Find a Healthcare
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Social Services
  • Family
  • Community
  • Legal

Parenting as an Individual with an FASD

While many people with an FASD choose not to have children, some people want to create a family of their own. Parenting with an FASD can be challenging, but it is possible for individuals with an FASD to be successful parents. It may require additional support from family, community and require an understanding partner. It is important to identify your brain challenges and use effective strategies to keep you organized and calm.

Managing Emotions

Areas of the brain that control emotions are often impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure. Parenting requires a lot of patience and emotional regulation. Children pick on their parent’s reactions, so managing emotions is a critical part of creating a secure environment for your child.

  • Learn how to walk away or wait to respond during times of frustration
  • Count to 10 before responding and use techniques to stay relaxed
    • Deep breathing
    • Grounding exercises (Name 1 thing you can see, hear, touch, smell, hear)
    • Go for a brisk walk (if another adult is home), do push-ups or jumping jacks
    • Drink a cold glass of water
    • Use deep pressure (massage temples, hands, etc.) or tapping
    • Take a big sniff! Use aromatherapy (lavender, chamomile, etc.)
  • Never react with hitting, punching or throwing things, name-calling, or saying things that are hurtful
  • Work with a therapist or mental health provider to help manage emotions


Executive functioning is often a challenge for individuals with an FASD. This is the capacity to organize, plan and complete multi-step tasks.

  • Create a daily routine and use visual reminders (pictures) or notes. Having structure and routine is not only helpful for the parent with an FASD, but children thrive in a predictable environment
  • Keep a visual calendar as well as one on your phone and use alarms for appointments and school-related activities
  • Make lists for shopping and plan healthy, well-balanced meals in advance
  • Use visual reminders or make checklists to be sure you have completed all daily tasks for your child (brush teeth, bath, bedtime story, etc)
  • If you struggle with managing a daily budget, ask a partner or family member to help provide support to manage your money

Create Your Support Network

We’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child.” Identify external supports to help support you in parenting.

  • Have open and honest communication with your partner about the type of daily support you need and identify other family members you trust to provide help
  • Find parenting groups such as Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). Most communities have this group. Example: ECFE Minneapolis
  • Use home visiting resources, which can come into your home and provide guidance and support to parents. Google your county + home visiting. Example: Ramsey County Home Visiting
  • For financial support, see if you qualify for help for food through the WIC program
  • Create a positive relationship with your child’s school. Attend school conferences, get to know teachers and staff.

Legal Rights

  • Individuals with disabilities have the legal right to be parents. If you feel you are at risk of losing custody of your child because of your disability you can find legal representation.
  • Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect parents and prospective parents with disabilities from unlawful discrimination in the administration of child welfare programs, activities, and services. Jun 12, 2019

First, talk with family to see if a problem can be resolved without legal action. If legal action is necessary, you can reach out to a local disability rights legal advocacy group.