Hearing-impaired parents learn how to understand their hearing child’s love language, at a recent talk by Talking Hands.
Contributed By Caleb Lee
Parenting is a lot of hard work … and heart work. That is what a group of eight parents with hearing disabilities found out on April 8, at a talk by Talking Hands, a group from City Harvest Community Services Association that supports the hearing-impaired. What was unique about the attendees was that every one was a parent of young, hearing children.
Any parent would tell you that parenthood comes with joy and challenges. For these parents, however, the challenge is on a whole new dimension. Young children are at a stage where they are exploring their emotions and learning about boundaries. They have limited vocabulary expressing themselves in words—let alone in sign language.
Karen Wright is one of the eight parents who attended the talk. As an individual with hearing impairment and mother to a hearing child, she would often feel perturbed when her son could not understand her or could not express what he wanted through sign language. When it came to discipline, Wright found herself having to keep signing to him, checking if he understood what she was saying. When her patience ran out, the account executive would go to her mother or sister for help, so they would intervene.
Another parent, who declined to be named, would go to her older son for assistance when she failed to get the message across to her younger son.
The talk, titled “Parenting Skills,” was given by Tan Yah Lan, an assistant pastor from City Harvest Church. Touching on the “Five Love Languages,” an ideology developed by marriage and family life expert, Dr. Gary Chapman, Tan spoke about the need for parents to express love to their children. Tan is a mother of two children, and has been providing guidance and counseling to parents for the past 15 years.
With the help of the volunteers from Talking Hands who interpreted the session in sign language, Tan guided the parents in identifying the five universal love languages of their children, namely, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
Through the interactive session, Tan also explored topics such as discipline, building up a child’s self esteem and addressing a child’s deepest needs.
“A child who feels right will behave right,” explained Tan. She went on further to add that for a child, the growing up years of 3 to 10 is the best time for the parent to bond with the child, build relationship and instill the right values and attitudes in life.
Tan used the analogy of planting. Given the right environment, children will grow and blossom, and the role of the parent is like that of a gardener—to water and nurture the child.
Tan also emphasized the need to adopt an attitude of fun to create a positive atmosphere to develop a child’s emotional intelligence, or EQ. She shared useful tips such as developing a reward system with star charts, whereby children are rewarded after they achieved certain goals; teaching children about the importance of delayed gratification; as well as money management.
The session ended with the parents sharing what they learned from the talk and how they intended to apply the principles they had learned.
One parent used to resort to the cane when his daughter refused to listen to him. During the talk, he learned the importance of using the right love language to reach out to his child, with love, patience and being firm.
“The topic on the Five Love Languages really helped us. We’ve come to realize that our child’s primary love language is Quality Time; so we’re going to spend more time with our child,” said Julie Eng, an administrative assistant and Bernard Cheong, a graphic designer.
Michelle Goh, an administrative assistant said, “I’ve learned that it is so important to build up EQ in a child. It is a skill that he or she can take and apply in so many areas in life, now and when they are adults.”
“Through the talk, I know now the importance of praising and encouraging my child daily and as often as possible, because Words of Affirmation is definitely her love language,” said Wright.
Jacqueline Chan, a counselor and a veteran volunteer with Talking Hands, felt that these parents are very resilient. She said, “Raising children as hearing parents is hard work; but for hearing-impaired parents, they have to cope with the extra challenge in communicating with their children who may not be fluent in sign language. So we want to do what we can to help them every step of the way.” Chan added that Talking Hands plans to hold another talk, “Making Marriage Work,” for this group in the near future.