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Man's family calls daughter rude for how she communicates with deaf mom. AITA?

Man's family calls daughter rude for how she communicates with deaf mom. AITA?

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People are sometimes uncomfortable when meeting someone with a disability.

It's something that people with disabilities have to deal with on a daily basis. In their work life, with friends and sometimes even with family. One man got into a heated fight with his brother and his new fiancée when he brought his daughter and deaf wife to celebrate their union.

His brother's fiancée was very offended and uncomfortable with the way that his wife and daughter communicated in the restaurant. In order to get her mother's attention, her daughter would hit the table, so her mother could feel the vibrations. This felt normal to them, but the new fiancée and his brother were very upset.

'AITA for encouraging my daughter to bang on the dinner table?'

TA_familydinner

Last week my wife, daughter (Lizzie, 3F) and I had dinner with my family. We were there to celebrate my brother’s engagement. My parents were hosting the dinner at a restaurant and it was the first time Wife and I met my brother’s fiancee (Anna) as we don’t live near my family.

My wife is deaf and wears hearing aids, my family are aware that she’s deaf. My parents have learned a few signs so they can interact with her. As she is deaf, we have been teaching Lizzie sign language. When we are in loud environments, my wife is often overwhelmed by all the noise and turns off her hearing aids.

When this happens, we tell Lizzie in advance and she knows that if she needs her mum’s attention to either stamp her feet or bang on the table so that Wife can feel the vibrations and know that Lizzie wants her.

When we got the restaurant, it was loud so my wife told me she was turning off her hearing aids and would just lip read. My brother and Anna hadn’t arrived yet, but my parents were there and they apologized for the restaurant being louder than they expected.

My parents understand why she turns off her hearing aids and had tried to pick somewhere quiet. When my brother and Anna arrived, I told them that my wife had turned off her hearing aids. My brother just rolled his eyes while Anna had a slight look of disgust.

Anna was sat next to my wife at the table, Lizzie was on the opposite side of my wife. Part way through dinner, Lizzie banged the table next to my wife wanting her attention, but as my wife was conversing with Anna she didn’t respond to Lizzie straight away.

So Lizzie banged on the table a second time, and she got my wife’s attention to be taken to the toilet. Yes, she could have asked me to take her to the toilet but Lizzie doesn't like going into the men's and prefer to go with her mum. While they were gone, Anna snapped at me telling me that we need to teach Lizzie not to be rude.

I tried explaining that this is how Lizzie gets her mum’s attention when she had turned off her hearing aids and we encourage it, but Anna continued that this was rude and we should parent better. Anna referred to my wife as being defective, so I made the decision for us to leave.

I apologized to my parents, offered to pay for our meal and picked up our belongings. My parents insisted that Anna apologized but my brother agreed that the table banging had been rude.

That evening, I got an angry phone call from my brother (with Anna shouting in the background) furious that I had made a scene at the restaurant and left when it was Lizzie banging on the table that had been rude.

He also wants me to pay him back for dinner as my parents made him pay for dinner because Anna had been rude and they didn’t want to give her the idea that they supported her behaviour – they left just after we did.

I’m pretty sure that I’m NTA as this is normal to me with my wife being deaf but it might look rude to people on the outside.

Here are the top responses from readers:

rbrancher2

NTA Don't pay him back and let him know that any time his fiancee decides to try to tell them how to parent their child and insults your wife, the response will be the same. And him, too.

Has your brother always been snarky and insulting and dismissive of your wife and her hearing issues?

strawberry_baby_4evs

NTA here, but I think you probably need to find a different way for Lizzie to get her mother's attention in public, because this is probably going to come up again. Table-banging does irritate people. So you're in the clear this time, but just for future reference, maybe discuss a better way for her to do it.

emotionalsupportham

NTA. Eye rolling, looks of disgust, unsolicited parenting advice, straight up ableist insults.... I'd be done with Anna & brother forever.

PansyPeople

Holy cow, Anna is ... wow. NTA. While generally I would say not to teach your kid to bang on the table, she's doing it for a specific purpose that's acceptable in the Deaf community for attention getting. HOWEVER, this tactic is usually used among Deaf individuals WITH deaf individuals. You need to be teaching your child to get her attention in a variety of circumstances.

There were multiple avenues of getting your wife's attention in this scenario, that aren't as intrusive in a public setting and your Daughter needs to be taught them as well. She's three, so you have some time.

Just don't make table banging her go to, when there's other non-intrusive ways of getting a deaf person's attention. The first time she banged, YOU should have gotten your wife's attention instead of letting her keep on banging. NTA

natetruescot

Everyone focusing on the table banging but have nothing to say about Anna calling a deaf person 'defective' are the real AHs in here.

HobiToeBeans

I agree with this. OP is NTA by a long shot, however, certainly training Lizzie to capture wife's attention in a variety of environments would be the best way to move forward. Thank you for standing up for your wife. I'm sorry your family members disrespect her disability. I'm glad to hear your parents at least seemed to have the right attitude towards this situation though!

What would your advice be to this family? Is there a common ground or a sense of understanding you think they can gain?

Sources: Reddit
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