Mama Bear Goes Too Far

halloween candyMy eldest child has food allergies. He is most severely allergic to dairy, but peanuts and seafood make the list as well. We discovered his dairy allergy when he was just 6 months old. Ever since then, we have, of course, taken precautions to ensure that he does not consume dairy. He’s almost 19 now, so he’s pretty much on his own.

When classmates would have birthdays and bring goodies to share, I asked to be informed ahead of time so that I could provide an alternative for him. When people who didn’t know about his allergy gave him something he couldn’t eat, he was taught to tell them thank you and bring it home for another family member to enjoy. We occasionally had neighbors bring some baked goodie by, and even relatives who forgot his limitations sent boxes of homemade or purchased treats for Christmas gifts, and he couldn’t enjoy them. He was sad, but he got over it. He’s not fond of his situation, but there’s really nothing that can change it except an act of God.

Halloween was one of those days that could have been completely frustrating for him. He really wanted to go out trick-or-treating, but knew that he would be able to have very little of what was handed out. Imagine not being able to have chocolate. {shudder} But, for a few years anyway, he still participated, then came home and doled out what he couldn’t have to his siblings, leaving the Twizzlers, Smarties, bubblegum and other innocuous items for himself.

He didn’t complain; the allergies were his reality, like it or not.

So, imagine my wonderment when a friend shared this image on Facebook:

halloween memo

What in the world could this parent have been thinking? Getting free candy from neighbors is not a right. Teaching your child that the world will cater to them is just plain foolishness. I understand wanting to protect your child. I understand not wanting them to feel left out. Truly I do. I have lived it for 19 years. But what I don’t understand is the mindset that because my child can’t do something, no one else’s should be able to either.

The lesson a child will learn from that is that they are entitled to what everyone else has. The world should look out for them. Their needs come before anyone else’s.

If your child has severe allergies, don’t send them out trick-or-treating. Tell them, “I know it stinks, buddy. I’m sorry. Let’s think of another way we can have fun.”

I believe it’s a different situation when you have a peanut-allergic child in childcare or preschool and you ask people to not bring in peanut butter, because any inadvertent contact can cause them to react. I have no problem with that. I understand peanut-free flights on airplanes. Peanut oil can be pervasive. But we’re talking trick-or-treating here. It’s totally a choice.

Suggesting that your neighbors only hand out carrots, raisins or other such items is ludicrous. It’s OK for a child to be sad about missing out on something. I think “devastated” by not getting candy is overstating it a bit. Life isn’t fair. Sometimes reality stinks, but you just have to learn to live with it.

And by the way, if I were to “practice responsible parenting,” I probably shouldn’t let me child eat candy at all!

That mama bear went a bit too far.

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