'Tis the season for holiday gatherings....and maybe increased stress, too?
The holiday season can feel like a stressful time for many managing food allergy and allergic conditions. The safe food preparation and planning. The logistics of ensuring your child doesn't eat foods that aren't safe.
The potentially not-so-supportive and stressful conversations with family members who just don't get it?
My hope is that all of you have incredibly supportive and understanding families, who are willing to make safe adjustments to recipes and navigate inclusion without skipping a beat!
But the reality is that even in supportive families, there still may be tough conversations about the management of food allergies and allergic conditions.
Therefore, here are practical tips for navigating (3) tense allergy-related discussions at (or while preparing for) holiday family gatherings:
"Can't you (or your child) just have a little bite? I'm sure it will be fine!"
Especially true for older generations, your family members may not be well-versed in IgE-mediated food allergies and allergic conditions if they don't live with them. And while comments like this can be frustrating, it's helpful to remember that in most cases, the comment comes from a place of love.
Use these practical approaches to navigate this scenario in a workable way:
"I recently read about (insert treatment or trial) and that it can cure allergies! Why aren't you doing that?"
With so many clickbait headlines circulating online, your well-intentioned family members may ask if you know the latest food allergy news they recently read about. Again, this is most likely coming from a place of love, but it's easy to experience this as judgement on how you're managing your allergy. Additionally, the information they share may not be accurate or understood accurately.
Use these practical approaches to navigate this scenario in a workable way:
Your family, your in-laws, or partner's family just don't get allergies, which causes friction - and the possibility of not attending
This may be one of the more likely scenarios people navigate during holiday gatherings. Whatever the specifics are in your situation, it can be frustrating and exhausting to deal with this, especially if this is the experience for every holiday gathering.
As referenced in this FAC blog post on this topic, here are practical approaches to navigate this scenario in a workable way:
Remember that whatever the stressful conversation topics may be, you have choices. You don't have to discuss things you don't want to. You don't have to justify your allergy management protocols. You can choose to kindly, but firmly change topics!
Prepare some canned responses before the family gathering, and try your best to stay connected to the reason for the holiday season over the next couple of months!
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And don't forget about ALL of the FAC resources there to support you!
[For more detailed information on each stage, check out The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained post after reading this one. Download the free, printable "6 Stages of Food Allergy Parenting" packet here.]
Have you ever noticed that so much of the parenting guidance out there is focused on what children are going through at each stage of their development? While that's helpful information for parents to know, it doesn't tell parents what THEIR parenting tasks are for each stage of their child's development.
That's where Ellen Galinsky's work comes in! Her research led to the development of the Six Stages of Parenthood, which focuses on how PARENTS develop at the same time their child develops.
This framework helps parents understand if they're focusing on the appropriate tasks associated with their child's stage of development, are falling behind, or pushing too fast too quickly.
As with any guidelines, they're just that - guidelines. They're not hard and fast rules. However, I think we can all agree that parenting is hard, so any helpful guidance is welcome!
The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting
Adapted from Ellen Galinsky's work, licensed family therapist and founder of this Food Allergy Counselor Directory and website, Tamara Hubbard developed the Six Stages of Allergy Parenting after recognizing that allergy parents could benefit from parenting guidance specific to allergy parenting and the associated emotional aspects.
This purpose of this framework is primarily to offer guidance related to the emotional and mindset aspects of allergy parenting, which is often overlooked in allergy parenting guidance currently available. It essentially offers parents a framework to help them develop their mindset and parenting choices for each stage of parenting, which directly impacts their child's ability to learn how to live confidently with allergies. While overall allergy management skills/goals are noted for each phase, the guidance is heavily infused with information related to the allergy emotional tasks helpful for parents to be aware of and/or develop during each stage. (For more information on what to teach your child at each stage of their development, check out this Allergic Living article).
How to Use this Chart:
The information below explains each column in more depth:
How This Framework Helps Allergy Parents:
The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting offers allergy parents a framework to help them better understand how to parent an allergic child throughout the child, teen and young adult years. More specifically, this guidance helps parents with:
Want More Specific Information on Each Stage?
Check out this following up post: The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained
Think This Chart Will Help Others?
You can download the free, printable "6 Stages of Food Allergy Parenting" packet here, which is useful for both those managing allergies and healthcare/behavioral healthcare providers supporting them]
If you want to make sure you don't miss more of this kind of psychosocial information, be sure to Subscribe to The Food Allergy Counselor emails (at the bottom of the homepage or via the pop-up), as well as the FAC social media accounts. And THE BONUS for subscribing to the FAC emails? You'll get the free, 3-page Allergy Anxiety & Overwhelm Mini -Guide.
And if you're needing more allergy-related psychosocial support, don't forget to check out the Food Allergy Counselor Directory, the Exploring Food Allergy Families podcast, the Food Allergy Behavioral Health Resource section, and the allergy-specific therapeutic worksheets.
I'm very excited about this announcement. Not only does it relate to topics I am passionate about, but it's also a resource that I think will be enjoyable to listen to and learn from.
So why did I create this podcast?
Well, you'll have to listen to the brief preview episode to hear that answer!
But I'll share why I think you'll enjoy this new podcast....
Exploring Food Allergy Families is a podcast with real talk, relatable conversations, and practical tips focused on navigating the impacts that food allergies have on families, mental health, and emotional well-being. Building resilience and an empowered mindset are key pillars of this podcast.
With episode lengths of 30 minutes or less, they're perfect to listen to while going for a run, walking the dog, or enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning (or wine at night)!
This podcast aims to share and explore:
Also, for episodes focused on skill-building and strategies, there will be additional follow up resources available on this website for those topics, should you want to apply and practice the concepts discussed.
So there you have it! Check out the first episode - a short preview and introduction, which explains why I decided this podcast was so important.
Then be sure to subscribe to Exploring Food Allergy Families (wherever you listen to podcasts) so you don't miss future episodes!
Trust me, you won't want to miss any episodes, especially the next one, Exploring Food Allergy Dads' Experiences, where I will share insights from the recent survey, relevant guidance/tips, and chat with one of these amazing food allergy dads!
So, let's explore food allergy families together!
Podcast Episode site: https://exploringfoodallergyfamilies.buzzsprout.com/
Podcast Info: www.FoodAllergyFamilies.com (or Podcast section on this website )
- Your feedback is a gift that I truly value, so please feel free to share thoughts, topic ideas,
or feedback on whether topics explored on the podcast have been helpful. -
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