Situation Allergy: Uncle Joe and his 'unfunny' food allergy jokes

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Your great uncle thinks that his jokes about your son's food allergy are harmless. Are they?

Great Uncle Joe is a jokester. He’s been that way his whole life. And while his jokes sometimes make family members a bit uncomfortable, he means no harm by them. After every joke, he gives a hearty laugh. His hearty laugh is as big as his heart. 

Your middle-school son, who is allergic to dairy, doesn’t appreciate Uncle Joe’s humor, especially when it comes to his jabs about the allergy. Your spouse just shrugs off the humor, too, always saying, “Uncle Joe’s always been that way. No harm. No foul.”

One day, as your family arrives to their house for a birthday party, which the family is making completely safe to accommodate the allergy, Uncle Joe is standing at the front door.

“They're here!” he says before pretending to call into the kitchen: ‘Hey, Mary, hide the pizza and ice cream!'”

Uncle Joe laughs. Uncle Joe hugs. He’s totally oblivious to your son’s reluctance…


What do you do? What do you say? Do you address the issue there? At a later time? Do you ever talk to Uncle Joe about it? Or is this a case where your son is getting too bent out of shape over something that obviously isn't meant to be hurtful? And what do you say to your spouse about just shrugging it off?