Mom doesn’t want to let her child with anaphylactic food allergies out of the house; dad takes the same child out to eat at a fast food restaurant where the child's allergens are in practically every dish without an epinephrine autoinjector (or any emergency medications), explaining: “We were five minutes away from the house.”
This is a common challenge that I see in my food allergy counseling practice: parents of children with severe food allergies who have very different parenting styles when it comes to managing risk and food allergies.
Allergic Living magazine recently highlighted these differences in an excellent article called How to Save your Marriage from Food Allergy Stress. For example, fellow social worker Kristen Kauke says this when it comes to married partners:
"I caution anyone not to mistake a conflict about celiac, food or other allergies with a more fundamental relationship issue. Think about when respect, honesty, trust, shared power and commitment occur in your relationship and when they do not. Sometimes our current struggle highlights a deeper, underlying issue and discontent is an invitation to evaluate the patterns of our own behavior and how they help or hinder the quality of our life."
I talked about these same stressors on dating relationships in my book, Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011):
"Not understanding food allergies is not a good enough reason to break up with someone. However, not understanding, having compassion for or trying to accommodate a medical need may indicate that they are larger issues going on within the relationship. These issues should be looked at, examined and discussed. Often when those underlying issues are resolved, suddenly food allergies becomes what it should be: fully accepted and a non-issue."
How to Save your Marriage from Food Allergy Stress by Allergic Living magazine is an excellent article that really lays out the issues and even gives some action steps.
But it can be tough going, alone. That's where I can help. If you would like guidance as you move through these issues, contact me about an individualized short-term food allergy counseling program today!