Leading As A Deaf Daddy- By ‘Daddy, Watch Me!’

It’s no secret that Life is not easy. Life as a father is even harder. Life as a Christian father is even tougher.—But, Life as deaf Christian father is even more challenging.  

I am on this Cochlear Implant journey by choice, a choice made by the Christian Daddy within me and because of my upmost fear of not being capable of being the Daddy that my children need me to be. Looking back, it was an emotionally draining decision, but at the same time it was also such a clear-cut simple decision — because I personally felt that if I kept my original ear(s)—I’d fail at fulfilling my duty as a  father for my children—particularly as the LEADER figure in my household.

There are a countless number of ways to provide leadership, but I feel I’ve been put in a difficult position to maximize my leadership abilities. For example, TRUST, being DEPENDABLE, PROTECTION and COMMUNICATION are just a few qualities of providing leadership– Sadly, I don’t even have the trust in MYSELF that I can provide that for my children. How can they depend on me for protection if it’s possible I might not even sense danger because I can’t hear a cry for help? Sure, I can provide guidance and direction directly through my physical actions– But is that really enough? I don’t have that answer, but I personally think that the power of speech and hearing as in verbal communication is equally important as sight/actions. Leadership has many qualities, but the more weapons you possess, the greater impact you can have.

I will not hesitate to tell you that my children do appear to look up to their Mommy as a leader-surely more than I (and who can blame them). And…. that does sting-and is not something I am proud of, nor thrilled to share with the world. But- the fact is, I can’t help it. Wouldn’t you look elsewhere for certain aspects of leadership if one source was lacking? Especially if it’s right there in your household? My wife provides all the things that I lack and my children know this. They know she has more resources than I, and that’s on top of being their nurturing mother.

Now, God created man to lead his family. And I’m not saying that I don’t– because I do, in many ways– but not in all the ways I’d like or need to. For example, I can be sitting in the same room as my daughter and if she wants something, she won’t even bother attempting to ask me—she will simply get up, walk right past me, and proceed to find her mother in a different room- she won’t even flinch if I call out after her to come tell me so that I can assist her. It is my duty to be there for her!-and I can’t? If that scenario came off as rude on her part—well it certainly does feel rude from my boots, but as a 3 year old, she has no trust in my current abilities to understand her verbally communicating to me, and knows that she cannot depend of me for quick communication. If that sounds stomach gutting– that’s because it is. It would be safe to say that I feel useless at times as a Daddy. I feel like I’m not providing for my children in the little simplest ways. And one thing that commonly occurs with my daughter when she does in fact come to me, after a couple of failed verbal communication attempts she begins raising her voice and shouting. And I do mean SHOUTING! She does not fully understand that elevated loudness does not result in clarity. It is frustrating times!

Unless you are one of the few lucky Daddy’s that got blessed with gifted children who not only abide by bedtime, but also sleep through the entire night-EVERY NIGHT, we all know night time is a ton of work. This is my wife’s duty EVERY NIGHT. I’m so sorry honey. It may be a control thing as my wife says, but I am convinced that this is directly related to my hearing status. My children pick-up on the fact that lights out results in me being deafer than lights on- it eliminates any lip-reading ability.

In conclusion, this journey I am currently on has not yet corrected any of my situations—with time, I am confident it will. As far as being a leader goes, a leader following Jesus, I just wanted to leave you all with the idea that although I may not be able lead my family in the ways that a fully functioning hearing Daddy could/would— I have now realized that this journey I am in the middle of, is nothing short of leadership. I am being a model for my children in so many ways that other Daddy’s likely won’t ever get the opportunity to do. I was presented a unique challenge in life and had to first overcome my fears, accept myself, and accept my past all through God -just to get to this journey. To do those things, it takes courage, forgiveness, and surely trust in God—all of which are qualities of a leader. This decision I made was for my children’s gain more than my personal gain–That’s sacrifice, giving up personal pride, and most importantly…tons of love. Are not all those qualities I am listing part of what God calls out for us, as fathers, to teach our children? I think I’m at least doing something right as a Daddy. To my Children: I will do whatever it takes to lead and raise you right, Deaf or Hearing. I LOVE YOU.

Please check of this video. I am not mute-deaf, but this video captures and exposes the challenges of being a deaf Daddy. Click on “Silence of Love Clip” text below, PLEASE!

Silence Of Love Clip

both sleeping

-Eric William

 


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