A Bar Ilan University study determined that children of parents with a disability tend to be more empathetic than children with non-disabled parents. Even with that wonderful quality instilled in their children, it can be difficult for those with disabilities to know if starting a family is the right choice. If you and your partner have been struggling with this decision, keep reading for further information.
Can I do this?
If you’re disabled but aren’t sure you can manage parenthood, know that you can, but you may need some help along the way, especially in the beginning when things are so new. Being resistant to help because you’re too independent or stubborn just makes it harder on yourself, and possibly the baby. A wealth of resources is waiting to help you and your little one have the happiest lives possible–resources like baby furniture and products that make it easy to feed, diaper, bathe, transport, and cuddle your child.
Whether you are mobility, hearing, sight, speech, or intellectually impaired, there are products with you in mind. There are so many to choose from that it’s a good idea to read product reviews to narrow your choices and make the buying process quicker, easier, and cheaper.
Let’s start with your home. It may be okay for you, because you know how to take care of your own needs and the needs of your spouse or partner. But what about caring for a helpless newborn solely dependent on you? Do you need a ramp to get to the nursery? Do the doorways need to be wider? Is the nursery furniture the right height? Do you have enough room to move around? Will the baby be sleeping in your room? Do you have skid-resistant floors? Smoke alarms? Baby monitors? You’ll want an estimate first, of course, but there are one-stop businesses and organizations who can transform your home with accessibility and parenting in mind.
Most parents seek out and accept some kind of help, whether it be from their own parents, friends who are already parents, books, and support groups. There are also resources online through the Australian government to assist disabled parents. Help is out there. Ask someone to help you find it if necessary.
You can start with your local disabilities services organization. If you’ve been too proud to approach them, or just never needed to, perhaps parenthood is the perfect occasion to introduce yourself. They offer services you may not be aware of but may need sometime in the future, like transportation, legal services, financial help purchasing a portable ramp, or a referral to a contractor who makes homes disability-accessible for families.
You may want to sign up for parenting classes. These may be offered at a variety of locations, from churches to community colleges to social services agencies. In some cases, a parenting coach or counselor may come to your home to offer individualized instruction or support. This encompasses training in how to safely bathe a child to locating a modified vehicle. This could last a few weeks, or a few years, depending on the desires and needs of your family.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a counselor or social worker in your corner. They have access to community programs, and their job is to refer you if the need arises.
Another resource you will find helpful is a support group—a group of parents with disabilities who care for their children on a daily basis, just as you will. You’ll hear ups and downs as well as solid, practical advice. Though the disabilities may vary from parent to parent, the information and support you’ll receive from them is something you can use every day.
You Can Do This!
You want the best for your child—financially, emotionally, socially, and educationally. This sometimes means letting go of your doubts and fears, and embracing your life and future as a parent. Your child will be enriched by having you as a parent, and you’ll be enriched by having a child.
Ashley Taylor of www.disabledparents.org