This is the second and final part of Sally’s story (read part one here).
Profoundly deaf and seriously naive, Sally fell pregnant at 17 hardly knowing what was happening to her. Now, 20 years later, she reflects on how this experience affected her parenting, and passes on a few words of wisdom!
Sally was determined that a lack of information and, even more importantly, the inability to discuss things at home in an open manner was not going to take her children down the same path as she had experienced.
From when they were about 9, depending on the child’s nature, Sally has talked about changes to their bodies with her girls and boys. She has shared everything about her later pregnancies, including her feelings, with the older siblings and no subject is off limits. When she judges the time is right, she’ll have quite deep discussions about relationships, sex, respect, differences and emotions. She regularly buys condoms for her older boy and girl, and the son even told her about his first sexual experience! (I would never have felt able to do that with my mum, would you?).
Sally showed us a range of helpful books targeted at various ages which she uses with her children, and talked knowledgeably about parental controls on her TV, the internet and so on.
So far, there have been no unplanned pregnancies in her own family.
As a deaf mum to hearing children, compared to her upbringing the roles were reversed in this aspect too. How to chat about subtle and complicated subjects has been a problem at times, but Sally is a very persistent and innovative communicator, and not afraid to use her own body as an example.
Looking to the future and what life holds for her own children as parents, Sally does have some concerns. She’s worried that pornography and the internet are changing expectations in sexual relationships, and can challenge a child’s self-image. Young people rush into, and are not ready for sexual relationships (she should know), and there’s even more pressure than when she was a teenager. For a parent to be able to talk about any topic, from homosexuality to body hair, in a way and at a time which suits the child is, for Sally, the way to a safe and fulfilling future.
Deafax would like to thank Sally for being as open with us as she is with her family! If you have any comments or would like to know more about the courses we run to educate deaf children and young people about sex and relationships, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.