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Navigating Life with an Allergy Teen

A huge area of personal growth for me is that as allergy parents, we not only enter each stage of our child’s life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but we also have to figure out how we deal with their food allergy through each stage of development.

For our family, earlier stages were about strict avoidance and communication with others to help them understand the realities of daily life with food allergies. We were learning to navigate the world…how do we have a great life, be happy and make sure Lily is safe? Because every decision comes back to it.

As Lily grows older, Doug and I are really getting clear about the isolation. She can’t go to parties because at 14, she doesn’t want to be “that kid” giving everyone the directive of what can and can’t be there. She chooses not to fly because she doesn’t feel safe. She homeschools because she didn’t feel she’d be safe at the high school.

For me, this is the most challenging chapter emotionally. I feel so sad for the real, true and valid limitations with which Lily bravely surrounds her every decision: Where will she be? Who will she be with? Will she be safe? Is it worth it? Is the isolation worse? Or going and having to leave? Or having something happen?

I understand that nothing is worth her safety and precious life. I don’t ever want to “make” her go anywhere that she does not feel safe. As a woman who lived as an avid ski racer, a cheerleader, very involved socially, throwing teenaged parties, traveling with my school, being in the thick of life…my heart feels so sad.

It is getting more and more challenging to help her navigate having a full life and having a safe life. At the same time, the complexity of her desires for her world and her wants and her dreams is growing. She is special and talented and compassionate…the world needs her.

How do these kids truly balance that? It’s so much to ask of them. I can really see how much support these kids and young adults need to be able to hold all of this…we as parents need to maintain our wellbeing as we bravely walk through this.

The teen summits are great…these kids just need weekly, even daily, connections. If only they could chat with each other on a Friday night. How can we as a community better connect teenagers with food allergies and keep them from feeling isolation? Connection and belonging…we all need that.

With Love and Care,
Jane

Jane Pinto
Mother, Co-Founder and CEO
Don’t Go Nuts

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