When a Father Abandons a Child
Sadly, many children have to grow up in this world without the presence of a father. The statistics of fathers who abandon their families are still very high, especially in Latin American countries. For some this is due to social problems such as unemployment and poverty. For others, the biggest factor is culture: in some settings the desertion of the father comes to be seen as relatively normal.
There seems to be a strong relationship between unplanned pregnancies, especially in teenagers, and the father abandoning the family. If you combine this with their typical macho behavior, the sad outcome is that many men do not considering abandoning their child as something negative.
“Abandon the camp, start the war”
While it is true that a human being can grow and mature without having a committed father at his side, it is also true that whoever does have one has many better opportunities in life. And there are also cases where paternal absence becomes a burden that significantly impairs their existence.
Why do we need a father and a mother?
Psychoanalysis suggests that maternal love is both fierce and all-encompassing. The mother has a complete influence over the life of her baby. She is everything. She has control over the big things and the small, the trivial and the important. She is the baby’s world, the universe the child’s life moves in. There is total dependence right from the start of the child’s life.
This strong bond between a mother and her child tends to continue as time goes on. The child knows that it depends on her in everything and he submits to her. Her love for her child is unconditional and this gives security to the little one.
Many of us are fortunate to have a father by our side too. Thankfully there is a world beyond that of the mother. The father is a world that the mother doesn’t have full control of. He is another side to her reality. A third person that enters to regulate this relationship of absolute dependence. He represents the boundaries for that mutual dependency between mother and child. Symbolically he is the law. And he is also the platform from which we learn that the world will not adapt to us, but rather it is quite the opposite.
Different ways of abandoning
Just as there are many ways to accompany a child, there are also different ways to leave them. The absent father is the one who leaves the mother physically and psychologically alone to bring her child up. He often tries to get out of monetary contributions for the child, he avoids the domestic tasks and he doesn’t care about what happens to the child.
There are also those who leave their children emotionally, but not physically. They feel that the children are the mother’s business. They are there, but they don’t think they are responsible for raising the children. They don’t talk to them or spend time with them, and they have no idea how their lives are going. They simply pay the bills and make some decisions from time to time when it’s convenient for them. They don’t interact at all with their little ones.
There are also those who don’t leave emotionally, but they aren’t physically there for their children. They may have started another family or they may simply have moved far away. They do, however, try to keep tabs on how their children are getting on. They can never spend as much time as they would like with them, but they do have them in their mind and heart.
Different consequences of abandoning
Each type of abandonment generates its own consequences. In the case of the completely absent father, the consequences range from serious to very serious. If the paternal figure is replaced, albeit partially, the negative effect will be less. If the gap is left unfilled, then the memories of that absence will probably be nothing short of devastating.
Not having a third person in the mother-child relationship, will make it very difficult for the child to adapt. They will probably have difficulty branching out, widening their horizons, and relying on their own abilities. They will be burdened with a sense of being excluded, of having an emotional deprivation. It is no good the mother trying to be “father and mother at the same time”. However much she tries, her presence will never replace that of the father who is so desperately needed.
Children abandoned by their father find it difficult to adapt to the world and to reality. They are also likely to develop a fear of getting too attached to people. And they can become “abandoners” themselves. If they are girls, they will either distrust men, or they will trust them too much, and will end up repeating the abandonment that they’ve been trying to get over.
When the abandonment is partial, the consequences are less evident. The same characteristics are there, but aren’t so clear and to some extent they are inrecognisable. Either way, the absence of the father opens a deep emotional wound, especially in the early years of life. The gap will never be filled and the imprint of his absence will be very difficult to erase.