Parents With Disabilities Are Capable

Parents With Disabilities Are Capable

People who live with disabilities frequently find themselves facing life with more difficulty than most. Simple, everyday tasks become more complicated, whether that disability is a physical or invisible one. Be it depression or bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy (CP) or blindness, there are new limitations to be considered. Unfortunately, some consider those limitations to extend to one’s ability to be a parent.

There is a common misconception that people with disabilities cannot parent adequately. If they have physical limitations, they cannot keep up with their children or provide them with adequate or consistent care. If they suffer from mental health issues, they’re deemed unfit, potentially putting their children at risk by exposing them to the condition in and of itself, or potentially by neglecting them. In extreme cases, of course, it’s possible for a parent to be neglectful. But one’s disability does not make them a bad parent, nor does it mean they are incapable of being a good or even great parent.

“We thought about it for a long time. This was not just a whim,” said Cateland Penner about becoming a mother in an article with the CBC. “We went to counseling for six years. It was strictly out of fear because we knew what people would say. We definitely knew the barriers.” Sometimes these barriers are as simple as certain perspectives. What people think matters, particularly when the people who are advising you on your decision to have children believe you to be unfit. Particularly with mothers with disabilities, health care professionals, lawyers, and social workers will often try and sway them away from even becoming a mother.

“It isn’t just CAS workers,” said Melanie Moore to the CBC. She and her husband are both blind and met a great deal of resistance when deciding to have children. “It’s medical professionals, nurses and hospital staff,” she said. “We all should focus on people’s strengths, not their disabilities.” This is not old news, either, and it’s not isolated to Canada, but rather a great deal of North America.

 

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