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A glimpse of parenting through visually impaired moms

Posted March. 10, 2022 08:04,   

Updated March. 10, 2022 08:04


“Moms who are visually impaired go through countless trials and errors to look for the optimal parenting method that works for them,” says Yoon So-yeon (age 36), mom of three children and author of the book “Just like any other mom” whom your reporter met with on Tuesday. The book, published on March 4, describes how three visually impaired mothers bring up their children and how they deal with social bias towards parents with disabilities. Yoon, who majored in child welfare and has a master’s degree in early childhood education, chose ‘Parenting of Visually Impaired Mothers’ as her thesis for her doctor’s degree. Your reporter met with them six times for the last four months and observed parenting for three hours respectively.

Visually impaired mothers go through feeding, changing diapers, bathing, and other basic parenting chores countless times, relying on their hands, ears, and sense of smell to become familiar with what is required to meet their children’s needs. As the child learned to walk, mothers tagged bells on their children as they worried about the baby falling and hurting him/herself. “There were scary moments when my child stepped into an elevator without me,” said Yoon. “But I am acutely aware of where my child is, fully using my sense of hearing to the point where I can hear my child touching the toilet from my room.”

Dialogue is the key to parenting, as conversations replace what cannot be seen. The mothers ask about every detail of how their day was, such as why the hair pin was missing and if their day had gone okay, whether they had bickered with anyone. Questions also involve thinking that goes beyond visual senses such as “How does water smell?” “What does the sound of wind make you feel?”

“One thing that the three families have in common is that they always keep the conversation going, which leads to enhanced language abilities. “A bird with blue wings is moving towards the right, instead of ‘look, there’s a bird,’” children say. “The parents’ disability helps reinforce the child’s ability.”

The book will be published in audio book and digital audio book format next month and in Braille in August. “Just like any other mom” is written in Braille on the recently published version under the visual title. One of the mothers was moved to tears after she found out the title of the book.

“We are just like any other mom, aside for the fact that we cannot visually see,” Yoon said. “Like another mom, we learn our differences with children and strive to reduce the gap. I hope that all of us can gain courage.”

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com