If we look around us, we will notice that a lot of human effort and energy is directed toward improving oneself, achieving stuff, and being productive. We congratulate people when they overcome hard things and achieve in spite of their hardships. We don’t celebrate people when they announce that they were tired so they rested instead of spending all night working themselves to the bone to get a promotion. We always celebrate the underdog who sacrificed themselves to “make it.”
When it comes to parenting, our culture is no different. We idealize the self-sacrificing parent and criticize parents who don’t measure up. When you are a disabled parent, the system is rigged against you from the start. You can’t compete with the self-sacrificing parents even if you wanted to.
For most disabled parents including parents who are autistic/AuDHD/2e, etc, it is usually pretty clear what we need to support our wellbeing. We need rest, alone time, accommodations, soothing environments… The problem is that our culture does not provide easy opportunities fpr us to meet these needs. Kid activities are inherently loud and chaotic, accommodations generally are expensive and/or inaccessible. We may deny ourselves accommodations due to our internalized ableism and wish to avoid stigma and judgment.
There are so many contentious issues within the child development field. The argument of nature vs. nurture rages on and disproportionately affects disabled parents who cannot live up to the nurture ideals set forth from our ableist and achievement-oriented culture.
As a disabled parent, through my own dismantling of internalized ableism, I have begun to remove the tentacles of my culture’s ableist ideologies that have cast a shadow over my parenting. I find this work especially important because I know that I am modeling this for my children. I am showing them that having a disability does not make me less than but just different, I have things I can do and things I can’t do and that’s ok. Am I a good candidate to take them to the loud, busy trampoline place? No. But I do a lot of silly dances at home and they receive more affection and adoration than is probably necessary.