Ivy McDonald is married and a mother of two children. She has spent the majority of her life living with a disability as her right arm is paralyzed. Ivy shares some advice on parenting with a disability.
Parenting with a disability can be mindboggling for some; however, it can be done. My right arm is paralyzed which limits me to only having use of one hand. I have two boys: a 4-year-old and a newborn. I have had to adapt and learn ways to care for them. I strive to be independent and always seem to find a way to do what I need to do. I had challenges learning how to manage with my 4-year-old when he was a baby, but I made it through with ideas I came up with on my own and tips from others. Now, with my second, I have more confidence because I’ve accomplished having a baby before.
Having two children is difficult for anyone. With my disability, however, it is a bit harder than others who are physically capable without a disability. Some ways in which I accomplish caring for two kids is be confident in yourself, think about how you’re going to do something before you do it, encourage your oldest child to help, talk to a physical or occupational therapist, friend, or family member you trust for tips they may have.
Be confident in yourself. Of course, there will be bumps in the road, but there are obstacles for everyone disabled or not. You must take one day at a time. When you have a disability with multiple children, show them that you are self-confident in yourself. Then they will be self-confident in you and won’t have fear of what their parent can’t do. Of course, they will know you have limitations, but even at a young age, they should realize that you can still find ways to be their parent even if you do things a little differently from other people.
I have to think about how I’m going to do something before I do it. How am I going to pick up my baby from his changing table? How will I change his diaper, get him dressed, bathe him, hold him? First, ask for help. With help, you can learn to be more independent because you can watch how others do what needs to be done with babies and kids and adapt it to your ways. Read articles, books, and watch videos of how other people with a similar disability do what you need to do. This will help in how you think of your unique ways to do what you have to do.
Encouraging your oldest child to help is something everyone should do. But if you have a disability, it’s extra helpful, depending on the oldest child’s age. If they’re old enough and capable, ask for help with getting a diaper, burp cloth, blanket, pacifier, anything like that that they can bring you easily. If you are getting the baby dressed, have your other child hand you the baby clothes you want to put on him. Your oldest could even assist in putting clothes on. Simple tasks like this will help you and allow them to be a part of the baby’s life in a small way.
If you feel discouraged about not being able to care for your baby as a non-disabled person would seek out a physical or occupational therapist, friend, or family member to help. No matter your disability, they should be able to help you think of unique ways to get things done. Have them come to your house if possible and let them see how you do what you can do. Perhaps they will give you fresh ideas you haven’t thought of before.
No matter your disability, always be positive. There may be people who don’t believe anyone who is disabled can care for a baby, but prove them wrong! Show them that just because you care for a baby differently doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for the job. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. Look at what you’ve accomplished in your life. Never feel ashamed if you have to ask for help. Remain positive and strive for doing the best you can do. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Thanks to Ivy for submitting this original post! Do you have your own parenting tips? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!