Parenting Challenges: The Child with Facial Disfigurement

Parenting ChallengesWhat Are Craniofacial Anomalies?

Anomalies in facial features are often detected at birth. Health officials estimate that in North America alone, more than 100,000 babies born annually have facial irregularities. The causes of such defects can range from genetics to developmental abnormalities while the baby is still in the womb. The most common deformity is a cleft palate. Other forms of anomalies include the abnormal shape or formation of facial features or an enlarged or, conversely, the underdeveloped growth of the skull that creates an asymmetrical face.

What Are The Challenges Related To This Disorder?

Children with facial irregularities and their parents encounter numerous challenges related to the kids’ condition. Some of the hurdles they must overcome include:

  • social stigma caused by the facial anomaly
  • health complications mostly affecting vision and hearing
  • feelings of low self-esteem caused by people’s reactions and comments to the facial anomaly

In a society that places a premium on physical appearance, children with facial anomalies often suffer through bullying and ridicule. Furthermore, because of the facial disfigurement, some people assume that these children are also intellectually or cognitively challenged. It is often not the case. Hence, fitting in becomes more challenging for them.

Many parents seek surgical correction for their children’s disfigurement, hoping that the surgery will give their children a chance to live normal lives. Surgeries can be costly, the financial burden adding to the challenges faced by the family. These also pose huge amounts of risk to the child going under the knife, which is another factor to consider.

What Systems Of Support Are Available?

Through the Internet, parents can find organizations and forums that provide the kind of support they need. A craniofacial research foundation with an online presence or a website dedicated to spreading awareness about these conditions is also another outlet for finding a network of support for families who need to know that they are not alone in their struggles.

What Can You Do As A Parent?

As a parent of a child with a craniofacial anomaly, your main job is to help him or her have a healthy self-image. Your child will have you as the model on how to cope with his or her physical challenges by seeing how you cope with the reactions of others. You, as the parent, have the responsibility of being the first person to break the walls of stigma and stereotype. Love your child unconditionally. Encourage him. Praise her for her achievements. Celebrate his triumphs. Be there for them.