Living in a Household with a Disabled Sibling
Parents have total obligations to give to their child, a child has no obligations to their parents unless negotiated between the two. A parent and child negotiation may take place when the child is old enough to do chorus for their parents and in return the child may earn allowance. When raising a child with disabilities it can be different the parents still have all obligations of caring for the child but will the disabled child ever have a negotiation with their parents to have obligations of their own? To further explain, in a morden day family when the parents get elderly and needs care the children step in and try their best to provide care to their parents or they choose other options if necessary in most situations. In some situations a family could have a disabled child who is the only child. What happens when those parents get elderly and need care and the disabled child is not able to provide it. Another question is what happens to the disabled child who needs to be cared for? Yes, there are plenty of other options that can be put into place but what if that is not the families wishes. The responsibilities extend to other family members such as aunt’s, uncles and cousins. This topic can be very touchy but I wanted to share a similar families situation to mine and find out more information on families who are also taking care of a disabled child by research.
Here is a view of a four member house hold that includes one child that is disabled, very similar to my own. Two patents and two children and one child is disabled. All members of the family dedicate time to taking care of the disabled child. Some common and every day needs a disabled child may need are, personal care, feed meals, taking them to therapy sessions and also provided them with their proper medications. And most often these responsibilities get pushed on the able sibling to do. It is not easy, having to care for the disabled child 24/7 these responsibilities may fall on any family member such as mother, father, sibling or grandparents. Both parents are busy working to care and provide for the family. In wishful thinking it would be nice to have a parents who is able to stay at home and care for the disabled child. Having that one on one parent connection is important in many aspects. Some families are fortunate to have only one parent who can work and provides for the family, but not every family is able to have that ability. It seems that families that have that one on one parent connection and caring for the child, are happier and function more smoothly. You may be thinking that both parents should care for the disabled child equally, which is true but both parents will get overworked quicker.
Another common situation is when there is a single parent caring for the family, his or her family may consist of multiple able children and one disabled child. In this situation the single parent is more likely to become overworked. Parents in this situation try to be strong for their family and try to be stress free but the parents may need to seek assistance from programs or family members to care for the disabled child. All children need attention and support from their parents but when a single family house hold it may seem that the parent it constantly showing the disable child more attention then the other children she or he might have. This can cause jealously between the siblings. Until they are able to understand that their sibling has a metal illness and needs 24/7 care. Once they understand that about their sibling they can become a big help to the single parent.
Sometimes parents make negotiations with the able child to care for their sibling and may get allowance in return. If the able child is older than the disabled child and can handle the responsibility, this is what is seen in most cases. At the same time the able sibling tries to have a personal life with friends but often it is hard and seems unfair. The able child thinks life is unfair because they have a huge obligation of providing care for their sibling. While the disable child thinks life is unfair because all they can do is receive care and can’t provide any in return, the disabled sibling child wishing they were able body like their sibling. Both siblings are in tough situations, they may feel like they are stuck for the rest of their lives. Family member may sometimes think it is not fair and the disabled child may have the same thought but coming from different point of views. Another tough situation a family may experience is when a younger sibling is too young to understand. The younger sibling will understand the conditions of their sibling but for many years they have no clue. They don’t understand that their brother or sister has autism, down syndrome or maybe a condition that causes them to be wheelchair bound. This can have a huge impact of the families stress, having to explain to the younger sibling that their older sibling has a mental illness. Eventually the younger child will learn about their siblings metal illness and love them just the same.
Having a disabled child can cause a lot of stress on the parents and the entire family. The stress can come from being overworked and constantly worrying about the disabled child when a family member is not with them. Another stress causer is keeping up with the disabled childs schedule, doctors appointment can cause parents to mess work. Some disabled family members receive therapy. Some therapy sessions the disabled child may attend are Physical therapy, speech therapy or occupation therapy. Parents and family members wishing there disabled child was normal or able body can cause a constant amount of stress.
The author has collected and analyzed the psychological literature examining the Chronic Sorrow of parents who give birth to children with disabilities. She describes the ongoing grief—similar to the grief of parents whose child dies—caused by “the loss of an idealized normal child.” One parent reports that he and others suffer “months and years of anguish, roller coaster cycles of elation and depression as the parents try to deny the evidence before their eyes that their child is less than ordinary or normal.” Their ongoing grief that there child was born with and will likely always live with a disability.
The effect on normal siblings is not described in this source, but is easy to imagine from what is described. “Parents cannot effectively mourn the loss of the idealized child because of the unrelenting daily demands of the living disabled child,” which will reasonably deprive them of the psychic strength to properly nurture their “normal” children as they deserve. And that will likely cause resentment in the siblings. Parents who feel “helpless, hopeless, and anxious” all the time, and who react with “anger, resentment, and aggression” to the frustration of their predicament will not parent as well as they should.
I used this article to establish that parents of a handicapped child are stunted in their ability to properly nurture their other children. Then, since the parents are grieving, I sought and found articles that address how the death of a sibling affects the parent-child relationship with the survivors. Those healthy siblings suffer a loss of affection from their parents along with the burden of being the surviving child, of whom much more is expected and demanded.
My point is a child who is able or disabled has to obligation to “return the favor” to their parents unless negotiated between the child and patent. But Im rebutting that it is not fair for a disabled child to “return the favor.” It may or may not be the child or parents fault the child is disabled but it is something the family has to live with. Why should a disabled child have to “return the favor” when they wish to not be disabled and think it is unfair.
1. Copley, Margaret Freeman, and John B. Bodensteiner. “Chronic Sorrow in Families of Disabled Children.” Journal of Child Neurology, vol. 2, no. 1, 1987, pp. 67–70., doi:10.1177/088307388700200113.
2. Featherstone H: A difference in the family, in Living With a Disabled Child. New York, Penguin Books, 1980, pp 232, 233.