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Socializing a Child with Deaf Parents

Q. My husband and I are both deaf. I have one child (3), who has no problem hearing, but I am concerned about her socialization because of our lack of hearing.

She is learning sign language from us and speech from her aunt (my sister) who lives with us. I think now that maybe we were selfish to bring a child into this kind of world.

Are my fears for her well-founded? Should I let her go live with my parents, who have offered to take her in, so she can have a "normal" life.

This would break our hearts, but if it is the best for our daughter we would be willing to do this. Thank you.

A.. From the bit of information you provided, it sounds as if your daughter is already living a "normal" life.

Children need parents or caregivers who provide nurture and structure; do you believe you are giving her those things? I would think of your daughter as bicultural or bilingual, in both deaf communication and speech and hearing; you already have your sister in the home who has reinforced her speech.

Unless you are seeing any problematic behaviors, I would rest assured that she is getting what she needs. Preschool and play dates will help will socialization, as they do for all children. Addressing particulars of having deaf parents can happen in Children of Deaf Parents groups, and resources offered in the deaf community.

Kent State University has a deaf education program, and may also be a good resource for meeting other families with similar situations, and perhaps know of preschool or other social activities that are understanding of your daughter's "bilingual" needs. Written materials on the topic may be helpful to your parents if they are concerned about your daughter's social development.

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Anne Cook Finnegan

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