What It Takes to Parent a Child With a Disability


Sometimes I’m asked what it’s like to have a child with a disability. I’m praised for my parenting, lauded for my patience and my ability to care for my child. While I appreciate the sentiment, the truth is I’m no more of a super mom than anyone else. I stumble, I fall, I lose my temper sometimes. I struggle to find balance and order in our family’s life and schedule. My child is not all that different from any other child, not at the core anyway. And he’s certainly not hard to love.

I am a good mom; this I know and will take credit for. But I’m not special. I wasn’t given this child because I was strong enough, or extraordinary in some way. And let’s be very clear, my child is not a burden. He’s just a person; granted an incredible one, at least in my eyes. As parents, our job is to love, to encourage, to care for, to teach, and to provide for our children. This is what I do. In many ways, my life as a parent is not much different from anyone else’s.

I don’t want to take away credit where credit is due. There are so many hardworking parents of kids with disabilities out there, and they deserve to be acknowledged for moving the mountains they move to ensure their children flourish and thrive. Being a parent takes guts, not because of the children we have, but because of the world we live in. While we have come a long way, we still have far to go in the areas of accessibility, acceptance, and inclusion. Sometimes we have to fight a lot harder to have our children’s needs met. We have to learn things we never thought we’d know how to do. We often have to work harder at the things that usually come naturally in life.

If you’ve ever wondered if you’d be able to parent a child with a disability, I believe the answer is of course you could. You don’t think about it, you just do it. You take what is in front of you, and you figure it out. All it really takes is a willingness to learn, and an open heart and mind. If you can be a good parent, you can be a good parent to a child with a disability. If you’re at the beginning of your journey in the world of disability, rest assured, you’ve got this. I’m not going to tell you it will be easy, but it will be worth it.

I’m grateful. I’m thankful that I’m lucky enough to be Mom to a special kid. The things that make him special are not the things that make him different, but the things he brings to the world; kindness, innocence, love, determination, and so much more. Being a parent to a child with a disability is hard, but it’s also really quite simple. As trite as it sounds, all you really need is love. Oh, and a little backbone, and a lot of coffee.

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