Over protectionism: a dilemma among persons with disabilities

BKiwuBKiwu ✭✭✭✭
edited 18. May 2022, 13:05 in Family & Children

Often times when children are born, it is natural that the parents of the child share their joy of the child with the rest of the community. Elaborate celebrations are held as an appreciation of the new addition to the family. After a few months, milestone clocks start ticking in peoples mind as a benchmark for growth and wishful planning of the child’s future. The timelines are not cast on stone and delays are ‘allowed’ to some extent. When these milestones are not achieved, tension sets in. parents lose sleep trying to figure out what could be wrong and only hoping that their worst fears are not confirmed. Then reality dawns.

Unless there’s a family history of genetic disability in the family, it is normally not expected to happen when a child is born. Due to negative beliefs around disability, parents with children with disabilities tend to overprotect them by limiting their exposure to the outside world, and not necessarily physical limitations. This is because, they may be still reeling from the emotional wounds they suffered when the child was born and, naturally, may never want the child to go through the same on account of something out of their control such as disability. The child may have freedom within the home, but is not permitted to go outside the confines of the neighbourhood.

Inadvertently, as a result of freedom and early exposure to things like TV while trying to prevent a child from boredom, the child may notice a different world from what they are accustomed to and may want to try to live such kind of life. For example, they may want to go for sleepovers at their friend’s house, but the parent will refuse it because they feel no one is capable enough to handle a child with special needs. Sometimes it may be as simple as going for a walk somewhere with age mates in a neighbourhood but the parent feels its too risky or they are a burden to their friends owing to their needs so they turn the request down. The child will feel disappointed, wounded and unloved from the parent. What makes it worse is that the parent will not give the reasons for the refusal and resentment starts to grow in the child towards to parent.

Consciously or unconsciously, depending on the disability, a child with disability may not be corrected like other children by beating them. Parents then resort to shouting at the child which does more harm than good. They may be comfortable from the face value but the shouting basically causes them to disconnect with the parent and avoid anything that may let them expose their feelings on the outside, hence the dilemma: those that help you are the ones that hurt you.

Over time, when they become adults, children with disabilities become withdrawn when in public as they did not learn how to interact outside the family. Sometimes they may become resentful towards the family once they get freedom since the family made them feel caged. Or keep themselves busy to distract themselves from thinking about emotional pain and trauma they may have gone through right from childhood. Eventually, one ends up having a very imbalanced life since such people derive their self-worth from things outside such as academics and career rather than their own individuality.

But can parents be blamed for this? I don’t think so. They do what they do with the best interests at heart even though it may not seem like it. What lacks however is the awareness that children with disabilities have a mind of their own and can-do things on their own even though its with some help. A parent ought to loosen their degree of protection so that there is room to learn about responsibility and the consequences of lack of it. Conversations on emotional issues will help increase the trust between a parent and their children and also minimize the chances of a child with disability veering off the straight and narrow when they are granted freedom. Community support groups would play a big role in guiding parents on how to go about addressing the emotional needs of a child with disability. In the support groups, professionals within the disability realm e.g., occupational and physiotherapists can be called in to address disability matters from a psychological point of view thus bringing up a child from a balanced perspective.  



Best Answer

  • WilieWilie ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    This is very true btw. It is the exceptional case where the parents wanting the best for the child doesn't apply. Can be good will or just ignorance.

    I really support you, we need to have support groups inclusive of occupational therapist having basic psychological knowledge when it comes to disability. And with the increase in tech and internet, benchmark can be done easily.


  • I can see my early childhood in this article. For me my getaway was school, cause atleast there I'm not surrounded by family. @BKiwu

  • BKiwuBKiwu ✭✭✭✭

    Asante sana @Wilie

  • 1_31_3
    edited 20. May 2022, 19:42

    Dignity of risk is something that needs to be discussed.

  • This is the challenge I face as a parent. But I try as much as possible to give my son room to grow and be himself but then the fears of how will he be able to handle this world on his own kicks in and I'm back to the paranoia. It's a learning session and I'm open to know how to handle things better. Thanks for this at least I have an understanding on what I should try to avoid doing.

  • As I read through this article, I can identify with the struggles families with people with disabilities face while raising up a love one. Care has been fundamental , it is support, though sometimes we are just not so sure if we "over-provide".

    When children are young, parents ,guardians or caregiver make decisions for them. It is important , as they grow up and reach the teen age , to give them space to exercise their autonomy. This makes them to become responsible of some important aspects of their lives too.

    What I mean is, mentioning to the children why you are doing that , (the what to do and what not to do) might help them discover who they are and be part of what they want.

  • BKiwuBKiwu ✭✭✭✭

    @Anna, @verogakio told me she tries to fit in her child's shoe and trying to understand why the child might react in a certain way. If the child is angry, instead of getting angry and showing the child she's the boss, she makes fun of the situation while looking for a way to show the child that what she wants might not be good for her. That way, the tension is eased, the bond is strengthened and the lesson to the child remains intact in the child's mind.

    I think its good if you form a friendship with the child. Of course there's the mother child relationship/friendship but it has a limit. I think there needs to be a friendship that is more relaxed where the child has some sought of freedom and where they can open up without the fear of strokes. That way they can open up to you early enough and then you can guide them on how to do some things or if what they want to do is not comfortable to you can safely talk them out of it and divert their minds to something else. With the right timing and support system, you can let them make independent decisions after having thought through the effects of their decisions.

    I will pen an article on available support system mechanisms that may be of use when dealing with these issues.

  • @Madhabi what are your thoughts? As you work on early intervention, could you please share your experiences as well.

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