Before I start this article, I would like to tell you about myself. I am the mother of a child who has multiple food allergies which includes peanuts, uncooked dairy, eggs, gluten and watermelon. I have spent the last 10 years making sure that my son is as safe as he can be. I have cooked for countless hours, trying (and failing) with new recipes so that my son could be safe and nourished. I have become the annoying mother that always attends class parties and always helps out during class activities when there is any type of food being used. I am the mother that shows up bringing an insulated bag for my son at every event.
That being said, what I would like to express today is my opinion that may seem controversial, especially considering my circumstances. I would like to say that people who use peanut products should not be frowned upon. I say this because I can see both sides. Before I had my son, peanut butter was always used as a staple in our home. There was never a time when I did not have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or peanut butter on toast on a chilly morning. The fact is, peanuts are a great source of protein for those who are not allergic to it. It’s convenient, it’s easy and it goes with a lot of different foods.
I have noticed over the past year or so that parents of allergic children have become defiant toward parents that won’t stop using peanut butter. Do I agree with this- no, but I also understand that you do what you have to as a parent and that sometimes what is our best is not the best for everyone else. In this day and age, I believe most people try to be a good person. I believe that parenting skills and habits are different for each and every family. I also believe that you use the coping skills that work best for your family unit. I understand the anger that is felt toward parents that don’t see any reason to compromise just because it would be a hassle for them to make a different sandwich or pack a different lunch. I understand the mentality of parents that are working hard, trying to even remember to pack a lunch for their child after working a long day. What I do not understand is how we, as parents, have begun to fight against each other instead of joining together and helping each other out.
Life is about compromise and doing onto others. Perhaps there are parents out there that are just not educated enough about how severe the reactions are with children and peanuts. But what is the correct thing to do? Do you bash them and call them inconsiderate or do you try to understand them and educate them so that they can understand you and know that you would do the same for their child if the situation was reversed?
I have a friend that literally told me she would not like being told that she could not pack her daughter a peanut butter sandwich for school because it was her right to send whatever lunch that her daughter wanted to eat. At first, I was really angry and I couldn’t believe that a close friend of mine could say this directly to me. Then I remembered that she doesn’t live my family’s life. She doesn’t have to pack everything, cook everything, check and recheck everything. I almost felt as if I should feel sad that she didn’t get “it”. You know, “it”, the reason life is good and why we all like each other. But put it into perspective- she is stuck in my before time when I could eat toast with peanut butter when I really, really wanted too and nobody told me differently. I don’t blame her because she is uneducated about my situation.
I think it’s human nature to do what you want first. It’s not because you wake up each morning and decide that you want to be selfish or put anyone’s life into jeopardy. That‘s not how it works. If you worried about harming everyone in any way at all, you would probably never even leave your house. We are so programmed to fight for what we believe in that it takes us over and blocks out all other possibilities at times. For some of us, we are lucky enough to have that flash of doubt that pushes us back down a little and makes us say “What if I am not right?”.
This happens to all of us- peanut people and anti-peanut people. We all have our battles to fight for and we all have people that will not understand or agree with what we are fighting for. The important thing is to fight for what you believe but be willing to listen to what others have to say. Be open-minded because your situation could change at any moment. The fight that you are arguing for today could be stopped abruptly in an instant. One of those peanut people could wake up tomorrow and find out that their child almost died or worse, that their actions caused another child to be deathly sick.
Don’t pick on the peanut people. They may need you some day and may need your support. They may need to hear you say to them “I understand and I am here for you”. Would you turn away a parent that just found out their child was allergic too? Would you tell them they are not good enough for your knowledge and resources so that their child can be better protected? As an allergic parent, I would be there for them. I would erase anything from the past and look forward so that they could look forward as well. This is what’s important.