You make my pants want to get up and dance

23 February 2016
In a few weeks’ time I’m going to be on a local radio programme in East Sussex, in which I get to choose all the music. Of the 20 songs on my list, 13 are from my childhood and adolescence. Of those, three are directly inherited from my parents – songs that were played in the house when I was young.

If that represents who I am today, then 65% of me is the same person I was before I became an adult, and 15% of me comes directly from my parents. The influence of parenting is astoundingly deep in our psyches. Or how else could you explain Dr Hook (pictured in their heyday) on my playlist?

If I was making this list back in my childhood, those percentages would have been much higher, and the younger I was the more my tastes would have been directly aligned with that of my adult family members. As a 10 year-old, Barry Manilow and The Wurzels would have made it onto there. But it’s not the case that children’s personalities come directly from their parents.

One of my song choices is inherited from my five year old son. Our children start out being linked almost wholly to us, but very quickly as we influence and change them, they influence and change us too.

I wonder if that is sometimes even more the case for the children who use Demelza. When I see young people with their parents in our services, I’m taken aback by the particular closeness in their relationships.

I wonder if that comes from parents sometimes being the only people who can readily communicate with their child, where there are communication issues. Or, when I attend one of our parents’ forums and hear what families are going through, I wonder if it’s because of the extraordinary lengths which parents of children with disabilities often have to go to in battling, striving and fighting for the care and support they need and are entitled to.

As young people reach adolescence and start to develop their own independent hideous musical tastes, it’s a fight that they then start to take on themselves.

It shouldn’t be like that. Parents of children with disabilities shouldn’t have to be warriors, and neither should their children. Life can be hard enough as it is without unnecessary battles.

I don’t have the answer. But sometimes our care staff, family support staff, and transition and youth support staff do, or they can at least help share the load.
"Parents of children with disabilities shouldn’t have to be warriors, and neither should their children. Life can be hard enough as it is without unnecessary battles."