What We Can Learn from Hearing Parents of Deaf Children
Cambridge University Press
School of Psychology and Social Science
Hearing parents of deaf children face stresses and demands related to parenting a deaf child, including difficult choices about language, technologies, education and identity for their children (Marschark, 1997). To date, few researchers have discussed the unique challenges faced by this group. Through a series of semistructured, in-depth interviews with 18 parents, this study investigated the experiences of hearing parents of deaf children spanning various life stages. A phenomenological approach identified 5 themes most pertinent to understanding their experiences. Each theme offers insight, particularly for professionals, into the distinctive issues that might arise at the time of diagnosis of deafness and reveals the challenges hearing parents face when confronted with a barrage of decisions, including choice of oral or sign language, mainstream or special deaf education, and identity with the hearing or Deaf community. The central message from this work is to inform hearing parents of deaf children and professionals working with these parents of the likely challenges that they may face.