Our oldest son is almost 20 – gone are the years of feeding his brain with language, modeling and teaching values and morals, nurturing his self-esteem, providing opportunities for him to discover and develop his identity…we’re pretty much done. And yet this job of parenting is never quite finished. I still find myself asking gently probing questions such as:
“So, did you tell your coworkers/roommates/professors about your hearing?”
“Should you perhaps call the audiologist and make an appointment?”
“Were you worried about losing your hearing aids (Bone Anchored Hearing Aids which are easily knocked off) when you went climbing up over huge piles of fallen trees across a river?”
It is a wonderful feeling, however, to hear our son sharing his story with others, and to see just how much he has embraced all that we have tried to teach him over the years. I love it when he tells families about his hearing loss “I find that if I’m OK with it, other people are OK with it too.” He is so comfortable in his own skin, and doesn’t hesitate to show families his ears and hearing aids (he has microtia and atresia, so his ears are a little smaller and differently shaped than most, and he wears bilateral Baha hearing aids).
It does feel a bit strange, though, to be stepping back. I am still working out this new role of parent to an adult. I’m learning it’s fine to ask how a course is going, but I really shouldn’t be asking or reminding about homework and deadlines. I can ask about the accessibility of a lecture theatre or the use of assistive listening devices, but our son is now the judge of what he needs, and it’s no longer my role to advocate for him. The lines of communication are still open, but I am learning to follow his lead.
So I am gradually letting go of the role I have embraced for 20 years, as the parent of a child who is hard of hearing. In some ways it’s nice to let that piece go. On the other hand, I have spent years learning about hearing loss, how to parent a hard of hearing child, how to advocate…it would be a shame to let all that hard-earned knowledge and experience go to waste. So I’m very thankful that Hands & Voices allows me the opportunity to share what I have learned, and support other families along their journey. I love this organization!
BC Hands & Voices
More posts from Teresa: BC Hands & Voices Teresa Kazemir