Can parenting with a disability be done? Should it be done? These are some of the questions that can really plague a disabled person’s heart.
Being a medical mystery, I had so many concerns running through my mind about having a child. Of course, some of the most pressing concerns for a parent with a disability is,
- Will my child have the same disability as me? (if the disability is genetic)
- Can I take care of my child’s needs? (making meals, bathing, ect..)
- Can I protect my child from harm?
- Can I provide for my child? (a lot of disabled people are on government funding which is not a glamorous life)
- Can I participate in my child’s life when they need me? (playing games. outdoor activities, school programs, ect..)
Parenting with a disability brings many concerns to one’s mind. I can not stress how much I have looked at my son and daughters and wondered if I could be there for them the same way my stepdad was there for me!
But I have dealt with the fears above and I have to say that the good out weighs the bad when it comes to parenting with a disability. That picture at the top says it all!
So let’s go over some of these concerns and how I have handled them though out my years as a father!
Parenting with a disability | Will my child have the same disability as me?
This has been one of my greatest fears as a father. Will my child have the same disability as me? See, when you know that your disability is genetic your thoughts are always wondering if your child will have the same condition.
This is a tough fear to beat, and honestly I still worry about my child as well. But this is the conclusion that I have come to. If you define you life by fear, you will never truly live.
I have worked very hard to try to figure out what is exactly wrong with me and being a medical mystery I have no answers that I can give my child if they have the same medical problems.
But I can teach them how to deal with their problems a whole lot better then I did. See, it is not about whether your child will have the same disability, it is about you as a teacher and if you can help them overcome some of the challenges that you have faced.
I may not know what is wrong with me exactly but I do know which pitfalls to avoid and what treatments have helped me in the past.
So as far as worrying if your child is going to have the same disability as you just remember that they also have the greatest teacher who can help them cope with that disability. That teacher is you!
Parenting With A Disability | Can I Take Care Of My Child’s Needs?
Here is another worry that has plagued my mind the whole time my wife was pregnant. “Will I really be physically able to take care of my child’s needs?”
As we all know, raising a child takes a lot of work and being disabled and unable to work gives you the mind set that you will not be able to tend to the needs of your child the way that you should.
Well, I am here to tell you that both my wife and I are disabled and we tell people, “Between the two of us we make one good parent!”
You know, if you have family and friends around they are always there to help you. My wife helps me when I am down and I help her when she is down.
Then there are the days when we are both down. But unlike a job there are areas where you can cut a corner or two. Like for instance if we are both down we might order out that night for dinner instead of cooking.
Kids are still getting feed, and we did not have to struggle through pain to fix a meal for them. You see, parenting is a lot different then holding down a full time job.
With a job you have to show up! With parenting you still have to be there but you can also call family members and friends if you are truly having a bad day to help.
But you can’t call your mom to go to work for you. See, that is what a lot of people don’t get. Take this lady who just didn’t understand how someone could have kids and yet be to disabled to hold down a full time job.
Is there something wrong with collecting disability because you claim you have medical problems that make you unable to hold a job yet you give birth to 5 children while “disabled”?? I hear so many people talk about how hard the life of a stay at home mom is – I work FT and have 2 small children myself so I know how challenging it can be to care for them. How can someone be too disabled to work but not too disabled to carry 5 babies for 9 months each, give birth and be a stay at home mom???
What I really loved was the comments that followed!
A paraplegic can have babies, a blind woman can have babies and can be a stay at home mom, would you consider those not to be worthy of not working and collecting disability?
Seriously? I am disabled. I gave up my last job because I was not physically capable. My uterus works just fine, though. It is a different kind of work.
Like PP said there are many disabilities that make it impossible to hold down a job but are compatible with having and raising babies.
You get the idea. There is a big difference as to holding down a job and taking care of the needs of your child. As any good parent does, disabled or not, you always find a way!
Parenting With A Disability | Can You Protect Your Child From Harm?
This is a question that I think plagues every parents mind. Can I protect my child from harm? I know that being the “man” of the house this was a question that has haunted me.
“What if someone breaks in? What if we get attacked on the street? What if we go swimming and I can’t get to my child in time? What if, what if, what if,
See, you can “what if” yourself to death if you allow. But it is not really up to you if harm comes to your child. Of course we want to keep them safe.
But there are things that happen in this world that are tragic and unavoidable. You can’t think that just because you have a disability you can’t protect your child like any other parent without a disability would.
Life is a roll of the dice. You could not be disabled and have a child and get hit by a car and lose that child though no fault of your own. That is just life!
IF YOU DEFINE YOUR LIFE BY FEAR, YOU WILL NEVER TRULY LIVE!
Parenting With A Disability | Can I Provide For My Child
This is a question that any parent, disabled or not, asks. Did you know that the average cost of raising a child that was born in 2013 for middle class families is $245,340 (with inflation $304,480) per child.
That is a scary number to anyone who lives on a fixed income. I have 3 kids so I am looking at close to a million dollars for raising my kids!
But if you live by the numbers then this country would only have well to do families having children. The truth is that there is a lot of people struggle with money and still providing for their family everyday (disabled or not)!
And honestly, I think it is that struggle that brings a family closer together. Parenting with a disability does not mean that you can’t provide for your child just because you are on social security.
It just means that you are an average person, dealing with the same problems the most people have who are not disabled. It is just life and struggling as a family is what makes a family a family.
I remember moving into my stepdad’s ranch house when I was 7 or so because he had gotten laid of and money was tight. The ranch house at the time had a ceiling that was caving in, no linoleum on the floor, and a broken window here or there.
We as a family fixed that place up and made it into a home. It was small, it was spider infested, it was awesome! Not because of where we lived, but because of what we turned it into. Together as a family.
So if you think that you can’t provide for your child do to lack of money, just remember that it is not about the money.
Money comes and goes, but the memories that you create with you family last forever!
Parenting With A Disability | Can I Fully Participate In My Child’s Life?
When parenting with a disability this can be a very valid concern! Kids need to have that outside time, kids need you at school functions, kids need you to participate in their lives!
So how does someone that is disabled keep up with all the activities that goes along with raising kids? The simple answer, just show up.
That is really what kids want when they ask you to come outside and play, or go to a school function, or to one of their friend’s birthday parties. They just want you to be present.
That is what being a parent is all about. Being there for your child when they need you. If you have to sit in a chair outside and throw a ball to you kid, then do it.
Do things that you know you can physically do. If you don’t have arms, play kick ball. If you are blind play Marco Polo. If your child just got a bike go outside and watch them ride it.
There is nothing that can brighten your day or take away the pain that you are feeling then watching your child enjoying themselves.
These are the memories that your child will have. Not that you were walking funny at their school when you brought cupcakes to their class party, but that you were cool enough to bring cupcakes to their school in the first place!
This is really what it truly means to participate in a child’s life. Just being there anyway that you can. You might not be able to run with them, or play catch with them, but you can be there for them. Engage with them.
That is what they truly want. How you do it is up to you, but don’t limit yourself because of your disability. But think outside of the box.
- Arts and Crafts
- Board Games
- Family Movies
- Watching Their Sports Games
- Play Hide and Seek
- Show Up To Their Class And Help Out On Your Good Days
- Listen To Them When They Talk
- Encourage Them When They Doubt Themselves
- Help Them With Their Homework
- Read To Them
- Watch Them Play At The Park
- Take Them To Community Events When You Are Able
These are just some of things that you can do with your child. Not all of them are going to be right for you and your disability, but I think that you can pick at least 4 or 5 of those things listed above to really engage with your child.
Parenting with a disability does not mean you are going to sit on the sidelines of your child’s life. You can participate, it just takes finding out what you are physically able to do that your child would enjoy!
Don’t Let Your Disability Hold You Back!
In a world that is already tough, I believe a child can be a shining light in anyone’s life. Waking up and seeing their smiles, or spending time with my children is what brings the greatest joy to my life.
Just look at the pictures of my kids on this post. I would have missed out on all this wonderfulness if I let my disability decide that I should not have children.
Parenting with a disability is still parenting, and everyone’s struggle is different. But if you are there for you child and do the best you can, You will be a great parent!