Parents play a vital role in their children's lives, shaping their opinions, values, and beliefs, and one of the most important aspects of parenting is effective communication. In order to ensure that children grow up to be well-rounded individuals, it is essential that parents take the time to listen to their children and understand their needs. This can be especially true when it comes to children with special needs.
According to Soo Kim of Newsweek, the topic of family communication was recently brought to light in an online post from November 02, in which a 16-year-old chastised his parents about their lack of motivation to learn sign language so that they might improve communication with their daughter who is mute.
The post's author is a 16-year-old boy with two sisters, one 23 and the other 13. In his writing, he references a car accident five years ago that resulted in serious injuries to his older sister, "Natalie." Fortunately, Natalie was able to recuperate from most of her wounds. But due to the severity of the impact on her vocal cords, however, she is no longer able to speak.
That's why Natalie can now express herself clearly through sign language. Unfortunately, their parents have been staunchly against any efforts to learn American Sign Language (ASL) themselves. He explained, "They always insisted that Natalie could write anything out, that text-to-speech was good enough if she didn't want to carry around a pen and paper. Most of her teachers were like that too, but I get it for them, she's just one student, and they're busy. These are our parents."
Because her brother learned sign language, Natalie is able to communicate with him easily and quite often, over FaceTime - something that's not possible with her parents. And although Natalie does contact her parents, she finds that having lengthy chats through text messaging consumes a significant amount of time, and she would prefer not to spend hours doing it that way. Her brother explained, "They expect her to be sitting on the couch with the phone and replying as fast as possible in real-time, and she's not interested."
"...Natalie's hands worked fine."
One day, he caught his parents griping about Natalie's lack of interest in texting them. They also said some disparaging things about her, so he lost his cool and let them have it. He writes, "I pointed out everyone who'd learned sign for Natalie - me, multiple cousins, our grandparents, multiple aunts and uncles, the two boyfriends she had after the accident (one of whom cheated on her, so he wasn't exactly prince charming but he still learned), her current girlfriend, and her creative writing teacher in high school. So many people learned to sign for her, but never them."
His parents were irate, informed him that he was incapable of understanding, and then grounded him. In addition to that, two of his aunts called to reprimand him over the phone and lectured him about how his parents shouldn't be expected to learn a "new language" considering how they both work full-time jobs. He writes, "They sarcastically asked me what clubs and sports me and our little sister should have lost so my parents could spend time learning a new language when Natalie's hands worked fine."
As a direct consequence of the deterioration of the situation, it is no longer possible for the family members on either side to come together. But in the grand scheme of things, according to him, it seems like both sides can agree on one thing: that Natalie and he are both "awful."
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