Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Defensive v.s. Rude

Background: We had T-Ball last night and after there is always a snack. I sent an email to all the parents on the team to let them know Nathan has food allergies and we would provide a snack.

When the game ended, Nathan (almost 4) ran over with the kids to get drinks and snacks. A mom handed Nathan a bag of MM Chocolate Chip cookies. I grabbed the bag from Nathan and handed it back to the mom and said, "No Thank You, he has Food Allergies" and we walked away.

My husband was there and saw the incident and told me I was being "rude," I said "no I am protecting my child" - I felt very defensive. My husband said "we should have took the cookies." "No," I said, "Nathan has never seen those cookies and I didn't want him to have them." Maybe my husband wanted them? And then eat them in front of Nathan. That is rude.

Was it rude for me to not accept them? I was a little mad that she even handed them to him. All the parents all got an email about his allergies (I mean, know that is not their priority to remember). What if they weren't packaged and then he touched them and started reacting.

Maybe I am over reacting or maybe I am defensive or even just a rude mom.


Mitzi said...

I don't think you're being rude. However, as one Sparkler mama to another, I think I can be open and honest with you.

You're just being protective. Maybe sometimes a little much, because it's almost like your mission to make sure he doesn't come in contact with anything that's dangerous, which is definitely a mother's priority. But when you become ultra-focused on something like this, it's easy for tact and respect to be pushed aside.

I think the best way to approach situations like these is to never assume that people remember. Always being apologetic (even thought it's NOT your fault) and smiling.

So with a smile, gently grabbing them from Nathan, saying "I'm sorry. He has food allergies and won't be able to eat these. Thank you." I think when you're overly polite, they cannot be offended and might even remember that they received that email, or note, or whatever.

Lastly, Nathan is starting to get old enough that maybe at events like these, he can say "Thank you. I need to check with my mommy to see if I can eat these." No parent can get upset with that. Eventually, you're not going to be there every moment of the day and he's going to need to learn how to protect himself a little.

I hope that I'm not offending you, but I can see the other side. I always ask when we have dinner parties if anyone has food allergies, but the response usually is "I would have never thought to ask that!". It's just not something that people think of, and they're not to blame.


Leenie Lu Lu said...

I don't think it was rude to refuse the cookies. Maybe you could have refused with a bit more finesse...but you were just protecting your child! We're all lions when it comes to our children's well being, no one can fault you for that.

I happen to think it's rude for anyone to offer my kids (who don't even have food allergies) food without asking me first. But that's just me.

I'm following you from Mom Bloggers Club.


Mrs Woog said...

No you are NOT RUDE. My BFF has an allergy kid and we are all informed and respectfull.
Following you now (with invested interest)

Melinda said...

I don't think you were rude either. I've learned that you can't expect other people to remember, or understand how serious food allergies can be. I think being direct and to the point will help to get the point across though.

Dwayne said...

You were not rude at all. What was the alternative? Make the mother happy and your child suffer. We have choices but sometimes they are not always good ones.

A main point made here is an important one. Start teaching Nathan how to gracefully say no to well meaning but poorly informed people. Remember Nathan is watching you. Is this how you want him to behave?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's ever rude to protect your child but like some other's said don't just assume the person remembered about the allergies. Now that son is almost 4 we've encountered this many times, I usually would talk to my son loud enough for the other person to hear (so they knew what he was saying when he talked) and I'd have him return the snack and tell them "No thank you, I have food allergies" .. it often led into a conversation between me and the person about his allergies. We chose this approach not only so the other parents found out our son had allergies but also so our son became familiar with being given things he couldn't accept; figure I won't always be there.

Christina said...

Perhaps your husband thought it was your tone of voice that was rude. I don’t know because I wasn’t there. You’re protecting your child though and sometimes your tone needs to be assertive (often interpreted as rude) in order for people to pay attention.

I’ve had a nut allergy since I was a kid and some of the worst people for not understanding or respecting allergies are ADULTS. You would not believe the amount of times I went into work at my previous job and found a bag of almonds or some other nut laying next to my computer. It was a shared work environment but I took it upon myself to verbally tell every single co-worker about my allergy and I put up bright pink signs that said, “NO NUTS DUE TO SEVER LIFE THREATNING ALLERGY”.

You can tell people over and over but I’ve found most people don’t understand the severity of allergies unless they have experience with them. Do what you need to do in order to protect your child; including saying what you need to say. He needs you and your husband to speak for him until he can stand up for himself.

Libby said...

Is your husband maybe uncomfortable with the role of "food allergy dad" or see the allergies as a weakness? I hope you can work it out, since it's hard trying protect your child by yourself.

The most important thing is keeping your child safe. "No, thank you," is not rude, whether or not you give a reason. It's hard being the food allergy ambassador all the time, especially when something that has the potential to threaten your child's life isn't taken seriously by another adult.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

You were not rude. I would have reacted the same way. Safety is more important than being polite. How rude for that parent to give something that he can't have after being notified in advance.


Anonymous said...

Our son has severe allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts...the thing is though we strive to keep this as our problem, not anyone else's...it is not fair to make other people responsible for our child's food allergy. We have taught him from day one that this is our responsibility and to advocate for himself because face it we will not always be with him. He has been able from a very young age to politely decline any food others have given to him by saying "I have food allergies, but thank you anyway". He is 5years old now and very active in sports activites and we always bring our own snacks for him...he has never felt left out from what others are eating and we don't limit what we eat in front of him because that is just not reality....his whole life other people are going to eat what he cannot....that's life! We all have issues in life but it is how we ourselves deal with them that will help us in our adjustments as we grow and mature. We want our son to be safe, however we also want him to know that he is not the center of the universe...there will be those who don't care or understand but that's life too...nod and smile and move on!