses was).
She began to argue with him and kept saying "peanut butter is good for you!" He walked away and mumbled something about I don't eat peanuts". Her big voice was so much stronger than his little four year old munchkin voice. Adults are so used to trying to hardsell food on kids. Anyway- I could see how some adult could convince, nag him into eating something he shouldn't. And she wasn't hearing him SO - my conclusion is that I try to hear my kid when he does not like something -- hard as that is. If he tells me there are nuts in somerthing I know there isn't (like spinach) I tell him -- if you think there may be nuts in there then don't eat it - DO NOT LISTEN to others - not even me. I am trying to make him as strong as possible and not afraid to disobey or diasagree with an adult.
JUST SAY NO... to them.

Posted on: Fri, 07/13/2007 - 12:43am
KatiesMom's picture
Joined: 03/01/2000 - 09:00

Since my daughter (now 12) was diagnosed at age 3, we always taught he she can't eat anything unless the ingredients are checked. That sort of eliminates who to trust, not to trust. As long as ingredients are listed, and they check out, she can eat it. So if any of her grandparents tried to give her food, she would immediately find me or my husband to ask about ingredients. I also admitt, that it was easy for us because she is a major rule follower and would never try to go against a rule. After seeing their granddaughter having to turn down food that was offered to her, they quickly learned about the ingredients rule.

Posted on: Fri, 07/13/2007 - 5:22am
Chicago's picture
Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

When a family member made a BIG mistake (that DH and DD and I all caught with no ill effects), we all looked at each other and said "OK... we cannot trust food from Aunt...since she means well, but does not GET IT" (did you know that the PB M@Ms have peanuts in them - even when encased in a cookie?)
I can't remember exactly but I think DD was 6 or so? But a rule about no food unless ingredients are read will serve you well when your child is visiting friends.

Posted on: Sat, 07/14/2007 - 6:05am
momll70's picture
Joined: 09/26/2006 - 09:00

I would explain to your child that other family members or friends do not understand what foods are safe and can make a mistake that they don't mean to do. And that your child should not eat any food unless it is o.k.'d by you or your husband. Also bring your own snacks and only eat those until the people around you start to understand and they run every food by you before giving it to your child.
Edited to add that I explain to my son how dangerous his food allergy is. Everyone is different and has their own way of telling their children how important it is that they need to be safe.
[This message has been edited by momll70 (edited July 14, 2007).]

Posted on: Wed, 07/18/2007 - 11:17am's picture
Joined: 12/19/2005 - 09:00

It is a hard concept for a kid - that they can't trust grandmom or a teacher about food allergies.
We been very consistant which helps I think. Mom or Dad has to check the ingredients- no one else can substitute. Other folks are not as good at finding the little "may contain" statements and we know to look for it. If our son is going to school or to a friend's house, then he knows he has a bag of his own food. If others get an unexpected treat, he will get a make-up treat when he gets home.

Posted on: Sun, 08/19/2007 - 12:44am
SafeMomNow's picture
Joined: 05/17/2007 - 09:00

Those are really great suggestions! What I have told my daughter is that when her grandparents were growing up food wasn't dangerous. That everything was okay to eat. That because food was scarce because of poverty grandparents would "treat" their grandkids as much as they could. Even sneak them food as a way of showing them love. That her grandparents are trying to be the best they can be but they don't really understand how dangerous it can be. They aren't trying to hurt her. They are just trying to show their love. I have practiced with her that when they offer her food to say "no thank you", but then come up with something she would like them to do with her. She loves crafts, games etc. So she will say no thank you to the cookies, BUT then say, I would really like it if you showed me how to shuffle a deck of cards again. OR whatever she wants to do that day. That way her grandparents are not left "hanging", they now have something they can do other than offer food. And my daughter doesn't feel bad saying no. It has really worked wonders.


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