Navigating Parenthood for First Time Parents

Navigating Parenthood for First Time Parents
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    Parenting can be incredibly difficult, even when your child is completely healthy and you face little to no challenges in those early days.


This becomes even more overwhelming when you are raising a child who has birth defects or other types of delays in development. There is help out there to face adversity and the various issues that arise. 

Here are a few tips about how to navigate challenges in parenting with greater success. 

Adjust Your Parenting Style/Expectations 

Many people come up with a rigid idea of how they’d like to parent from the time they find out they’re expecting (and sometimes earlier). When you learn that your experience will be different from what you previously thought due to developmental issues with your child or some other challenge, it can be disheartening.

Change is hard but it’s important to be able to adapt when you’re a parent, regardless of the reason you have to do so. This may mean you go a great deal slower with helping your child learn milestones and accepting that you’ll have to communicate with them in a different way. 

Go Easy on Yourself

It’s common to want to kick yourself for having negative thoughts about your child’s diagnosis and the situation in general.

While you can control your reactions and work hard to be a good role model with your emotional communication, try not to feel hopeless if you get angry sometimes and yell.

If you get upset and need a moment to yourself, it’s definitely not a bad thing. Also, it’s a good idea to find some time to get away if possible, even if it’s just for a 15-minute walk or to step outside and talk to a friend. 

Parent the Child You Have

Another type of expectation is what your child will be like – everything from their behaviors to the hobbies and skills they’ll have can be formulated even before they’re born. It’s devastating to realize that your child may not understand expectations of behavior, or may not be able to play a sport or participate in your average extracurriculars.

Maybe they’ll need to attend a specialized school program to meet their needs. Especially as they get older it’s important to understand you won’t see the world the same way they do.

The best thing you can do for your child who has developmental issues or a behavioral disorder is to be their advocate. The world will be a frustrating, confusing place but you can help make it easier to understand and interact with society. 

Facing Judgement and Shame 

It’s so easy for other people to look at a parent with a child who has delays and say things that are well-meaning yet really don’t help at all. Or, they might directly insult you or your child after witnessing certain behaviors or special accommodations you receive at restaurants, stores, etc. 

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No matter what another person has to say about your parenting or situation, try to maintain your calm. Remember that some people have never had to experience such struggles themselves and may not have anyone in their life going through it either.

They don’t have to like what’s going on but as long as you’re abiding by the rules of wherever you are and take action accordingly, don’t worry about what others say or do. 

Beyond the everyday work you do, you might look into getting legal compensation if your child’s birth injury was due to medical malpractice or negligence. Staff at the Birth Injury Justice Center will discuss the details and may be able to assist you. 

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