I am a 23 year old male and I am an Emergency Medical Technician. I was also born with a cleft lip and palette. My best suggestion to parents with children who suffer from this is to just listen to how your children feel. Do not tell them how they should feel or act, because no one else can know how they feel. Allow them to explore these feelings for themselves. Do not let them limit themselves, for they can do anything anyone else can. It is also imperative for these children to find dependable friends to latch onto, for the road to surgical repair can be tedious and upsetting. Be supportive, but listen more than anything else. Don't judge actions of the child from anything other than the general rights/wrongs of everyday life such as doing homework, chores and things of that nature. Low self-esteem is natural, but should not be a limiting factor in the child's life.
Another tip sent in from Kim from Council, North Carolina:My daughter is 9. When kids ask her what happened to her lip she tells them the truth.It is a birth defect but in every other way she is fine. Once she explains kids are always fine with it.
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