Families with children who have children who are deaf and hard of hearing often say they wished they had connected with experienced parents sooner. “Is my child going to be okay?” “Am I going to be okay?” are two of the unspoken worries many parents hold onto that do not tend to be shared in an appointment with professionals. Further down the road, you may have questions about many topics, from whether your child’s hearing level could change, if your child will be included in school activities, and helping your child become confident and safe in your community. As you learn about your child’s needs as they grow, you may also have questions about your rights as a parent, and how to get access to participate in everything the world has to offer, whether that be team sports or driver’s education training.
An experienced parent can help you make sense of your family’s journey and help you find your way. A trained parent can help you bring what you are learning about language development from the professionals in your life into your daily life. You may look for an occasional “dose” of parent support all through your little one’s childhood, and perhaps even become friends with a circle of parents who “get it”. “What, you too? I thought I was the only one” says author C.S. Lewis. While our kids are part of a rare group, you can create a circle of support no matter where you live. From the time of identification to those first years after high school, experienced parents can come alongside you to help you think about what is truly important. Parent-to-parent support programs can also connect you to Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) adult role models and mentors in your area, who can help you understand your child’s experience.
“Connecting with other parents is treatment.”
“The audiologist told us to keep hearing aids in ‘all waking hours.’ Realizing that was a long-term goal, not an immediate one, took the pressure off and helped us positively reframe our idea of success.”
You, your child and your whole family can benefit from the lived experience and earned wisdom of other parents, especially those parents trained to support others. Meaningful parent-to-parent support includes:
Other parents on the journey can even help you make sense of how your child behaves, where to look for the lost hearing equipment, how to find and connect with D/HH adults and celebrate with you when a big milestone is met. We can explain the many new terms you are learning, help you understand the “why” behind the many appointments recommended, and encourage you when you are feeling overwhelmed.
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Fathers, this Dads' Onboarding Checklist was written for new dads by more experienced fathers.
“I gained more understanding about hearing loss from talking to another parent who actually wears hearing aids herself. It was like a light bulb went off! Once I realized there was more to it, I began to research and learn about the many challenges my daughter has and what we can do to support her. I had been in the dark for so long. It feels great to finally understand."”
“If there is one piece of advice I could give, it would be to allow space for all the difficult feelings. Feel them deeply, let those feelings sink in and have their moment. But then, find that strength. You are the perfect parent for your child. You are the advocate they need, and the voice that they don't yet have. You win the baby lottery ”