Friday, January 9, 2009
Denial: A Mother Lies to her Deaf Child
I have begun my Italian experience in offering support to parents of deaf children. I don't know whether I'm cut out for this job or not. See, a mom on one of the forums wrote a post asking for comprehension regarding the fact that she has been lying to her son...
Her son consistently asks her, "Mom, when am I going to get better? When can I stop using my hearing aids?
The mother replies, "When you are twelve or thirteen years old."
Oh God, you know that horrifying sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when something is really, really wrong? Multiply that by infinity and that was my reaction. Then, suddenly this overwhelming sense of anger took over my body and I was flat out disgusted. I refuse to feel compassion for this mother, yet isn't that what I am supposed to feel if I'm helping other parents?? Hellllllllllllllllllp me!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This mother felt so badly that she lied to her son and she is lost. But, her son is more lost and he is who interests me.
Dear Anonymous Mom,
I don't have any desire to sugar-coat my reply to you, so I am apologizing ahead of time. Your son is Deaf. If you can't accept this fact, how do you expect your son to except it? Deafness is not the end of the world; although, yes, it does make life more difficult. You can say to your son, "You were born a beautiful, sensitive and intelligent baby, it's just that your ears don't work very well and so the hearing aids help them work better." He needs to understand that his ears don't work very well, but that he 'works' just fine.
I told her she needed to explain this to him in a firm yet loving way. If you don't face this situation, how do you expect your son to deal with it? His hearing aids are a part of him. Jordan called his hearing aids his ears. Do not HIDE them, because if you react in this way, then your son will really think something is wrong with him or that you are ashamed of him - and a child doesn't invent that feeling, someone gives him a reason to think that he should feel ashamed. No, it's not an easy thing to face, but you are an adult - start acting like one. I'm sorry, but sometimes things need to be said with conviction, because more than your well-being, I'm interested in your son's well-being...
I think I lost it and I'm not sure that I reacted in a productive way, but the fact that she lied to her son blew me away. I can understand denial, but denying your child's deafness to the point of lying goes against everything I believe...if I meet more parents who react like this, I don't know if I'm the right person for the job.
I'm very disturbed by this situation. What would you have said to this mother??