S/O bodily integrity/consenting to altering your child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 6 mo old DD2 has a small facial deformity (of the ear). It does not in any way interfere with any normal function, it is not painful, and it is not prone to getting infected/irritated. My DH and I go around in circles about having them (one each side) removed. He wants them off before "she's old enough that kids will make fun of her" and I want to leave them on until she can decide what to do with them.

I used to be sort of circ-indifferent, but this website has made me anti-circ and really anti-permanent change to a child's body without their consent.

What would be the over-riding issue-- the wish to make her look "normal" before, say, kindergarten, or the wish to let her decide if and when she wants to have surgery to take them off.

I am open to any opinions and anecdotes. I'm not really looking for advice, just wanting to broaden the scope of how I'm thinnking about this issue. But if you had advice, don't hold back- I'd love to hear it- especially w.r.t. the DH's opinion.

THANKS!!!!!
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#2 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:52 AM
 
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what a thoughful question, having never had to make such a choice I don't know what I would do. However I know whatever choice you do come to, your daughter will know that you did it with great honesty and thoughfulness towards her.

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#3 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:02 AM
 
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It is totally dependent on the family.

My daughter is Deaf. Her first language is sign language. Last year she became a candidate for a cochlear implant. It was possible that through this surgery, to place a device in her head, she *could* hear better. Some kids do amazing with the device, some hear nothing. It was not necessary at all. She was happy, healthy, smart, and doing wonderfully. The device works best when placed at a very young age (some advocate as young as 4-6 months old) but my daughter was not eligible until now.

Many people saw this as a "no brainer", if it could make her "more normal" why not do it? Well, she is normal! She is doing great! We would be putting her through (outpatient, safe, but still!) surgery, for a hope of a benefit. She could live life Deaf, and happy without the device.

We made the decision that was best for our child. We were lucky because she was 5 and able to give some input, and signs as to what she wanted, in an age appropriate way.

We are totally happy with what we decided. It was right for her, and us. But it was a long and hard decision!
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#4 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:14 AM
 
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We dealt with something similar with DS.

It was discovered at my 17 week ultrasound that he had polydactyly - an extra digit on each hand. We learned that it is not uncommon, and because the extra digits are usually without bones, frequently removed shortly after birth. We decided to play it by ear and just see what we were dealing with when he was born.

He ended up being born at 32 weeks due to severe preeclampsia, and he spent 6 weeks in the NICU. The extra digits were very small - just little nubs that were like fingertips, hanging off each pinkie. His neonatologist tied them off, and a few days later, the nubs fell off. He still has little bumps where the nubs were, but it's not very noticeable. He really did not seem bothered when they were tied off (as opposed to being bothered by his NG tube that he pulled out almost every day!).

I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but honestly I still feel it was the right thing to do, for us anyway. All of his nurses commented on it, and while extra digits certainly didn't make him any less perfect, they didn't have any function, were painless to have removed (no, really - I was holding him while they were tied off), and could have caused problems later on if they got caught on something and torn off (THAT would have been painful!).

I'm not sure this helps, but I hope you have peace with whatever decision you make!

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#5 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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DD has a small benign tumor on her finger, it doesn't effect her use of her finger at all. Most people don't notice it, but she's not in school yet.

We had surgery scheduled and backed out at the last minute. It just seemed too traumatic for something that right now isn't a big deal. I'm sure we'll have it removed if/when she asks or kids start teasing her for it. It is a simple out-patient procedure that she'll get over, but the trauma of teasing can last forever.

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#6 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It is a simple out-patient procedure that she'll get over, but the trauma of teasing can last forever.
This is what I can't come to terms with. The surgery would be under general anethesia, which always has risks. I can't picture how teasing about a small "nubbin" on the ear would be so traumatizing. Don't kids make fun of each other no matter what? If those things weren't on her ears, wouldn't kids find something else to pick on if they really wanted to?

I don't know....
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#7 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:28 AM
 
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Here is my experience, take what you will from it:

I had a minor birth defect that was corrected when I was 2. Some of my earliest memories are from the surgeries and everything they entail. (There were two surgeries because the first one got botched in an accident at home during recovery, which is also something I remember...) It was something that definitely could have waited until I was older, something that didn't even have to be surgically corrected in the first place, and it was on a part of my body that can easily be hidden.

I suppose I never had a negative thought about my parents choosing this for me. The fact that it was surgically corrected was pretty much the same as the fact that I was born with it in the first place--I just accepted it as something that happened. I was not traumatized by the surgeries, though I do have "good" and "bad" memories of the hospital and my medical treatment. I was a laid back kid (still pretty laid back), so I just went with it. I guess the only thing I can think of is that I wish I would have been able to understand what was happening and why it was happening at times. But it wasn't a big deal. I am kind of glad that I was so young that I didn't have anxiety about it. A five-year-old may be nervous and scared in the days and hours leading up to a surgery, but as a 2-year-old I was none the wiser and thought the hospital was an adventure (until they had to do not fun things, but again, not traumatized).

My own daughter is now two. If she was born with the same anomaly as I had, would I chose to correct it now? No, because like I said, it was minor, somewhat common as far as birth defects go, and easily hidden. I'd like HER to decide.

I guess I never thought about what would have happened if my parents decided not to get it corrected. Hmm. I suppose I would either be self-conscious of it and want to get it corrected, or I would not really care. (It's not really that obvious of a defect.) I have a feeling that it wouldn't have been a big deal to me. When I was a teenager my doctor asked me if I had considered a third surgery to correct the funky scarring that occurred, but I said no, because I felt it was a unique part of me and didn't want it corrected. I don't know if I would have felt the same way about the original, unaltered defect.

Hope that helps.

ETA: Just wanted to mention that I was under general anesthesia both times. I remember being put under the second time, and not wanting to breathe in the medicine from the icky black rubber mask. I remember trying to cry because maybe they wouldn't make me do it then.

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#8 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:28 AM
 
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This is what I can't come to terms with. The surgery would be under general anethesia, which always has risks. I can't picture how teasing about a small "nubbin" on the ear would be so traumatizing. Don't kids make fun of each other no matter what? If those things weren't on her ears, wouldn't kids find something else to pick on if they really wanted to?

I don't know....
Yes, kids suck.

But, the question is, if she decides to have them removed later, will it be because she wants too, or because she wants to fit in?

Would you regret not having taken them off if she is teased?
Do you think she would some how "blame" you if you did do it?
What are the pro's of taking them off?
What are the pro's of leaving it alone?
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#9 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:30 AM
 
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This is what I can't come to terms with. The surgery would be under general anethesia, which always has risks. I can't picture how teasing about a small "nubbin" on the ear would be so traumatizing. Don't kids make fun of each other no matter what? If those things weren't on her ears, wouldn't kids find something else to pick on if they really wanted to?

I don't know....
Kids will always find something to pick on, but why would I give them a target?

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I do what works and when it stops working, then I do something else.
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#10 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:37 AM
 
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My eldest daughter has a birth mark (a hemangioma) in the middle of her forehead. When she was a baby, it was extremely red, raised, and noticeable. (think 1 inch thick and bigger than a silver dollar) We were urged by family members and complete strangers to "do something" about it. With time it shrank and started it's process of involution and is now a lot less noticeable. I realize that we're "lucky" because her difference has sort of taken care of itself. However, we decided that we weren't comfortable changing her body until she had some say in it. If the difference isn't debilitating I would err on the side of caution. General anesthesia is no joke!

Good luck!

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#11 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:49 AM
 
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That's tough.

I would also be concerned about the implications of choosing to have the surgery later because she was being teased. There's a concern about altering a child's body without their consent, yes, but I think there's also a concern about teaching a child that you can/should change your body because of other people's comments about it. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation.
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#12 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 05:17 AM
 
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I believe my husband has the same thing as your daughter, an extra "nubbin" of tissue at the top rear of each ear. It appears to be hereditary in his family, for what that's worth.

I had a conversation with his parents once years ago about it, and they felt that he could eventually have it removed when he was older if he chose. I just asked him, and he said he was made fun of a bit about it, but nothing severe that affected him. He took much more heat for his poor social skills than for this one appearance-related issue.

He also said that he would never consider having them removed for cosmetic reasons only. He frankly likes his unique ears and doesn't care what other people think LOL
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#13 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 09:58 AM
 
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I think I almost certainly would not have surgery at 6 mo for such a small difference.

My dd had a surgery at age 8 that was partially cosmetic (eye alignment). She didn't completely consent even at that age, but she was old enough to be prepared and supported through the experience. I remember that, when she was in the post-op area, a nurse noted that the really tough patients in post op were toddlers, because they just wailed and didn't understand what was going on.

Dd lived until age 8 with her difference. She grew to want it corrected (although not nec surgically ), but it didn't have a significant negative affect on her socially. In fact, I think it helped her grow compassion for other people's differences, and also learn to keep hardships in good perspective.
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#14 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 12:24 PM
 
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I would have it done. I don't compare it to circumcision, because circumcision is removing a functional part of the body, one that serves a purpose.

I know that kids can be cruel, and that the scars from teasing last a long, long time, and I can't see giving them a target. I would have it done when the child is still young enough not to feel anxiety and fear leading up to the procedure, and look for the right setting and the right doctor to have it done in, to minimize the trauma as much as possible.

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#15 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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That's tough.

I would also be concerned about the implications of choosing to have the surgery later because she was being teased. There's a concern about altering a child's body without their consent, yes, but I think there's also a concern about teaching a child that you can/should change your body because of other people's comments about it. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation.
This is an interesting comment. Isn't this basically what the parents would be doing (making a change because of what other people might think/say) if they choose to have surgery now? The OP stated that the deformity causes no problems. Not saying that's right or wrong, just pointing out that taking care of it now doesn't change the fact that it's being done based on other people's opinions.

My question is whether the surgery is easier now versus as an adult (or teenager). If it makes no difference, I would wait until the child has some opinion on the matter, mostly because I try to avoid unnecessary surgeries as much as possible and I would rather not put a toddler under general for a cosmetic procedure. No surgery is without risks, period.

If it's something like the PP said where they just literally tied off while the child was awake, then I'd probably lean towards taking care of it, esp since extra nubbins on a finger would probably make it hard to wear gloves and cause other minor problems later.
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#16 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 01:16 PM
 
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My oldest son had a growth on his nose that first appeared when he was 5 months old. It continued to grow and, when he was 3, we made the decision to have it removed. The type of growth was one that would continue to grow through the years and possibly accelerate when he hit puberty. It was bright pink and covered a good part of the top of his nose. It took two operations, both under general, to remove it. He still has a small scar on his nose.

He's 10 now and we don't regret the decision at all, though it was very hard to go through it at the time. He says he doesn't remember a thing about it. Having it done at such a young age has given the scar lots of time to settle and fade. It's actually smaller than it used to be in proportion to his nose. As his nose has gotten bigger, the scar hasn't. It used to cover almost the entire length of his nose. There is still a tiny bit of the growth left, but the doctor wanted to let things settle and see how they progress as he grows. Now, it would for sure be his decision if he ever wanted another procedure. I don't think he would though, at least not at this point, unless things change drastically when he hits puberty.

We had to really think about what was in the best interest of our child, both long term and short term. We weighed all of this carefully before we made the decision. There is a lot to consider and you really have to try to put yourself in your dd's place 10 to 15 years from now. I do think how children are seen by their peers is a big deal. Teasing can be traumatic. That was certainly one of the things we considered. But, my ds was already at a point at age 2 and 3 where other children were asking what was wrong with his nose, so maybe our situation was a bit more extreme. Some questions to ask yourself: How would YOU have felt at age 11 or 13 if you had the same issue? Do you think she will avoid wearing her hair up out of embarrassment? Is it enough of an abnormality that her self-esteem could be affected? Is it something that people currently notice and comment on?
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#17 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 01:35 PM
 
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My son was born with unilateral microtia. He had an ear, but it grew forward and over instead of backward and up. Basically, it looked like a cup more than an ear and it would continue to do so. Hearing function was perfectly fine.

He had a series of 3 surgeries over 8 months to correct it. He was 5 at the time. One was outpatient and the other 2 involved a single-night stay in the hospital. One involved a rib graft.

We have never regretted it. DS understood that his ear was different and that he was going to get a new ear. He's naturally laid back and that might contribute to his approach and recovery, but he did fine. He knew there were surgeries. He did the hospital tour. He dealt with the head wrappings. No issues (except for stitch removal, which was definitely the worst part.) He was self-conscious about the scars at first but they have faded and he has just accepted them and moved on. When he sees baby pictures, he can't believe what his ear looked like and definitely prefers his new look.

My younger brother has a similar ear but it was not as extreme. His one ear is cupped and smaller but it isn't as noticeable as my son's. My parents opted not to have it corrected when he was a kid because they wanted to give him the choice. He never had it corrected because he is a bit hospital-phobic (never been in one, though, and has no bad experiences - just doesn't like hospitals) but he really wished that my parents had just done it when he was little. He likely wouldn't have had a memory of it, it would have healed by the time he was old enough to care, and it wouldn't involve scheduling time off work and dealing with all of the appointments and such. He's not unhappy with it, but he isn't happy, either. He just wishes it had been different.

So, I'm not sure how involved the correction is or how pronounced the issue is, but that's my son's story and my brother's story. Both cases it was cosmetic only.

Good luck with your decision - I know it can be hard!

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#18 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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My eldest daughter has a birth mark (a hemangioma) in the middle of her forehead. When she was a baby, it was extremely red, raised, and noticeable. (think 1 inch thick and bigger than a silver dollar) We were urged by family members and complete strangers to "do something" about it. With time it shrank and started it's process of involution and is now a lot less noticeable. I realize that we're "lucky" because her difference has sort of taken care of itself.
I was born with the same type of mark right on the top of my head and my parents were urged to "do something about it" as well... but mine shrank as well, although I still have a spot on the top of my head, but now it is flush with the rest of my skin and hidden by hair.

If it isn't causing her discomfort, I would wait to have it removed until she is old enough to consent

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#19 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 01:49 PM
 
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My son has similar to what Boknon was talking about. He is quite unique in that he has polydactyly and syndactyly on the same hand. He has an extra skin tag/ "finger" near his little finger, and the 4th and 5th digits are fused together up to just beyond the 2nd joint. We are going to have surgery on his fingers later this year becasue the fusion (syndactyly) does affect the function of his fingers. At that time we will have his extra nub removed as well.

He is currently 10 months and while I was concirned about the nub getting injured (pulled off or cought on something) so far it has been a null issue. If we didn't have the syndactyly to deal with also, I could see leaving the nub alone till he could decide what to do about it. It is just a part of him, I can't imagine how it is going to look with out it.

All that aside, the older (and bigger the part) the better. Surgery on little babies can provide strnge placement of the scar as an adult. The general idea is to wait as long as possible so whatever needs to be done can be done on a larger part. Espcaially with my son, they wanted to wait till he was 2 for his syndactyly surgery (lost of small muscles and tendons), but since it is affecting his grasping and fine motor skills now, they are willing to give up a little growing time for better outcome in the end.

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#20 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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.

My question is whether the surgery is easier now versus as an adult (or teenager). If it makes no difference, I would wait until the child has some opinion on the matter, mostly because I try to avoid unnecessary surgeries as much as possible and I would rather not put a toddler under general for a cosmetic procedure. No surgery is without risks, period.

If it's something like the PP said where they just literally tied off while the child was awake, then I'd probably lean towards taking care of it, esp since extra nubbins on a finger would probably make it hard to wear gloves and cause other minor problems later.
We went to the surgeon a couple months ago, just to make sure that there wasn't a "best" time to do the surgery. He said no, so we are going to put off the decision for a little while.

This isn't something that could be just "tied off". They involve the cartilage of the ear and would need a little bit of reconstruction in removing them.
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#21 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your candid repiles. I had been blowing off the impact of teasing by peers, and will definitely consider this aspect of it more strongly.

Something that I'm not hearing is that for those of you who chose to have things removed/repaired, that the child was upset that it had been done without their consent. But there are some who have children who wished that something had been taken care of earlier than they were.
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#22 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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I don't have any experience of birth 'defects' but I wanted to comment on the surgery angle.

My dd suffered a burn at 15 months and needed surgery to graft skin. She fought the anaesthetist when they were putting her under and she fought the nurses when she came round too. She kicked out a cannula in her fury/distress and took about 20 minutes to calm down even once we got to her.

We were at a hospital where they are used to treating children and all the staff we met were very very kind and supportive. They said her reaction was not uncommon but older children dealt with it better.

I think that the process of anaesthesia and surgery can never be classed as simple for anyone let alone little children and I can't say that what happened to dd has not affected her in any way or that she has no memory of it despite the fact that she was very young.

With all this in mind I would be very wary of submitting a very young child to surgery unless it were absolutely necessary.
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#23 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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We had to make a similar decision when my son was a infant. He was born with Coronal hypospadias with chordee and dorsal hood, pretty much his urethra was on the wrong place on the head of his penis and he had a malformation of the foreskin and a very curved penis. After consulting with a Pediatric Urologist they highly recommended surgery at 6mo, saying that all of those issues could make it very hard to potty train, he would not be able to pee standing up without missing the front of his pants and shoes, and possibly infertility later in life. Now, this was very hard to stomach as DH and I had argued for months until finally agreeing NOT to circ, this just seemed cruel especially for Pete(our son). We agreed to the surgery at 6mo, mainly because the docs used scare tactics on us. Thankfully, he's fine now and has no implications from his birth anomaly or the surgery.

Good luck with this hard decision!

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#24 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:30 PM
 
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I'm not sure if my story is relvant because I was older and able to consent, but fwiw:

I had extra breast tissue and a "third nipple" (for simplicity sake) on one side. It didn't appear until I was 8 or 9, and didn't bother me until puberty. At 13, it began to bother me, even though no one knew. My bra rubbed on it which was a little uncomfortable, and it made me feel abnormal. The nipple and extra tissue were removed under general anesthesia (sp?) with some very minor reconstructive work. I am so grateful.

The biggest thing that stands out in my mind is that it all happened at the right time--I was ready, my body was ready (wanted to get most of the breast tissue so that only 1 surgery would be necessary), my parents were supportive. The recovery was a B*%#h, but I knew what I was getting in to. Being "normal" again helped a little with my shyness. But then again, a 3rd boob may have kept me out of some trouble in high school...LOL.

So maybe you could wait, and see what kindergarten brings? If the kids are cruel, and your LO wants them to go away, have it done one summer. I think it depends a lot on the personality of the child. Good luck with your decision. YOur LO is lucky to have such thoughtful parents.

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#25 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:37 PM
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As has been said, circumcising removes a functional part of the body, and there is no benefit at all in doing so unless there's a medical issue. With your daughter's ears, while there no medical benefit, there is the societal benefit. It's easy to say use this as an opportunity to not change herself to suit others (but we all do this anyway by conforming to trends, at least to some degree), but this is something easier for a teenager or adult to understand. A child is a child. What will be louder to her, mommy and daddy telling her she's perfect as she is, or a classroom full of kids using her ears to tease her while she sits in the corner because no one will play with her? This isn't a nose job out of sheer vanity, taking a normal-shaped nose and changing it to another normal shape. This is fixing something outside the realm of what's considered normal so she'll fit in and not have to grow up with teasing.

In your shoes, it would be a no-brainer. Since someone will be teased no matter what (so many kids are just so mean), let it be someone else. Don't make your daughter suffer the teasing to teach her the lesson about self-acceptance. Let her learn that later by deciding if she really wants to wear outlandish boots or fight for an unpopular cause or something that is of her own choosing.
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#26 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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Thank you all for your candid repiles. I had been blowing off the impact of teasing by peers, and will definitely consider this aspect of it more strongly.

Something that I'm not hearing is that for those of you who chose to have things removed/repaired, that the child was upset that it had been done without their consent. But there are some who have children who wished that something had been taken care of earlier than they were.
There are people in our situation (Deaf-cochlear implant) who are VERY unhappy that their parents chose to have the surgery. They believe that their parents didn't have the right to change them, without their consent, because they were fine they way they were. They feel like their parents believed that they were not "good enough" they way they were (deaf) and that their parents thought they needed something as severe as surgery to make them "better". And there are even more who are happy their parents did not do it.

So, that's just a thought, take it or leave it...
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#27 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There are people in our situation (Deaf-cochlear implant) who are VERY unhappy that their parents chose to have the surgery. They believe that their parents didn't have the right to change them, without their consent, because they were fine they way they were. They feel like their parents believed that they were not "good enough" they way they were (deaf) and that their parents thought they needed something as severe as surgery to make them "better". And there are even more who are happy their parents did not do it.

So, that's just a thought, take it or leave it...
Crap- there's not going to be a right answer for this, is there?
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#28 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 02:57 PM
 
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Crap- there's not going to be a right answer for this, is there?
Nope.

That's why in my story I didn't tell what *we* decided to do. We made the right decision for us, but for another family it would be the wrong decision.
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#29 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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This probably won't help, either, but I can give you my story.

I had a herniated belly button. My mom said it looked like a little boy's penis, it was such an outie! There was no medical reason for fixing it, though. It was just a very big outie. My parents had it turned into an innie when I was two. I don't even think it was because of the threat of teasing, because I doubt many people would have seen it. But I have always been glad that they fixed it, without my consent. The only issue is that because of the scar tissue inside my belly button, if something (like my curious finger when I was younger) touches inside of it, I will throw up. That isn't fun, but I learned quickly not to stick anything inside. But I'm still glad they took care of it before I could remember. And I grew up thinking it was a really cool story to tell.

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#30 of 86 Old 12-31-2009, 03:12 PM
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There are people in our situation (Deaf-cochlear implant) who are VERY unhappy that their parents chose to have the surgery. They believe that their parents didn't have the right to change them, without their consent, because they were fine they way they were. They feel like their parents believed that they were not "good enough" they way they were (deaf) and that their parents thought they needed something as severe as surgery to make them "better". And there are even more who are happy their parents did not do it.
Unlike the OP's situation, with cochlear implants, there's still something noticeably different about the person. So either way, people with cochlear implants will draw some attention. It's swapping the "problem" of deafness for the "problem" of a device, and likely, to at least some extent, done for he parents as it is often easier raising a hearing child than one who can't.

Also, the people who have come to be unhappy with the cochlear implants came to that decision later rather than as children, when most of the teasing happens. Likely they were spared at least some of that teasing.

With the OP's daughter, it's swapping a problem with her hears for...no problem, and it doesn't make parenting any easier or harder.
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