Transcript: The Challenges of Parenting With a Disability

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called The Challenges of Parenting With a Disability and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Helen Thompson: The journey of being pregnant and bringing children into the world is a challenging one. Imagine what it’s like for a mum who is disabled in a wheelchair and on her own. This week on First Time Mum’s Chat, I’m speaking with transformational and empowerment mindset coach Shanice Green, who has brought up 2 amazing children, whilst being wheelchair bound, and with neurological conditions.

You’ll hear Shanice talk about her unique experience as a mom, and the importance of parenting your way and learning to adapt to your unique environment and needs, why you must believe in yourself, learning not to take on board other people’s judgments and not allow them to disempower you and how you can encourage and condition your little ones from an early age to develop a level of independence.

And so, so much more.

Hi Shanice, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m thrilled to be speaking with you today and to hear all about your experiences bringing up your kids with your disability. Can you start by telling us about you and your background?

Shanice Green: Okay, so I’m Shanice. I’m 28 years of age, 29 in a few weeks. I have 2 amazing children. I am in a wheelchair, I have neurological conditions. I’ve been in a wheelchair since I was about 10 and through life I have had nearly 19 surgeries. I think that’s where we’re at, I’ve kind of lost count and becoming a parent and becoming a mom has taught me so much.

I wouldn’t be in the job that I’m in now. I am a transformational and empowerment mindset coach and a disability advocate. I wouldn’t of even thought to do anything like that, at the age of 18, being told there’s not much more we can do for you. It put a rocket up my backside, my children need me and I need to do something about it!

But I think with parenting, with a disability in general, I have chronic pain as well on top of that, so mine’s a little bit more of a challenge, but I think to any parent, we need to remember that not every child goes by the book and no parenting the way your parenting goes by the book. You could pick up your child a different way to how your mom picked you up, or the way that your friend gives their child a bottle might not be exactly the same way, but it doesn’t mean it’s not right. I picked up my children when they were babies in a not a typical way. I used to pick them up with their baby grow or clothing, et cetera. Did it hurt them, no, it didn’t but could they get to me, yes they could. Were they safe? Yes, they were very safe.

The way that I do my daughter’s hair. Cause I’ve got weakness down my left hand side, the hair goes into the left hand, but there’s no grip. So I grip for the right hand and then I use my teeth to pull over the hairband or hair elastic, however you put it, but that’s not a wrong way to do it. It’s not a wrong way to do it and I think as a society, people look in and judge you a lot and seem to think that you have to do it one way. Like a child doesn’t go by the book. Parenting doesn’t go by the book. As long as your child is fed and is clean and is happy, what else does a child need?

Helen Thompson: I guess it’s all about adapting, as you’ve said. You learn how to adapt. Every mom learns how to adapt with their particular child and in your case, you’ve just learned to adapt even more because you just mentioned how you do your child’s hair and how you pick kids up when they were babies and I think it’s just a matter of learning with each other, with your child, how you can adapt to doing this and not being, I don’t know what the word is, not being negative saying, oh, because I’ve got a disability, I can’t do this. It’s empowering your disability in saying, yes, I can do this.

Shanice Green: Yeah, definitely. Was there times that I felt that way, that I felt that society was judging me? Yes, I did. Did I feel at times that I judged myself because I wasn’t doing it the typical or the right way that I felt? Of course I have two children, but when I first became a mom at 18, I would be nervous to do the things that I did with my child or the way that I adapted around other people. I would do it in my own home, but I felt conscious of doing it around other people because they would judge me,

And that’s not the right way to do it, but I’m very truthful and it wasn’t always plain sailing, you know, and there was a lot of times where I screamed or wanted to scream, or wanted to cry, which I probably did a few times because it wasn’t, I couldn’t do it straight away. When you are adapting, you have to learn, okay, that bit doesn’t work, okay, let me try it this way. So there was a lot of trial and error, being able to change their nappy or diaper, however you say it. It was well okay, I can’t today, my pain level is near an 8, so I won’t be able to do how I did yesterday or how I did it earlier on, because I have, of course, my chronic pain on top of my disability.

So being able to have the strength to lift up my child to change them, would be a lot harder when my pain is a lot worse. So some days I could pick them up, change them, pretty straightforward. I’ve learnt how to adapt so it was a quicker process once I learned, but there was days where it took me a bit more time and I believe that it has taught my children to have patience. Like for example, my children, they used to get their toys out to play and they had to put them away. Once they played with something and they finished with it, they put it away from a very young age and I got judged on that, from medical professionals, that’s the wrong way of doing it. That’s not fair on your child that they have to learn how to tidy up after their self so young.

Helen Thompson: I come from a childcare background and to me, a child at a young age, it’s important that they learn to tidy up after themselves because they learn respect, they learn understanding, they learn that once they’ve played with a toy, they have to put it away and do something else regardless of whether you’ve got a disability or not. I don’t see why you should be judged on that and also, you mentioned earlier, you had your first child when you were 18. Having a child when you are 18 is a challenge in itself, regardless of what you’ve got. So, in my opinion, you are doing a great job as a mom, you are an awesome mom, and you’re doing a fantastic job and I love the way that you adapt and you do all that. So why should you be judged?

Shanice Green: It’s very true, but as a society, people do judge and the reason I talk up about it a lot is because to show people that actually it’s not all black and white, it’s not all plain sailing and easy and you’re gonna have people that are going to judge you, that are going to try and make you feel disempowered but it’s about believing in yourself and believing in what you are doing is the right way to do it for you and for your child. Just because, I don’t know, Sarah down the road does it one way and Joe down the road, does it another way, or they do it near enough the same way, it doesn’t mean you do it that way. It doesn’t mean you have to.

Helen Thompson: Yeah,

Shanice Green: long as your child is looked after, why does it matter the way that you do things? By doing it a different way, you could teach someone else. An able-bodied person could come to you and maybe they’re struggling, maybe they’re a first time parent and they’re struggling and they’ve seen the way that you do it, but actually prefer it the way that you do it, then they do that way too.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, exactly. I love how you said you pick up your child. I had a picture of when you said this, when you picked up your child with the baby grower. It reminded me of how tigers and lions pick up the children to move them out of danger or to do what they’ve got to do. They pick them up in their mouth or they pick them up in their paws and they just move them along. And I figure that’s one way of doing it and it’s how you learn how to do that.

Shanice Green: Definitely and I definitely believe that my children have a lot of patience. So, of course once I had my second child, my son, he was very safe, he was clean, everything was fine. He could see me, but my daughter needed me, so she would come to me and if he starts crying, I wasn’t gonna pick him up straight away because one, as much as it was hard for me not to ask someone else to just get him for a minute while I’m sorting my daughter out, it taught him, okay, I’m safe, I’m fine, I can see my mom, I can see where she is, and I’m not actually crying for a reason. Do you know what I mean? She’ll come to me in a minute. So I would sort my daughter out, and then I would sort my son out. But I think we beat ourself up over the fact that, like I said, someone else would do it a different way. A baby would cry and even though they are very safe, they are clean, they are fed, they are changed. They need to be picked up straight away and for me, when I first became a mom, I thought that was the right way to do it, but I learnt over time that that can’t happen. I can’t beat myself up over that because I cannot physically get them straight away if I am on the sofa. I have to get into my wheelchair to be able to get to them or if I’m in chronic pain, it’s gonna take me a bit more time. So it has definitely taught them patience.

They know that some days it’s harder for me to get out of bed. So now they’re very independent, extremely independent. Sometimes, some things I have to remind them they’re 8 and 10 but from a young age, from about, I would say probably about 3 or 4, they would know that it takes me a bit more time. They would come into me, or they would wait with me. They probably wanted to start doing stuff, get their toys out or stuff like that. But they learned to adapt and they learn that it takes a bit more time. But I will be there in 2 minutes, but I just need to take a bit more time. You know, you’re safe and you are fine.

Helen Thompson: If a child is crying, you don’t have to go to your child instantly just because they’re crying. Yes,

Shanice Green: Yeah.

Helen Thompson: have to go to them as quickly as you are physically able. Obviously if they’ve cut themselves and there’s the blood pouring out, well that’s a different story but I guess if that happened and you could see that was happening and you were close to the phone, you’d call an ambulance.

Shanice Green: Well, yeah.

Helen Thompson: Like what any mother would do, they’d go and then you’d call the ambulance and you’d go to your child as soon as you could.

Shanice Green: But I think also you need to remember that because of having a disability, it’s how society looks at a teenage parent.

Helen Thompson: Yeah.

Shanice Green: They definitely can’t look after their child because they’re young. No, it doesn’t matter. You could be young, you could be old. There’s gonna be good and bad in any age and it’s the same as when they look at me or they judge people with a disability because that’s different. Even to this day, and my children are 8 and 10, the stares that I get, oh my gosh, did she have them? Yes, I had them, they’re mine, I carried them for 9 months. Things need to change and people need to be able to have the confidence inside of them to believe, actually I am doing a, a really good job,

Helen Thompson: Yeah.

Shanice Green: Things are different and a way that I adapt is different, but that’s okay. As long as my child’s safe, it’s fine. Absolutely fine, but it took time for me to be able to know that and realize that. So if I can help any new parent or mom to be, to believe in yourself. You know what’s right or wrong for your child and if I can stop a parent from feeling the way that I felt when I was a first parent and worried what other people thought and beat myself up because I wasn’t doing it the right way, then I’ve done my job.

Helen Thompson: I’d just like to end on 2 things here. One is I’d like to say I admire all mums, whether they’ve got disabilities or whether they haven’t, because I know how challenging it can be, but also how rewarding and wonderful it can be as well.

So how can moms who are inspired by our chat find out more about and get in contact with you?

Shanice Green: So you can either contact me on social, on Instagram, which is @shanicewheelempower or you can go to my website, which is Wheel Empower Coaching, and wheel is spelt as in W H E E L as in wheelchair.

Helen Thompson: Clever, I like that.

Shanice Green: Yeah. I am on Facebook at Wheel Empower Coaching or Shanice Green.

Helen Thompson: Thank you, Shanice. I was looking forward to this podcast with you because I think it’s so inspiring to be able to talk to a mom who has gone through what you’ve got done and how inspiring you are, and also how inspiring and confident your children are and I’d just like to end by saying thank you for being such an awesome mom, and thank you for being here.

Shanice Green: Thank you.

Helen Thompson: Thank you for being part of this first time mum’s community to share your journey with me and I’ve really appreciated that.

Shanice Green: Oh, thank you so much, and I think everyone should just remember nobody is perfect, but you are perfect in yourself. No one can do you better than you.

Helen Thompson: Yep. I definitely agree with that.

I find hearing about Shanice’s life as a mom fascinating and I have to admire her zeal and determination and what she has achieved as a parent under what can only be described as trying, testing conditions. I highly encourage you to check out Shanice’s website and social media, and I’ve included links to these in the show notes, which can be found at

Next week I’m chatting with mum of 2, Maria Yakimchuk, who talks about helping moms overcome the struggles of their postpartum mental health. Maria holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology (MFT Focus) and is a certified 1, 2, 3 Magic Instructor. Be sure to check this out when it comes out next week. Please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favorite platform, so that you don’t miss each week’s episode when it comes out.