My Child is Spoilt and it's the Government's Fault

My child is spoilt and it's the government's fault. That might sound like a rather bold or arrogant statement but it's the truth.Draconian attitudes towards disability and in particular, disabled parenting and the complete lack of any protective law against discrimination in the parenting role have led me as a disabled mother, to have no choice but to spoil my child rotten.

Let me explain: The overriding presumption of authority figures is that disabled people can't be good parents or shouldn't be parents and that the ones who are must be using 'Junior' as a carer. This assumption is made even for parents who live independently and have rarely or ever required any services from any adult care team. It is made, then, not upon a history of evidence but because of the way the person looks and on untrue and outdated views about disability.

I would like to teach my son the value of participation and about personal responsibility. I would like to teach him life skills and prepare him for the world but I cannot do so in the way that I want because of authority judgements about me as a disabled parent.

My son doesn't lift a finger for himself even though he is 9 years old. He won't fetch a cup or pour his own cereal. He will walk passed the fridge, sit down and ask me to get something for him from the fridge even though he just walked passed it. I am his modern day Jeeves and if I don't do what he wants, when he wants it, he yells at me. Apart from gentle reminders to treat me with respect, I let him behave that way. He doesn't do any chores at all, not even the washing up. I struggle to convince him to tidy his room. Why would I put up with this behaviour? Because it's preferable to losing him due to the society presumption that his participation in a disabled family must amount to 'caring' for me.

If a disabled parent asks her child to hand her her walking stick, this is no different than asking her to pass the remote control for the television set, something all parents with a TV have done - but because the parent is disabled, the request to pass the walking stick is construed as 'caring'.

When suffering a broken hip and on the waiting list for surgery (with two teams in place to help me so they still did not have to lift a finger), I would sometimes ask my daughter to place the plates on the table before a meal. - an activity which is entirely normal in any family. How many times have YOU asked your 10 or 11 year old to set the table? My 'abled' friend had a rota for her children. However, i was going through court proceedings at the time and my daughter happened to mention that she put plates on the table. The CAFCASS worker then said she had too much 'responsibility'. When I challenged her to state what responsibilities, she mentioned setting the plates on the table. My daughter was 10 years old at the time and had no other chores and no 'caring' duties for me.

If CAFCASS had walked into any number of other homes and seen a child set the table, they would have said that was good parenting but because I have a disability, that made it 'caring'.


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