Middle School Food Allergy Blues

tweens eating lunchRemember those long, warm summer days when your child would wake up and come running into your bedroom to say good morning? That faint pitter patter, shuffling mixed with the familiar scent that only belongs to your child and nobody else’s? Hours of cuddles, hugs, late breakfasts and kisses- endless, silly kisses. Then, the beginning of Middle School and all of that just STOPS. No more affection in front of their friends or asking your child if they want another hug. Suddenly, your child is their own person and with food allergies, this new found individuality offers a brand new level of anxiety to keep under control as a parent.

Time to Switch Gears

This will begin a new phase to your life as a food allergy parent. No more “helicopter parent” because this may cause your child embarrassment- I mean, who else starts Middle School and has a parent tagging along all of the time? Before opting to be a living extension of your child, first consider how your child will feel about it as well. Think back to when you started Middle School and ask what would have been acceptable for your parent to be a part of during the school year. As difficult as this will be, I promise that Middle School events are far less food-oriented so that in itself will allow both of you a little extra breathing room. After all, this also means a new learning curve for your child and how they will continue to handle their own safety too.

Ask Your Child’s Permission First

I know this may seem like the opposite of what you have done (ever!) but trust me, this one is especially important to both of you. Rather than declaring that you have signed up for every single committee, every function and all things that may include even a stitch of food, sit down with your child first. Find a time that seems to be comfortable for both of you – that can also offer an extra bonus of bonding time as well. Our son seems to be more willing to talk to us when we go to say good night and he’s winding down from his day. It’s one of the few times during the day when he is not rushing, not stressing about a school assignment or talking to his friends. Sit on your child’s bed, begin with another subject and then ease into what they would like to see you be a part of.

Become a Silent Super Parent

There are ways to still be the helicopter parent, but in disguise. Once you and your child have established the new limits, begin to include the teachers. Many teachers are already feeling overwhelmed with the large number of students in their classrooms. When it comes to a child with life-threatening food allergies, they are always looking for extra back-up. Offer to bring in some of the foods for any class festivities as well as extra wipes. I have often joked that I will be the quiet person in the back of the room collecting garbage and silently wiping down all of the desks. It sounds funny but schools are always asking for wipes so why not tackle two things at once? Help a teacher, keep your child safe and go home knowing that the potential for an allergic reaction has been limited.

Transform into the Cool Parent

Sometimes, this even makes you the cool parent without even trying. Many parents work and many children of those parents often wish that their mother or father was going with them to these fun school outings. Never once have I been asked why I chaperone so many trips and so often. What I have had positive experience with very often include my son’s classmates approaching me, saying hello and asking me if I have any of those “awesome goodies that I had like last time”. They don’t ask of they are allergy-friendly and we don’t tell- but my son is always the first to offer to share even though he cannot have whatever his friends are having. It’s like this with adults too- we all want whatever someone else has that’s different. Thus begins leaving the label of allergy parent and becoming the cool parent.

It’s Ok to STILL Worry

Any parent, allergic or not, will always worry about their child regardless of what happens- always. Remember that this is natural and this does not mean that you are over-protective or under skilled as a parent. When it comes to any situation with your child, it’s always better to check and double-check until you know that the situation is as controlled as it can be by you. Just remember that the new found “cool parent” gets better results if this is handled a bit more calmly rather than when you initially became a food allergy parent. (Unsure? Let me reshare how it most likely was then continue to read- just click here.)

Remember- just as you are getting comfortable with this new found parenting and food allergy freedom, High School will begin! 🙂

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book "The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies" at www.AllergyPhoods.com. Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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