We know our 17-year-old son Jamie is very responsible and able to look out for his own well-being when it comes to managing his allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, and this has been the case for years, really. We know we’ve taught him well, and he always carries two Epi-pens and is careful about cross-contamination. Still, my husband and I have a hard time handling it when Jamie, who recently got his driver’s license and started dating, is away from us outside of school. What can we do to reduce our anxiety and to stop being such over-protective parents?
Dear Nervous Nelly,
It sounds like you really have prepared your son well! As much as I’d like to offer up some groundbreaking advice about how to calm your nerves, I think ultimately you’ve just got to wait it out. Over time, you’ll get used to the idea that your teen can fend for himself.
By all means, continue to make sure he carries his Epi-pens and that he is smart about eating out. Even warn him that kissing his date is a potential source of cross-contamination! Keep him prepared and be ready to stand by for advice, but if he’s ready to try to be more independent, let him. He’s bound to make mistakes in life, but thanks to your preparation, he’ll know exactly what to do if something happens. It’s time to trust him, and to trust yourself in knowing you’ve done all that you can to keep him safe.
If your nerves make it impossible to think about anything else while your son is away, perhaps some meditative exercises or other anxiety-busting measures would be good to try. Don’t let allergies define your life!
Cathy is just like you: She worries about food choices, where to eat and whether friends and family will be as careful about food allergens and cross contamination as you are. She is diligent, and she is also a food allergy warrior. If you would like to ask Cathy a question for a future column, please submit here: http://mykidsfoodallergies.com/ask-cathy-food-allergy-advice-column-submission/