How do we make decisions that affect our children, especially with food allergies? When trying to negotiate their schooling, classrooms, socials events, friends, how do you decide when to speak up and when to let things take their own course? As I look back over my decisions as a parent, I think there are a couple of major things that I considered (or wish I had!) to aid me in decision making.
1. Health/Endangerment: is this situation putting my child in the way of physical harm? Is my child likely to end up in the hospital if this situation continues?
2. Emotional/Spiritual Health: is this situation likely to cause my child emotional damage? Will this situation adversely affect my child's spiritual growth?
3. Discomfort: will my child be extremely uncomfortable in this situation?
Balanced against possible benefits, these questions can guide us as parents as we try to navigate things like:
Should I send my child to spend an afternoon with the aunt who doesn't believe in food allergies?
Do I need to stay with my 7 year old at a classmates birthday party?
Should I become homeroom mom and coordinate the daily snacks again this year?
Does it makes sense to take my child to the doctor on day one of her fever, or should I wait?
Should I let the doctor give my child the newest vaccine, or this year's flu shot?
After considering the options, benefits, and drawbacks, I have found it is often helpful to ask one more question:
Who does this decision benefit, and am I okay with that?
Looking back, I realize that I sometimes have made decisions about caring for my children that were for my benefit, or a decision about one child that actually benefits another child more. While it is important to do what's best for the whole family, I also like to be aware of why I have taken certain actions. I believe motives can be as important as actions, so I try to be sure that my motives are in line with my values and goals as much as possible.
As a parent of a child with food allergies, I find that my decisions inherently have more potential damage than they did before Sophie was born. If you have found that to be the case as well, I hope you will benefit from my decision guidelines.