Fatherhood Tales: Being Deaf and Raising a Hearing Son

Shawn Jackson Fatherhood Tales, Getting Personal 2 Comments

No one ever said being a father was easy. In fact, I’ve found the challenges of fatherhood to be harder as a deaf father of a teenage hearing son.

 

Now, let me be clear: I love my son. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him if he needed it. I have been there since before he was born. And it hasn’t been easy, especially when I broke up with his mother. It was very painful time and full of adjustments, concessions and agreements… with disagreements sprinkled here and there. Still though, these are things many families deal with.

 

However, as many deaf parents of hearing children will attest, when your child becomes a teenager and puberty rears its angst-laden head, the difficulty rises considerably. It makes you want to turn back time and bring them back to when they were smaller and more innocent and less likely to say something back to you or call you a name when your head’s turned.

 

I’ve had to deal with his voice-talking when it’s clear that I, nor his mother, can hear. He would completely forget that we both need him to sign, which he’s been able to do since he was 10 months old. He also has conveniently forgotten that neither of us can read his lips (speech-read) all that well. It’s almost like a silent treatment, though he has used that as well.

 

The obstacles, of course, don’t stop at not hearing him… because it also affects whether or not he is accurately translating what someone else is saying. As a teen, I know it’s difficult to pay attention to every word someone is saying… and moreso when your parents are deaf and you’re the only one who can translate on such short notice, which can be very unfair for him and frustrating. It can make it hard for him to enjoy whatever or wherever it is that we’re at as he’s basically stuck with me or his mom translating and not going about being a kid.

 

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The issue of burnout is a real one, as well. Both on his part and mine. There are times when you get tired of translating/transliterating voice-speech to ASL, and vice versa, and just want to be alone or not have to sign for few hours. I’ve also gone through that with his mom being her interpreter.

 

But he’s also made me proud in these teen years, so far. I’ve been so proud of my son and his joining NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) was a proud moment as it seems he’s found his niche. The path of discipline has been a tough ride. Because of my deafness, he thinks he can get away with more than most kids his age. This is why I was supportive of him signing up for NJROTC. It takes a village and I’m grateful that my village is large.

 

The path of discipline has been a tough ride. Because of my deafness, he thinks he can get away with more than most kids his age. This is why I was supportive of him signing up for NJROTC. It takes a village and I’m grateful that my village is large.

 

I’ll end here as I could keep going. Raising him has been a joy. Through the good times and the bad, I’ve learned so much more about being a father, what I have to improve upon and what I’m doing right. He’s my son and I’m proud to call him that.

 

My son and I at his NJROTC ceremony this year

My son and I at his NJROTC ceremony this year

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