Parenting is a scary prospect. The thought of raising a little human to be a good person is terrifying – as it ought to be. Both able-bodied and disabled people face a huge amount of challenges when parenting. But as in all things, a spinal cord injury requires creative thinking and problem solving to overcome everyday struggles.
In the past, many people questioned the wisdom of disabled people having children. But we have seen, time and time again, that disabled persons make excellent parents. Above all else, children need love and attention – something a spinal cord injury has no effect on!
Every parent does best when they have help. Whether that comes from a trusted friend, family, or a professional doesn’t matter – it is important to seek the wisdom of others. When it comes to parenting with an SCI, there are a number of places to go for help and support.
If you’re parenting with your partner, they should be your first line of support. They, better than anyone else, understand the challenges you face in your life. Being open and honest about your parenting fears will not only strengthen your relationship but also make you a better parent.
If looking for a professional, occupational therapists can provide a wide range of advice. From parenting tips to ideas on home modifications, an occupational therapist can bring an experienced perspective as you face a new situation.
There are also SCI parenting support groups across the country that can offer advice and encouragement. The internet has worked wonders when it comes to bringing people together, and a quick Google search should find support groups in your area.
Becoming a Parent
Many people face the difficulties of an SCI after they are already parents; but for those who are not yet parents, an SCI does not mean you cannot become one. Despite common misconceptions, a spinal cord injury does not always limit a woman’s ability to become pregnant. There are increased risks during pregnancy and it is important to talk with your doctor before attempting to become pregnant.
For men, a spinal cord injury will often create difficulties in fathering children. But talk to your doctor about fertility testing and options for either natural insemination or in vitro fertilization. These practices have become more popular and refined in recent years – meaning that parenthood is possible even with complications from an SCI.
Handling Parenting Difficulties
As a parent, you will face difficult times. As a disabled parent, you will face unique challenges that aren’t covered in the common parenting advice. But there are still ways to face the difficulties and challenges that arise from parenting after an SCI. There are a few things to remember when parenting with a disability:
- Kids Easily Adapt – Children are just learning about the world around them, and they easily adapt to new situations because every everything is a new situation.
- Kids Need Love and Attention – Above all else, children need your love and attention; and a disability has no effect on your ability to provide either.
- Your Partner Can Help – Everyone needs help and support as they parent, and your biggest supporter can be your partner.
- Everyone Struggles – Parenting is hard work, and despite all the books, blogs, and articles out there; no one really knows what they’re doing. If you’re loving and attentive, you are well on your way to parenting success.
While parenting after an SCI is difficult, it will never affect your ability to be a great parent. Being a great parent takes patience and strength – which uniquely qualifies you to be a great parent!