When Tia Mowry steps out to trick-or-treat with her kids this week, her son Cree, age 7, will be channeling his super-powers in a Black Panther costume, but Mowry will be keeping her eyes peeled for Cree's kryptonite: Peanuts.
If our superhero metaphor is mixed, maybe it's fitting, because there will, unfortunately, be a lot of peanuts mixed in with Halloween candy on Wednesday and Mowry is speaking out about how that impacts her son and 1.5 million other American children for whom peanuts really are scary.
A piece of candy with a peanut in it could send Cree (and millions of other kids) to the emergency room, so Mowry hopes parents who don't live with a peanut allergy will be thinking of kids like Cree on Wednesday.
"It's really important that we have co-protectors out there, other parents or people who don't have children who can empathize and educate themselves about the seriousness that comes along with having a child with a peanut allergy," Mowry tells Motherly.
Mowry says a lot of moms of kids with peanut allergies feel judged by people who don't understand how serious allergies can be, and a recent survey backs her up. According to a national survey by DBV technologies, about 48% of parents with kids who have a peanut allergy are concerned about being perceived as overprotective.
The thing is, moms like Mowry aren't trying to be the "peanut police" or a helicopter parent. They're just trying to keep their children safe. That's why Mowry is talking about Cree's allergy, whenever she can. When people understand where she's coming from, judgment gets replaced with empathy, and Halloween gets a little easier for her family.
"It would make me incredibly happy if I knock on a door and my son says 'Trick or treat' and there's a parent there who says, 'Okay this is a jack-o-lantern with peanuts in it and this is one without'," she explains.
You're not alone, mama
For parents who are feeling judged, frustrated, or anxious about the potential for accidental exposure during this candy crazy week, Mowry has some advice:
"I just want moms to know that they are not alone. There are 1.5 million other children out there living with this allergy. And even if you don't have a child living with a peanut allergy, let us all come together and work as co-protectors here and empathize with the families."
The holidays are hard
If you're a peanut allergy mama who feels like no one in your circle understands why you have to be constantly vigilant, it might be time to seek out some support from a professional or a group for allergy impacted parents because as Mowry points out, this upcoming holiday season can be especially stressful.
"Halloween is definitley the hardest because you're dealing with candy," she explains, "But every holiday is challenging because every holiday is kind of built around food."
For those of us who don't have a child with peanut allergies, Mowry's remark about the holidays is a good reminder to be compassionate (and careful) this holiday season. Peanuts are common in so many recipes, but we can all take care to leave them out of the dishes and cookies we plan to share. Let's be co-protectors and make all the upcoming holidays a little less scary for mamas like Mowry.