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.
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!
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.