Disabilities parenting perfection (and imperfection)
Many support staff and teachers wonder why parents make certain care choices for their children. In a recent discussion with day care staff, they asked why would a parent not tell them when they signed up that their child has autism? Have you ever wondered why a parent is yelling at a child you think (or even know) has a disability and thought they should know better? Perhaps you thought they should know better than most parents. Seth’s Mom discussed with support staff, and others in the community, the stigma and difficulty that can come with parenting a child with a disability. Disabilities parenting is tough.
Frustration, embarrassment, and shame (it’s real and it’s strong)
Parents of a disabled child feel a strong sense of frustration as they frantically research the latest treatments and methods. They desperately try to give their child “normal” life. Some parents feel really embarrassed when a child acts out in public and people stare. And an even stronger sense of shame that they are embarrassed. There is tremendous pressure on these parents to be experts at parenting, diagnosing, advocacy, providing an income, AND ignoring their own feelings about all of these things. Sometimes their mood can come across as flat. They can seem unphazed or unaware there is a problem.They act as if nothing is bothering them or the behavior isn’t even happening. Or they can become angry with the situation and lash out. And you know what… it’s OK.
Imagine being in public with a child having a tantrum. Imagine during the tantrum the child scratched her face until it bled. Imagine you’re a baker, a postal employee, a mechanic, or a CEO for a tech company. Imagine the pressure you would feel when others expect you to manage that tantrum, know how to treat it, deal with the stares and judgement, and know if the treatment should involve drugs or a therapist or both! Sometimes parents feel embarrassed by the behavior and ashamed that they don’t always know what to do. It’s hard and t’s OK.
Sometimes, parents in these situations describe all experiences with their disabled child as wonderful and positive. They are likely hiding how hard it really can be. They don’t want to seem like they are blaming the child for their pain or frustration so it’s all GLORIOUS. And you know what… it’s OK.
Nothing is right or wrong when you show up everyday. When you struggle with your child through every moment. When you sometimes don’t get it right. Parents don’t have to be perfect anymore than their child has to be perfect.
Thank you mom. Thank you dad. You’re imperfect and it’s OK.
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