Most parents, if given a chance, would wish for their child to be “normal”, not disabled. Hopes and dreams for the future are part of the process as a family prepares for the arrival of its newest member. New parents-to-be rarely consider the expenditure of time, effort, and emotional investment that is part and parcel of raising any child. There can be even more demands on the parent of a disabled child, as caring for a disabled child can be emotionally challenging, physically tiring and very time consuming. Most will have to fight hard to obtain the support needed to secure a quality of life for their child.
Parent-disabled child relationships have ups and downs like other emotional relationships. Parenting in any form is never easy, sometimes bloody difficult, but often rewarding.
I have seen disabled children and adults in institutions whose care givers dropped them off and rarely go back and rarely send them birthday cards. These individuals need love but don’t get it.
A few parents feel ambivalent about their disabled child and struggle to love them. Many parents do not always feel love for their disabled children.
There are those parents who see their disabled children not as a burden but as a special gift.
Some parents insist that their disabled children’s impairments are part and parcel of who they are and of what makes them loveable.
Some parents feel that in spite of the challenges the benefits made them stronger and better parents. Some mothers view their children as teachers assisting them to learn compassion and patience.
The relationship between mother and disabled child is enigmatic and paradoxical: no matter what mistakes the child makes when growing up it’s loved; the mother will love them for who they are; the child is loved before it’s seen or heard. It’s paradoxical because that love encourages the disabled child to move away from the mother and become independent.
The greatest gift of all for a disabled child is unconditional love.