You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on widesmiles.org.

This one is about: I AM SOMEBODY!! How Will Clefting Affect Your Child's Life?


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I AM SOMEBODY!!

How Will Clefting Affect Your Child's Life???

(posted to Cleft-talk)

I too was born with unilateral cleft lip and palate, and appreciate and empathized with what everyone else born with a cleft was saying this week.

This list does primarily revolve around parents problems and their perception of their kids problems.

That said here's another opinion.. and you know what they say about opinions, everyone has one. This post is directed especially to the parents of very young kids or new parents that may have just joined this list:

NOT everything that will happen in your child's life has to do with your child being born with a cleft.

Some things will happen because of it.. and some things won't. Just don't think that everything that happens is because of it.

About Family and Friends

Set your child up as a star in your family. When you are at gatherings praise the hell out of him for whatever he does well. Academics, putting away clothes, being athletic, singing, telling a joke, doing a magic trick.. whatever. Help your family remember your child as something other than the one born with the cleft. This is as much for you as for your child. Don't do it so much that your child feels undo pressure to overacheive.

About teasing:

You could be born WITHOUT a cleft and be the subject of severe teasing. When I was 11 we moved. My brother was 8 (no cleft, great kid). He was teased very badly by the kids because of his southern accent... Let's just say he learned to run very fast... We moved a few years later..

About Adults Born With Clefts Being Examples

Please take other people's experiences with a grain of salt. Their stories may or may not be what your child will experience. And if they do, it may not happen everyday.

Is it universal that someone at some time, will notice the cleft or its affectations and make a comment -- YES.

Is it universal who they will meet, or how your child will react? No it is not.

You will never know who you are going to meet or how the people in your own family or neighborhood will influence your child. We used to have a retarded boy living next door. The kids on this block played with him, and made him a part of all the games. His family moved to a different neighborhood, and he is made fun of constantly by the kids there. Envision the future as positive!

Joanne tells a story where a little girl comes running, tears in her eyes, to her mom,

"Can I please wear make-up, please, please, please - they are laughing at me"

The mother gets all upset and says "of course we can cover your scar." The girl says "No mommy, I want to cover my freckles...."

Will your child's cleft scar or the cleft's affectations be noticed.. by some, yes. Will it affect everything in their life.. Well, that's totally up to the person. Some people with glasses never get over being called Four eyes.. Some get teased about being too thin, others love being thin (models). Some hate having blue eyes, some brown. My friend called her brown eyes "big ole cow eyes." She especially hated the bumper sticker out at the time "Your so full of sh*t your eyes are brown." Others love brown eyes.

It's all how you learn to ACCEPT WHAT YOU GOT and go from there.

Does it hurt, yes, do I have a magic answer no. DO I know all? HAH!!! I think it's partly about how you deal with what people say. And how you feel about your body. Constant torment every day is another story, but general remarks... If someone questions your kids, let your kids be open to explaining what happened and not be ashamed or embarrassed.

It is what it is, and they have to learn to accept it -- AND SO DO YOU.

(Be at peace with the way they look, the circumstances at their birth)

Would you rather they have been born differently? Most likely. Does it pain you that you, and they have to deal with this? Sure, but just show them in the grand scheme of things (IN MY OPINION) it is not the worst thing in life. Will they have days where they might feel bad? Most likely. Did you have days when you felt bad about some thing about your body? Don't you have days where someone has made you feel bad?  It's the human condition, a thing called life.

About the future:

No one has a crystal ball. Pardon me, the following comes to mind, most likely because of Martin Luther King day, and no offense meant to anyone on the list for the following. If you were on a email list that had primarily black parents on it -- and some began talking about racial prejudice. You might hear two outcomes/two different paths to solutions.. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Ask a successful Black person (chosen by your criteria for success)...Did they have experiences that made them feel crappy? Of course. Are there cab drivers that won't pick up a black man? Are there folks that will cross the street simply because a black person happens to be walking behind them? All I'm trying to say is that a person can choose to focus on bad experiences, the negative, frustrating aspects of daily life, and get caught up in it, or they can focus on the rest and live.

I am the only person, that can let someone make me feel bad.

I could tell you about prejudice toward me because of my religion, because of my sex and on occasion because of the way I look. But in my opinion, I am master of my own destiny. And so are your children. You can still dream the same dreams for them. At least for their sake I hope you will.

In the words of Jesse Jackson (also born with a cleft)

I AM SOMEBODY!

Teach your children to say the same.


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