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ljgs

Venting About Lazy In-Laws

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Grrrr.....I just need to vent. My 16-year-old was diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago, so all the grandparents have had plenty of time to get educated and used to this. My mother is an excellent cook, and my parents always go out of their way to be careful during holiday dinners so my daughter has safe choices. If my kids are staying at their house, they will have gluten-free breads, cereals, etc., for my daughter. My in-laws, however, while always aware of our daughter's needs and concerns, are much less interested in going out of their way to get food for her. Several times over the past year, when we've been invited over for take-out food (they don't cook), my MIL will ask me to please bring something for my daughter to eat. This weekend, she and my father-in-law are hosting a bagel brunch at their house. She just sent me a message this morning to please bring along gluten-free bread so my daughter has something to eat.

 

Are you kidding me? You invite us over and AGAIN ask us to bring our own food? Is it so much to ask that she throw a package of Udi's bagels into her cart??? You can find them everywhere here. I took a deep breath and nicely explained to her, yet again, that it really makes my daughter feel singled out to have to carry her own supplies with her everywhere and that she feels much more included when the food is waiting there for her, like it is for every other invited guest (the key is the word "invited," isn't it?) I understand that some people aren't comfortable cooking for a celiac, but come on! We're talking about bagels! What is the deal with her????

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Really.... would you want her cutting the Udi's bagels with the same knife, in the crumbs from the regular bagels?  Toasting them in the same toaster?  I think you should just realize that they can't have safe food for her.  Maybe that is what they are afraid of? Hurting her?  Or confused, because they don't really cook?  I do not expect people who invite us over to buy a new toaster or colander or understand cc.  Probably good for hyour daughter to understand this now, so when she is older, she will be able to protect herself.

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My parents try to help me be gluten-free....they'll buy stuff but I tell them to buy just x,y, z and I'll buy the rest. It's so hard to tell my mom which brands to buy when regionally they're so different.

Anyway, first year was ok there. Second year, I got long slow cc from crumbs in drawers, dishwasher, etc. Next year I'll have to be much more careful.

So, it can be an opportunity for her to compare environments and learn (though I'm sure she's run across it before).

I understand the frustration of having people (especially grandparents/family)not learning the smallest thing about her medical needs. It's incredibly frustrating an implies a level of disregard. And, it's frightening because we tend to think if grandparents as people we can trust with our kids....and if they won't learn then you can't trust....

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I felt the same way at my in-laws this Christmas. My family including my grandparents went out of their way to make sure that my daughter had plenty of gluten-free food to eat. However my sil did nothing, even though she is my best friend and my daughters godmother. She didn't even ask me to bring anything for her to eat. It really hurt my daughters feelings. Its only been a month since shes been dx she was really upset anyway about it and then a whole side of her family made no effort.  I was so pissed we left after only an hour of being there.

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Same sort of thing going on here.

It annoys me so much tbh that grown adults cannot accomodate a child. Really - I would go out of my way for others if they had an allergy. Some people also think it is a "fad" uh no - it's not a fad. We have missed out on a ton of stuff because it really was not safe for her to eat at certain places as they would not accomodate celiac clients. And for relatives to do that as well - it stinks.

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As much as I'm still very much in the controlling-everything-that-touches-their-lips phase I have high expectations of family and friends being open to my kids needs.  If my MIL told me she was have a bagel breakfast I would expect my kids' needs to be met - bag of Udi's bagels (unopened for me to deal with), individual yogurt and cream cheese containers, etc.  It completely comes down to showing love through acceptance.

 

I have moms of my kids' friends that bend over backwards to feed my kids...it only makes sense that family would do even more!

 

I'd be ticked, too.

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Depends. Does the MIL have a separate toaster for those gluten-free bagels? Buying the bagels isn't really the whole issue.

It's bigger than that.

 

It's separate butter or cream cheese or jam or peanut butter too. Are there dedicated ones of those there, too?

 

Have you ever given MIL  a flexible cutting board just for daughter's use at Gramma's house?

 

How much have you done to equip the MIL's house so that she knows what to have ready for your daughter?

 

I know you are upset. I understand.... !!

but the sooner you all work together --your daughter included ---to understand that this is a lifelong

issue and that some very simple steps will make these visits "NORMAL, " the sooner it will become easy and stress -free.

 

Consider sitting down with the Grands and your daughter. Empower your daughter now to be assertive, but polite about her dietary needs.

 

I, personally, believe we are not "owed anything" as celiacs, but all of my friends and family have been willingly well -schooled and have a flexible cutting board in each of their homes just for when I come to dinner. I gave it to them. No one has ever glutened me or made me feel as if I am unwelcome. And yes, I have contributed to each of those dinners asking the hostess "what can I bring?" and it works out every time.  :) I have also just brought my own gluten-free food (in the car) in case I need it.

I haven't yet.

 

Just some suggestions for you. Feel free to disregard. But, perhaps, if you MIL is not much of a cook, she would appreciate all your suggestions. Good luck!

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If your daughter was newly diagnosed I would say that this will get better, but after a long time, it probably won't.  I want to start quoting dear abby here when I heard you talk about being invited and then told to bring your own food.  Not nice.   The good thing in this situation is with your daughter being 16, she is probably smart enough now to know what to eat/not eat, and can prep her own food.  Maybe you can talk her into buying gluten-free bread and an unopened pack of lunchmeat and keeping those in the freezer, so when your daughter goes over there she can at least make herself a sandwich.  If you want to stretch it, you can buy a cheap toaster and a few implements and put it in a box labeled "-Name-'s Gluten Free Stuff" and keeping that stashed in their house somewhere.  But you can do a lot of things with foil, even put some foil down on the oven rack and bread on top, and toast the bread/bagel that way.  

 

If all of that is too much of a stretch, I will sometimes tell people to just go to the gluten-free section at the store and buy me any frozen dinner that says gluten free prominently on it.  So maybe she can keep a few of those in the freezer for when you guys come over and once again, your daughter can take charge and make it for herself instead of putting it in their hands.

 

Of course, I can't tell what your MIL is thinking but it would be worth a nice sit-down conversation with her.  She also may see the fact that you are complying with all her requests to bring food with you as you being okay with it all.  Even the least gluten-free food knowledgeable person can go pick up a loaf of gluten-free bread or a gluten-free frozen dinner at the store, so just let her know that her dismissive actions are hurting her granddaughters feelings.

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Oh I'm feeling your pain on this one. I wanted to smack my stepmother over the head on Christmas Day. We go out to her mother's house for lunch. There's a lot of running around for us on Christmas day and this is our 2nd stop after my dad & stepmom's house. Breakfast is also kind of rushed because of this. That said.....I packed a lunch for my 6 year old. Just to make sure he had food he could eat and that I knew he WOULD eat. I had no real idea of what kind of food was going to be there and wanted him to have a full tummy. He rode out there with my dad and his older siblings and got there before his father and I.

My daughter did get him some food. A piece of ham and some cheese as that's all there was that he could eat. He's is just starting to eat meat so on any given day it's up in the air as to whether he'll eat it or not. I got there and he decided he'd rather eat what I packed (which was good as the ham was a cheap ham and I wasn't entirely sure if it was gluten-free or not) for him. He opened it and started eating. No fuss, no complaining. He was just enjoying his food and having his big sister sitting by him (she just recently moved out). My stepmother walked up to my SIX year old son and in the haughtiest voice asked him if he was allergic to the food there!!!! WHAT?!?! I thought my daughter's eyes were going to pop out of her head!

 

That was after him getting a stocking at their house full of gluten filled stuff from "santa" which, thankfully, he never noticed the cookies! And after my dad tried to give him cookies because he forgot.

 

It's aggravating. If it were my older kids, while it would suck, they can work out that people forget and they can look out for themselves. But my 6 year old?!

 

He amazes me sometimes though. He didn't even give her a response. Just kept eating his food and smiled at her.

 

Family can be so blind and ignorant sometimes. It just floors me. They still look at me crazy when I tell him he can't have particular things...like the Nestle Crunch bars that they tried to give him after offering him the cookies and then him being sad. Wouldn't be so bad if they would act like they are understanding and not like I'm making it all up just to be difficult. *sigh* Just needed to get that all off my chest.

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Since your own mother cooks, it isn't surprising that it was easy for her to take this on. With your in-laws seeming not being the type of people who are comfortable taking care of themselves in their own kitchen, it isn't the least bit surprising that they don't want to take on risks for someone else and their health. I wonder how involved you have been in trying to help them set up a way to accommodate your daughter since they don't seem comfortable doing so.

 

I like the idea of something like a plastic tote that can be stored out of the way with a few kitchen implements in it. You can provide a list of safe foods and items that can be kept at their house. Make it clear that you or your daughter is happy to take care of the prep, but that some help with things like this would go a long way to helping her feel included.

 

Other than that, and I know this is harsh for a 16 year old (I know because my girls are 17 and 19 and I've had to drive home harsh lessons), but she's a celiac. She's going to have to learn to live with the fact that for the rest of her life there will be certain situation and certain people who simply make her feel excluded and it will be up to her to learn how to handle those with grace. That's a simple fact of life for her, we've all had to face it and many with family members. Hopefully this can be navigated comfortably and your in-laws simply never got the education needed to know what to do and are willing to try. If not, she'll be taking her food with her to events potentially forever. It won't hurt her to do so now. On the other hand, if I had in-laws who were so disrespectful to a child that they weren't willing to try even with me helping them understand what to do, I can't say I would be willing to force that child to spend time with them.

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Hi, I'm the original poster here. Thank you SO MUCH, everyone, for your responses, whether to commiserate or ask me to clarify things. I truly appreciate it! Just to clear a few things up...my teen is really pretty chill about her celiac. She has been taking her own food everywhere for awhile. To be honest, this issue is my own irritation with my mother-in-law. I pretend it's my daughter feeling awkward but it's really me being pissed off that she's putting forth zero effort after inviting us over!!!

 

Like I said, my daughter is used to eating before she goes to peoples' houses or bringing gluten-free cereal to hotels that offer buffet breakfasts. The thing that gets me about this situation is that it is her OWN GRANDMOTHER, and she should not have to tote a bag of gluten-free bagels to her own grandmother's house!!! My in-laws definitely have worked with us in the past with accommodating her. It's not that they don't care about her--they do, and once we're at their house they will be careful when it comes to cross-contamination, etc. But Adalaide, you are right: They are lazy in the kitchen in general, not so careful about their own diets, so they don't seem to want to go out of their way to find the safe food in the first place. They have done so in the past, but seem to be getting lazier about everything. I guess they figure we have the gluten-free bread at home, so why not just ask us to tote it along instead of making an effort to go to the gluten-free section at the store. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law runs around to different stores to find things for my daughter when he cooks for her once or twice a year. Such a difference in effort, and so very much appreciated!!!

 

Frieze, you asked if my in-laws are on a fixed income. Not in the least. Plenty of cash there. That is not the issue at all.

 

Massagemamaof3 and Mommy2krj, I'm so sorry you've had to deal with thoughtless relatives yourselves. I guess there is a whole spectrum of behaviors, from indifference to downright hostility. Wow. Let us all take deep breaths and smile and move on, right?

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I don't think it's uncommon at all. I think when you LIVE it it's so different. You get the hand washing, prepping gluten-free before other stuff and all the in's and outs of prepping things safely.  My DS was dx at 3.5, he's 7 now. My Mom has cooked for him once. My MIL never.  I KNOW my MIL.  She served a gluten-free pizza to her vegan son/DIL/baby and sister that had CHEESE on it. She doesn't pay attention. She was gluten-free and didn't bother to read the entire label for them. It really is a safety issue.  So yeah it sucks but in the long run it really sounds safest! 

 

As a side note my kid is allergic to dairy.  My MIL was trying to give my son that pizza which would have landed him in the hospital.   Once I saw BIL and aunt eating it (she's a gluten-free fad dieter :( ) I went and told DH "That is not vegan. Your brother is going to be PO'ed!"  I know this because I KNOW there is only ONE gluten-free and vegan pizza out there and that was NOT it.  Sure enough went to get the box and told MIL "This isn't vegan"  BIL overheard and was SOOOOO po'ed.  

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We're still in the diagnosis process so I don't know yet how this will go with family. My mother and sister are already asking questions and checking on things - mom sending me recipes she found and sis asking for suggestions for a "care package" box of safe stuff to keep at her house. We did get a lactose intolerance diagnosis while waiting on celiac confirmation though so that's a factor they're looking at too. I know they'll be beyond accommodating but that's how my family is. We all had a council meeting of sorts over what to make for the new little stepbrother because he has cholesterol issues. The in-laws... I don't have high hopes. We don't spend much time with them because of a multitude of issues though so I'm not expecting it to be a big deal. I will likely bring a box of safe snacks to keep there in case we make an unexpected drop in or dh takes the kids without me and forgets to bring something. I don't expect them to do anything to help with her though but that's a family issue more than a diet issue for us unfortunately. I really hope your in laws can figure it out. I understand the disregard making you crazy! I would probably send a box there though of safe things so she doesn't have to cart stuff around. I hope it'll improve for you.

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