Stress? HA! I laugh in the face of stress! My husband and I dealt with infertility and miscarriages when growing our family. We knew what stress was! We were a united front when it came to growing our family, shouldering the sadness and elating in the triumph.
When parents received their child’s food allergy diagnosis, overwhelming feelings kick into overdrive. We were no different.
Darling husband felt I was gripping (holding on too tight), unreasonable and suspicious of everyone’s ability to care for our son. Me? I thought my husband was too relaxed, uneducated about food allergies and minimized my worry.
The truth is, we were both right. It took us almost two years to find our footing. How did we do
it? Oddly enough, my husband started to see the stress that I was under, the constant worry I had and we talked about the toll it was taking on our friendship. Our marriage was great, committed and intact; but our friendship was struggling to survive.
You may think that’s a bunch of hooey. The truth is, my husband and I are THE BEST of friends, and always have been. Our relationship started as a friendship and then blossomed into a romantic one. To no longer have your best friend, well…that was miserable.
Here’s the map we laid out for ourselves, maybe you’ll find some pearls of wisdom to apply to your relationship:
1. Acceptance: Understand from the very beginning that you both are different. We handle our stress and worry different. Our brains work differently, but our efforts are the same, try not to overanalyze each other’s commitment, thoughtfulness or planning for your allergic child. Often I thought my husband didn’t worry enough, when in actuality, he kept quiet about his worry to keep my concerns at bay. Assuming he doesn’t care as much or think about it as much wasn’t an accurate assumption. Lastly, control is overrated, and tiring. Being the same is boring; variety is the spice of life. Let each of your strengths and individuality shine.
2. Consensus: Define and agree upon the basic needs that are necessary to keep your child safe, i.e., medicine bag/pack is always with you, proper cross contamination precautions taken, ingredient and manufacturing labels read thoroughly, who are the agreed upon family, friends and sitters that will watch your child and who will educate others about your child’s allergies, etc.
3. Recognition: Acknowledge that your parenting styles are different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the best learning experiences that I have had regarding food allergies and parenting have come from my husband. Each of our approaches differs, lending perspective, confidence and preparation that the other may lack ~ you become a great balance.
4. Partnership: Appreciate that you are both on the same team. Life is so much easier when you have a partner alongside you. Compliment one another on the great job that each of you is doing in caring for your allergic child. Share your challenges or where you lack confidence and worry. Keep the lines of communication open. Buoy the other’s confidence when it is lacking. Brainstorm ideas to keep your child safe, which will only reduce your stress levels as well.
5. Comfort: While life is extremely fulfilling and we love every minute of our children’s lives, it is sometimes extremely scary to care for an allergic child. Our planning and worry never ends since our society socializes, celebrates, rewards and crafts with food. Be the soft place to fall at the end of the day.
We never know what life will bring our way. I never counted on infertility or multiple miscarriages or my son being diagnosed with life threatening food allergies. I truly try to concentrate on the abundance in my life: my beautiful sons, my great family and friends, the wonderful doctors that have assisted us in the past and currently and a great school that partners with us and learns alongside of us each day.
All of this I could have never done without my husband: my partner, my rock, and my friend. We are one another’s shelter in the storm, always side-by-side with our eyes on the horizon looking for a positive new day.
About Kristin Beltaos, M.A.
Kristin Beltaos, M.A., owner of A Gift of Miles, offers food allergy one-on-one consulting, national and local workshops, school consulting, and parent/school advocacy; and serves the markets of stress, with subspecialties, and reproductive challenges. She is a Licensed Trainer with the Minnesota Center for Professional Development, teaching continuing education to early childhood and school age providers and educators and a former board member of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota. Kristin wrote and drove the implementation of the first food allergy 504 Plan in her child’s school, was influential in creating a new food policy which eliminated food celebrations (both in classroom and school wide) – a policy that other schools are interested in emulating. Stay happy and informed by following Kristin on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.