Are Parents Embroiled in a Peanut Panic?

Filed under: In The News

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A deadly allergy that could cause death or at the very least severe health issues is nothing to laugh at -- unless you send your child to school with an Epi pen just in case he might spontaneously develop a sensitivity to peanuts.

That's what Laura Bennett says in her latest piece at the Daily Beast -- that a new breed of "alpha parent" is so determined to have a child that is somehow exceptional that they will take dramatic, unnecessary measures to ward off an ailment their offspring doesn't even have.

Bennett describes an encounter with a fellow preschool parent, in which the mother castigates her for sending her son to school with cookies that might have contained a trace of the evil nut. The child carries an Epi pen in his backpack at his mother's insistence:

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize Blakely was allergic to nuts."

"He carries an EpiPen."

I needed some clarification. "He carries an EpiPen because he has been tested and found to be allergic?"

"Well no, but nut allergies are life-threatening and can develop at any time."

Just when did nuts become Public Enemy No. 1, Bennett asks, and just why are parents lining up to engage in "Munchausen's by Peanut?"



Parenting is serious business, of course, and we all want what's best and safe for our kids. Are parents whose children are legitimately and severely allergic to nuts hysterical? No. Are parents who fear that their non-allergic children could spontaneously expire because there is a nut somewhere in the building hysterical? In a word, yes.

This is the perfect collision of parenting and a society over-saturated with media -- media that often works very, very hard to instill fear in our everyday lives. Did you ride in a car seat until you were 8 years old or weighed 80 pounds? Did you have a walker with metal wheels? Did you sit next to a kid who ate a peanut-butter sandwich at the school lunch table? And are you still alive?

I have two kids and I am a vigilant mother. But when does being cautious and loving turn into making our kids overly dependent? I mean, really, what's next? The Salem Peanut Trials?

Do parents over-react to situations like the peanut-allergy problem, and is the media to blame?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.