Sigrid Bosteels, Michel Vandenbroeck, Geert Van Hove
Background: This paper considers the voices of deaf children and their parents in Belgium’s Flemish community. Methods: This study is part of a larger longitudinal project on early interventions in families with deaf children. We open up questions of identity and belonging for empirical examination by exploring the unrecognized borderlands of a particular childhood in a particular society which is guided by the quest for physical, social and mental health perfection. Qualitative data were obtained from interviews with parents and children with congenital hearing loss but no other impairments. Results: It is argued that children as meaning makers enact difference or sameness as a means of participating in wider social encounters. Changing contexts and social encounters, together with expectations of how a deaf child is supposed to behave, add an element of contingency, of fluidity to children’s sense of self. Conclusions: Dominant discursive practices of a fixed all-or-nothing position are challenged or rejected.