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Family Communication Plan for Parents of Deaf Children

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 1974 words Published: 26th Jul 2018

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There have been many studies conducted concerning children who are born into deaf families who can hear. These studies identify how parents manage this change in life and how they can make the best decisions that can positively impact their children and family. However, a limited number of studies have actually been conducted for children who are born into deaf families who can hear. Moore & Lane (2010) state that 90% of deaf parents have hearing children, unfortunately these children have the same amount of attention compared to those who are deaf in hearing families.

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The purpose of this review is to establish a plan for children born into deaf families that can best help them and their parents, identify other studies and articles that have researched this, and to identify key gaps that are missing from the research. This study will explore family communication with emphasis on expressiveness, family satisfaction, and motivation. It will also identify how these concepts relate to the roles of interpreting and protecting.


The research was conducted using the Cornett Library database online, which includes the CINHAL and MEDLINE databases, along with others. We limited our search to scholarly journals only and searched within a five year window so all data would be up to date and accurate. I searched for “deaf adults” “children with deaf parents”, and “nursing and deafness”. I chose the selected articles based on familiarity of ideas, and consistency of information, along with the minor disagreements that each article had.


Communication: There are many different theories that try to explain and solve the issue of communication of children and their deaf parents. Koerner and Fitzpatrick (2012) established a communication model by using relational observations. These analyzations created a theory that addressed the level of “conversational orientation.” Families with a high degree of conversational orientation tended to be able to freely communicate about any topic. This kind of communication led to high satisfaction within all family members. This theory states that every family is unique, so it is up to each separate family member to contribute to how they best like to communicate so their satisfaction is higher within the family, or environment. Olson (2011) used created the Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems and established a model that stated that communication, cohesion, flexibility, and family relationships are key to creating a healthy family balance.

Expressiveness: With both theories, it is important for family members to express themselves with their own opinions and ideas to continue positive communication. Schrodt (2015) conducted a survey that questioned young adult children about their family communication. Schrodt (2015) states that the “perceptions of family expressiveness have a sizable, direct association with perceptions of family cohesiveness and flexibility”. Schrodt also voiced the when family members communicate effectively, it lowers stress within the family structure, and it also helps to lower the stress levels of members outside the family unit as well (Schrodt 2015). Cohesiveness is formed when family members commit to the idea that they are going to converse with each other about both the negative and the positive things that are happening to them as well as the other people within the family. It is also important that the flexibility within the family happens. This can only occur when each family member learns how to properly deal with the information that is being discussed.

Family Satisfaction: The satisfaction family members have towards one another directly relates to the type of communication they have with each other. Burns & Person (2011) conducted an online survey where two family members answered questions related to three categories: relationship talk, joking around, or summarizing their day. The study concluded that the three categories were predictors of the family’s satisfaction towards one another. A sense of unity was formed when family member discussed one of these three topics, and this led to a higher family satisfaction. Caughlin (2013) states that “a family’s satisfaction rate can be measured only by the family members’ standards they have set for themselves and their family as a unit.” This emphasizes that all families are different and although satisfaction can be generalized through the previously mentioned studies, these situations should be recorded and investigated more thoroughly, as every family communicates differently.

Motives: Children communicate with their parents for many different reasons. Barbato, Graham & Perse (2013) identified two key variables when children communicate with their parents: inclusion and control. Children will learn how to properly communicate with their parents because the main thing they truly want is to be included in their family’s conversations. Children should learn how to communicate with their parents so they can explain their ideas, ask questions and feel a sense of belonging. Also, children communicate to gain certainty with what is going on around them to feel more in control of their environment. Barbato, Graham & Perse (2013) concluded that children are influenced by how their parents communicated. In the study, many children embraced the same communication habits as their parents.

Limitations and Gaps

All research studies have limitation that need to be considered. In the Burns and Pearson (2013) article they state that “future research should begin looking at families individually as units and then making comparisons with other family units to have a more accurate interpretation of ‘‘families’’ and not individuals. Complimenting these results with observations may also provide more validation.” Also in the Schrodt (2015) article, they state that the sample size that they used was too limited both in ethnic diversity and in number. This could have been easily corrected by expanding the number of individuals that participated and the different ethnic family that were included as well. Finally, Barbato, Graham, & Perse (2013) states in their article that certain fundamental gap was noted after their study was performed with the age group of 12-16 year old females. There were only five female girls aging from 12-16 years old, compared to 20 children from every other age group tested, making this the weakest point in their study.


Method Choice: In order to conduct my own inductive study, I would use a qualitative method throughout because I would be concerned about the effect family communication is impacted as a whole, not just only how the parent’s deafness impacts the family. Also, I would look for a similarity between the parents’ deafness and the family communication. I would study this by analyzing real participants it affects and in the actual environment with the communication occurs.

To guarantee credibility, I would use three methods to form my data. The three methods I would use would be personal interview, focus groups, and ethnographic research. The ethnographic research would enable authentic reactions within a real life environment and provide a unique opportunity to view this interaction between a child and parent. Personal interviews could help better understand a person’s motives and feelings, and focus groups could help new ideas form.

Sample Selection: For selecting a sample, I would use the Texas Association for the Deaf and receive a list of families that are living with hearing children and deaf parents. I would contact these families and explain my study and ask if they wanted to be a part of it. I would then choose a nonrandom sample of the participants that meet three criteria. First, they must be between 10 and 18 years old in order to answer all questions asked in the study. Secondly, they must live within a 20 mile radius of the Dallas Fort Worth area so I can properly and personally contact them all. Finally, both parents of the children chosen must be deaf. The minimum amount of families I would want to observe would be five. Overall, I would like to interview between 20 and 30 children

Procedure: In the ethnographic research, I would only be an observer. I would witness applicants both in a public setting and at their personal home, knowing that the participants might act differently because of my presence. For personal interviews, I would have a pre-determined list of questions and would give opportunity to ask new questions depending on the direction of the interview. The interview is estimated to last between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the extent of the participant. One question that I would ask would be, “Do you use regularly use voicing or sign language when you communicate with your parents?” In the focus group, I would use a facilitator who could both speak and use sign language. I would also take record the answers the participants stated and any other comments that could be useful concerning their communication within their family. After the data is collected, I would draw conclusions from it once it is interpreted and analyzed.

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Discussion and Conclusion

The goal of this literature review was to establish a plan for children born into deaf families that can best help them and their parents, identify other studies and articles that have researched this, and to identify key gaps that are missing from the purposed research. Its intent was also to discuss family communication with emphasis on expressiveness, family satisfaction, and motivation. Overall, children with deaf parents can and do communicate with them every day. The goal, however, is to support and help them and their parents better communicate with each other in order to create a healthy and happy family dynamic. This will help within the nursing community by improving communication with deaf patients and will greatly help in healthcare service areas throughout the world. Though this is seen differently with each family because every family is unique, the goal is the same, and with more work and improvement in this field, we can make a difference and see lives changed.


Barbato, C., Graham, E., & Perse, E. (2013). Communicating with the family: An examination of the relationship of the family communication environment and interpersonal communication motives. The Journal of Family Communication, 3(3), 123-148.

Burns, M., & Pearson, J. (2011). An investigation of communication atmosphere, everyday dialogue, and family satisfaction. Communication Studies, 62(2), 171-185. doi: 10.1080/10510974.2010.523507

Caughlin, J. (2013). Family communication standards what defining excellent family communication and how standards associated with family satisfaction? Human Communication Research, 29(1), 5-40.

Koerner, A., & Fitzpatrick, M. (2012). Toward a theory of family communication. Communication Theory, 12(1), 70-91.

Moore, M., & Lane, H. (2013). For hearing people only. Rochester: Deaf Life Press.

Olson, D. H. (2010). Circumplex model of marital and family systems. Journal of family therapy, 22(2), 144-167.

Schrodt, P. (2015). Family strength and satisfaction as functions of family communication environments. Communication Quarterly, 57(2), 171-186. doi: 10.1080/01463370902881650


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