Information for dads
Deaf children need a dad who is a positive role model and who can help them make the most of their abilities. Here you will hear from other dads with deaf children and find sources of further information.
It’s important you feel you’re part of your child’s life and both you and your partner support one another on an emotional, as well as practical, level. There will be many appointments both at home and at clinics which can seem never-ending.
If you work full-time, you may not be able to attend all of your child’s appointments. You could ask the professionals involved to make an appointment at a more convenient time, or you could call beforehand to find out what will happen and decide which appointments are important for you to attend. You could also find out if any of the appointments can be videoed for you to watch later on.
Remember, you’re a crucial member of the team supporting your child and it’s important that any letters written by professionals about your child’s hearing are copied to you. If you aren’t getting the information you need - don’t be afraid to ask.
It’s also important to have a chat with your employer to find out about your paternity rights in terms of time off work and annual leave entitlement.
Read about Christian, dad to Isabelle (5) who is severely to profoundly deaf and has additional needs, who tells us how he juggles full time work with the needs of his family.
“I think it is important for children to see both parents being communicative and using language and being emotional with the children as well.”
Fathers told us they sometimes find it difficult to know where to fit in, or perhaps because of work or other commitments, they weren’t always able to find out information first-hand. When you’ve been told your child is deaf, the early days can be a steep learning curve while you get to grips with new information and ideas. Don’t expect to understand everything immediately – you may need some time for everything to fall into place. Friends, family and parenting groups can all play their part in helping make sense of your situation. You can also ask your child’s audiologist, Teacher of the Deaf (ToD) or another professional to point you in the direction of local support. They can also explain your child’s hearing test results to you and what they mean in terms of what they can and can’t hear with and without their hearing aids. The internet can also be a good source of information, though caution should be used.
“I get inspiration from meeting the other parents, particularly the ones with older children so I know what the future looks like.”
Developing good communication in the early years is vital. With good communication skills a child can learn from, and influence, others. This is necessary to develop emotional, personal and social skills. Deaf children are no different, but sometimes may need to use different communication methods. This may mean the whole family has to adapt and learn some new communication skills themselves.
“Almost immediately after Colin was diagnosed, we both agreed to learn British Sign Language (BSL). We felt not only was it more than just communication; it felt as if we were doing something positive to begin the journey into learning what it’s like to be deaf. We agreed we would both do it, so we attended evening classes.”
Fathers told us that having a deaf child can sometimes mean making changes to their life. However, they generally felt that when balanced against the rewards of parenting a deaf child, this was a small price to pay. These changes could include learning sign language, learning new parenting techniques, modifying your home, or buying specialist products or equipment that will be of benefit to your child.
Parents of deaf children may also be eligible for free equipment provided by your local education authority, social services and the NHS.
“Our BSL class was in the evening which was ideal and free because we had a deaf child and in Derbyshire the local authority provide it free. Brilliant!”