Being a parent – It’s kind of mind blowing to me

Phil Lusted is a web and graphic designer from north Wales who has most recently appeared in the BBC One documentary, ‘Big Love’.

Phil’s partner, Kathleen has a young daughter. For Father’s Day, Phil reflects on the things he is learning through being a parent with dwarfism and his hopes for the future.

Being a parent has opened my eyes to a lot of new things. I now have a child who looks up to me when she is in need of help or taking care of. I now have a responsibility to take care of our child when Kathleen is busy or needs assistance. It’s kind of mind blowing to me, in a good way. We are now officially a family and a team who strives to help, learn and care for each other through life.

I consider myself blessed to have met Kathleen’s daughter from her young age, as it’s beneficial we both learn to adapt together as she grows up. We have already learned so much from each other.

She often asks me for help when it comes to getting dressed, putting on her socks and shoes, jackets, and so on. During bed times she enjoys settling down with me as I read her a bedtime story, and we often have a giggle together before sleep time.

A man with dwarfism and his partner, a non-disabled woman, smile and laugh on a beach
Phil and his partner, Kathleen, are looking forward to raising their child together

Being a dwarf parent has its own challenges, as I do some things differently in comparison to an average height person and there are also situations where I cannot always manage. Often I can be hard on myself and feel down about the fact I wish I could do more in the way of being able to pick the baby up and carry her around when needed. I’m blessed to have Kathleen’s patience, as she reassures me that I am doing enough.

Below are just some of the things I’ve learnt as a parent so far.

Pull-ups instead of diapers

Diapers are a real struggle! Mostly because I find it fiddly to deal with my fingers (I was born with no knuckles), so pull-ups are a great alternative that myself and our child can manage without too much of a struggle.

Using a smaller/lighter stroller

Kathleen has an umbrella stroller in which I can easily manage to push around when it comes to getting out and about. It works a wonder for myself, the handles are low and the stroller is easy to push.

The safety harness

It’s not often the baby will try and outrun me, she’s very calm and will stay close, but using a harness on her to keep her close is always handy. That way, she is not needing to be carried and she also gets to walk around.

When I use a step

Keeping things out of reach from our child is important. I use steps to reach those particular things, or to do the dishes, brushing my teeth. Sometimes she will try and climb up on the step with me, so explaining to her that it’s not safe is important, we don’t want her falling and hurting herself!

A man with dwarfism and a non-disabled woman walk on a beach
Phil and his partner, Kathleen, on a photoshoot

I am excited about the journey of being a parent to this wonderful child as she gets older, learns, and grows. It is so nice and comforting to be able to form such a strong bond with her. I care so much for this child and her happiness.

Head to Scope’s website to read tips suggested by community members about pregnancy and parenthood for disabled people.

You can also join the discussion on Scope’s online community and speak to other disabled parents about their tips and experiences.

Why I’m teaching my kids to be mindful with Mindful Monsters

In celebration of Father’s Day we interviewed Tom, who has three children. We asked Tom his favourite things about being a dad, how he will be celebrating with his family and the verdict on Mindful Monsters, Scope’s new monthly activity cards, so far.

How did your life change when you became a dad?

So much more responsibility! But, becoming a dad was so exciting at the same time. The anticipation, meeting new people who are expecting and then looking after this helpless bundle is a real challenge, but it’s amazing. I think it made me better at decision making, and much more resilient to lack of sleep! I make more of the days on weekends now, whereas before I might have lazed around.

What have your children done that got them into trouble –  but you couldn’t help but laugh?

Once my four-year-old took a walkie-talkie to go and use the toilet. We were down stairs and we heard a crackle and then over the walkie talkie he said ‘Did you hear the plop, over?’ Too funny!

What’s the best thing about being a dad?

Seeing them grow and watching their personalities form. Helping to shape them and teach them about the world. Also, the banter and fun we have is great.

What’s the trickiest thing about being a dad?

Discipline is hard, but necessary. Going off to work and leaving them everyday is hard too.

What’s the most embarrassing thing your kids have ever done?

Probably a standard thing which is shouting and screaming in a shop about something, meaning we have to make a sharp exit!

What have your kids taught you?

How great it is to be curious and inquisitive. How much people love to share their knowledge. Without sounding too cliche, I find it really inspiring. It makes me think that I can benefit from the creativity cards in the Mindful Monsters pack as much if not more than them!

If you could teach your kids one thing, what would that be?

I’d really like to teach them how important I think sport is. That it gives so much to people and they should value this highly as a way to achieve, meet people, build self-esteem and have fun.

What do you want to experience with your kids that you haven’t already?

I think travel is a big one for us. There’s so much I want the boys to see. I want them to be an age where they can really appreciate it though. My youngest, Olly, is still only a baby, so we are a few years off yet!

If your kids were to describe you in one word, what would they say?

I’ve taught them a chant: ‘Daaaaaddy, Daaaaddy, Daaaaddy, Daaaaaddy, Daaaaaddy, Daaaaddy!’ I think that pretty much sums me up to them at the age they are at the moment. But who knows, in a few years maybe there will be a bit of personality in there! Maybe once they realise I’m just a normal person like everyone else.

What has been the reaction to Mindful Monsters so far?

We got our first pack a couple of weeks ago. The morning after it had arrived, I found them in Kit’s room (my eldest) – when I’d gone to wake him the next morning I saw that he’d slept with them next to his bed! He wanted to know all about the monsters and their personalities. He really enjoyed learning their names and looking at the cards and stickers.

We did the compliment card in the positivity category, which was really interesting. Kit couldn’t do it and Jack, the middle one, went really shy. It’s like they aren’t used to / wired to say ‘don’t you look nice today’ or something like that. Something to definitely work on as they should be free with the compliments! Thank you Mindful Monsters!

Mindful Monsters is a fun new way to support Scope. You and your little ones can experience all the benefits of mindfulness while enjoying quality time together through a monthly pack of family activity cards. Explore the themes of positivity, creativity, concentration and relaxation.

Find out more over on the Mindful Monsters website