Category Archives: parents

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Four ‘Hero Moms’ of Deaf Children

Hero Moms

Do you remember that day when you first found out your child was deaf? I still remember the look in the audiologist’s eyes, the tone of his voice, the feeling of sympathy and sadness, “It’s a severe to profound hearing loss,” he said.

The journey that followed was filled with visits to the medical professionals, early interventionists; an information overload dumped on us as parents of a deaf child. There are pressures from the audiologist to make choices for listening devices. Maybe your family has an opinion to chime in as well.  Not to mention the stress of everyday life and trying to connect to a child who is different than you.  It’s not hard to understand why we are overwhelmed.

In my journey I have met some mothers who have become heroes in my eyes. They have done their best to communicate with their children, make sacrifices for their child’s success and SO MUCH MORE.  Although there are many more like them, I will share four stories today. Know that for each story shared here there are many more stories that go untold everyday. I know you are out there Hero Moms and I salute you!

My Mom

When my sister lost her hearing at age 16, the audiologists fitted her with hearing aids and sent her back to the classroom with no further support. My quiet but determined mother always put her daughters first and was not satisfied with this arrangement, especially when she saw my sister continuing to struggle.  Finally, after asking everyone she knew about education for the deaf in the area, she found a program that used ASL. She contacted the school officials and soon my sister was attending a new school across town with other students who were deaf. My willing grandma with wavy gray hair, my nervous but dedicated mother and I began taking classes at the local community college with my sister. She passed us up quickly, but I was close behind. I always look up to my mother and grandmother for attending that class with us. My Hero Mom made sure my sister had the support she needed, even though it meant opening our world up to a new world that was in many ways overwhelming to her.

April Giauque

This little brunette fireball is one of my Heroes. You can read her blog here. I met April after learning her daughter was the same age as mine, to the very day! We met up at a McDonald’s. While her oldest 3 children, all who have autism, played in the playground, we chatted for over an hour. It was the first time we had met in person, but we had so much in common it felt like we had always known each other. Her sixth child, the baby at the time, was her first Deaf child and April was just learning ASL. She now holds an ASL endorsement for her special Education teaching degree and is teaching at a school for the Deaf. When her second Deaf child was born, she knew what to do. Pieced together in a beautiful family, this mother has tackled every challenge and is breaking through barriers for ALL of her children, as well as for others.

Tricia Feik

I remember when I met outgoing, friendly Tricia. We attended her church on a visit to her town. Her Deaf daughter was the same age as my Deaf son.  They played together. Later she would relate to me, “From that day that she met your son she has been a different child. Something clicked for her that day.” It is so important for children to meet others like them! Tricia, truly a Hero Mom, understood that.

After that meeting we kept in touch. In efforts to connect her daughter to a larger Deaf peer group, Tricia’s family moved to a different state just as we moved to the North West. As always, Tricia has been involved in the school’s parent organization and stayed active in her daughter’s education. I admire the effort by the entire family to learn and use ASL. They make sure all are included and have what they need, even when it meant moving to a different state.

Tricia has written about her family’s journey here.

Audrey Devan

I have enjoyed meeting and becoming friends with the reserved Audrey Devan. When Audrey, a member of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe  with long dark hair and large dark eyes, found out her daughter was Deaf, she immediately started learning ASL and becoming active in the community where she lived. She was supportive of other families in her same situation but quickly realized there were few families of Deaf children near her. When it became clear that her daughter would not be getting the education she needed where she was, she left everything she knew behind, including a close and loving family, and moved to another state for the greater good of her daughter’s education. The road has not been easy but the rewards for her daughter have been amazing. The changes I have seen in her and her language have been so fun to watch. A Hero mom makes sacrifices for her child.

Becoming a Hero Mom

Being a mother is hard. Being a mother of someone who is different than you is harder. Making sacrifices in order to make sure your child has every chance to succeed is invaluable.

I know what you are thinking, “I don’t think I’d call myself a ‘Hero Mom’.”

I remember thinking the same thing. I’d think of moving or pursuing my own career while being a mom and I’d be filled with fear. I’d ask myself, “Am I doing enough?” “Am I being the mother my children need so that they can truly succeed?” “Are my kids in the right place?” “How do I take care of my hearing and deaf children? “How do I ensure everyone feels accepted and loved?”

Becoming a ‘Hero Mom’ doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes. It doesn’t mean your house is spotless and your kids are perfect angels. That isn’t realistic. No one is that kind of mom.

Being a ‘Hero Mom’ means you do your best to connect to your child, to let him know you love him no matter what. It means setting up your home for a safe place for all of your children. And a real Hero Mom will teach her child that anything is possible with the right tools, determination, sacrifice and dedication.

Are you ready to become a ‘Hero Mom?’ Are you already doing many things and just need a little push and support?

I’d love to help you pinpoint your areas of concern and provide tools that will support you on your journey. There are answers, and those answers look a little different for each family. There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ever Thought YOU were a Bad Mother? Think Again.

How long is your To do list today? Let’s see, I need to go to the store, call the Dr., start the laundry, do the dishes, etc. etc. The list goes on and on doesn’t it?

As Mothers, we have a full time job. Many of us work and have our full time job as mothers! And it seems if we don’t perform at top notch in any of these jobs, there must be something wrong with us.

Sometimes it’s really easy to see all the things we are not doing. You look back on your list and realize you didn’t accomplish everything, or all the things we are doing that we think are just not right.

The kids complain; the house is messy .

It’s easy to look at another Mom and think they have it altogether.  You think, “I should be that way.” It’s easy to focus on the negative and start criticizing yourself.

We forget that we are not the only ones that feel this way.

Think again:

So, let me be a messenger of TRUTH for you today.

You are a beautiful, amazing mother. You are doing an wonderful job.  In your child(ren)’s eyes you are the most beautiful woman alive. You are everything to them.

Sometimes they may not think to say thank you. So let me be the one to tell them for you, “Thank you.” I am grateful for you. You are vital not just to your child, but to your family, to your community, to our society. We need you. Your child needs you.

And so I want to invite each of you mothers today to look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself: “You are amazing! You are beautiful! You are a wonderful, caring mother, and I love you!”

Today, maybe you don’t look at that list. Give your child a hug and sit down and do something fun. You are a mother! Celebrate! Cherish your role. No one is perfect.

We are all on this journey together. I hope you will tune in every month for our parenting tips and check out our blog for support in your journey. You see. I have felt just like you and I have learned it’s just not true. I’m not perfect, but I am important. I am amazing!

I love you! You are amazing!

What do you do with a Power Struggle? Offer Choices!

As Parents we ALL have times when we want our kids to do something that they don’t want to do. This happens because our kids are developing their ability to make choices and control the world around them. This is healthy and it’s something we want to encourage.

What do you do with a Power Struggle?

So, what then do we do when our kids want something and we want them to do something else? Part of the answer is the Fast Food Rule. That’s the tip I shared last month on how to connect with your child when the emotion is high and get a message to him. When we connect, the doors of the brain open and the child is able to accept what we have to say.

Giving Choices

Today’s tip focuses on the last step of the Fast Food Rule: giving choices. I use this strategy with all my children daily. My kids are 12, 10, 6 and 3. At each age this tip is great!

“Giving Choices” sounds like a real easy tip that doesn’t need a lo

t of explanation, right? Well, there are a few rules that are very important to having this tip work!

Step ONE: Connect with your child

You can use the Fast Food Rule to connect with your child and make sure you understand each other.  Make sure to recognize the child’s feelings and that the child knows you know how she feels.

Step TWO: Give Directions

In this step you need to say exactly what needs to happen: “It’s time to go home.” “It’s time to do homework.” “It’s time to take a bath.” Etc. Make sure to be clear and simple.

Step THREE: Give Choices

Finally you give the child 2 or 3 different choices. This is important: ALL OF THE CHOICES MUST BE ACCEPTABLE! Do not give a right and a wrong choice. You, as the parent, want to b

e fine with whatever choice your child chooses.

Here’s an Example:

Say your child is at a play date and it’s time to go home. Maybe you have already given a 5 min warning. This is a natural situation where the child would want to keep playing. Here’s how it might look:

Mom: “Hey. 5 minutes is finished. It’s time to go home.”

Child: But Mom! I don’t want to go home!

Mom: (remember you are using the fast food rule) Oh, I see you are sad. I understand. Me too. I wish we could stay and play all day. But it is time to go because we need to do some other things now. (You can say as much as you want about this depending upon the age and emotional state of your child.)

Mom: Do you want to run to the car? Or do you want to walk?

OR you could say: We need to go to the car. Would you like to help mom by carrying your backpack or my purse?

OR you could say: Do you want to go to the car hopping like a bunny? Or running?

What makes this strategy so cool is that you, as the parent, stay in control but to the child it looks and feels like they are in control! Since this is what the child wants, it becomes a Win Win situation!

As you apply this tip you will not only see a decrease in power struggles, but also a boost in self-esteem and motivation in your child. It really does empower them to be independent. They feel respected and loved. Isn’t that what we really want for our children?

You are an awesome parent! I know just because you are reading this blog! The fact you are interested in improving your parenting says you are awesome! Thanks for being you!

A Deaf Sense: a Sense of Belonging

Last week I introduced the idea of Maslow’s Hierarchy and focused on the need to create a sense of belonging. It is important to create that sense of belonging in the family. Today we’ll look at outside the family to foster a sense of belonging in the youth around us. Both deaf children and hearing children that are connected to the world of deafness in some way need to develop this “Deaf Sense.”

A sense of belonging is a sense of unity, a connection with others who are like you. A Deaf Sense is when that belonging is felt as a deaf individual. This is actually where the name of our business came from. When individuals can FEEL connected to themselves, they can start to belong to something outside of themselves. The first place this usually happens is in the family, as I described last week.

However, there is another place that belonging is needed. And if the belonging in the family is struggling, youth look to the larger community to feel belonging. Individuals need to belong to a group in society. For Deaf children, that group is Deaf people. Sure, deaf youth can be a part of other groups: sports, church, etc. but the belonging that will come from a group that shares the same experiences, challenges, values and language will be so beneficial in their lives.

I have also seen the value of having CODAs and SODAs come together and share common experiences. They support each other and gain common understanding. It’s important for them to understand their place in the Deaf community and also feel a sense of belonging to their hearing world.

Research shows that identity is important!

Research has shown that those who can identify themselves in the world have a more positive sense of well-being. This well-being increases when the children can identify themselves in their family and then in the w

orld at large, and even more when they can do so bi-culturally with both the deaf and hearing cultures.

Celebrating Deaf History Month can give deaf youth a sense of belonging to the deaf community: A Deaf Sense. This identity and acceptance of his or her own Deaf Sense will then allow each individual to continue onto the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy: a strong Self Esteem, accomplishments and Self-actualization. Children who belong are more likely to become successful citizens who contribute to society and give back in a way only they can.

Going back to Maslow’s Heirarchy

Young woman without a sense of belonging.

If a young teenage girl does not feel like she belongs in society or her family, she may try to fit in by losing weight and cause an eating disorder. When the level of belonging is gone in the triangle, the lower levels also suffer.

Once this teen can feel a sense of belonging, she will be more likely to take steps to get help with the eating disorder. With help, the basic needs of survival and safety can be taken care of and the teen can move onto achieving goals and becoming the person desired.

For the teen that still does not feel any sense of belonging , she continues to search for it. This search for belonging leads children to gangs, to drugs, to sex… and for some, to suicide.  “If I don’t belong, why am I here?” They ask themselves.

Finding an identity within the Deaf community CAN and WILL make a difference.

What can you do?

You can make a difference by helping a youth feel that sense of belonging!

As a parent; as an educator, we have the power each day to help a child feel like he or she belongs in this world. A smile, a chat, a video of a story, a word of encouragement, a lesson about another deaf person, or an experience in  meeting other deaf youth is all it might take to let that youth know that you care, that there are others out there just like him or her and that he or she is important.

Confident student with a sense of belonging to her peers.

Please! Reach out today!  Reach out to that child who is struggling. Help him feel a sense of belonging in your family. Help her feel a sense of belonging in your classroom. Help him find his hearing sense and make sense of the hearing world he is a part of. Help her find her Deaf Sense through the fun of Deaf History.

Sign up for more great ideas to build self esteem in your child or students today:

Our posters are a great way to help youth feel that sense of belonging!

Get your Deaf American Time Line and the                         We Succeed Because We Can posters today!