Last week was rough as I worked to get my daughter a basic gluten free meal at her high school soccer banquet (which was last night).   I was frustrated over the lack of communication to get Emma a gluten free  meal.  But at the same time worried I would be tagged as “THAT Mom”…you know the one who is even more overbearing than a typical overprotective mom.  I am definitely not that with my younger non-celiac daughter.

There is something about  that dang celiac disease in your kids that leaves you …(sigh) helicopter-y.  It must have something to do with the age of her diagnosis (15 months), because if she were 35 when she was diagnosed with celiac, I don’t think I would be this way.

My passion is to educate people about celiac disease and to help people who eat gluten free treat the diet right. I try to do it with a positive spin!  But I have my moments..where I hover, lurk, micromanage — call it whatever you like, I can be a helicopter mom.

In no particular order, here are some quick thoughts I have on signs you (or …ahem…I ) may be a gluten free helicopter parent.

  • You white-knuckle it while your child orders food from a restaurant, and then when they are done you clarify the order for them (yes…um I do this and my daughter is 14– but I try not to)
  • You hover around the team food during a tournament weekend and talk to the parent organizer about the gluten free options (several times) –by the way, sometimes that still doesn’t work
  • Even in high school you make sure you kid has a piece of gluten free cake for a party.
  • You email the home ec teacher no fewer than 15 times in a trimester to make sure the upcoming food project is arranged so your child can partake in the preparation and dining experience– (you even offer to bring in food and wonder why the teacher doesn’t take you up on your most generous offer)
  • You call ahead to plan a week’s worth of dining out meals for your child who is vacationing — without you
  • You get your child a smart phone so they can look up gluten-free friendly restaurants when they are out of town, but you still do it for them and text them the answer — hundreds of miles away.
  • You nearly reach over the counter and throttle a fast food employee who gets the order wrong and gives you a burger with a bun.  When you return it you see the cook take the burger off the bun and repackage it and give it back to you.  The employee, instead of  getting throttled, gets an earful on how your child will throw up everywhere if she eats that burger and you demand a new and fresh burger. (hmmm too specific on that one?)
  • You politely hover around your family in yours or someone else’s kitchen during the big holiday cooking season to make sure some gluten-free food doesn’t accidentally get glutened/cross-contaminated (sorry family…I do this.)

I may or may not have done one or all of these!

I am a little torn because I can look at myself and see helicopter mom.  But is it a true helicopter mom?  Or a caring mom.  Maybe a mom who has seen her child become so incredibly sick you weren’t sure whether your child would make it — and you NEVER want to see that again.  Maybe its because we have this incredible emotional turmoil before our kids are diagnosed, that when people are uneducated about celiac or the seriousness of the gluten free diet, the helicopter propeller starts and the hovering begins.Emma-award2

I am not sure what I am, but I am proud to say I have raised an educated daughter who can read labels and understand what she can and can’t have a at restaurant.  And at 14 years old she could handle it if I weren’t around.  Now I just need to allow her to put that education into action.  The more she does that, the less I may need to hover over.

Even helicopter parents get to brag right?  Here’s what made the week-long battle to get Emma’s gluten free meal even more worthwhile– during the banquet she was named Defensive MVP for her Freshman Soccer Team!


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3 Responses to “Signs you may be a Gluten Free Helicopter Mom”

  1. This so rings true for me! My daughters were 14 and 17 when diagnosed and I still do many of the things you mentioned in your article. (including the soccer banquet thing!) I think we are caring moms, not helicopter moms. But it is hard not to cross the line. Sometimes I ask them as we are entering a restaurant, “OK, do you want me to advocate for you, or are you going to do it yourself?” And then I still confirm with the server. Just can’t help myself – because, like you, I don’t want to see them get sick! Thanks so much for an article I could really relate to!

    Ann Morris

  2. So true. Feel the same about a lot of the points you made. My daughter was 17 mo at diagnosis and doing well at 2 1/2 now. Feels like you are always trying to watch over them and protect them from getting sick again. Already at 2 1/2 she knows she has her “own” foods and that some foods make her sick. Hoping she will learn more before she starts school as it will get harder to always be there and protect her. Thanks for all your posts and education. Keep up the good work. Your daughter looks healthy and happy, she must have a good mom:))

  3. This is so helpful my daughter is 22 months and is waiting for biopsy but we know she has it so I am already getting crazy thinking about the changes coming and having to deal with people that don’t understand:/ when I tell people already they say things like I hope she gets better? Or hope she grows out of it when you have told them it’s a disease! It helps to read that other people have delt with little ones and celiac:) future helicopter mom;)

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