Parenting with a disability has its ups and downs, just as it does for all parents."No amount of written information can really prepare you for the birth of a baby. The most important thing you can do is to work out what you will need to care for your baby, both financially and in terms of how much physical help you will need. Make sure you will have enough support, for yourself and for the baby, once the baby arrives.
But being prepared can mean something different for everyone. The many books, articles, and videos on various aspects of pregnancy, adoption, childbirth, child development, and parenting may be good starting points. You may need to dig for more information, advice, and support that relate to your specific disability. The good news is that, increasingly, there are more materials available geared towards parenting with a disability.
Talking with other mothers, both with and without disabilities, may be a better strategy for some women. In as much as some people will give you that evil eye just because you have a disability and want to have your own child do not mind them because in this world no one is perfect.
Another way to stay ahead of the curve is to see your needs as a mother as an ongoing process. Your needs and your partner's will change throughout pregnancy, as your child grows, and also as your disability changes. One good way to start, according to the Parenting Book for Persons with a Disability, is to complete a Child Care Abilities Survey. This survey helps the prospective parent with a disability identify the specific skills they will need in order to care for a child, the adaptations they may need to make around the house, and how much extra physical support they will need.
Children and adapting
While you'll no doubt learn to adapt to your child's needs, your child will learn to adapt to your needs as well. Patti explained how her daughter also learned to adapt to her, "When she was a toddler and wanted me to hold her, she would go to the sofa and pat the cushion. She learned quickly that I needed to sit down in order to hold her."
Mothers with disabilities do face extra challenges; life does not get any simpler as children grow up.
• Keeping up with errands and appointments for their children of Chasing and retrieving children
• Making recreation opportunities available to their children outside the home
• Finding accessible parking near child care, school activities, or events
Not only does a mother face challenges related to the physical aspects of getting her child from place to place in her busy life, but interpersonal issues around disability may come to light as she and her child grow together. Somewhere around the middle school years, things may change. Your child might feel both embarrassed by your disability and guilty. Children have to take on what society is teaching them about disability and also what they learn at home. They also have peer pressures and fears about being different.
For example, as your child grows he/she will never be bothered with your disability and will always be proud of you but when he/she reaches teenage years they will tend to shy away from you not because they do not love you but because of peer pressure, stigma from friends and society and society at large.
Children will become increasingly aware of your disability and have more and more questions as they mature. It is important to help your child understand about disability. Discussing this issue will likely become a recurring theme in your lives.
Keeping the lines of communication open, inviting children to talk about their feelings and discomfort, and telling them that you understand they may feel uncomfortable are techniques a parent can use to deal with difficult times.
Keep in mind that all children do not necessarily respond in the same way to a parent with a disability. On the positive side, it has been said that in families where a parent or parents have disabilities and differences are discussed, lived with and valued, children may have a better chance of developing a built-in open-mindedness about diversity.Overwhelmingly, parents reported that the greatest blessing is that their children have learned to be compassionate, accepting and open to diversity.
"Mommy, why do you walk with a cane or even use a wheelchair?"
What you say in response to your child's questions or what you choose to tell them must be in line with their developmental stage in order to get the right message across. Also, it's best to give some thought to how you approach the subject. You will want to be up front and comfortable with what you are saying as you won't want them to grow up with a sense of shame about your disability. Since we do not have children yet I get this question most of the time from my nephews and nieces especially when they ask me Aunt why do you sit the way you do, why do you need some one to help you stand up from a sitted position, why do you support your right hand with your left hand while eating? The questions never end but I thank God they are growing up and more understanding.
All ages - tell them:
• Mom has a disability
• The name of the disability
• Your best understanding of how your disability affects your abilities and activities
Preschool age - explain the disability on their level
• Use dolls or puppets to help
• Don't go past their attention span
• Don't go beyond their ability to understand
School age - tell them:
• Nothing they did caused the disability
• They can't catch the disability from you
• Who will take care of their needs (if the disability is a progressive one)
• Give lots of detailed information
• Answer every question fully
• Make sure there is someone outside the family with whom they can talk on a regular basis
• Be prepared for anything
"When explaining disabilities to your children, you should be open and honest and tell them what the disability is and what caused it. Because if they know the truth, they will have an appreciation for your problem and will not feel indifferent towards you for it.
Parents do have a crucial role of letting their children understand more about disability and that is what I intend to tell my children when God finally blesses us with children