Being a father to a child with special needs is no simple duty.
It comes with challenges that can be emotionally and physically draining at times. Between getting your son or daughter to doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, special education programs and everything in between, there’s a ton of responsibility that comes with this role.
However, as fathers watch their children grow up and mature, nothing can replace the feeling of knowing that you helped shape your child into the independent individual they are today. This process, while not easy at times, is certainly worth a celebration.
As Father’s Day rolls around, we wanted to spotlight the dads of children with CP for what they truly are — heroes.
Here are 5 ways that fathers of children with CP continue to amaze us:
1. You’re strong
Inner strength is a major part of caring for a child with cerebral palsy. This strength can be exerted in the form of holding back tears while watching your son or daughter cope with various CP-related disabilities, or you may even serve as a shoulder to cry on for others who need it.
Fathers of children with special needs routinely make the choice between what is best for their child and what suits their individual needs. By consistently putting family first, fathers of CP children display a commendable amount of strength and resilience.
2. You’re a support system
Words of encouragement go a long way when you’re a parent to a child with special needs. Individuals who are diagnosed with CP are likely to experience life’s milestones differently and this may mean they don’t follow the same path as their peers.
CP can affect a child’s ability to walk, talk or lead an independent life. By providing a stable, reliable support system for your child, CP fathers continue to shape their child’s life in a positive way.
Here’s what one father had to say about being a support system for his daughter:
“I love being Finley's father because I see the amazing love she receives from all around. She is probably the most loved person I know, and she's my daughter, that makes me proud.
I see how hard it is for her to learn things. It's extremely rewarding to watch her determination and progress in light of her limitations. It's rewarding to see her smile, giggle and play peekaboo!" — Matt Sweetman, father to Finley. Chicago, IL
If you're looking for a last minute Father's Day gift, head over to the Finley's House Foundation here. Finley's parents have created an online store and produced Father's Day gifts and gifts for men to raise funds towards an accessible home.
3. You’re a protector
Dads are often thought to be the protector of the family and this definitely rings true for the fathers of a child living with cerebral palsy. These children often look to their parents for help, guidance and protection.
Whether it’s defending their child against a bully on the playground or fighting for access to the best special education program in your city, CP fathers instill a very valuable sense of security for their children that cannot be replicated.
4. You’re a fighter
Being the father to a child with CP requires a mindset that will not accept defeat. Oftentimes, this instinct kicks in the moment you find out that your child was diagnosed with CP. Dads feel a sense of responsibility for their child’s well being and will stop at nothing to ensure their child can live their happiest and healthiest life possible.
By fighting for their children day in and day out (even when the going gets rough), CP dads are powerful fighters that exude positivity and protection for their child.
Here’s what another father had to say about never giving up hope for his daughter's condition:
“Georgia was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 6 months after an MRI… Originally she was diagnosed with right hemeplegia CP, which means her right side is affected. Recently she has been 're diagnosed' with triplegia CP, as it has become apparent that her left leg is also affected.
We are not sure at this point what that will mean for our princess when it comes to walking unaided, but we do know she's a determined girl with a smile that can light up a room and we're blessed to be on this journey with her. Seeing little Georgia's smile and determination keeps me going every single day. I would be lost without her xx” — Glenn Smith, father to Georgia. Young NSW, Australia
5. You’re irreplaceable
Arguably the most amazing part of being a CP dad is that they fulfill a role that cannot be replaced. By growing up with a father who showcases compassion, strength, empathy and integrity, children with CP are able to become the best versions of themselves possible.
Fathers of children with CP continue to showcase the various forms that superheroes come in, and they definitely don’t require a cape.
To all the dads of children affected by CP: we thank and appreciate you.
Happy Father’s Day.