Note: This blog is dedicated to my closest friends who've been mentoring me for years and also to my loving parents who tried their best to provide me love as they could.
Hearing Parents: How to have a good relationship with your deaf child
Neil R., blogger
Why is it so important to have such a good relationship with a child who cannot hear?
I'm aware that having a deaf child to take care and raise may seem like a challenge, but you do not need to trap yourself with worries of how you will be able to raise a deaf child.
You are to treat a deaf child normally with your all love as you would treat the others. Having a good relationship with deaf child is important because you are to ensure that he/she will grow up and become a bright, smart and happy adults who would make a few greater accomplishments in their lives and that they would see themselves past their own disability but identify themselves as Deaf as in a big capitalized "D". Maybe they will make a big difference in the world, who knows?
Take Andrew Foster (1925-1987), for instance, who was the first to be a black Deaf student to earn a bachelor's degree in Gallaudet University. After graduating from a fewer colleges, he became a missionary to the Deaf in Africa. Back in the time, many deaf people there were completely illiterate because they did not have schools that can teach them due to their deafness. To help the cause, he found 31 schools and 2 centers for the Deaf in Africa. For 30 years, he worked harder to get support from the United States for these schools. Wow, talking about making a big difference!
Never mind any negativity about such things that may be heard about Deaf culture because there are certain people who may disagree with the views on the culture. Having a "D"eaf identity helps give a deaf person motivation and courage to be able to do anything without feeling discouraged, worrying about communication barrier.
"I cannot hear! I cannot do anything!" is transformed into positive words: "I may be deaf but I can do anything except hear!" When a deaf person becomes culturally proud of his/her culture, they are automatically rewarding themselves with big capitalized "D", Deaf identity.
Good Parent-Deaf Child Relationship Benefits
The benefits of having a good relationship with a deaf child are a Deaf child growing up to be incredibly intelligent adult (who may have a good chance to enroll in ivy league colleges) and he/she becomes to be completely independent without needing too much assistance. Deaf children having good relationship with their parents will have good chance of doing greater in academics.
Parents will not do the job alone but teachers will also have an important role in teaching them to be smarter. They should be able to work together.
It is critical that they are NOT seen as people who need to be pitied or anything and they are not to be people who are "given a fish for today" but people who are "taught to fish so they can be fed for a lifetime" which gives hearing parents a reason why they should have a close relationship with deaf children (them becoming teenagers may eventually drive them nuts..haha.)
Steps of raising a Deaf child well
- Learn sign language, take sign language courses, interact a little with a fewer Deaf people who may give you best tips and advices. Deaf people knowing sign language helps them become strongly literate and may become multilingual if they desire.
- Talk to parent of deaf child who have experiences of raising a deaf child, they may offer best tips and advices
- Take best interest in your deaf child's hobby and activity to expand their knowledge and abilities, encourage them to participate in academic or athletic activities or whatever school may offer. It doesn't matter if a child attends a deaf school or a mainstream school..as long as he/she will become more competent in academics.
-Be their role model ...or mentor. Deaf children may need both a hearing mentor and a deaf mentor in their lives, so that they shall learn to interact well with hearing people and deaf people.
Mark Drolsbaugh's website offers great resources for parents with deaf children (and great articles to read). Check it out. Deaf-culture-online.com
I took a time to write this because I wanted deaf children to succeed better and also to have better childhood and better relationships in the future. I've had many hardships in my life while growing and did not want them to go through the same hardships I endured,
although they will still encounter difficulties in their lives, that's totally for sure.
My parents did not learn sign language after my birth and our relationship was so-so. Due to communication barrier, I felt not very intimate with my parents, as a result they left me wanting to be with deaf friends more and be with family a lot less.
Over years, our relationship eventually changed and improved (a lot better...) as my parents learned to communicate with me more, although they could not be fully fluent in sign language. They did provide me with lots of love and care, even if they knew a little sign language.
My best communication method for us was writing paper. Being English literate was difficult for me at first. As a younger child, my English skills improved as I interacted more with hearing kids in a mainstream school.
Having good friends in my age range helped a lot. When I did not have good relationship with my parents, I could not learn independence, that is, until my close friends (who are also Deaf-Hard and Hard of Hearing) were generous enough to teach me a little of independence and learned to have my own leadership qualities from them. I'm most pleased with their patience with me as we aged.
I believe that if hearing parents will have good, intimate relationship with deaf children, then deaf children would have learned to have good, steady relationship / friendship with people in the future which is a great importance of raising them very well...
I am still grateful to have my good parents who continue to love me, as a part of their family. Despite the communication barriers in the past, they still taught me the moral principles and values of Filipino culture which I still apply to some today.
It is also my dream that hearing parents of Deaf children who succeed very well in raising them, may write a book, establish workshops, etc, so that deaf education will be a lot better for the sake of Deaf generation and children.
I thank you, my parents and companions.
-Alone in the Mainstream
-Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know