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Dear Carolyn: My chil­dren have se­ri­ous food al­ler­gies. I have had dif­fi­culty ed­u­cat­ing and bring­ing my in-laws on board with our way of manag­ing their food choices.

I re­cently found out from my sis­ter-in-law that my in-laws have been say­ing they think I am mak­ing up my chil­dren's al­ler­gies.

I am be­side my­self. My hus­band stated he is an­gry, but is un­sure of what ac­tion to take. If he says some­thing to my in-laws, it puts the re­la­tion­ship with my brother-in-law and sis­ter-in-law at risk.

But my chil­dren are not safe around them, and I feel hu­mil­i­ated and fu­ri­ous at their ac­cu­sa­tions. I find my­self di­rect­ing anger to­ward my hus­band – not ex­pressed to him yet – just be­cause it's his fam­ily.

Is it on me to just deal with this while be­ing hy­per­vig­i­lant around my in-laws? That's where I find the most peace-keep­ing res­o­lu­tion, but these feel­ings are eat­ing me up in­side. I feel like I need a bet­ter plan.


Dear M.: You cer­tainly do. Ar­ro­gance like your in-laws' puts kids in emer­gency rooms.

There­fore, your hus­band's hes­i­ta­tion demon­strates mis­guided pri­or­i­ties at best – at worst, be­trayal of his spouse and kids – so you have grounds to be full-on an­gry at him.

It also goes with­out say­ing that pro­tect­ing your brother-in-law and sis­ter-in-law as in­for­mants is just not a valid pri­or­ity at this point.

So here's where all of this puts you, this risk to your chil­dren and the kow­tow­ing to his fam­ily and the strain on your mar­riage and the roil­ing un­der­cur­rent of his par­ents' re­sent­ment of you:

Your hus­band acts on this, now, or you do.

First con­ver­sa­tion is with the sib­ling and spouse to say how grate­ful he is for the truth about what his par­ents are say­ing – and how sorry he is that he's go­ing to have to risk be­tray­ing their con­fi­dences to talk to his par­ents about this. He can as­sure them he'll try to shield them, but ob­vi­ously can't stop the par­ents from de­duc­ing the source. He can vow to stand up for the whistle­blow­ers for do­ing the ab­so­lute and only right thing in re­port­ing the truth to you – which it was, with­out ques­tion.

Sec­ond con­ver­sa­tion is with his par­ents, to say their at­ti­tude about the kids' al­ler­gies made its way back to him; to say he is hor­ri­fied by it; to say this kind of de­fi­ance kills chil­dren; to say will he not al­low his kids to spend time with any­one who fails to re­spect their di­etary re­quire­ments; to say that if they don't re­spect you, they don't re­spect him, and he will not stand for it.

I don't know where this I-think-they're-mak­ing-itup can­cer started, but it's smug and dan­ger­ous and by no means unique to your in-laws. I'll give it the kind­est spin I've got and say peo­ple aren't great at pro­cess­ing change, and food al­ler­gies and in­tol­er­ances are on the rise (fact sheet here: www.foodal­­ler­gies/food-al­lergy-101/facts-and-statis­tics). So, peo­ple are be­ing asked not to serve X and Y when serv­ing X and Y was never a prob­lem while they were grow­ing up. So, the less adapt­able among us are push­ing back.

But it is about 18 kinds of not OK to do this.

And it doesn't take a whole lot of men­tal lift­ing to fig­ure out that a suc­cess­ful “gotcha” on one hy­po­thet­i­cal fake al­lergy is not worth the ter­ri­ble risk of ana­phy­laxis for be­ing wrong. Se­ri­ously – who freaking cares that much about be­ing right. (Be­sides the entirety of 2019.)

Any­way. Your hus­band draws this line with his folks, or you do. Soon.

And if he re­fuses, then it's time to ad­dress the crack this puts in your mar­riage – and/or, be­fore it se­ri­ously harms your kids.

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