chapter  6
14 Pages

Parenting my disabled sister

WithDevra Adelstein

The ordinary parental task of helping children achieve self-reliance and separation-individuation is compromised in the face of a child’s intellectual disability. When parents cannot acknowledge their feelings and accept their child’s imperfection, it affects family members’ quests for self-acceptance. The author’s sister was born without enough oxygen. What this signaled for her future growth and development was unclear until she reached school age. Adelstein’s parents knew only to try to make her “normal.” The result was a disabled child who grew up feeling unable to live up to her parent’s expectations and to fully accept herself. Upon the deaths of their parents, the author became her sister’s surrogate parent. Ultimately, both sisters had to grapple with the task of accepting themselves and one another.