Children of deaf adults (CODA) often serve as interpreters for their parents, thus becoming the communication link between their parents and the hearing world.
There are several concerns surrounding children that serve as interpreters for their parents. One concern is that children are expected to interpret in situations that are considered inappropriate, whether its subject or age appropriateness, placing them in confusing and vulnerable situations. This creates for some hearing children an unwanted pressure and burden that they are too young to resist or negotiate.
Most of these situations are ‘encouraged’ by members of the hearing world
It is quite interesting to note that most of these situations are ‘encouraged’ by members of the hearing world. On the other hand, coda children also enjoy the richness associated with the knowledge of language and cultures of two worlds and report that maintaining this ‘special’ role in the family structure helped them gain responsibility, maturity and the ability to empathise with others.
Often CODA children experience isolation and rejection
Protection is another issue that coda’s face within the family unit. The hearing child may not interpret for their parents the insensitive remarks or comments made by a hearing person who assumed everyone in the family was deaf because they were all signing. Often times coda’s experience isolation and rejection from peers because they do not feel comfortable or want to associate with the deaf family members, thus creating a situation in which the CODA cannot openly discuss emotions and feelings of rejection with their parents for fear of hurting their feelings.
Such as ‘monsters’, burglars, smoke alarms, and cracking sounds of the ceiling collapsing
Children also may become hyper-vigilant, listening for things that their parents could not hear such as ‘monsters’, burglars, smoke alarms, and cracking sounds of the ceiling collapsing. Many feel that this could be considered as ‘role reversal’ and could later cause problems for the parent in later years when teenage trials and power struggles take place.
The flow of information changes drastically with the addition of a deaf family member
The issue of communication between the deaf parent and the hearing child show that most deaf parents “have no particular problem” accepting their child’s ability to hear, but are “acutely aware” that parenthood forces them to address things. The family power structure is greatly influenced by the flow of information. The flow of information in a hearing family is open within the family system and outside the family system to the larger community, but the flow of information changes drastically with the addition of a deaf member; moreover, it can be severely restricted when families with deaf and hearing members do not have a mutual communication system.
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