Mamas, meet Ashley Taylor! She started a website and resource to help disabled parents navigate some of the trickier aspects of parenting with disabilities. From laws to rights to must-haves, you can find tons of useful information on her website. We love this particular message from Ashley because she’s speaking to parents with disabilities, but this advice is wildly helpful and applicable to all parents. Please take a moment to check out her tips for preparing for parenthood below!
Parenting with Disabilities
Life with a disability can present many challenges, from prejudice to environments often created from an ableist perspective. There are plenty of practical and emotional challenges, too, but one which can be overlooked is that of parenthood. Here are some tips and advice on preparing your lives, and your homes, for this adventure.
Life shouldn’t be a quest for perfection. It’s okay to make mistakes, so don’t compare yourself to your peers or to parents shown in the media. If you’re too worried about hypothetically trying to be the perfect parent, you will undoubtedly not only add unnecessary stress to an already difficult situation, but you may deter yourself from parenthood, or at least undercut your self-esteem. Don’t worry about being perfect; you aren’t. No one is. You’ll make mistakes. That’s okay. It will be hard at first, but every day, you will learn and grow with your child.
Plan Your Finances
The first financial plan you’ll need to prepare for, even before factoring how much the new baby equipment will cost, are your delivery fees. Make sure you have enough to cover what you’ll need, get up to speed on what your insurance will help with, and go from there. Next, make a list of short-term priorities (cribs, diapers, things of that ilk), start saving (and create a savings account for your child), but also consider long-term finances (such as college funds). Even if you can’t save as much as you want to immediately, having a goal will help keep you on track in the long run.
Make Your Home Childproofed and Safe
Of course, you will need to babyproof your home by securing large pieces of furniture, covering sharp edges and electrical sockets, and making sure you’re up-to-date with your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Depending on your disability, you may also require adaptive baby-care equipment. It is important to pay particular attention to those items often overlooked (like the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors previously mentioned), and to make sure they are up-to-date and working properly. The last thing you need is a faulty detector with your new family.
Depending on your specific disability, there may be information and support out there to help give you some pointers from others within your community. There are specific groups for parents with disabilities to utilize. Communication during parenthood is imperative. Now that you are a parent, you must communicate with your co-parent on things you may have once overlooked, from money worries to hidden fears about your parenting ability that you never wanted to discuss. The sooner you address these issues, the quicker you can deal with them together. If you suffer from a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, it can compound the issue of pregnancy and parenthood. It is incredibly important to not try to hide any issue—no matter how small you think it is—from your partner, or those who are there to support you. Parenthood is a huge challenge, and you will need to care for yourself to properly care for this new life you’re bringing into the world.
There are challenges for everyone when becoming a parent. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but you have all of the tools for success at your fingertips. If you prepare yourself, your home and your life for your new bundle of joy, you are sure to have a prosperous and happy family. Remember, check those overlooked areas, and ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone in this new venture.
About the Author:
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Visit Ashley’s website for further information and resources!