|My Mexican meatball soup...perfect for game day or any day.|
1. Adopt an upbeat tone and be proactive. Simply saying something like: "Hey, thanks for inviting us to your party! We are very excited to attend. I just need to ask about the menu. My son has severe peanut allergies, so we're happy to bring our own food. We just wanted to know if there are any things we have to watch out for." There. Right away, you've taken the pressure off of the other person and opened the door to communication. In these cases, once I explain our situation, some people have even removed items from the menu. But if you don't communicate about allergies in advance and stay proactive, sometimes people feel guilty for having the allergen around the house and even resentful that you've put them in an uncomfortable position. That's not good from both your standpoint and theirs, as party hosts. Usually hosts want guests to feel comfortable so ask questions, make your concerns known in an friendly way and everybody wins. Or, at the very least, you know what you are dealing with.
2. Tailor your explanation to the person you are speaking with. For example, you will probably want to share every last medical detail of a recent allergic reaction with your child's grandparents because they are deeply invested in your child's health and because they are family members. However, if you're talking to an acquaintance about the neighborhood block party, for example, they probably don't want to hear all of that. So a simple: "My child is highly allergic to nuts and has experienced severe allergic reactions. Can we skip the peanut bags this year at the block party--all that dust and stuff blowing around can be hazardous to her health," will probably suffice.
3. Keep it simple. I touched on this above, but if you veer off into the latest medical news on food allergies or have someone suck you into topics that aren't relevant to the matter at hand, i.e. keeping an allergic person reaction-free, you risk losing your message. It doesn't matter what the latest food allergy news is if all you're talking about is how to keep your child out of harm's way. I'm not saying to blow off someone who is just trying to make conversation, but if they want to get into a deep discussion about how your child got allergies, what you fed them as a baby, etc. you are going to get sidetracked. Try to shift them back to the matters at hand, e.g. "Can you make sure my little guy washes his hands before snack time after playing with shared toys? Thanks for your help."
4. Be prepared to alter your plans. Some of us may have experienced the following: "I communicated my socks off in an appropriate way with my hosts, they told me not to worry, they had it covered and they STILL had bowls of peanuts all over the house." What do you do? Well, in this case, you are going to have to keep calm but be firm. You can say "I know we talked on the phone and you said you wouldn't serve peanuts. My little girl is too allergic to be around so many so would you mind removing them?" If they say no, you can choose to leave but don't be tempted to get into a blowout argument at that time. If this is a close friend or family member, it's better to call them a few days later and talk it out.
Communicating effectively with others is always a challenge in our fast-paced, phone-texting, e-mailing society. So keep that in mind, keep it simple and then get out and enjoy the things you want to do.
Note to my readers: I've been keeping up with the blog as much as possible while I work on deadlines for different writing projects, so even though I try to update the blog once a week, I don't always succeed. :) However, The Nut-Free Mom blog has more than 630 posts! So please use the search bar in the upper left hand corner of this blog and use key words to find posts on a multitude of current "living with nut allergies" topics.
You can also find compassionate, concise information on parenting a child with nut allergies in my e-book, The New Nut-Free Mom, available on Amazon, Nook and downloadable to your iPad or computer. Click this link for information on how to buy, or if you have a Kindle, click the button on the right side bar of this blog.
I'll be adding a Valentine's Day post soon, but in the meantime, click the Valentine images on the right sidebar to find online and supermarket resources of nut-free Valentine's Day goodness. Plus, I have a nut-free Valentine's Day Pinterest board with crafts, nut-free recipes and non-food treats.
Happy Game Day!