Mothers will always love their children no matter what. Still, it can be heartbreaking for you to see your child born with a condition like an oral cleft. As a parent, you're probably already worrying about her growing up years and how her classmates in kindergarten or in high school may make fun of her. You may be confused and afraid of the impact the defect will have on your child’s life.

However, oral clefts are not as uncommon as you think. In any case, you may be relieved to know that surgery can be done by the age of three months for cleft lips, and between six to fifteen months for cleft palates. Still, surgery alone might not solve your dilemma. Even after several operations and treatments, your child may still have a hard time growing up with this condition.

On your own, however, there are plenty of things you can do to help make sure she grows up healthy and happy. Your child's self-steem, after all, starts from the home. Here are a few ways on how you can provide a healthy environment for your child:

(First published as "Chin Up" an entry in the column "Teacher Says" in the "Good Family" section of Good Housekeeping Philippines' July 2008 issue. Photo by Maddalena via Flickr Creative Commons. All photos used for illustrative purposes only.)

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