Have you ever heard that saying – “The only disability in life is a bad attitude”? This couldn’t be truer regarding society’s perception of disabled parents. Society still in 2018 see living with a disability as this great tragedy, and that a child being raised by a disabled parent should, therefore, be pitied as a direct result of their parents added challenges. In an attempt to change people’s outlook on this topic here are just; ‘5 Things Children Gain Having A Disabled Parent.’
1. Self-confidence & independence
Disabled people are very independent people and are good at finding different ways to accomplish difficult tasks, this makes teaching our child(ren) basic life skills such as feeding themselves, getting dressed, potty training, etc easier in the sense that we can come up with adaptions for our littles like we do ourselves and instill confidence as we practice these independent skills with them. We know all too well how hard it is to keep the motivation, get the technique right and what a tremendous feeling it is for all that hard work to finally pay off and to be able to do things the average person doesn’t think twice about. Not only does the child thrive becoming more independent, but they are proud of themselves after all their hard work and that does wonder for a child’s self-confidence which is equally important.
2. Team building skills from a young age
Children naturally want to help their parents, from being a toddler helping Daddy load the washing machine or fetching items from around the house. Even helping feed/change a baby sibling alongside their parent. Disabled parents of children aged 12-36 months in a recent study were shown to practice team building skills far more at a younger age, as opposed to automatically doing things for them. Something that’ll be an invaluable asset to them as an adult.
3. Empathy & Compassion for others
Having a disabled person in the family unit, whether it be a parent, sibling, aunt or grandparent helps children develop empathy a lot faster. Although it seems sad that a child witnessing a loved one struggle with everyday tasks average people take for granted, empathy is such a powerful skill that will serve them well throughout their lifetime. With empathy comes compassion and this group of children is well known to have an abundance of it.
4. A diverse sense of normality
Growing up with a disabled parent, particularly if the parents’ disability has been from birth, means that the child has never known any different. Children have this wonderful thing about them that if something has always been a certain way, they accept that’s the way it is. This holds true when it comes to disability also. If Mummy has always used a wheelchair, they accept this is the way their Mummy is and automatically work around Mummy’s abilities. In general, children are far more accepting than adults, and even if the parent acquires the disability during their child’s childhood somewhere, they adapt very easily. It’s not until the early teens that emotions change that auto response.
Having grown up with disability in their everyday life, disability becomes normalized. They grow up knowing everyone is different, rather than realizing it further on in their lives. You’ll generally find children with a disabled parent to be the most accepting group of children of any type of diversity and therefore they treat everyone with great respect and acceptance.
If only every family included someone with a disability, society’s overall attitude would be so different…
5. An emotional maturity beyond their years
Even before baby is born, we as Mum’s fret about how fast time will fly and even complete strangers can’t help but draw our thoughts back to how they “grow up so fast.” It’s viewed as a negative purely because we want to pause time and savor every moment, just that tiny bit longer. But they do grow up, and some mature faster than others.
I think society automatically assumes a child wise beyond their years must be due to some childhood struggle. Whether that be because they were brought up in strained financial times, experienced a parents divorce, domestic violence or other (what society would deem) traumatic upbringing. Or because they have a parent with a disability. I put that separate from the others because of 1. Having a Disabled Parent isn’t a tragedy 2. Developing emotional maturity shouldn’t always be linked to some kind of hardship. Having that maturity opens up opportunities in that child’s life that their peers may be too immature to enjoy for example. With maturity, comes a greater understanding of how to navigate their world better, therefore emotional maturity is a credit to the child and will aid them as they continue to develop in the game we call Life!
I hope these points have helped you see there are many positives in having a parent with a disability and how much the child does gain from having a different (not lesser) childhood – as some would assume.