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Opinion & Essays - April, 1994 Issue #27 

Barry H. Drage, LCSW/Clinical Director 
The Country Place of Utah Payson, Utah 

Each time my wife and I mixed up the "chromosome cocktail" that would result in the birth of one of our six children, we were fortunate that each was born with two ears and (apparently) "normal" hearing. The " " were added here to the word normal to suggest that all the physical features were intact - each had eustachian tubes, cochleas, anvils, stirrups, etc. And apparently in each case, the cochleas cochled and the anvils anviled in such a way that sound was transmitted - the doctors said their hearing was 20/20 (or was that their eyesight?). 

Over the years, however, I systematically impaired my children's hearing. In one case, it was only temporary and as soon as we discovered the problem his hearing became normal again. (We had bought a hat that was three sizes too big, so it fell down over his ears and muffled everyone's speech.) In each of the other cases, the impairment was also temporary, although more difficult to fix. 

With our first-born child, I impaired his hearing by yelling. Don't misunderstand, the decibel level of my voice couldn't hold a candle to the music he (and all my other kids) listen to. No, the damage wasn't done by the volume of my voice. To be sure, it seemed at times that yelling was the only way to get him to hear me. However, I've learned that when the volume of a parent's voice rises, a child's anger, hurt and fear levels also rise, thus blocking their ability to openly and objectively hear the parent. 

I've impaired my children's hearing by not listening to them. All too often over the years, in my great wisdom, I assumed I knew their answers after only hearing part (if any) of their side of a story. How could I expect them to listen to me when so often I didn't listen to them? 

I've impaired my children's hearing by nagging. They didn't have to develop good hearing - they knew they'd probably get 20 or 30 repetitions of the same message! 

Worst of all, I've impaired my children's hearing by lectures. You might say I had my tongue in their ear so often that they stopped paying attention. (I did discover that their hearing improved slightly when I started assigning numbers to my lectures and simply shouted out the corresponding number - sparing them all the details from previous lectures.) 

Most of my children are grown now and starting their own families. Maybe I'll give the gift of good hearing to my grandchildren. 

If you haven't done so in a while, perhaps you should check out your children's hearing. 

Copyright 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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