Why new parents of deaf children also have to learn to cope emotionally with the knowledge that their baby is deaf?


The realization that a child is deaf causes stress in families who have had little contact with deaf persons and known about the implications of deafness. In addition to coping with the shock of the initial diagnosis, families must acquire understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge Terri Feher-Prout (1996).

Mary was delighted when the doctor declared that it was a baby boy. Nine months down the line and four pregnancies later finally a boy. It was such a relief for her at least her in laws will not be on her case anymore. Ever since she got married and since her first child and the ones after happened to be girls, pressure was brought to bear upon her to give the clan a boy. In the culture she was married into – the Giryama found along the Kenyan coast, apparently boy were valued more than girls. “A boy child is perceived to be the one in a better position to withstand harsh conditions as compared to a girl, therefore, is allocated chores that require him to be physically challenged, like staying out in the bush for days tracking down cattle with the wild being his only source of food and comfort”. The boy child is viewed as responsible for security of the family especially in the absence of the father. This explains why the boy child is celebrated more than the girl child when born in this and many African cultures.

What parents of the deaf go through is more or less what people feel when they go into a new culture for the first time. At first the excitement of having a baby and in the case of Mary a baby boy for the first time is equivalent to the honeymoon stage or the initial euphoria stage characterized by curiosity, fascination and excitement at this stage, even if parents notice something different, they tend to neglect differences and reinforce similarities. Parents are excited, positive and highly optimistic about the future. When Mary suspects that there is something wrong with her baby and the doctors confirm he is deaf, denial sets in. This is the frustration or crisis period. Here the parents come face to face with the reality of their child’s hearing loss and the stark reality that their child is different. This is equivalent to the culture shock stage. When people are immersed in a new Deaf children Health Pol. Vol.2 No.2 2019 1 1 culture, "culture shock" is a typical response. They should anticipate that they will probably feel "bewildered and disoriented at times.

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