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Friday, January 12, 2018

Preparing for Parenthood When You Have a Disability by Guest Blogger Ashley Taylor

Being a parent is challenging, but when you have a disability, parenthood can present even more obstacles. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t be an amazing mom or dad. Whether you have a physical, emotional or learning disability, here are some tips to help you prepare for the wonderful but terrifying job of becoming a parent.

Your Doctor

Before you decide to become a parent, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have  about bringing a child into your life. Your doctor may provide advice about any community services available to parents with disabilities.

Find a Support Network

Before your baby arrives, establish a support network that can help you with tasks and responsibilities that may be difficult to do because of your disability.  Family, friends, community organizations and social services agencies can assist with a number of tasks. They may be able to connect you with resources that can help you care for your child.

 Preparing Your Home

Like any other parent, you want to prepare your home for your baby’s arrival. This includes setting up the nursery, buying baby clothing and diapers as well as other important items. But since you have a disability, it’s also important to purchase items that will help you overcome any obstacles to caring for your child’s needs. For example, if you use a wheelchair, purchase a baby crib that is specially built for parents who use wheelchairs. These types of cribs have an opening similar to a gate. This allows the parent to open the crib from the front and move the wheelchair directly to the crib mattress. The parent then places the baby in bed without even needing to rise from the wheelchair.

Do you have a visual impairment? Use tactile labels for items so that you can easily find them in the house. Whether you’re labeling the baby lotion, diaper rash cream or baby formula, tactile labels let you use your sense of touch to identify something.

Some people with physical disabilities have trouble fastening buttons or zipping zippers. If this describes your situation, find baby clothing that uses simple velcro fasteners. It will be easier to dress and undress your baby. Add loops on baby shoes to help you put them on your little one’s feet.

Use adjustable tables so you can lower the table and place the baby on top of it. Once the baby is secured with a seat belt or velcro, raise the table to a comfortable level so you can change the baby’s diaper.

 Emotional or Intellectual Disability

If you have an emotional disability, seek extra support in the community to help with anxiety, depression or any other issues that may arise after the birth of your child. Find support among family and friends so that you can receive the encouragement every new parent needs during difficult times.

Maybe you have an intellectual disability. If so, find family members, friends, mentors and counselors who can help you overcome any problems that occur as you care for your child. People with intellectual disabilities can receive help with managing money, interacting with doctors, going grocery shopping and a host of other tasks that will help them be a more effective parent.

 Self Care

One of the most important things you should do when you have a child is make time for yourself. Taking care of a newborn is a demanding job. Even parents without a disability feel stressed and exhausted. Late night feedings, crying babies, changing diapers and surviving on a few hours of sleep will make anyone feel like they’re going crazy.

So in order to maintain your emotional and physical health, take care of your own needs too. This often means taking a nap when the baby naps. It may mean asking a family member or close friend to babysit for a couple of hours while you sleep or read a book. There’s nothing shameful about asking for help. All new parents need a break once in awhile. Deal with your stress in a healthy way and use your support network to help you get through those tough times.

Parenthood is an exciting and scary time. You’re responsible for a defenseless child who depends on you to fulfill all of his or her needs. Like any parent, a parent with a disability needs to carefully prepare for a baby’s arrival. But disabled parents need to go a step further. Finding tools that help you care for your baby’s needs and organizing a strong support network will help you successfully prepare your home and life for your new bundle of joy.

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created 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.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2018 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Three Unique Challenges Single Fathers Face and How to Overcome Them by Guest Blogger Daniel Sherwin

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

No one walks down the aisle anticipating splitting up after the kids are born, but it happens at an alarmingly high rate. All the sudden, the family unit that was nurturing one, two, or three little ones suddenly becomes fractured, and each parent is left to figure out how to care for the children's needs alone. But is it different for the father than for the mother?

In many ways, life as a single father is much different than that of a single mother. For example, while a single dad can fight for custody of his children, the law automatically grants initial custody to the mother in most cases. But that’s not the only difference, as other challenges like dating and caregiving are usually also different, albeit equally difficult. The following are some unique challenges that single fathers face along with ways to overcome these challenges.

1.  Dating

Sure, dating has its challenges both for single moms and single dads, but according to the Chicago Tribune, fathers tend to have a stronger need to have a “partner in the house” than single moms. This puts them at a higher risk for ending up in a bad relationship and putting their children in uncomfortable situations.

How to Overcome It

While no one is suggesting a single dad should never date again, it’s important to proceed with caution. First of all, take a little time for yourself and your children after the divorce. Try not to date anyone until you feel your wounds are starting to heal, and don’t introduce a new love interest to them until you are certain it will be a long-term relationship. Family Education suggests letting your children get to know her in small doses and to never let the responsibility of informing your ex-wife fall on them.

2.  Self-Care

Single parenting can come with a lot of guilt, fatigue, and overall emotional stress. But men are less likely than women to seek help or even find someone to talk to. According to Psychology Today, the reason for this might be something known as hegemonic masculinity.

Hegemonic masculinity is the innate need that men tend to have to conform to their gender roles of fearlessness and toughness. In other words, they equate needing help with weakness. They tend to feel that they should be able to handle anything life throws at them by themselves and without emotion.

How to Overcome It

Taking care of your mental health and making good choices is crucial not only to keeping yourself healthy, but to helping your children function normally as well. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. Take time for yourself. Find someone to talk to, even if it’s just a trusted friend.

3.  Work-Family Balance

Another factor that both single parents deal with is a lack of time they feel is necessary to spend with their children. And as a single parent, you are now living on a single income rather than the dual income you were probably used to. While it’s true that the struggle with work-family balance is a strain for both parents, men naturally tend to make work the center of their lives. Research suggests that this is because they view “ambition and a strong work ethic” as “sacred.”

How to Overcome It

The best way to deal with the struggle between the guilt of missing out and work obligation you may feel is to make a commitment to devote a certain amount of time only to your children. In other words, make a decision to devote that time to them and shelve your work responsibilities as much as possible. Some inexpensive activities you can do together may include:

     Movie and pajama night at home
     Cooking dinner together
     Picnics in the park
     Riding bikes
     Water balloon fights
     Visits to the library

There are unique challenges to being a single father. While being a single parent isn’t easy, if you make the time to spend quality time with your children and take care of yourself, it can quickly become the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.

Daniel Sherwin is the proud single father to two amazing kids (a daughter and a son). After noticing the lack of resources on the web for single dads, he started so that others could learn from his successes, failures, and everything in between.

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2018 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.

Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.