CPF welcomes guest blogger, 20-year-old Sarah Stone. Born with a cleft lip and palate, Sarah shares some of her experiences with cleft care via her blog, Fearless Face. Sarah is a 3rd year university student in Ottawa, Ontario where she studies communication.
10.Your child is just like everyone else.S/he has 10 fingers, 10 toes, and 2 arms. Your child also has a smile. It just needs to be fixed.
9. You don’t need to feel guilty. It’s not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it except be there for them. There are support groups that are available if you need to seek help. But your child probably doesn’t blame you or hasn’t even considered it. They love you just as much as you love them.
8. Learn to be patient. Feeding won’t be easy and your journey will be longer than a day.
7. Never make fun of your child’s appearance. NEVER agree with what a bully said. The “yeah, it does look like you hit your lip” isn’t going to boost their confidence.
6. Surgeries are scary for anyone. The best thing you can do is find something that calms them. In my opinion, I love it when my mom rubs my arm before going in the surgery room, even though I’m in my 20’s. It’s comforting but distracting at the same time.
5. Encourage your child to be active in school and extra activities. It’s easy to hide at home, but it’s more fun to be active and make friends and feel proud of yourself. Achieving something like a soccer goal or dance recital will allow them to gain confidence.
4. If your child has a bully, it’s best NOT to go to the school and make a scene. It often makes the situation worse. The best advice my parents gave me is that people who bully often have insecurities and need to feel powerful. In my own experience, I’ve seen the same people get bullied themselves. Teach them that good people get far in life while bad will not succeed. When your child grows older, they will see how accurate this is. They should still tell an adult about the bully, but teach them that they are better and above someone who needs to hurt other people.
3. Don’t shut them out when they need someone to talk to. You may not want to hear it, but they do. And they need you. Thank them for opening up and expressing concerns and feelings because if they don’t trust you to listen then there will be greater problems down the road.
2. When they are getting older, they will realize that they are different and ask questions. Repeat after me: “You were born with a birth defect. Your mouth was not completely formed when you were a baby in mom’s tummy. You are just like everyone else but will have to be stronger to overcome some hurdles.”
1. Even if they don’t show it, they appreciate everything that you have done and given up for them.
visit Sarah at her blog, Fearless Face