As a licensed professional counselor trained in family therapy, I am always curious about how various factors impact family systems. The family is like a mobile in which everyone plays a role in its stability. So it's no surprise that the balance can be thrown off by even the simplest of changes.
The addition of a food allergy into a family system often results in major changes that affect most members of the unit. There have been studies done about the impacts on quality of life for parents/caregivers who care for a child with a food allergy, such as SOAAR's research studies on these and related topics. However, I was curious specifically how non-food allergic siblings felt about having a sibling with food allergies.
In order to gain some insight on this topic, I created an informal and anonymous survey* with these seven questions (listed with results below), which was completed by 25 participants:
(Parents were allowed to complete the survey on behalf of those too young to complete it themselves)
How old are you?
How many siblings with food allergies/related illnesses do you have?
What do you do to help with your sibling's food allergy? (Sample of answers):
Do you worry about your sibling because they have a food allergy?
What other feelings do you have about having food allergies in your family? (Sample of answers):
Do you ever feel you get less attention because you don't have a food allergy?
Please share anything else you'd like to about food allergies being part of your family. (Sample of answers):
Conclusions and Thoughts....
Food allergies, as well as any chronic illnesses, are a family disease - it impacts each member of the family in different ways, both positively and negatively. Some sibling impacts were highlighted by this brief, informal survey.
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*THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO VOLUNTARILY COMPLETED THIS SURVEY. Those who took the anonymous survey were informed on this writer's professional counseling background, the purpose of the survey being for educational purposes, and how the survey results would be utilized in educational materials, such as a blog post. They were told they could reach out to this writer for results if they were interested.