The mark left by the abandonment of a father

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The mark left by the abandonment of a father

The emotional emptiness that a child affected by the abandonment —or absence— of a father can experience is of gigantic proportions.

As children grow into adults, they often rely on their parents to help pave the way for who they are supposed to become. They look to mom and dad for lessons in morality and lean on them as they learn to trust.

Even when independence is gained, the parent-child relationship can be crucial. So when the father is away or abandons his children, what can be the resulting long-term effects?

Impact of parental abandonment on self-esteem

Children tend to internalize abandonment and may experience lowered self-esteem as a result of parental abandonment, according to Deborah Moskovitch, a divorce consultant and researcher, in the Huffington Post article, “Estranged or Abandoned by a Parent: Are Children Scarred for Life?«.

Even when their father’s estrangement has nothing to do with them, they can convince themselves that it was entirely due to something they did or didn’t do.

For children who grow up feeling that their father does not love them, they may further convince themselves that no one else will either, that they are not worthy of any praise or love in life in the future.

fear of abandonment

Children who have been abandoned by their father are more likely to express fear of abandonment in other facets of their lives as they grow older.

For girls in particular, this can translate into commitment and trust issues, according to Pamela Thomas, a researcher and author of “Fatherless Daughters: From the Pain of Loss to the Power of Forgiveness”in the Psychology Today article, “The Face of Fatherloss”. When an important figure leaves early in life, it can be hard to dissuade them from the belief that everyone else will, too.

Problems building emotional bonds

When children have experienced emotional distance from their parents, they are more likely to have problems with intimate physical relationships as adults, according to a 2007 study from the University of Haifa’s School of Social Work.

It can be hard for them to let people get close, and for those who feel more physically vulnerable, giving in to that level of vulnerability can sometimes seem impossible. Instead, they may put up walls to protect themselves from the kind of connection that can be achieved through physical intimacy.

How to overcome the abandonment of a father

While being abandoned by a parent can clearly have detrimental effects on a child’s future, there are some key components to combating those long-term effects. Finding a good therapist can be beneficial for children who have been abandoned by their parents, according to Marsha Kline Pruett, a psychologist.

Being able to form a strong bond with the parent can also help heal abandonment, as can having other adults in a child’s life who they can love and trust.

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