Usually, teens around 17 years old would be into socializing or hobbies like listening to music or window shopping. But for teens who have been abandoned when they were young, they often grow up quiet and shy. Some kids have parents that are absent since childhood. This is not the usual family dynamic, but yes, it is a reality for most at this time.
These kids would want nothing but to reconnect with their parents, but usually, it’s the parent who is uninterested. They find it difficult to understand the concept of a parent’s unconditional love.
These kinds of parents are called absentee parents.
What Is An Absentee Parent?
Absentee parents have two descriptions. One is the type to go in and out of their kid’s life and thus not being a permanent or active presence in their lives but only a disruptive one. The other one is the parent who was engaged in a part of the kid’s life but then left and never had contact again.
But absentee parents don’t always have to leave physically. Some children have parents who can provide them with anything they wish, but these parents can also be absentee parents for having no time for their kids. The make up their lost time instead with gifts.
These parents often miss school events wherein they are needed, making their kid feel lonely during the said events.
Being an absentee parent still affects children and makes them feel like they are being rejected even though the parents are physically there. Being an absentee parent makes it difficult for the family to bond properly because the kid doesn’t feel like they belong.
There are those parents who choose not to get involved in their child’s lives. There are also those who have no choice but to not be there for their kids. While this may be caused by a lot of factors, there are no excuses for it.
Those who choose to abandon their child are incredibly selfish or just can’t handle parenting or have other factors as their priority.
Some Factors That Constitute Being An Absentee Parent
Other factors that might cause the parent to be separated from the kid also include divorce, the parent being raised without a parent making them think it’s normal, and the child being the result of rape, which causes them to remember their negative experience.
However, parents still should try to play an active part in their children’s lives. Parents still have a responsibility to uphold. Those who are often away due to work should try to compensate in other times and rebuild their relationship through counseling and interventions.
Some kids go to their school’s counseling office due to reasons related to their parent’s absenteeism or about their family problems. A lot of time they open up about feeling rejected or abandoned by their parents.
There are also children who may have both parents in their lives, but their parents prioritize other things than their child.
Effects On Children With An Absentee Parent
There are effects of a parent abandoning or being absent in a child’s life. Some of these may include depression and even having vices like smoking or using drugs and doing risky behavior. This is because the child doesn’t have any parental figure to guide them or show a good role model in their eyes. Katie Hurley, LCSW elaborates that “When a child is diagnosed with mental illness, it can overwhelm the family. On the one hand, many parents feel that they finally have answers for behaviors that are confusing and often scary.”
The only requirement to be a good parent is that they need to be there for their children’s needs. However, there are still parents who can’t do that.
Developmental Stages In Kids Will Be Affected If Parent Is Absent
Children go through different developmental stages that have psycho-social challenges in it. If parents are absent during the stepping stones of a child’s developmental stages like when they are from birth to 3 years old, it will have lasting effects on the child’s development.
These stages are also crucial for the child to build trust and feel safe about the world. If their parental figures are mostly absent, they won’t be able to establish secure relationships and instead have feelings of doubt not just in themselves but also in others.
Those who have their parents actively involved are often developed as an individual and can adequately lead others. But those who aren’t often developing feelings of insecurity, guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative. Children ages 6-11 especially need parents to encourage them to build up their self-esteem and their ability to believe that they can do things and be successful.
The moment a kid reaches the adolescent years, they will also get physically mature and will try to be independent of their parents. They will experience a lot of changes that their bodies and mind may find difficulty in catching up while at the same time wanting to be independent. “Because their brains are still being developed, they may behave in ways that seem impulsive, defiant, aggressive and irresponsible. Seeing the long-term consequences for their behaviors may not be so clear and they may find themselves unable to control their impulses, resulting in poor choices.” Bella Stitt, LMFT explains.
This is also a critical stage in life because if teens have someone to guide them through this stage, they will be able to develop strong self-esteem, sense of self, and independence over their lives. But if they don’t have one, they might end up still being insecure about their wants and their future.
“You’re likely feeling doubtful, overwhelmed and more than a little worried about your child’s future and your own abilities as a parent.” Carrie Sheppard, LMHC said. However, parents should always try to fulfill their responsibility to their child regardless of the challenges.