Children of Parents with Disabilities can be Empowered, Too

Content via Disabled Parenting Project
Disabled Parenting Project

Anne Cohen has Myasthenia Gravis, which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy, and it causes her arms to shake in certain positions.


mom smiling with her baby on her lap

As a mother, Anne has encountered many different approaches people have taken to discuss her disability and its impact on her as a mother. They include lauding her as an inspirational mother who is able to parent her child, pitying her, attempting to relate to her, or probing questions about her pregnancy and approach to motherhood.

But questions from other people were not the only ones she had received. Before her son was born, Anne was also guilty of questioning herself and her abilities to parent her child. She worried about being able to perform daily tasks like burping him, cutting his nails, or teaching him homework. She was also concerned with how her disability would impact her son’s emotions or his impressions of her. “Would he be sad or mad that I couldn’t do something?” was a question Anne would ask herself.

Building confidence

Now, her son is 3 years old, and Anne has recently “embraced the term spastic mom to reclaim [her] identity as a mom with a disability.” To many of the questions she once posed to herself, she has found the solutions for them. Her son has also played a big role in supporting her parenting process. “He also adapted and knew instinctively that mommy was not the one to do certain things,” says Anne.

Anne has observed that her son has grown to take initiative and be a supportive team player. For instance, when they were making muffins together, her son immediately took over her task of measuring flour when she spilled some over. “Here mommy that is hard for you. Let me help you,” he explains. He then completed the task with a huge, proud smile on his face.

“Children have the freedom of non-judgment, till we teach them and socially mold them to think otherwise.”

And this is probably the case with her son. Regardless of Anne’s physical ability, Anne is “just mom” to him. Anne has also yet to hear her son asking questions about her disability, or about her friends’ disabilities.

Perhaps the greatest gift Anne has received from parenthood is her son’s increased empowerment. He has developed understanding, and continues to discover his own potential. She finds that the things she cannot do can in turn enable her son to pick it up and excel at it. “My disability makes me slow down and that allows him to catch up,” Anne says, and that is the success she gains from being a mother.

How have your children been empowered through your disability? We would love to hear your stories! Share them with us and you might be featured here on AbleThrive.

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