Preparing to Be a Father When You Have a Disability
There’s no getting around it: Parenting is hard—especially if you’ve never done it before. The stress that comes with caring for your little one can be overwhelming. But if you ask anyone who has children, they will tell you the joys far outweigh the challenges. When you have a disability, certain aspects of parenting may be more difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it and be a great dad.
In fact, having a disability requires you to be a creative problem solver and tends to build significant mental and emotional strength. In that sense, you may be less shocked than most parents by the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of having a child. Nonetheless, it helps to prepare as much as you can. Here is some advice on preparing to be a father when you have a disability.
Childproofing the Home
If you’re unprepared, the home can be a dangerous place for your little one to be. Obviously, you want their home to be comforting and safe, so childproofing is imperative. Start by considering all heavy appliances and furnishings. Make sure your TVs are secured and won’t tip over (or fall if they’re mounted). Also, secure any appliances and furniture that could possibly fall over, and pad all furniture edges. Some furniture, such as bookcases, can be mounted to the wall with metal brackets or anchors. Keep all electrical cords and cleaning chemicals out of reach and latch/lock all kitchen cabinets. Moreover, install safety gates throughout the home to keep your little one from traveling the stairs and going into rooms you don’t want them in.While it’s necessary for all parents to childproof their home, it could be tough to do all the tasks yourself if you have a disability that limits your mobility. Fortunately, there are professionals who can do them for you. Ask for recommendations from people you know so you can hire a trusty childproofer, and confirm they are a member of the International Association for Child Safety.
If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to consider having certain modifications made to your home if you have mobility issues. It’s all about being able to move around your home and access what you need. For instance, installing ramps over any steps and thresholds is a must. Widening your doorways will allow for unimpeded access with a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility aid.You may even want to consider automatic openers on doors. Furthermore, make sure your kitchen cabinets are at a comfortable height and your appliances are easily accessible. You also may want to give special attention to your bathroom by considering items like grab bars, shower chairs, and non-slip mats.
It’s important to remember that it’s OK to ask people for help. While it can be difficult to acknowledge when you need help, it will make life easier for you and your child if you consider any limitations you have, prepare accordingly, and reach out when necessary. For instance, if you need help moving a piece of furniture, ask your neighbor to give you a hand. If you are worn out and need someone to watch your little one for a while, call a family member or friend. There are also organizations that offer treatments and services for parents with a disability, as well as programs that assist with financial matters.Parenting can be both exhilarating and intimidating. But with the proper preparation, you can be an excellent father—whether you have a disability or not. Do your research and make sure you have all the necessary childproofing done to your home. Also, make any modifications you need that will allow for you to freely move around your home and access daily needs. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Try not to get overwhelmed by it all, and enjoy this season. It’s a special one.
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