Family Matters: When allergies and anxieties interfere with the party
My daughter has been invited to a birthday party for a classmate, and the invitation specifies, “Drop off.” She has never been to a party alone, and I’m concerned because I don’t know the family.
My daughter has a severe nut allergy, is a compulsive overeater and may eat herself sick. She also is terrified of animals.
I left a message but haven’t heard back. I worry that if I don’t send her to the party, the birthday child will be mean to her, which has happened.
My daughter is begging to go to this party, and I don’t know what to do!
A child’s safety must never be compromised. As her parent, you are her protector.
She will undoubtedly be upset with many of your decisions throughout her life, but don’t be swayed by her emotions. Children cannot possibly comprehend the many reasons for our difficult decisions. Consider therapy to address her compulsive overeating, her fear of animals and the impact of her allergy.
Decide whether to send your daughter to a potentially hazardous environment, depending on the severity of her allergy.
The British Dietetic Association warns that if untreated, “anaphylactic shock can result in death due to obstruction of the upper or lower airway (bronchospasm) or hypotension and heart failure. This happens within minutes to hours of eating the peanuts.”
The bottom line? Never send a child to an unknown home.
If you decide to send her:
R.S.V.P. that your daughter is excited for the invitation, but with severe nut allergies, you will stay to help with games and cleanup to ensure her safety. No need to share her compulsive overeating or fear of animals, as that may invite social isolation or bullying.
Explain to your daughter why you are attending parties with her.
Bring “safe” snacks for her to enjoy.
If you don’t send her:
Send a birthday gift to school to help maintain friendships.
It is dangerously unrealistic to rely on other parents to protect your child by checking ingredients and monitoring food consumption. Be prepared with ground rules, as this is the just the first of many parties to come.
Diana Boggia is a columnist at The Repository in Canton, Ohio. She is the author of “Parenting with a Purpose,” an inspiring book written for parents of toddlers through teens, providing positive alternatives to reach and teach with success.