This one of my favorite sections from, “Gluten-Free Kids” by Danna Korn, courtesy of Woodbine Publications. It’s a wonderful book and contains so much useful advice! Stay tuned for another excerpt tomorrow. For now I will leave you with the words of the “Gluten Guru” herself, Danna.
“Hiding Husbands: How to Pull Them Out of Their Caves
“This section doesn’t always pertain to husbands or men. Sometimes it’s the other way around. But more often than not, I hear it from this perspective, so go with me here—realizing that I’m ultra-appreciative of the husbands and men who are understanding and supportive—and that I’m just trying to help with a common situation.
“All husbands, as the saying goes, are not created equal. It is therefore no surprise that their responses vary when a family decides to put a child on a gluten-free diet.
“I realize that even to address this issue implies a sexist or stereotypical view of husbands/dads, and that in fact, many husbands/dads are reading this book in order to get a better handle on how to deal with their child’s condition. Those husbands, and lucky wives of those husbands, may be excused from reading this section!
“But the truth is that it is usually the moms who take on the primary responsibility for the care and feeding of their children. So, it is typically the moms who are first to suspect that something’s wrong, the moms who begin the often arduous and usually frustrating process of seeking medical consultation, and, ultimately, the moms who have to take principal responsibility for learning to deal with the GF diet.
“In my discussions with literally thousands of parents, I have found that the natural reaction for many dads is to run and hide. They don’t, of course, literally run out of the room. And they may at first sound as though they’re going to be very supportive—because they want to be supportive. But most of the time, they don’t know how to start, and soon the mom has taken complete responsibility for learning the gluten-free diet.
“When my doctor told me about Kylie’s
diagnosis, I turned to my husband for support;
after all, I thought we were in this
together. But he just shut down and won’t
deal with it at all—he hasn’t even taken the
time to learn what she can or can’t eat. Now
I feel even more alone than before.”
“It’s important to realize that fathers want to be involved in this diet, but may not know how to offer their support. Since mothers are usually the ones who feed the kids, fathers may feel that they shouldn’t step in and take over that responsibility. They may ask you, “Can Natalie eat this?” Don’t be tempted to answer (even if just to yourself), “Of course not, Airhead! If you were more involved with her diet, you’d know that malt flavoring has gluten in it.” No, not a good response at all.
“Dads love their kids just as much as moms do, and for them to recognize that they may not even know what to feed their own child can be embarrassing. They may be scared that they will poison their own child with gluten. Rather than deal with these uncomfortable emotions, some men avoid the situation altogether, and refuse to become involved at all.
“If the husband/dad in your family is making himself scarce and refusing to become involved, realize that it’s up to you to give him a hand. You can help him to become more supportive and take more responsibility, which will be the ultimate win-win situation.
“The first step is for you to help him learn about the gluten-free diet. The key is to teach him without him knowing that he’s being taught. To “instruct” him may cause resentment and defensiveness, which will send him right back into that cave.
“Instead, encourage him to become involved in the diet by asking him to plan a meal, or read labels at the grocery store. For some men, simply being involved in meal planning and preparation will be a new concept, not to mention the additional consideration of going gluten-free. The more he becomes involved, the more confidence he’ll have in mastering the GF lifestyle, and the more active role he will take in your child’s diet.
“Remember to be supportive and kind. You both have interesting new challenges and issues ahead, and it’s important that you deal with them in a cohesive, constructive, positive manner. Most importantly, remember that you have an audience—your kids are taking note.”
Excerpted from “Gluten-Free Kids” by Danna Korn. Copyright © 2010 Woodbine House. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Learn more about “Gluten-Free Kids” by reading my review here.