Emotional wellbeing for parents and carers
“The more you talk the better, but you HAVE to be ready to talk. That’s why the newly diagnosed event was so good, talking to families who’ve been through it, mum-to-mum, dad-to-dad. It’s more powerful than with a professional.”
Kayleigh is mum to Henry (2)
In order to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in your children, it’s vital you look after yourself first. Below are some tips on how to look after your own emotional wellbeing as the parent or carer of a deaf child.
Having kids is hard, and as much as we love them, things don’t always go to plan. If you feel you’ve made a mistake, try not to let this impact how you see yourself or dictate what you do going forwards. Embracing your mistakes while showing humour sets a great example to your child and those around you.
If your child received a delayed diagnosis for their deafness or another condition, try not to blame yourself. Many parents have never dealt with deafness before and the process of getting diagnosis and treatment is completely new to them. You’re learning a brand new set of skills, and are exploring a whole new dimension to family life. As time goes on, you will learn what to expect and how to deal with professionals. Remember, you know your child better than anyone else, so you know if something is wrong.
Family life is busy, and it can be easy to lose track of your own priorities. Whether it’s attending a gym class, learning something new, reading a magazine or simply relaxing in the bath with a good book, having a few hours for yourself isn’t selfish. Children take their cues from their parents, so if you feel calm and confident in yourself, your kids will reap the benefits, too.
Many of our parent members find that meeting other parents of deaf children can be hugely rewarding and a wonderful way of learning and sharing tips and ideas. Knowing that you’re not alone and meeting other people who have experienced the same challenges as your family can be very empowering. You can get to know other parents of deaf children through our family events, Local Support Groups, and our Facebook page.
To find out more about the experiences of those who have attended our events read Tayibah’s story, Growing in confidence together.
As parents, most of us will have feelings of guilt about how we parent our children at some point. Guilt can stem from our own internal pressures as well as external influences. Images of ‘picture perfect’ families on social media, expectations from family, friends, other parents and professionals, false messages that you’re to blame for your child’s behaviour and unhelpful responses to deafness can all make us feel that we’re not being a good parent. Try to believe in yourself and trust in your ability to raise your child.
If you share the parenting role with someone else, whether you are in a relationship or separated, it’s very important that you can work together to help your child get used to routines and boundaries.
- Listen to each other. Discuss your worries and concerns and think through solutions together. If you’re separated, remember to share news on what your child has been doing with one another.
- Share the workload in parenting and household routines, such as making dinner or helping with homework. Show your appreciation for each other.
- Make time to be together, either with one another or with your friends. You’re not just a parent and it’s important to spend quality time with other adults. Call on family and friends to take the kids for a few hours a week, or ask other parents to share recommendations for qualified babysitters in your local area.
Whether a child is deaf or hearing, the most important influence in their life is their family. From an early age, children learn to pick up on and imitate the emotional behaviours of their parents. If you’re struggling with your mental health, there’s no shame in asking for help. Visit your GP, or visit SignHealth for mental health support in British Sign Language.