People often ask me why I focus on supporting parents and carers of children with disabilities rather than the kids.
I’ve had a fire in my belly about this for years.
My answer usually depends on how long you’re willing to listen.
It’s because parents and carers aren’t robots.
For parents and carers, the health and well-being impacts of navigating a world that wasn’t built with their family in mind, are REAL.
Yes, they’re real for their children who are thrust into a world that often feels unkind.
But they’re also real for the parents who, to protect their kids, scoop up the hurts and fears and carry them on their own shoulders.
An invisible load that left unchecked, can leave parents in a perpetual state of grief, exhaustion and isolation.
As a delightful Mum in one of my workshops so aptly put it, “there aren’t many spaces where it’s safe to talk about how hard it can be”.
Sure, the narrative is changing and there is more recognition of parents and carers.
I am celebrating that there are way more supports out there than when I first started working 20 years ago. There is more inclusion of parent and carer voices in support planning for their families.
AND still, many of those supports are designed based on the preferences of service providers and NOT the needs of parents and carers.
Many of those supports are designed to ‘help’ parents and carers ‘comply’ with intervention plans.
Handing out fact sheets is not the same as offering support.
Telling parents and carers to ‘just stay calm’ or ‘take a deep breath’, is not the same as seeking to understand what everyone needs to feel safe and supported.
There is still work to be done to create more supports aimed at tuning in to the unique needs of families and focusing on creating environments where everyone feels safe and supported.
Where everyone can thrive.
Until this happens across the board, parents and carers are left suspended in the gap between the ‘talk’ and the ‘walk’ of diversity and inclusion.
This gap reaps some pretty grim stats.
People in a caring role are 40% more likely to experience chronic health conditions and are reported to have the “lowest well-being of any large group” (click here for Carers Victoria reference).
Parents and carers are the heart of the family nervous system. If they’re not okay, the kids are not okay.
Parents and carers aren’t okay and that’s not okay with me.
Thriving is a right. Not a luxury.
I am committed to creating spaces where parents and carers feel safe, supported, respected and acknowledged.
Where families can connect with their strengths and create practical strategies that can weave into their everyday, in a way that respects their demands and aligns with their values and preferences.
So that they can break free from exhaustion, overwhelm and isolation, feel resourced to take a bold stand for what is meaningful and important to their family.
And confidently create environments where everyone in the family can thrive.