"I canít seem to do anything right! I almost hate my child and I feel terrible about it."

Supporting families through the latter emotional stages: frustration, anger, and guilt.




Resources:

        Ferris, Caren (1980). A hug just isn't enough. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.

        Luterman, David M. D Ed and Ross, Mark PhD (1991) When your child is deaf: A guide for parents. Parkton Maryland: York Press.

        McGill, Patricia Smith. You are not alone (1999) [Online] Available: http://babyparenting.about.com/library/weekly/blspecial.htm?COB=home&terms=you+are+not+alone&PM=113_300_T

        Odgen, Paul W (1996). The silent garden: Raising your deaf child. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet Univerity Press.

        Spink, Diane (1976). Crisis intervention for parents of the deaf child. Health and Social Work, 1 (4), 141-159.

        Watkins, Susan Ed D and Clark, Thomas C PhD (1993). The SKI*HI model. Logan, Utah: SKI*HI Institute.

Synthesis of Information:

The feeling of helplessness can only occur for a short time before a parent begins to feel unable to care for

the child, leading to frustration. While there are many factors that can cause frustration, the root of frustration is parents'

feeling of incompetency. (Luterman, 1991).

Frustration can stem from (Ferris, 1980, and Ogden, 1996):

  • Not meeting own needs
  • Inexperienced Professionals
  • Lack of service
  • Lack of time
  • Misinformation
  • Poor advice
  • Run-around
  • Financial exploitation






Inability to make life perfect for their child
 
Feeling incompetent of raising their child

 
This feeling of inadequacy can turn to anger when professionals, rather than the parents, are making the decisions for the family. Anger also occurs when there is a conflict of expectations and it is often displaced to professionals (Luterman, 1991). Each parent has a personal opinion of what fairness is, and most of those opinions do not include raising a d/hh child (Ogden, 1996). Parents feel that they are being singled out, and that they lost control and freedom of their life (Luterman, 1991).
Guilt occurs because the parents feel responsible for the hearing loss, regardless of the reason of its onset (Spink, 1976). Parents feel an urgent need to find the cause of the deafness and place to blame. Caregivers usually place the blame on: a punishment for a misbehavior, the belief that bad things happen to bad people, and themselves for doing or not doing something during pregnancy (Ogden, 1996 and Watkins and Clark, 1993)

Commonly heard phrases are (Luterman, 1991 and Ferris, 1980):
 

Parents then attempt to "pay for their mistake" by giving all their time to their child and promise to Ďmake it upí to their child (Ferris, 1980 and Luterman, 1991). This is a noble sacrifice, however doing everything for someone else results in unhappiness which transfers to the child. Parents need to realize that deafness isnít something that can be controlled (Ferris, 1980)

As are the other emotions, these lead to positive outcomes. Frustration is a feeling which leads to parents taking the responsibility toward constructive action. While anger is often looked at negatively, it is beneficial to most parents as it relieves the feeling of frustration, allowing parents to feel self reliance. Guilt is a medium that allows parents to reexamine their true beliefs, and helps parents realize that they are not responsible for everything that happens to their child (Ogden, 1996).

Strategies:

Synthesis

While we tend to look at the emotions of frustration, anger, and guilt negatively, they do lead to positive outcomes. These emotions push individuals to take initiative to "do something" because they don't like what they are feeling. Professionals need to allow families to feel these emotions and let them know that these emotions are normal. The key is to focus these energetic emotions to constructive actions, rather than destructive ones. The intensity of feeling these emotions usually equals the concentration of energy to constructive action. This means that the more angry a family is, the more they will be willing to pursue positive actions.
 
 

Bibliography

        Children with a hearing loss: "For families with d/hh children." (1991) [Online] Available http://www.brandysign.com/childhear.html

        Family village home: A global village of disability related resources (1999). Deaf/Hard of hearing. [Online] Available http://www.familyvillage.wisc.edu/lib_deaf.htm

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