Letter to A Hearing Parent

Sometimes I get emails or messages from worried parents with a newly-deaf or hard of hearing child. They want to know how I’ve done with Cued Speech, cochlear implants, sign language, etc. So, I do my best to give a balanced perspective, since I understand how lacking that can be in deaf education.

More than that, their questions often carry an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty, and I don’t blame them at all. It is overwhelming. So, I try to reach down to that core, if only to tell them that it’ll be OK and things will work out. That’s a pretty high promise, but at the same time, it’s not about guarantees– I don’t think anything with kids or other human beings is ever a guarantee. It’s mostly about, hopefully, helping these parents get to a more stable place emotionally. Sometimes, I think people just need to hear “it’ll be OK,” even if it doesn’t seem true at the time.

Eventually, this letter came out. It probably won’t apply to every parent of a d/hh child out there, but it’s more or less what I want to tell many of the parents who come to me.

Dear Parent,

It is OK to be afraid. You got thrown into a world that you know nothing about.

It is OK to grieve. Even if your child never misses her hearing, you likely had to radically recalibrate your expectations, and that in itself is a loss. It’s OK to acknowledge that loss.

It is OK to feel guilty. Chances are you did not do anything to incur cosmic or genetic karma on your kid. These things happen, and we can’t always predict nor prevent them.

There is hope. I have met successful deaf and hard of hearing people from all backgrounds. Doctors, businessmen, lawyers, professors, engineers, tradesmen, scientists, service workers. They used American Sign Language, Signed English, Cued Speech, spoken language. Cochlear implants, hearing aids, nothing at all, or any combination of the above.

Some methods work better for a specific purpose than others. Some kids respond to one approach and not to another. You will need to experiment and find out what works best for your family. No matter what you pick, be consistent, and commit to it. If it doesn’t seem to be working after you’ve given it a chance for at least a few months, drop it and try something else. Don’t let anyone else make you feel guilty for doing so. Trust your gut. Trust your heart.

Your child is unique. Embrace that. Work with it. And chances are you won’t veer too far off course.

3 thoughts on “Letter to A Hearing Parent

  1. Thank you for your mature, nurturing and patient letter. This letter will give many parents and partners hope. Your words will, undoubtedly, make a vast impact on many people and provide a glimmer of hope and acceptance. Thank you, from a parent to a gorgeously, jovial, and charsimatic 6 year old boy that also happens to be given the opportunityto live life as a deaf/HOH human being.
    Angie M. K.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this article. During one of our lowest times of life, while traveling to enroll our deaf son in a school miles from home, we decided to stop and have lunch. A lady noticed we were signing to our son and walked over to our table. She too had a deaf child who was now grown and for a while we shared our some of our concerns about our situation. Before leaving our table, she held my hands and looked deep into my eyes and said these words, “It will be alright!”. I wish I could tell her what those four simple words meant to me at that moment. Coming from someone who had already walked the path I was now on, gave me hope when there was none. My son is now a grown man and I can truly say, she was right! He has overcome many obstacles, reaching unbelievable heights and he amazes us still! With hope comes courage!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Letter to A Hearing Parent - The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, Hearing Loss Blog

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