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Parents Furious After Deaf Daughter Says She Won’t Come Visit Them Again Until They Learn ASL

Jen Theodore/Unsplash

When a person becomes disabled in an accident, it can alter their entire family’s lives forever. But some people are better at dealing with this new reality than others.

A woman on Reddit found herself in this situation when her parents refused to deal with her newfound deafness.

She wasn’t sure about how she was dealing with the conflict that ensued, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the name basketsoftough on the site, asked:

“AITA for telling my parents I would not visit them again until they learned sign language?”

She explained:

“When I was 18 I was in an accident that caused TBI, resulting in me losing most of my hearing in both ears, making me deaf. I didn’t qualify for cochlear implants, so being deaf was just my new reality.”

“Obviously this derailed my life for a while. University got pushed back, and I was depressed for a long time. Eventually I got back out there, discovered the deaf community, learned ASL (american sign language), and at 26 I now feel very content with my life.”

“My parents were devastated by my accident, and our relationship has never been the same. A few years ago I told them I have embraced being deaf, and I asked them if they would learn ASL, as that is now how I prefer to communicate.”

“They said no at the time because they didn’t have time to learn a new language. I have tried many times over the years to try to give them information on deafness and ASL, but they have shown no interest.”

“We communicate now mainly by using voice-to-text on our phones, which is far from perfect, and very chaotic when multiple people are talking. Trying to keep up with conversations is exhausting, and people are constantly getting frustrated with me for not following along.”

“Often we watch movies, but they refuse to turn the captions on because it’s ‘annoying’, despite the fact that it means I can’t understand the movie at all.”

“This past Christmas, I once again struggled with conversations, which once again resulted in me being either ignored or yelled at. Before I went home again, I sat my parents down and told them that if they did not begin to learn ASL, I would not be visiting again for a long time. I told them I don’t expect them to ever be fluent, but I need them to show effort in learning.”

“I told them that they have continuously dismissed my needs as a deaf person, and that if they want to continue to have a meaningful relationship with me, we need to have some kind of shared language.”

“This didn’t go over well at all, as my parents accused me of wanting to cut them off, which isn’t true. I just can’t do any more visits where my presence feels like a burden. My brother and I have been texting since then, and he thinks I’m being hugely unfair.”

“So AITA?”

Redditors were then asked to judge who’s in the wrong in this conflict based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Unsurprisingly, they were firmly on OP’s side.

“NTA. They can’t even turn on the captions? WTH???!!!”

“No, THEY are being unfair. Also, they either can’t or don’t want to learn ASL. Either way, you cannot keep accommodating them when they do NOTHING to accommodate YOU.”

“You are doing the right thing. Either they will come around or they won’t. Just live your life around people who appreciate you and make you happy.”

“I wish you all the best.” –patjames904

” I suspect that once OP gives themself permission to take a step back from their family, they’ll have a significant revelation about how much of their depressive period was due to the weight of their family’s cruelty and, yes, ostracism. You don’t need that sh*t, man. They’re the burden, not you.” –yet_another_sock

“I am trying to wrap my head around the no captions thing and completely failing. My brain just locks up at WTF and does not go any farther.”

“OP: Sorry to have to say this but your parents are horrible people. I honestly can not find a different word to describe them.”

“You are better off spending your time with people who will treat you a lot better than your parents are treating you. It sucks but there is no reason you should make any effort to spend time with your parents who are not even willing to turn on the captions for their deaf child.”

“Definitely NTA..” –Volunddrydoch

“It’s one (not so great thing) to not want to learn ASL since it’s a lot of work and maybe they feel like they can’t learn a new language and it’s too hard. Learning a new language can be intimidating for some people (like me).”

“But refusing to turn on the captions when they watch a movie with OP just makes it seem like they don’t care about him or her at all. Turning on the closed captions costs them literally nothing and is not hard or time consuming. They expect OP to sit and watch an entire movie with no idea what is going beacuse . . . they don’t like having a few small words at the bottom of their picture?”

“It’s hard to give them good intentions when they act this way.” –TheHatOnTheCat

After reading her fellow Redditors’ input, OP came back with an update.

“EDIT I can’t respond to everyone, but thank you everyone so much for your kind words and support. I have been spending the last few days wondering if I’m being unreasonable or dramatic, as even though my friends (most of whom are deaf) support me, I didn’t know what the hearing would would think of this. I can now see that my parents are clearly being unfair.”

Hopefully OP and her parents can find a way through this.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.