The Risk of Being a Present But Absent Mother or Father

· March 15, 2017

There are parents who, despite being present, are emotionally unavailable. Sheathed in their daily concerns and particular worlds, they do not realize that children have a radar for authenticity with which they perceive that careless, cold remoteness. Being absent, that void which, whether we want it to or not, can leave a mark on them.

According to an interesting study led by Boston University (USA) and carried out in various fast food restaurants, it was discovered that one of the most common reasons that parents are no longer present is due to the overuse of mobile phones. A clear reflection of today’s society and possibly the reason why these children will also become tomorrow’s “absent teens”.

Every child needs to be recognized by their parents, and for this, they look for that emotional connection that comes from the heart, from that sincere look that knows being there, being present and authentic.

The issue of absent parents stands as a great concern to psychologists and educators worldwide. So much so, that the publishing market is starting to become sensitive to this kind of parenting and learning how to be present in body, soul and heart for our children. An example of this is in the book “Parenting In The Present Moment” by Dr. Carla Naumburg.

We invite you to reflect on it.

girl surrounded by birds

The absent father and absent mother: consequences

Children can come to accept our lies with loyalty. When we say, “Yes, of course I hear you darling, of course, your picture is very pretty“, they go along with it with their look, but their wise eyes and hungry hearts know that their father, their mother is not with them. That their words are not entirely sincere because their minds are far, far away.


An I love you has more power than a gift. A laugh, a hug and an “I’ll be with you forever” are weapons of power to create an unbreakable bond with our children.

We know our work, everyday problems and the pressures we face are a priority to maintain the family balance. Now, to raise a child it is not enough to give them shelter, sustenance, warmth, food and place in a school. Children have emotional needs that must be satisfied in order for their mental and neurological development to form normally.

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Consequences of being present but absent

Some of the consequences that may arise from that present but absent parent are:

  • Children are never going to question the adult. If they perceive that their mother or their father is with them but does not offer affection or attention because they are absent, they will think it is their fault. They internalize rejection, an emotional pain that will leave a mark on their brain.
  • Children crave attention to feel reassured, to build their identity. If they do not feel the strength of that bond, they will have problems with self-esteem. In the short term, they can react in two ways: by being isolated or reacting with anger or with challenging behaviors.
  • Sometimes it can happen that parents are only present to give certain commands like “when to go to sleep, when to brush their teeth, getting up, getting dressed, doing homework…” No one listens to the children of the house, no one comforts their fears, laughs at what happens to them or gives wings to their dreams. Children gradually fall into the sad abyss of parental loneliness.

girl opening up a door giant bear

How to become present parents

Now we already know that it is not enough to be there physically, that we must limit the use of our phones and that our children have a keen and intuitive emotional radar with which they will instantly perceive if we are with them in an authentic, sincere and full way. Now…what else are we missing? What strategies must we implement to meet the needs of our children?

We invite you to reflect on these basics.

  • Listen to your children. It seems obvious, but not all parents do it effectively. Listening is looking our children in the eyes and giving real importance to every word they tell us, however naive or bizarre their reasoning may be. It doesn’t matter. The best time to educate and make your child happy is NOW.
  • Yes, those moments of everyday complicity. There are moments that should become bound rituals for when you share TIME with your children, but quality time. Those talks while eating, the stories and conversations before bedtime… They are magical moments to be present, moments that create emotional imprints on children.
  • Teach them to be patient. To be a father or mother who is present, it is also necessary to teach our children that sometimes they have to wait and know how to manage their frustration. It is clear that we will not be with them every hour of the day; we all have responsibilities. We must be patient to get what we want and to share quality time.
  • Power your imagination, play with them. If you want your children to be happy people, teach them how to be a happy adult through you. Play with them, pass along your enthusiasm to them, develop their imagination through play. Through this you will give them wings to their dreams and will give them recognition that will reinforce their self-esteem and that sincere affection that builds more free minds and stronger hearts. It’s worth it.
father and mother reading in bed

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