There is something quite difficult about being a disabled parent while having minor children in the household. Sometimes it’s not about what we are unable to do, it’s more about our feelings of guilt as we look around at other parents who aren’t struggling against the same issues as we are. In the end, sometimes there are things we can do to make our burdens so much lighter, but first it may take understanding just how our disabilities are impacting our kids, if at all. As a parent with a disability you may want to think about getting some help in the home, to ease the burden on yourself and your family. There are in-home care services available from 1 hours to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can find the help that your family needs. You can browse this site for more information about your options.
Little research has been done into the effect of parent’s disability on children, and what has been completed was difficult to get. With that said, here’s what we’ve been able to gather in an attempt to understand just how our disability is impacting the lives of our children.
One Study Out of the United States
There doesn’t seem to be any explanations as to why there isn’t more of this type of research being conducted. Perhaps studies have been done, but the data was never released online. At any rate, there is one really good study that was attempted and given mention on the United States National Library of Medicine. They do link to the final study published on the Science Direct website, but as it was lengthy, we’ll highlight key issues which you, and your children, may be facing here in the UK.
From Our Perspective
One of the key issues we’ve found in terms of a parent’s disability is in terms of mobility. It seems to be difficult on parents who often need help with some sort of action that can be easier and quicker for a child to do rather than wait for a parent to get in and out of a wheelchair to get around. This has led to a great deal of stress for both the afflicted parent and the child often asked to help getting something done.
Usually, kids don’t mind very much unless it is keeping them from other activities they should, or would rather, be doing. Many parents who have mobility issues aren’t aware of this because their kids are often reluctant to voice their personal frustrations. They love their parents, after all, and really want to help, but when it is interfering with activities other kids their age are enjoying, they keep their frustrations inside. This is not healthy for them which is why these types of issues should be addressed sooner rather than later.
The Onset of the Disability May Make a Difference
There seems to be a variable that makes a difference in how parents and children deal with mum’s immobility issues, for example. It’s usually the mother who drives the children around to and from school or to such things as sports activities or after school clubs they belong to. If the disability came about prior to the child’s birth, there doesn’t seem to be the same level of frustration because that’s the only life they knew from birth onward.
However, if some illness or accident left mum with mobility issues, getting used to a new way of doing things may be difficult for both the parent and the child to get acclimated to. Thankfully, driving the kids around isn’t usually a problem because of the availability of affordable used WAVs. These are Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles that are equipped to get the driver in and out of the vehicle unassisted. They are usually equipped with a riser of lift, and some have a ramp from a rear door that leads up and to the area between ‘bucket’ seats in the front of a van. Find out more details online.
Since they are fitted with the type of access best suited to the disabled person, it is better to check the availability of vehicles offering freedom and independence for the driver. With this issue resolved nicely, this usually doesn’t impact a child’s mobility, so there are no problems there. The usual tensions arise in the household.
A Wide Range of Aids for Parents with Mobility Disabilities
In the study mentioned above, some of the main frustrations facing the children of parents with mobility issues arose in the home. When asked to help mum or dad with tending to younger children, for example, they often resented this because it interfered with what they felt they should also be doing as kids. However, this isn’t as common as the frustration disabled parents faced when continually needing assistance getting something done.
For this reason, perhaps more information should be disseminated so that parents with mobility issues could be acquainted with all the aids available to them. For example, not only are ramps leading into and out of the home available but ways to manage stairs inside the home are also available. There are wheelchair stair lifts that attach to the handrails so that the chair can be literally carried up the steps to the next landing. Some homes can be fitted with small elevators the size of a typical dumbwaiter found in hotels and restaurants in the last century.
Then there are tools like cherry pickers that enable a disabled person to pick something off a shelf that is too high to reach. Some recliners are made so that the disabled person is ‘lifted’ almost to a standing position to facilitate getting in and out of their wheelchair and there are special showers which can be installed, making it easier for disabled people with mobility issues to shower regularly.
Open Dialogue Is Vital
If there is one other thing which can help to ‘heal’ the hurts of families living with parental disabilities it would be counselling that is also readily available. As parents learn to adjust to a new and rather limited manner of getting around, kids can also learn how to handle feeling resentful when asked to provide assistance to mum and dad.
It isn’t wrong to tell your parents, in a nonconfrontational way, how you are feeling about being asked to deal with their disability. Although helping once in a while is not something anyone should resent, kids sometimes feel as if too much is being placed on their shoulders, and that’s not okay. Whether or not that is the case, that’s how they may perceive it.
At the end of the day, an unbiased third party might be able to offer suggestions on how to work things out to everyone’s comfort level. Oddly, if many kids realised how guilty their parents already felt about their disability, it might be easier to express their views on why the resent helping as often as they are asked and would there be a happy medium so that mum wouldn’t worry as much either.
Help Is Out There – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
In the end, there are two ways the study found effective toward mending the rifts between disabled parents and their kids. The first is to avail themselves of all the available aids such as that Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle and those handy tools to help them around the home. The second way to deal with sensitive issues is to seek family counselling for ways to openly communicate feelings in a nonconfrontational way.
If you are a disabled parent trying to mend a somewhat awkward relationship with your child/ren, then this is probably where healing begins and ends. It is often only through honest communication that problems can be identified and resolved. With that said, let this be the beginning of a new, and healthier, relationship with your kids. That’s what everyone wants and needs, so let’s give it a try!