Parenting deaf children: exploring relationships between resolution of diagnosis, parenting styles and morale, and perceived child vulnerability

Joshua Sealy*, Catherine McMahon, Naomi Sweller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Raising a deaf child can have significant impacts on parents’ wellbeing, their relationship with the deaf child, and their ability to parent effectively. Using an online survey, this study explored two questions: First, to examine whether hearing parents treat and perceive their deaf and hearing children differently while controlling for parent characteristics (including resolution of diagnosis), specifically in terms of parenting styles and perceived vulnerability. Second, whether hearing parents’ ability to resolve their feelings about their child’s hearing loss diagnosis was related to their parenting morale, and whether they perceived their deaf child as vulnerable. A total of 84 parents with a deaf child aged 5–12 years completed the survey, with 32 of those also reported about a second child without hearing loss in the same age range. They were asked to answer questions from the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview, and to complete several questionnaires addressing parenting morale, child vulnerability, and parenting styles. Findings suggest that unresolved feelings of diagnosis were linked to lower parenting morale and greater perception of child vulnerability. Sibling comparisons indicated that parents also reported a higher perceived child vulnerability score for the deaf child compared to the hearing sibling. No sibling differences were found regarding parenting styles. These findings suggest that the experience of having a deaf child can have a negative impact on hearing parents’ morale and perception of child vulnerability, particularly when parents remain unresolved about the diagnosis, highlighting the need for targeted supports and further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2761-2775
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number9
Early online date26 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • deaf
  • sibling-comparison
  • parent-child relationship
  • resolution of diagnosis
  • vulnerability


Dive into the research topics of 'Parenting deaf children: exploring relationships between resolution of diagnosis, parenting styles and morale, and perceived child vulnerability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this