SPECIAL GUEST POST
Parenting With Disabilities: A Long Journey Worth Every Minute
Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t rock the parent train and thrive as a caregiver. Being a parent is tough no matter your physical or mental state but, as a person who’s already overcome adversity, you’ll be ready to face whatever obstacles lie ahead.
As a person with a disability, you will likely face many outdated biases and unfair assumptions when it comes to your ability to raise a child.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has published an exceptional free PDF download that outlines more information relating to facts on parenting with disability, disability law, and resources for disabled parents.
Thankfully, disabled parenting has become more accepted, and today one in 10 children have at least one parent with physical or mental disabilities. One thing we’ve learned from these millions of fully capable parents is that there is a lot you can do to prepare your home and life for parenthood.
Depending on your disability, you may need to make home modifications that can assist with parenting skills, such as bathing your children. Grab bars in the bathtub may help you adjust for mobility issues that make it difficult to bend and stoop while holding the added weight of an infant or toddler. According to Home Advisor, other home modifications to consider include using nonslip rugs and mats and removing tripping hazards. If you have visual impairments, you might start labeling your children’s food in braille or using brighter lights in the fridge and pantry to avoid accidentally swapping their food for something else. If you suffer with anxiety or depression, you may also want to make home improvements that reduce stress. This could be something as simple as having a room designated for meditation, reading, and/or personal reflection.
Like all parents, your support network will be paramount to your success as a parent. This may include a spouse or partner, family, friends, healthcare professionals, or personal assistant who can you help meet the physical demands of parenthood. A nighttime nurse to help in the early months may come in handy as you acclimate to parenthood and learn how to overcome your disability as it relates to caring for a new baby. ComeUnity, an online network dedicated to helping families with special needs, list dozens of support groups for disabled parents as well as parents of disabled children.
Kids are expensive. According to Time, the cost of raising a child through the age of 17 has hit an all-time high of more than $233,000. This includes basic expenses such as food and housing, along with medical care, safety products, and clothing. It does not account for college expenses and extracurricular activities, which can easily more than double that amount. When you’re preparing to have a child, it helps to put some money aside. You may wish to speak with a financial planner to establish a budget and also to plan for long-term care should your disability eventually limit your parenting capabilities.
No one is ever truly ready to be a parent. Even if you’ve gotten your home ready, secured your finances, and planned for what feels like a lifetime, adding a child to your family is an emotional roller coaster full of ups and downs. Psych Central explains that you must be fully prepared to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. And like all other parenting hopefuls, you will also need to evaluate your reasons for wanting to start a family.
All parents have struggles, but yours as a person with a disability will be different. But by planning ahead, you can tailor your life and home to best suit both your needs and those of your growing family.
About Our Guest Post Author: Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org
My husband and I both have disabilities. We’ve always wanted children, and knew that because of our disabilities becoming parents and parenthood, in general, would require extra planning and prep.
From the get-go we started saving for IVF treatments and making modifications to our home that would make us and our future children safer. Along the way, we’ve picked up a lot of great resources on planning and preparing for parenthood as parents with disabilities and we’ve learned some valuable lessons, too.
Today, my husband and I have two amazing kids, and I thought this might be a good way to show my gratitude to the universe for all the ways we’ve been blessed.