You be the Judge: Should Grandmom Get a Second Chance After Nut Exposure?


It’s tough being the parent of a child with food allergies. There are so many things to consider: what food to buy, whether you can take them out to eat, does their teacher know what to do if they react, whether are they carrying their epinephrine, has the epinephrine left with the school nurse expired, when is the next allergist appointment… the list goes on and on. But one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make is who you trust to mind your child when you’re not around.

That brings us to this installment of our “You be the Judge” series, where we present a food allergy-related scenario and invite you to sound off by sharing your opinions and expertise.

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Our topic today comes from the Carolyn Hax advice column in the Washington Post and involves an incident many of you have experienced.

Here is the question from Emotional-Blackmailed, a grandmother who lost her babysitting privileges:

Dear Carolyn: I used to babysit for my two granddaughters on a regular basis, then covid interrupted that for a while. One of my granddaughters has a severe nut allergy. Unfortunately, after so much time apart, I fell out of the habit of carefully checking food, and the last time I babysat, I accidentally gave her a snack with nuts in it. It was completely accidental, but she had a minor reaction, and her parents were very upset.

Though they have not said as much, I believe they have written me off as a babysitter. I have not been asked to keep the kids again since. I apologized, paid the co-pay for the doctor visit, purged my house of everything with nut traces, and still no change. They thank me for the gestures, then continue to not ask me to babysit. What else can I do to redeem myself from this minor mistake?

— Emotional-Blackmailed

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So here’s where we turn to you, our readers, for your opinions and advice. Was this indeed a “minor” mistake and is gran right to feel slighted? Has this happened to you as a parent or grandparent? Would feel comfortable trusting your child with the grandmother (or relative, close friend, or babysitter) again? Do you have insight into how to resolve this?

You be the judge by letting us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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  1. You could ask them directly. “I know there was a situation last time I babysat, and I am truly sorry for not being careful like I should have been. Here are the snacks I plan to serve the next time they come visit me. I hope I can earn your trust back.”
    Or, go to their house for a visit and earn your trust by playing with them there.

  2. The last sentence really gives a lot of of info about how the grandmother may be handling this situation or communicating with her grandchild’s parents “What else can I do to redeem myself from this minor mistake?”
    This wasn’t a “minor” mistake.
    The first step in regaining the parents trust may be acknowledging how catastrophic this mistake could have been.

  3. The last sentence ‘minor mistake’ pretty much sealed the deal on my stand on this. Food allergies are serious and can be life threatening to some people. One little bit of someone’s allergen can be deadly or make the person have a serious reaction. The family is very lucky that the child with the nut allergy was able to get medical treatment and is still alive. If I were the child’s parent, I would not trust the grandmother to give food or stay at the grandmother’s house again. I would only allow supervised visits and not allow grandma to bring in food into my house. The parents should consider bringing grandma along to the next allergy doctor appointment to let the doctor tell grandma that food allergies are not to be taken lightly. I myself have multiple food allergies (diagnosed 6 years ago at age 34) and I have to be careful what I eat. My grandmother was still alive when I was diagnosed with these food allergies (tree nuts, peanuts, strawberries, bananas, shellfish and egg whites). I had to tell my own grandmother that it would be better not to bake me any more treats because she grew up in a time where food allergies were very rare and she didn’t understand anything about cross contamination with allergens. Instead, if she wanted to give me a treat, she either bought a book I wanted or bought candy that I could eat. I still remember the time I was eating at a restaurant where they cooked fries in the same oil used to cook shellfish and she offered me some of her fries. I said no of course, I didn’t want to take a chance.

  4. It wasn’t a minor mistake. It was a big mistake that luckily resulted in a minor reaction. But allergies can be mild one day, life threatening on the next. I wouldn’t be able to trust grandma babysitting either – she could forget again. Parents are used to not having the luxury to forget at every single meal. I would suggest the parents visit together and be in charge of any food while grandma enjoys playing with her grandkid.

  5. this was a miner reaction however the mistake could have very well sent the girl to the hospital of worse. the first step to the parents trusting her would be egnoliging that and being more responsible however if it were me i would not trust the grandma to watch my kid.

  6. I love how she thinks she’s being “emotionally blackmailed” because the parents of the kid she might have killed think she’s maybe not the best caregiver. That is some A+ entitlement right there.

    At a guess, that women has never had an anaphylactic reaction in her life. There’s nothing “minor” about them whether they require hospitalization or not. I know grown men and women with PTSD over severe food allergies and that poor child will never feel safe in granny’s care again. Yet all she can think about is how hurt SHE is…

  7. As a Parent I would have trust issues too. Grandma should feel humbled, not sabotaged!
    What if Grandma babysat the kids in their own home? This would make the Parents feel more comfortable because everything there has been vetted for their allergic child. The Grandmother would be able to spend time with her Grandchildren and the Parents would be able to go out comfortably for dinner or whatever. “Minor” is not the way to characterize a reaction and her ignorance is apparent with that statement. Change it up and have a room for Grandma to stay in at their home. This would take care of the problem.

  8. My parents had given my son foods he was allergic to, several times over the years. Most of the time, he would ask them what was in the food and they would catch the mistake. I still allowed them to babysit, but I brought their own snacks and foods. It’s easy enough to do that.

    The kids used to spend the night at my parents house until my son was having terrible allergies due to my mom smoking on her enclosed porch. The smoke smell filled the house and he would have itchy watery eyes, runny nose and allergy symptoms for days. There was really nothing my mom could do rather than quit smoking, so I was just unable to allow them to spend the night again. It was unfortunate. But I did let the kids go there for few hours at a time, and we made sure they had a great relationship with my parents as long as they lived.

  9. ‘…I accidentally gave her a snack with nuts in it.’ I cannot begin to comprehend how someone could forget this. In the food allergy community, whether you have allergies or care for someone who does, it’s an enormous part of our lives.

  10. ‘I accidentally gave her a snack with nuts in it.’ Seriously? As grandma of a child with food allergies, I gave up some very loved foods, wouldn’t even let them in the house or my car, after I found out my grand child had allergies to the ingredients, because I valued the child over the food. HOW do you forget that someone you love has life-threatening allergies? I wouldn’t trust her to babysit either. That’s why my sister doesn’t get to babysit her great nephew. She has been known to give her own child foods with allergens in them. Nope.


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