“I felt like I was holding my breath the whole time my child was away from home.” (-Food allergy parent) Sending their child away for their gap-year, or on their first vacation without parental supervision is an experience that stirs up a lot of emotions; nostalgia, fear, excitement and hope, among others. When a parent is sending a child away who has life-threatening food allergies- it is a whole different story. As a parent, it is up to you to decide when you feel your child is ready to take the plunge and take this next step of traveling the world alone. Usually, it’s not something that is decided upon from one day to the next, however, no matter when preparations begin- these experiences have a way of creeping up on us- and before you know it- it’s time for take-off!
Everyone remembers being told instructions and life-skills growing up, like; don’t talk to strangers, never lend large amounts of money to a friend without an adults involvement, never consume something that you don’t know what it is and never take a package for someone in your luggage that you don’t know what it contains. Food allergy parents have a whole other curriculum to consider with life-skills such as; never leave the house with-out an epi-pen, never eat a new product that doesn’t have an ingredient label, always read the label of a product before eating- even if you’ve eaten it many times before and tell your friends about your food-allergies and what to do in an emergency.
Our concierges work closely with parents sending away their children on gap-year programs in Israel. Although there are a lot of technical considerations with regards to the child’s stay abroad, a true concierge has to have the training and expertise to work with the parents on an emotional level. Statements such as, “I am just so scared” and “I don’t know if I can do it” are heard often- the tug and pull of conflicting emotions can be overwhelming.
So what can you do as a parent to prepare yourself emotionally to send you child with food allergies away on their own?
Knowing that your child is prepared to the best of your ability is the first step to making this endeavor successful. This includes:
Now comes the part of your greatest challenge as a parent- letting go and trusting in your child. It might just be the most difficult thing you have to do. You have done your bit- and some more, your child is old enough to travel and spend time without you and they are taking their first steps into the next stage of their life. You couldn’t be prouder. You also couldn’t be more scared.
That’s O.k and normal. Recognize your feelings, validate them and then take the time to feel them. Now try and relax and enjoy the moment. Now isn’t the time to remind them to carry their epi-pen, to watch what they eat, or to micro-manage. That will only increase their anxiety and fears. Remember that every parent has many emotions at his stage for different reasons- you are not alone in feeling this whirlwind inside of you. You have worked hard raising a responsible child that is now growing into an adult.
Be proud of yourself and them! We are!
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