Children

Going It Alone: Tips for a Divorced Single Parent Expecting a Disabled Child

Becoming a parent is a time of exhilaration and anxiety. You’re thrilled to bring a new child into the world, but at the same time, you worry about the logistical and financial challenges that come with having a child. However, your job becomes a little harder if you’re a divorced single parent expecting a disabled child. There are questions and concerns about health care, insurance, and living environment that need to be addressed to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the demands of parenting a disabled child on your own.

Physical Environment

The nature of your child’s disability will determine the modifications that’ll need to be made to your living space. Safety is always an issue where little ones are concerned, so it’s advisable to install safety gates to block stairs and to put in padded flooring that will cushion falls. Remove objects with hard edges, and place padding over the hard corners of your furniture. Safety rails in the bathroom and hallways are generally a good idea for a child with any kind of disability, as is sensor-activated lighting in the bedroom, bathroom, and any dimly lit sections of your home.

If your child has a physical disability that places a premium on mobility and access, widened doorways (a minimum of 36 inches across) and level transitions between rooms will make life much easier for a child who needs a wheelchair or some other mobility assistive device. It may be necessary to hire a local professional to make safety or accessibility modifications, particularly if structural changes are necessary. Always get estimates from at least three contractors if you’ll need a professional’s assistance. The more you can do to address your child’s physical needs in advance, the easier your job as a single parent will be.

Insurance and Expenses

Insurance can be a tricky matter for the parent of a disabled child. It can be difficult to determine the extent of your caregiver relationship (you may be needed until your child is well into adulthood), so it’s important to take out a life insurance policy to provide for your child after your death. If you’re not familiar with Medicaid, be aware that it can help you cover some of the medical expenses (not covered by health insurance) that come with caring for a disabled child.

There may be non-reimbursed medical expenses that can be deducted on your tax return; you’re at liberty to write off those costs once you’ve exceeded 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. Also, don’t put off estate planning, and consider discussing your insurance and financial needs with a financial adviser or estate-planning expert. As a single parent, you’re the sole source of financial and medical assistance for your child, so don’t overlook long-term planning.

Self-Care

As the single parent of a child with a mental or physical disability, it’s essential that you pay close attention to your mental and physical well-being. It’s difficult to be an effective caregiver if you’re feeling run down and mentally fatigued, so take advantage of offers from family and friends to go out and do something for yourself once in a while — anything that will recharge your mental batteries will help. However, be sure to work in a little exercise every day. Even something as simple as a brief walk can be beneficial.

Yoga and Meditation

Caring for a disabled child around the clock by yourself can be extremely stressful. Consider making time for meditation (especially when you’re feeling out of control) or learning yoga, which is a unique combination of physical exercise and mental discipline.

Parenting a disabled child is a unique challenge when you’re going it alone — you need all the help you can get. Once you’ve determined your child’s safety and accessibility needs, figure out what modifications will be needed to get an idea of cost. And don’t put off seeking the advice of people who know the best options when it comes to health insurance and long-term financial planning for your child’s welfare. The day will come when you’re no longer there for your child, and having a plan in place will give you peace of mind and provide for her.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   disabledparents.org         

Teaching Children About Self-Care

Teaching Kids About Self-Care Childhood is a time of joy, growth and new adventures. Anything is possible, and there is a lifetime ahead of wonders that we can only imagine for our little ones. As they grow, the future begins to solidify itself. Goals become clearer, new responsibilities are taken on, and they begin the process of developing into who they will be as adults.

Through this process, we parents, teach them many things. But are we neglecting a critical lesson? Are we teaching our children how to engage in self-care?

The World Our Children Live In Is Stressful

A landmark study done by the National Surveys On Drug Use and Health found in 2016 that depression in teens was on the rise. Whether that is because there really is a rising number, or if we are just better tracking the phenomenon, is unknown.However, given that experts agree that teen stress now rivals that of adults, it is at least clear that something needs to be done.

Once you have seen the signs of depression in your child, one of the simplest ways to help reduce the risk in your own children is to teach them the value of self-care. Here are some ways to guide them to do just that.

Set Aside Some Off Time

By “off time” that means completely off of everything. No phones, no computer, no TV, no screens at all. No responsibilities, either. Take out a chunk out of every day for everyone to just relax and do something unplugged they enjoy. Maybe that is taking a long bath, or playing some basketball, or settling in with a book.

Have Family Dinners

Did you know that something as simple as sitting down for a meal with your family can wash away a bad day? Maybe it won’t be dinner, maybe it will be breakfast, or lunch, or even just something you do on the weekends. But having that time together to unwind as a family and talk about the day or week over delicious food is perfect self-care for everyone and a great example to set for your children.

Teach Your Children To Meditate

Meditation is not a difficult skill to acquire, even for young children. All it takes is breathing and a conscious calming of the mind. Learning to stop, breath and clear the head is a valuable coping method that can help your child through many difficult situations they may face in life.

Encourage Them To Drop Something

Is your teen overwhelmed? Are they taking on too many extracurriculars, trying to juggle a job on top of keeping perfect grades or just struggling to stay above water? Sometimes they just need you to sit them down and tell them that it is alright to drop a responsibility. It is for their own health.

By both modeling these things and directly teaching your children about self-care, you can help your teen learn how to take care of themselves well into adulthood.

Author of this article, Tyler Jacobson, enjoys going to the mountains near his home in Draper, Utah to connect with his wife and children through camping, hiking, and quality time together. When he isn’t rebooting in the outdoors, he shares his fatherly experiences with the world through writing and creative work. Tyler shares the ups and downs of family life and the solutions he’s found through lengthy research and involvement in the industry and his own experiences to help parents everywhere. Follow Tyler on: Twitter

 

 

Keeping Divorce Drama Out Of The Schools

Here are tips for parents, and divorce professionals to help keep divorce out of the schools. Children bringing their parents’ divorce drama into the classroom is disrupting. It wastes teaching time and can cause other students to lose focus on their lessons. It is not fair to anyone.

A first step is informing various school personnel of the divorce situation.   School staff cannot be fully supportive if they have no clue what is going on in a child’s life. I worked with students, parents and staff with divorce issues in the schools. Some of the problems were due to lack of communication between parents and staff.

It can be embarrassing for a child to be asked what they did over the weekend with their parents in front of the other students. They do not want to say, I went from’ Mum’s house to stay with dad. The teacher who is not informed, can put a child in an awkward spot. It is up to adults, not children, to explain what is going on at home.

Teachers and the school secretary need to know to send copies of reports and letters to each parent. Then both are on the same page. When I did not realize a divorce was in progress, an uncomfortable student would ask which parent was to receive the test results. It is up to each parent to make sure the school has their e-mail address for newsletters and so forth. Both parents can check the school’s web site for events and updates. A child is not to be told, by a parent that they were not aware of an event at school. Do not put kids in the middle.

A fallout from divorce is that the student does not have all they require for class. Some leave homework at the other parent’s house. One time a sobbing child was in my office while I called a father to bring in an item left behind at his house the prior week.  It was a crucial piece of a project which had to presented in class that morning. Unfortunately, this occurred with other students as well. Get a system, such as a check list which stays with the child between homes.

Parents, do not overshare divorce details with your offspring. That seems quite obvious, however it is not always put into practice. I had to deal with students who were upset or on the verge of vomiting when distressed over the minutia of their parent’s divorce. One boy spent time in my office while his parents were with solicitors, fighting over a shared care schedule. He did not know if he was moving house, or would not see one parent very much. Just say “we have a meeting with solicitors” and leave it at that. Why does anyone need to know what is on the agenda for each divorce session?

Schools often send home a form to be filled out with contact information and any additional notes about the student. If one parent is not allowed to pick up their son or daughter, or is out of the picture, make sure to write that down. I asked a five-year-old which parent should I call, when he was sick in my office. The little guy got upset and said “mum.” Although nothing was put in the official contact form, his teacher later told me that the father had abandoned his family. In another instance, a form had both parents and their mobile numbers. When the little girl was sick, I called her mum first and left a message that I would try dad.   Her father explained that he was out of town at the moment.

Her step-father later came storming into my office and screamed that the father should never be called. I showed him the form which listed the father. He calmed down when he realized that his wife had never informed the school about this situation. He and his wife promptly took care of it.

A ploy of a divorcing parent can be to try and get school staff on their side. We are not going to get caught up in the conflict and choose one parent over the other. Our job is to be supportive of the students and remain neutral about their parents.

If your child is anxious about the divorce and is bringing it into the classroom, consider short term counselling. My two boys met with a therapist during divorce and for a bit afterwards. It helped them to be calmer and more centred, both in and out of school. Talking to a professional or impartial adult, will help kids sort out their concerns instead of bringing them into school.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine   https://www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/