Being a parent is hard work under any circumstances, but being a parent with a disability presents a unique set of challenges that not everyone understands. Every parent desires the same things for their child such as health, happiness and to feel loved. For those who are new to parenting, welcome to the club.
Here are a few tips to help transition you into full-fledged parenthood.
Step 1: Know Your Rights
Let’s face it, parenting has its challenges. As a parent with a disability, it's important for you to know your rights. Whether it's your biological or adoptive child, and whether you are starting a family, blending a family or taking on the task of parenting solo, be sure to take a closer look at what legal protections exist. This can help you avoid the pitfalls that many parents, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, might encounter as they raise a child.
Step 2: Prepare Your Home
Prepping your home for the arrival of a child of any age is that boundaryless realm that is the same for every parent. General preparation should focus on danger remediation with the minor details based on the age and needs of the child.
Check your smoke detectors. It’s a good idea to replace smoke detector backup batteries. Now is also a great time to review any fire escape routes and make sure they adequately accommodate your new addition.
Service or replace fire extinguishers. If you do have fire extinguishers, you may already know that they don’t last forever. If you don’t have them, now is the time to get them. In addition to the kitchen, it’s a good idea to place one near the doorway of the room where your furnace is located, as well as in the child’s room.
Install carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t already have these life-saving items, you should. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and affects children much faster than adults. These are inexpensive and plug into a standard outlet in most cases. Be sure to test these each time you test your smoke detectors.
Use outlet covers and cabinet locks. These handy little devices keep tiny fingers from getting shocked, pinched, or worse. They can also help you limit access to medicines, cleaners and other substances that you may need to keep low to accommodate your own needs.
Secure heavy objects. While many dressers, TV stands and other objects that pose a high risk of tipping over now come with warning labels, some new parents might opt for using older models. Make sure you consider and secure any items in your home that are at risk of tipping over on your child.
Step 3: Find Support
It’s important for any new parent to have a support network that falls outside of others who know and love your child. Everyone is entitled to feelings of frustration, whether it is with the child or your own expectations of how things should be, without having those feelings come back to haunt you at a later date. Having someone who understands exactly what you are going through can make all the difference on the difficult days and sharing your joy with them will make the good days even better.
Becoming a parent is scary, but you’re not alone. Know that there are people out there just like you, and that the basics of being a good parent are the same for everyone.