This article was written based on professional guidance of Judy Bar Eitan, MSc who has been treating children and families in a clinical and therapeutic setting for over a decade. Additionally, for the past 31/2 years, through her role in EMA Care, she has worked directly with families who are experiencing challenges with Anaphylaxis. Read more about her here.
Mothers are notoriously hard on themselves- the ‘Supermom’ phenomenon which was coined in the 1980s following the movement of women entering the workforce, only served to add to the pressure already placed on their shoulders. This is even more prevalent amongst mothers of children with chronic medical issues. The constant internal battle between their desire to completely control their child’s surroundings in order to ensure their safety and the realism that this isn’t possible weighs down on their psyche throughout their daily lives. Additionally, there is a wide range of emotions whirling around- which, without the proper coping skills and philosophy could continue to fester and breed.
Bestselling child psychologist and psychotherapist, Dr Haim Ginott says, “If we give our child 100 chances we have to give ourselves 101 more chances.” The more challenging the situation is- the more thought one has to give into their parenting strategies, the more chances one has to give themselves as parents. Chances to realise that we are just human and we can make mistakes. Chances to take those mistakes and learn from them. To re-strategise and figure out a plan to try and ensure it won’t happen again. But most importantly- chances to realise what is under our control and when we just have to let go.
Commonly mothers display a wide range of emotions following an anaphylactic reaction of their child. If the parent is around during the reaction- they will go into saviour mode, completely focused on saving their child, providing appropriate emergency medical care and ensuring the recovery is complete. During these situations, the body fills with adrenaline- where the body increases blood flow and oxygen intake causing an energy increase as the body hits peak hormonal rush. Afterwards, the body takes a deep decline, the post-rush causes a drop in blood sugar, resulting in a draining, weak sensation that envelops the person. In addition, once the danger has passed there is time to feel all the emotions that had been suppressed during the emergency and which can all come flowing at once. These can include; relief (that the child is safe), fear (what if it happens again?), frustration (why is this my/my child’s life), anger (at themselves or child for not being careful enough) and despair (will I ever be able to ensure my child’s safe, will this ever get better.) Most importantly realise that you also have a choice in how to move forward.
The first step is to realise that all these emotions are normal and healthy- but don’t exaggerate them. Take the time to be aware of all your feelings and validate them to yourself, take a moment to cry it all out and then move on to an activity that will make yourself feel better- take a bath, or treat yourself in some other way. Keep in focus that you don’t have to be superwoman. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on thoughts such as, “Oh my Gosh- he could have died!!!” And certainly, don’t vocalise those thoughts in front of your child.
The next step is to focus on the positive. Yes, a reaction happened- it was scary- terrifying, but your child is safe now so something must have gone right. Remember, your job as a mother is to do what you can to ensure the safety of your child, but also to put in place procedures that if something does go wrong- the people around can take the appropriate steps to make sure your child recovers. If the situation happened at your child’s school- focus on the fact that the teachers around realised what happened and took the appropriate steps- maybe your child realised something was wrong and asked for help- that’s an amazing achievement and an important safety measure. These procedures were in place because you put them there and the staff was educated as you ensured it was so.
The final step is to reflect back on the situation that happened-in a constructive way. Ask yourself why the reaction happened? Was there anything that could have been done to prevent it from occurring? Make it an educational moment- for yourself, the teacher or your child. When the child is between 2-8 years old the parent primarily blames themselves as they are responsible for maintaining their child’s condition - when dealing with a 10-21-year-old, the parent may have feelings of anger towards the child directly for not taking better care to ensure their safety. These emotions don’t help towards being constructive- they should be dealt with during step 1. Now is the time to learn from the past in a logical and level headed way.
When talking with your child:
Most importantly focus on the fact that you can’t be superwoman. It is impossible for you to have eyes and ears everywhere, all the time. You child has to have a chance to grow up normally and you deserve to have a normal life too. But above all don’t place unfair expectations on yourself. Realise that you are doing the best you can and that’s all you or your child can wish for.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA