In a recent column in the New York Times, a person wrote in to ask if they should confront their sister-in-law about her child's possible "embellished" or "made up" food allergy. The columnist went into a lot of detail with their advice, but it should have been left to a simple "mind your own business!"
Here's the gist of the letter: This relative lists a few reasons why they think this food allergy may not be the real deal. For one, the child is homeschooled. For another, food is awesome and depriving a child of certain foods is certainly not awesome. They also mention that the mother probably doesn't want the child to someday grow up and leave her, citing evidence of a similar situation in the family where a middle-aged man still lives with his mother.
Are you keeping up?
Oh, by the way, they don't see the child often as they live across the country, and also, this relative is thinking that perhaps they might call the allergist to let him know they aren't buying this whole food allergy thing. Maybe, then, he'll stop treating her based on their presumption, although they don't really know if she even sees the allergist all that often.
Are you slapping your own face right about now? Because I definitely did after reading this crap the first time through.
First of all, I'm not saying that people don't make up allergies, either regarding themselves or their children. This is its own special little issue, which not only creates a medical problem when there isn't one there, but it potentially endangers people who actually do have severe allergies.
If you go to a restaurant and say you can't have a certain food, but it's okay if the staff simply removes that item from your food dish (say, take the cheese off the burger or pick the walnuts out of your salad), then they may think that allergies are no big deal. This could lead to them endangering someone's life who actually has a food allergy because they thought "a little bit won't hurt."
It can also set up dangerous situations where friends and relatives sneak prohibited foods to the child, which can turn deadly serious in an instant.
Also, talking to your relative about their child's "supposed" food allergy will probably wind up wounding your own relationship with your sister-in-law. From personal experience, it's extremely difficult to parent a child with a food allergy.
While some food allergies are mild, some are not, and as a mom whose child had a very scary anaphylactic reaction to a candy that had pecans in it, it's not an exaggeration to say food allergies can kill people, including children. And if someone ever dared to say they thought I was being dramatic by being paranoid AF about what my kids can eat, I'd tell them to go screw themselves.
It can also set up dangerous situations where friends and relatives sneak prohibited foods to the child, which can turn deadly serious in an instant. If you're wanting to "test" this out with your niece by giving her something her parent says she's allergic to, please, just don't.
Bottom line: Let your sister-in-law take care of her own child. This is not a matter of ethics, it's a matter of letting a parent make decisions for her daughter, and not attempting to undermine her by calling a doctor across the country.
Oh, and mind you own damn business.