Do you know some “hovering” parents? Parents who are constantly watching over their children, making sure nothing ever goes wrong, that their child’s feelings are never hurt, they are never spoken to harshly or criticized? Some researchers have suggested there is a whole generation of children who have grown up with “hovering” parents.
Being a disabled dad means I cannot be a hovering parent, even if I want to be (and I’m enough of a “control freak” I can see myself doing this, unwittingly!) Physically, I would run to rescue when I see my falling child… but I couldn’t catch them, even if I could somehow get there fast enough. I would love to stand beside my child as they learn to ride a bicycle and keep them steady, but I can’t walk that far or hold them or their bicycle steady.
However, another benefit of being a disabled dad is my kids have the coolest ride in town and everyone knows who is travelling. Admittedly, this is partly because we live in small town, Alberta, but not many kids get to drive around town on the back of a power wheelchair. Likewise, we get good parking at most places because of my handi-sign and when we go to some places, the wheelchair line often gets priority.
Some other benefits of being a disabled dad include…
Because I cannot do many physical things with/for them, they have learned at an early age to help their siblings or other friends – whether in the back yard on the swing, or in the swimming pool pushing other children in a “boat.” Usually a parent will give you an under-duck or push your “boat” in the swimming pool. But since my oldest has to do that for his siblings instead of dad, he has learned to help others. They did not learn this because we were trying to teach them to help others – though that is an attitude and skill we try to teach – but because helping was the only option to doing nothing.
Similarly, as they get older, they are learning more responsibility, doing some things that usually adults do around the home (ie. mowing the lawn, helping carry various items up & down stairs, etc).
Our children have learned to play independently or play with acquaintances, rather than rely on an adult to always have someone to play with. We enjoy playing board games or card games indoors, but outside events are almost always with dad watching. And while its frustrating for me, it has helped them to learn to play with others or creatively alone.
These are life skills most parents want to teach their children. Having a disabled dad, dad maybe helped them learn them a bit faster, or at least in a different manner than others. So while being a disabled dad does have its frustrations & dangers, it also has some benefits.