How do you parent a child with a disability

Some wise and witty advice on parenting a child with a disability from Zach Anner

Parenting is the hardest job in the world at the best of times. Zach Anner, a comedian, actor and writer with cerebral palsy has some wise advice for parents on strategies for raising a child with cerebral palsy:

1. Be okay with watching your kids struggle.
Zach gives a great example of how his mom had to step back and allow him to struggle – for two hours! – to learn to put on his socks. It now only takes him 5 minutes. Zach credits his current independence and “coolness” to his mother’s ability to step back and allow him to struggle through his challenges.

2. Raise your kids to be considerate, thoughtful adults who aren’t always the centre of attention.
Zach describes how growing up, a child with a disability can get used to the world revolving around him or her. Getting use to this is dangerous as it can breed co-dependency. It can also encourage narcissism – which he jokingly admits he has, firmly of the belief that no party starts until he has arrived!

3. Be careful about accidentally patronizing your child.
Zach explains that there can be a tendency to give kids with a disability credit that they have not earned. Don’t do this. Instead, find ways for your child to contribute in realistic and meaningful ways and give them credit for what they have contributed.

4. Treat your disabled teenager as a teenager.
Simply put – if you would not barge into your able bodied 15 year old’s bedroom – don’t do it for your disabled teenager!

A few other random pieces of advice offered by Zach …

5. Let your kid’s passion lead rather than their disability.
In other words, don’t conflate your child’ disability with their identity – who they really are in their hearts, minds and souls.

6. You want to prepare your child with a disability for the real world.
Focus on strategies for independence that will work in the real world, outside the familiarity and comfort of their own home.

7. Most important piece of advice – this one is for the kids – thank your mom for EVERYTHING!

For some great insights, and a laugh, click here for the full video:

Also, I encourage you to read Zach’s book, “If at Birth You Don’t Succeed”, a similarly witty and frank memoir about the trials and tribulations of living life to the fullest. For a brief glimpse into the book click here:

To purchase the book and get to know Zach better, click here:

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