Life with Food Allergies: Parental Guilt

The degree that I received in graduate school was in the social sciences and it was heavily research-oriented.  I conducted, analyzed, and wrote the results for many survey studies.  Whenever I am asked to participate in a worthwhile study, I put forth a concerted effort to do so because I know the benefits that can come from (and the work that goes into) such research.

I was recently asked to participate in a study conducted by the University of Michigan in collaboration with Kids with Food Allergies non-profit organization.  The study is looking at the impact of child food allergies on the quality of life for the caregiver(s).  It is a great piece of research and I encourage any of you to participate if you have the opportunity.

This research got me thinking a little more concretely about the various issues that can arise for the caregiver of a child with food allergies.  I must say that there is much to unpack about the emotional impact of having a child with a life-threatening disease.

{Let me stop here and say that parent guilt/emotional strain is not relocated to food allergies alone.  I know this first hand.  While on vacation recently, my oldest daughter had a very bad fall from the monkey bars that resulted in medical attention.  I felt the same emotional response to her as I do my food allergy son.  There are children with much worse life-threatening diseases than food allergies.  This post is only my perspective on the emotional impact/guilt of parents with food allergy children.}

What I Wish I Knew…..

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Let it go! Let the guilt go! Leave yesterday in the past, focus on today, and hope for tomorrow!

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Guilt is natural.  No matter the reason for our child’s illness, we think we did something to cause it.  We didn’t breastfeed long enough.  We introduced solid food too early.  We have a family history of food allergies.  We didn’t take enough percautions at a restaurant.  We didn’t take allergy foods out of our home.  We didn’t pay attention to what we were serving our child.   And on and on.  (These reasons, by the way, are a myriad of the guilt thoughts that I have experienced over the years.)  Our problem is control.  We want to have control over everything.  Again, another natural trait.

So what do we do with this food allergy-ridden guilt?  If I only knew the answer.  I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the answer.  I do know that as parents we can feel guilt for all kinds of reasons, but it’s not healthy.  It doesn’t move us forward in our relationship with our children or in a healthy family life, but rather backwards.  What it comes down to is this…you do your best!  At end of the day, you just try to do your best.

For many things in life, we don’t know the reason behind them.  The same goes for food allergies.  There can be so many factors causing food allergies, and then again, sometimes you can’t find any reasons at all.  Let it go!  Let it go!  The guilt…let it go!  The control…let it go!  Do your best and move on!

For me, the best way to let my control issues go and to rid myself of the guilt is through faith in God!  I pray that these negative issues are removed from life.  Sometimes, I allow the negative things to take over.  I can then see things spiral down.  I must turn to prayer and ask Christ to pull me back up to where I need to be.  Not all of you take this approach.

What I do know is that parental guilt over food allergies isn’t worth the effort we give it.  In order to help our food allergy child (and other children) on a daily basis, we must focus on today and keeping them safe. Leave yesterday in the past, focus on today, and hope for tomorrow. Good enough?  Great!  So, carry on….

Next week, I’ll discuss the hope that so many of us have that our child will outgrow their food allergies.  Most doctors say it’s true, but is it a false hope?  I should have a fresh perspective on this topic next week as my son goes to the doctor this Friday for his first food challenge.  (I currently feel another food allergy-related emotion: anxiety!)  You can catch up on all the posts in this series by clicking on the graphic in the sidebar or clicking Life with Food Allergies.

How do you deal with the parental guilt that surrounds your child’s food allergies?

Shared at Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

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3 Responses to Life with Food Allergies: Parental Guilt

  1. Kristen says:

    Thanks for this post, Michelle. It is true that faith in Christ is the only way to cleanse our emotional wounds. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Life with Food Allergies: Suffering Child Guilt | The Willing Cook

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