To be a parent of a child with food allergies is to do the absolute best you can all the time to ensure your child’s safety. Period.
To say, “do the best you can” is such an oversimplified statement of the dedication these parents (myself included) give to their families every day. Their work is endless…finding safe foods, trying new recipes, keeping up with industry news, learning about new allergy tests and research studies. The list goes on…and you see my point.
So, I get my feathers ruffled when a company or leader within the food allergy community implies or sometimes right- out verbalizes that I could be a better parent and do more to ensure the safety of my child if I would only (fill-in-the blank here) by using a product or service that will require lavish amounts of money with a “guarantee” that it might improve my family’s quality of life.
Many of my readers’ families have been on a food allergy and/or asthma journey for varied periods of time, but the result is the same, a wild and expensive ride. We spend money on allergy testing (blood and skin), allergy-safe food, epinephrine, epinephrine carriers, antihistamines, breathing treatments, and much, much more. These are the things our children need to survive. It’s a matter of life or death, literally. Many of us sacrificed more than we care to remember to do all of these things. Yet we are privileged to be able to do so and to be able to care for our children’s immediate needs and we would do it again in a heartbeat.
We spend hours each week researching and studying to keep abreast of the latest industry news. Is there a new epinephrine dispenser on the market? Is it safe and effective? How much will it cost compared to the brand I’m using now? Is the new peanut allergy blood test so accurate that it can give you peace of mind for your child’s situation? What is the new technology allergists are using in their offices today and is it right for my child?
We are proactive in keeping our children’s best interests at heart, with their safety first and foremost. Any food allergy company or leader worth their salt knows this about the food allergy/asthma parent. Unfortunately, a few of them use this fact to capitalize on their own gain.
Many seasoned food allergy/asthma parents are used to seeing this push for bigger, better, and more expensive products and we know that talk is cheap and we proceed with due caution. Parents just entering the world of food allergy and asthma don’t have that experience to fall back on and feel pressure that if they can’t provide that expensive product or service, they have failed their child and ultimately put their safety at risk. And that just breaks my heart.
We all have our special indulgences, that one product or service we just feel we couldn’t live without. But… you don’t have to buy the $50 box of twelve allergy-friendly chocolates. Building a concrete house just isn’t affordable for parents of a child with asthma. You can buy a plastic allergy warning bracelet instead of that 24K gold bangle.
To the companies and leaders today who tell parents of children with food allergies and asthma that they could be a better parent and do more for their child only if (fill in the blank with expensive and unnecessary), shame on you! Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers everywhere are dedicated to doing everything they can to ensure the safety and very best quality of life for their children and their families. As fellow members of the food allergy and asthma community, we expect nothing less from you.