Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Parents and the Wheelchair

This week, Danny M. Lavery and special guest Krystal Farmer discuss a Prudie letter: the parents and the wheelchair.

Danny: my main question here is whether or not the letter writer is hoping to convince their parents because they won’t be able to actually make the purchase/deal with delivery without their parents’ participation

or if it’s more a question of wanting their parents to not hassle/harass them should they get one

Krystal: I think the best way to frame it is to explain that wheelchairs aren’t about restricting a person’s independence but increasing it.

The LW has already made it clear that not being able to use a chair as often as they need is leading them to limit the amount of time they can spend out of bed and out of the house and that’s likely not going to change

Without some sort of intervention

Danny: right

I wish I knew if the LW lived with their parents

Krystal: Maybe that can be part of the response? If they live with their parents suggest that they talk to the parents about pitching in more to assist the LW with daily tasks if the ’rents won’t allow a chair since that’s likely what it will come to.

If they don’t, make it clear that the LW doesn’t need the parents’ permission to make the best choice for their personal well-being.

Danny: right

and that’s not to say I think the LW is unreasonable for hoping to get their parents’ support

I definitely get why you would want their support!

it absolutely sucks that they refuse to see this as a mobility aid, as something that would enable you to do more, not less—it’s absurd to call using a chair “lazy” when the very reason you want one is to get out of the house more often

Krystal: Exactly! This is a health issue, not a matter of willpower

Maybe over time the parents will come to see how much regular use improves the LW’s quality of life and reevaluate their position

Danny: and if it is a financial or logistical thing

maybe you can ask your friends to help you raise money or make the purchase on your behalf / help receive the delivery and do any assembly work you would need help with

Krystal: Yeah, community and a support system outside of family would be hugely beneficial if there is one to lean on

A GoFundMe or some other fundraising campaign could also be an option

Or checking the local disability/independent living centers for guidance

They probably also have lots of resources for equipment and support groups, etc.

Danny: that’s good advice whether the LW lives with their parents or not, I think

if you’re dealing with family members who are constantly saying things like wheelchair use is for lazy people and that you don’t deserve one

then you need to enlist both material and emotional support from as many other people/places as possible

my last thought is that they say they haven’t been able to “broach the topic”

so i think it might be a good idea just to say, “I’m thinking of getting a wheelchair because it would help me with X and Y, and make leaving the house a lot easier.”

rather than asking

because even if you will have to ask for their help at some point, starting the conversation by just stating your reasoning will make your position appear stronger

Krystal: Yup. And I get the impression the LW is an adult? So just stating their intent shouldn’t be out of bounds

Danny: right

this is really helpful thank you

do you have any other thoughts/advice for the LW?

Krystal: hmm

Just that I think they’re on the right path in terms of being in touch with their own access needs and accepting that those can change over time and that that’s totally OK! That’s one of the hardest parts of learning to live with disability and they’re acing it

Getting the moral/financial/physical support in place will only make the journey easier

Sometimes you don’t get it from the people you want or when you want but you still have to make the best choices for you