Parenting with a Spinal Cord Injury

If you’re a parent with a spinal cord injury, you have some unique challenges to face, including your own doubts. Explore guidance to help you overcome them.

Parenting with a Spinal Cord Injury

Get parenting tips for people with spinal cord injuries.

If you have children, having a spinal cord injury presents some unique challenges on several different levels. Mobility issues can create obstacles to child-rearing. Fortunately, there are some practical tips and solutions, including using innovative adaptive products that can help you manage your parenting responsibilities with greater ease.

Parents with spinal cord injuries often worry about the impact of their situation on their children. Ultimately, parenting is about loving, guiding, caring, and nurturing. Your reduced mobility should not limit you in any of those areas.


Some parents with spinal cord injuries also worry about “parentification,” a family dynamic where children are forced to care for their disabled parents at an early age. Even though it is a popular misconception that this happens frequently, research has shown that it rarely occurs. Most of these parents actually go out of their way to shield their children from the burden of care.

Practical challenges and solutions

Daily child-rearing and parenting activities present unique challenges for those with limited mobility, particularly for parents of infants. Getting the baby in and out of bed, changing diapers, bathing, and many other daily tasks can be difficult to manage. In couples where one person has no disability, this parent can take on some of the harder tasks.

Here are some additional practical tips:

  • Use adaptive products. Many innovative parenting products exist that can help you conquer any physical limitations with daily tasks. Through the Looking Glass, a non-profit organization serving families with disabilities, publishes a Baby Care Equipment chart for parents of children up to three years old.
  • Consult with an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help you address your specific challenges and provide recommendations. He or she can also help you select the right adaptive equipment and supplies.
  • Be upfront with your children. It’s important to talk openly and honesty about your physical limitations with your children – especially older ones. Kids are surprisingly good at adapting. Although it’s important not to force them to care for you (see Parentification section above), some support may be necessary at times.
  • Be creative. Most people with spinal cord injuries have great ingenuity, finding new and innovative ways to overcome limitations. Parenting may require you to take these skills to a new level. In some cases, success will require some experimentation and multiple attempts.

It's true that parenting with a spinal cord injury isn't easy, but don't doubt your ability to raise caring, responsible, and compassionate children. With just a few adjustments, many of your daily parenting tasks can be made much easier.