How to Help Your Teen Embrace Their Scars

My daughter was born with a CHD (Congenital Heart Defect). She was left with a lot of scars. Here are some helpful tips on how to help your child cope with and embrace the scars they have from surgery.

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This year, Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) awareness week is February 7th to February 14th, 2017. My daughter, Alexis, was born with tetralogy of fallot which is a CHD that she had repaired at 5 months old.

She was left with a zipper scar in addition to a handful of other scars on her chest due to additional heart tests and procedures. A

s a mom, especially as a mom to a girl, I worried that my daughter would be self-conscious about her scars and it would cause her to have low self-esteem. After my baby girl’s wounds had healed and turned into scars, I made it my mission to teach her how to embrace her scars. So far, my mission has worked and I am jumping for joy because my sweet Alexis is a preteen and we all know how tough those years can be. For all the heart moms and dads, here is how you can help your teen embrace their scars.

Alexis was diagnosed with a CHD before she was born and did not have her surgery until she was 5 months old. Since she had the surgery at such a young age, I think that this may have helped her to accept her scars much easier. Sadly, as the teen years start to hit, confidence starts to change and kids can become self-conscious. Over the years I have learned ways to help my CHD survivor embrace her scars and even today, as she is growing, I am still learning how to help her embrace them. Here are a few ways that I have helped her to embrace them:

  • Journal: When Alexis was diagnosed I kept a journal of every procedure that she had, in addition to anything that related to her condition. This journal helped me to remember important events because at the time I was in a fog, but it also gives her a chance to look back on everything that happened to her when she was little and see just how strong she was. There is no right or wrong journal, but I like this one. It’s perfect because the front cover is perfect for my little fighter.
  • Talk: Since the moment my child was born, my husband and I talked to her about her heart. It didn’t become the center of her world, but it did become a huge part of our life. We are always there when she has questions and at times we reminisce with her about the day she turned from a blue baby to a pink baby.
  • Confidence: We never point Alexis’ scars out directly because doing this could make her self-conscious. In addition, we never have her choose outfits based on her scars. If she wants to wear a shirt that has a neckline that may show the top of her scar, we encourage it. I think that doing this, has helped her wear swimsuits without fearing that people are looking at her or even caring if they are looking.
  • Celebrate: For some this may sound silly, but each year on her “Heart-a-versary” we celebrate. We see this as a second chance of life because without the surgery, she would not have survived. We will either go to dinner or I will surprise her with a sweet card or remembrance gift such as these. I started collecting these for my daughter and she loves them.
  • Represent: I love finding special items, such as jewelry or clothing, that brings awareness to CHD. I want my daughter to be proud of her scars and I also want her to be comfortable enough to talk about what they represent. Etsy has some of the cutest custom made items that are perfect for all ages and a few that are perfect for teens. One of my favorite Etsy shops is FJJCreations. They have so many awareness items and will also take custom orders. FJJCreations was nice enough to send my CHD warrior this gorgeous and sweet bracelet. In addition, I also love the Etsy shop Brachylagus. This shop owner also has a CHD Warrior so she creates beautiful awareness items. She was so nice to send my CHD Warrior this beautiful necklace that I think is perfect for my teen. These are definately conversation starters and I want my daughter to be comfortable enough to talk to her friends about what her scars represent and not be ashamed. 

  • Support Group: As a CHD parent, you should try and seek out a support group for parents with kids that have CHD. If you cannot locate a support group, I would ask your child’s heart doctor. Being part of a support group can help you become a stronger heart parent which will, in turn, help build your child’s confidence because normally kids are strong if mom and dad are strong.
  • Reassurance: When I meet someone or hear of someone famous that had a CHD, I make sure to tell my daughter. I want her to know she is not the only one. I remember when I found out that her Pre-K teacher was born with a CHD and had a zipper scar just like she did. Of course, my Alexis was only 4 years old, so she did not quite understand but as her mom, I understood. When Shaun White competed in the Olympics, I was excited to tell my daughter that he survived the same CHD that she did and he was competing in the Olympics! This made her realize that anything is possible.

My goal for my CHD warrior is to help her feel comfortable and confident with herself. In today’s world, it is hard to be a teenager, but being a teenager that is different, can be even harder, so I can only hope that what I am doing as her mom will help boost her confidence and make her proud of herself.

Do you have a child with CHD? How do you help them embrace their scars?

It's important to help your child have confidence of their physical scars.


  1. At 5 months my daughter underwent multiple surgeries due to cancer and also an open heart surgery. In a few weeks she will be 16 years old and she is fully embracing her scars. She doesn’t have any memories of how she got them but over the years we’ve shared the stories of where each scar came from and how each one saved her life. She just recently asked “I wonder what I would look like with out my scars.” but then said “I guess I wouldn’t be me with out them.”

    This was a beautiful post and exactly what I need to read today. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. This is beautiful. Thank you!

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