Supporting future parents
People have desires
Everyone has desires: good health, happiness, many friends, love, money, a job, a house, a family, a child... The same is true for people with an intellectual disability.
However, when people with an intellectual disability say that they would like to have a child, all sorts of alarm bells go off. Either consciously or unconsciously, we send the message: 'Don’t do it!' This causes the potential future parents to turn away from professional support. Whereas, there is evidence that parents with an intellectual disability are often successful parents if they dare to request that support and receive the proper support on time.
Talking about a desire to have a child and parenthood
ASVZ wants people with intellectual disabilities to lead equitable, meaningful lives. Encouraging discussion about the desire to have a child and parenthood should accompany that. Even more so, it is our obligation to engage in discussion with clients and to counsel them as effectively as possible concerning their parenthood or their questions regarding that. Although, how do you do that in a respectful way? How do you ensure that clients know what this involves, about what is in store for them, and about all the additional things that they must do if they are going to raise a child or children? On this website you will find advice and a toolkit, free of charge, with tools that help people with an intellectual disability, their parents, and their care workers all engage in conversation about their desire to have a child and be parents.
Viewpoint on desire to have a child and parenthood
As a care worker, you may encounter people with an intellectual disability who want to have a child, or who are already pregnant. How do you deal with that?
Within society, as well as among healthcare professionals, there are people who advocate for and people who object to parenthood for people with an intellectual disability.
What do you think about the topic of people with an intellectual disability who want to have children? What is the viewpoint of the organization where you work? What does your organization have to offer the client? To find out, you can use:
- The Toolkit: Children, what does that involve? This toolkit contains background information about the topic of the desire to have a child and an explanation about how to use the various materials.
- The desire to have a child: looking at options. The package contains tools that can be used during team meetings or organizational meetings dedicated to this topic, such that you can further develop your organization’s viewpoint.
- The game Viewpoint on viewpoint. You can use this game to prioritize the topic of a desire to have a child at different levels within the organization.
Talking about children and parenthood
The most important point is that a client’s desire to have a child is addressed respectfully. This is something different from approval or encouragement of the arrival of a child. Clients must have the opportunity to present their story without judgment from others. Furthermore, it is important that clients figure out with whom they can discuss their desire to have a child and their possible future parenthood. Why do you want a child? Who’s there to support you? What are the things they can do to support you? Are there enough people in your social network who can offer you some support?
When a client gets pregnant, it is often unintentionally. Sex education that also includes proper information on use of contraception should be a standard component of consultations on the desire to have a child and parenthood.
For talking about the topics of the desire to have a child and parenthood, you can use:
What I wish card game
This game – similar to Go Fish or Happy Families – shows how the client perceives certain parts of his or her life and future. Additionally, subjects that are more sensitive such as sexuality, safe sex, and the desire to have a child are addressed. You also have the option of involving other family members in the card game, if it is appropriate.
Talking about your desire to have a child
What do you do when a client expresses a desire to have a child? Or what about when you suspect that your client wants to have a child? How do you start a discussion about that? What are the important issues it involves? What is your attitude about the topic and what skills do you need to have to effectively provide for your client’s needs? For more concrete guidelines over how you can start such a discussion, go to: Talking about your desire to have a child.
My child wants a child
How do you – as parents of a child with an intellectual disability – deal with your son or daughter’s life questions regarding sexuality or a desire to have a child? Of course, you want to advise, support, and inform your child as best as possible.
You can read about how to deal with that in the information brochure My child wants a child. You clearly do not have to deal with this on your own. Contact the care workers who already support your child. You can indeed do more by doing it together!
Talking about the social network: Who’s there to support you?
It is sensible to involve people in your life when it comes to big decisions in your life. This certainly applies to clients who want to have a child. Even more so, the social network of people with intellectual disabilities is the decisive factor for future successful parenthood. With the game Who’s there to support you?, you and your client clearly define her social network.
This game is based on the Support Interview Guide, developed by Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn (University of Sydney, Australia).
A child changes everything
Why do you want a child? To be like everyone else? To have something to care for? Because you get so much back? It is very important to also explore to see if the desire to have a child also means a desire to be a parent: does this person really want to be a mother or father?
Additionally, if there is a desire to be a mother or a father, do they know what that entails?
Many things change when a child arrives. A child costs time and money. A child demands a lot from your relationship. You need a suitable home and you have to possess certain skills. To gain insight into how this is with your client, you can use the package:
Do I know what that involves?
This package helps people with an intellectual disability become aware of what choosing to have a child entails.