What Can We Learn About Parenting From the Rise of Peanut Allergies?
If you been to any school in the past decade there has always been rules bringing food to school, especially regarding peanuts.
*Don't bring in anything that contains nuts, was processed in the same facility as nuts, or that has any remote possibility of being contaminated with a nut.
With good reason. There are many kids out there who have peanut allergies, and an allergic reaction is the last thing they need before their math test.
By doing this schools create a safe environment for kids without the distraction or disaster of having an allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, peanut allergies have only gotten worse in recent years and some researchers were sent to find out why.
In February 2015, an authoritative study was published by LEAP (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy). In this study, 640 infants who were at higher risk for developing a peanut allergy were tested. Half of the parents of these infants were told to avoid peanut exposure at all costs. The other half were given peanut butter and supplies to expose their children multiple times every week.
What did they discover?
17 percent of the children who were not exposed to peanuts developed a peanut allergy.
While only 3 percent of the children who were exposed to peanuts developed a peanut allergy.
That is over 5 times more likely! That's a huge difference!
What can we learn from this study about allergies?
Exposure to peanuts can help develop greater resistance to peanut allergies.
What can we learn from this study about parenting?
We live in a culture where parents emphasize safety. Not only being safe with the food we bring into schools, but parents might find themselves being safe with how they treat their kids regarding what they say and do. Parents may also emphasize safety with what they allow their kids to participate in. Sports, clubs, friend groups etc. Parents may pull their kids away from the discomfort that some of these activities place their child in.
The question is, in taking away exposure to uncomfortable or challenging situations are we crippling our child's confidence and abilities to response to these challenges?
Is lack of exposure to challenges creating an inability to cope with "normal" life challenges.
While mental health diagnosis' continue to rise in children and teens, it is imperative to consider
if we seeing the peanut allergy problem all over again, just in a different way.
Should parents focus less on emotional safety, and more on equipping and exposing kids to challenges in order to improve better mental health outcomes later in life?
Let us know what you think in the comments.
If this concept resonated with you, and you want more ideas about raising confident, resilient, and anti-fragile children, check out the book The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Jesse is a Licensed Associate Counselor in Northwest Arkansas. When Jesse was growing up, he had people with deep character pour into his life, motivating him to be the change that he wanted to see in the world. Jesse wants to pass that on to others by providing encouragement, support, and smiles to the individuals he works with through counseling, volunteering, networking, and writing. Jesse believes every person has the ability to become the best versions of themselves given they take intentional action towards their goals, give it time, and allow themselves to experience grace along the way.
If you live in Northwest Arkansas and would like to schedule a counseling appointment with Jesse, send him an email at email@example.com.