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Parents with disabilities

happy group of people on a walk; two adult men, a school-aged girl in a wheelchair, and a toddler.

Having a disability does not keep a woman from being a capable, loving parent. Mothers with disabilities face the same challenges of raising children as all parents. Yet, parents with disabilities also can have unique needs and concerns. According to "Challenges and Strategies of Disabled Parents: Findings From a National Survey of Parents With Disabilities," the most challenging aspects of parenting with a disability reported include:

  • Physical exertion
  • Doing everything that needs to get done
  • Social messages given to children
  • Keeping up with children
  • Transportation
  • Discipline
  • Maintaining continuity in children's lives
  • Limited income
  • Participation in school events
  • Communication

And like all parents, parents with disabilities find that raising children can be a true pleasure. According to the same survey, parents with disabilities reported these positive aspects of their unique parenting situation:

  • Child learns compassion
  • Child is more open-minded towards others
  • More time with kids
  • Child is more resourceful

From one day to the next, the challenges you face as a parent might involve your disability, a phase your child is going through, or a little of both. Keep in mind that all parents need help with some aspect of parenting at some time. The Parent Empowerment Network connects parents with disabilities who want to share their experiences and learn from one another.

Despite the fact that people with disabilities are good parents, they often face stigma surrounding their ability to parent. In some cases, children are removed from safe and loving homes for no good or just reason. The Through the Looking Glass Legal Program can help parents with disabilities who are facing custody issues. The resources below also can provide you with information on pregnancy, parenting, and legal, medical, and social services.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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