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Disabled people can be parents, too

We’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses

_WELLNESS / DISABLED PARENTING

Society doesn’t really associate disabled people with being parents. I think people presume if my legs don’t work then surely nothing works, and no one thinks Disabled people are having the sex to make the babies in the first place anyway. There’s also
a sense that we wouldn’t be capable of taking care of a child or we would somehow make lesser parents than our abled bodied counterparts. The thing is, no parent has every single skill in the whole universe. We’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses. I’ve parented back when I could walk, and I parent now that I can’t. Is it hard now? Yes, sometimes. Was it hard back when I could walk? Yes, sometimes. See parenting can be hard, it’s always going to have its challenges and those challenges will be as individual as the parent and child who are facing them. There are things I can’t do now that I could do when I could walk. When my youngest was small, I couldn’t stand up and rock him, so that became a Daddy job while I provided the sit-down milky cuddles. I can’t chase them round the house on my legs, but I can chase them round on my wheels.

“I’m Disabled.
I’m a wheelchair
user, and I’m also
a Mum.”

Toddlers are fast so I’d say the wheels are probably an advantage at this point. Some days I’m tired so life looks like lots of TV and snuggles and books read. I don’t take my toddler out independently yet. I worry he’ll run off and I couldn’t catch him. That’s ok though, we can go out with other people to help, and we have all the magical times at home in the garden together anyway. I’m Disabled. I’m a wheelchair user, and I’m also a Mum. My parenting has had to adapt to this life on wheels but not in a negative way. My disability isn’t something my kids see as a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Actually, it’s a thing they think is pretty bloody cool when they’re whizzing around on my lap or we’re having a kitchen disco. Not all Disabled people can be parents. Not all Disabled people want to be parents. Just like not all non-disabled people can be parents and not all non-disabled people want to be parents. I don’t blame society for holding these outdated views though. Representation in the media for Disabled people is pretty low. Representation for Disabled parents is almost non-existent. We’re not seen in commercials for baby food or in films or soap operas. Sometimes we might be featured in the news or a current affairs program, but that’s usually either a pity tale or an inspirational one. We tend to have to adapt baby equipment ourselves, relying on each other for tips and hacks because companies making stuff for parents never factor disabled parents into the mix. All of this can leave Disabled people thinking they’re not capable of being parents and this is so far from the truth. Disabled people can be amazing parents. Amazing parents who go on to raise amazing empathic kids who aren’t ableist and that’s a really wonderful thing. I just wish the rest of society knew that.

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