Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs)
In the deaf community, children of deaf adults, or CODAs, are commonly referred to as “mother father deaf”. Research has shown that over 90% of all children of deaf people are not affected by deafness or other hearing problems. Overall, these children are as capable as ordinary kids of excelling in most aspects of life. Nonetheless, their need to deal with the deafness of their parents may expose them to certain problems.
One of the main problems that are encountered by deaf people with children is interpretation. Since CODAs have to communicate with their parents on a daily basis, they have to undergo some form of deaf education. Most of them are proficient in sign language, and they have a good understanding of deaf culture. Often, they are called upon to act as interpreters between their parents and hearing people, but this task may be inappropriate sometimes, because the subject of discussion may not be suitable for children. Deaf parents who do not want their children to interpret certain kinds of conversations, such as adult conversations, legal matters, or problems with the school, can hire a professional interpreter or seek the assistance of a social worker for the deaf community.
Many CODAs also experience problems communicating with their parents. Deaf people use sign language exclusively when they are communicating among themselves, but they may use a mixture of signing and speech with their children. By doing so, they are limiting their children’s ability to learn sign language and understand deaf culture, and this can result in an ever-widening communication gap. Deaf parents should not be afraid to teach their children sign language. By allowing their children to learn both sign and spoken languages, they are also helping to expand their options in life. CODAs who can use sign language fluently can seek careers in deaf education and contribute to the deaf community. A career in deaf education brings great personal fulfillment, because it allows them to help deaf people overcome the challenges presented by their deafness and succeed in life.
It is not uncommon for CODAs to feel mentally and emotionally overburdened when they try to protect their parents. When they are signing with their parents in a public place, they may hear unpleasant comments from people who assume that they are deaf. Most CODAs choose to internalize the comments to prevent their parents from feeling hurt. Additionally, many hearing children feel uncomfortable when they are around CODAs, and they prefer not to socialize with them. This can cause them to isolate themselves from hearing people. Due to their parents’ deafness, they are also required to assume greater responsibility at home. They have to keep an ear out for alarms, burglars, announcements, and other sounds. Parents should talk openly to their children about the situations that they may encounter. Explain to them that they may face discrimination because hearing children have little understanding of deaf culture, and give them advice on how to deal with discrimination. Also, encourage them to disclose all the negative feelings that they are experiencing.
Here are links to more information about CODAs: