Spinal Cord Injury Community

Can I Be A Good Father With A Spinal Cord Injury?

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
08/20/20  9:53 AM PST
can I be a good father with a spinal cord injury

Fatherhood Fears

For many years I have held a worrisome little fear in the back of my mind: “Can I be a good, helpful father despite my spinal cord injury?” After all, I am a big baby, an adult-sized child with many needs. I require additional time, energy and financial resources from my wife and family. How will I manage a child too?

Spinal cord injury and child rearing can be a sensitive subject, and is a topic I can empathize with on two points of view:

One, it may be perceived as irresponsible for me to bring a child into this world. As a person with a physical disability, it is an added responsibility on my wife and family. Objectively, if I am in need of such resources, why would I add more to our already-full plate? I mean, as a self employed, tax-paying citizen, I loathe the strain on our state and federal assistance programs and definitely do not want to add a dependent. It is no one’s responsibility other than my own… Bottom line.

With that being said, my other view point is: bringing a life into the world, or caring for a child, is the most special thing a human can do – injury or not. It may literally empower a person to activate a higher purpose, to transcend their own physical limitations or adversity. This to me is exciting, and something I have witnessed in others with spinal cord injuries. I have a handful of friends, both paraplegics and quadriplegics, who have successfully managed to raise their children despite their condition. It does, to my point, seem to strengthen their resolve and make them almost super-human. I marvel at the magic of a young, challenged family.

I know I will not be able to run, jump and raise my child in the same fashion my father raised me. However, I have reconciled within myself that what I have learned through my spinal cord injury is patience, ingenuity and persistence. Together, we will travel, explore and taste the world, we will live an adventurous lifestyle. And those are just some of the seeds I look forward to planting for my daughter.

Despite my fear, I am choosing the latter!

My wife, Katie, is five months pregnant with our baby girl, and ever since we both stared at the surprising blue + sign, a paternal instinct has kicked in. I find myself becoming more organized by structuring my days so that my physical needs are met without consuming too much time or energy. Our new home is more conducive to my independence and laid out in a way that I can actually help around the house. I can even make my own coffee!

I am beginning to feel that this will be the greatest chapter in my life – I will finally become the father, the caregiver, and my family’s rock. I can now re-pay all the love and support that has been given to me over the past 21 years.

2020 has been a year of challenge and learning to pivot, and I am looking forward to ending our year with the biggest adventure yet!




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