Child abandonment is a sad reality that our world and nation faces. It is difficult for an abandoned child to forget this wound. Parents are usually the first ones to inscribe good or bad lessons on the fresh slate of a child’s mind. When a parent decides to voluntarily or involuntarily disown their responsibilities of caring for their child, it leaves a permanent mark on the child’s personality. Many times, children draw the misguided conclusion that it is their fault and that leaves them feeling unworthy.
Effects on an abandoned child
Both mother abandonment and abandonment of father has long-term effects on the child’s personality. When the mother abandons her child either psychologically, or by physically leaving the house, the child feels that he/she must have done something horribly wrong for the mother to take such a drastic step. Children abandoned by their mother develop low esteem as they feel that their mother, who brought them into this world, has stopped loving them. If mothers display coldness, apathy or indifference towards children, their roots are shaken.
In case of abandonment of the father, the child feels scared to build bonds with anyone else. Girls face issues with intimate relationships in their adulthood. Trust becomes a major concern as their confusion about parents abandoning them has left them in the gloomy darkness of uncertainty. They come to a conclusion that it is better to abandon any relationship than trusting and going through the pain of abandonment again.
There is hope for these children. And it lies with us, as capable adults, to nurture, care and support these little people and help them develop into healthy and loving adults.
Helping an Abandoned Child deal with its effects
Children who have been abandoned can be tough to deal with and it can take effort and time to win their trust. Healing abandonment issues may require professional help as there is a study of psychology involved in understanding children’s behaviour. But if such help is not available at hand, try to help as far as you can.
Always endeavour to:
Be patient, attentive and observant of the child’s behaviour
As adults committed to taking care of children, it is our duty to understand that the child may be going through a rough time. This can manifest in depressive or angry behaviour that reflects their low self-esteem or feelings of guilt. Some may even believe that they ‘deserve’ to be left alone. We need to be patient at this point to allow and even try to encourage the child to verbalize his or her feelings or memories. This is a healthy route for building trust. It helps to provide the child with various avenues and opportunities to communicate with you when they feel the time is right.
Be timely, empathetic and communicate in a voice that children understand
While it can be difficult for children to share their feelings, they also need to hear and be reminded that they are not at fault. We should make them understand the essence of different relationships and the fact that not all people are alike. But more importantly, they should know that you are on their side.
Some children choose the path of hatred and vengeance. Because they were abandoned, they would want others who are truly with them to go through similar pain. Which is why, there are cases where people keep abandoning others and are never sure about the profundity of existing relations. Hence, if we come across an abandoned child, it is essential to fill in the blanks correctly. Efforts should be taken to listen and empathize. But never try to deepen the scar by rubbing it in. Try to get the child out of pain towards a new life that is full of opportunities.
Be aware of the core issues of abandonment and deal patiently
In case of an absent parent, the child may identify with that parent or may try to be completely opposite. In such cases, you need to help them identify with their own voice and thoughts. Help them think freely without the influence of the absent parent. If the child keeps recollecting the memories of the absent parent, don’t take the rights away from the child but also try to make the child comfortable. Keep reminding these children that they are not at fault. In case of absent parents, if you are the one with the child, keep affirming that you love the child unconditionally, despite their agony, frustration and tantrums. Create a fertile atmosphere for positivity, creativity, freedom and happiness around which the child will gradually open up and learn to find ways to be happy.
Despite, the prevalence of Child Abandonment issue for ages, there are NGOs and social welfare groups helping abandoned children live a worthy life. One can seek the help of these NGOs to learn more about ways to help children cope with the effects of abandonment.
Be a compassionate part of the abandoned child’s life and you will experience wonders!