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This study assessed the influence of individual family members in functional families, primarily to determine whether hearing children of deaf parents have more influence than do hearing children of hearing parents. Eight families with deaf parents and a hearing child and eight all hearing families were videotaped while planning a family meal together.
It was found that deaf-parented families share many traits with hearing families. However, there were some differences. The hearing children of deaf parents had a greater number and percentage of their ideas accepted than did the hearing children of hearing parents. Differences were also noted between the deaf fathers and the hearing fathers. The deaf-parented families were more adaptable, as measured by the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale. The observed difference in child influence, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Deafness of one family member, in an auditory dependent environment, may require a more flexible family power structure. Professionals assessing deaf-parented families should be sensitive to the special adaptive needs required for healthy functioning of the family.