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effects of abandonment, a nice read... with a poll...

which hurts deeper?

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Reclusion Perpetua
Impacts on Children

     The childhood and long-term effects of excessive parental absence can range from moderate to severe, depending on a child's age, gender, their bond with the absent adult (weak > strong), and their extended family's nurturance level (low > high). Common experience suggests that when young children are physically abandoned by a parent or caregiver - or if a primary caregiver is "emotionally unavailable" (can't bond) - the kids are "badly hurt." Their hurt is a mix of...

shock, if the abandonment was unexpected and/or explosive; and...

confusion - many mental questions and uncertainties about the abandonment and what it means; and...

shame ("low self esteem") - feeling unlovable and unworthy, even if other adults are genuinely nurturing and attentive; and perhaps their hurt includes...

guilts - feeling (irrationally) that they did something bad or wrong that caused the abandonment; and/or...

fears of (a) bonding with some or all adults / men / women; and that (b) their other caregivers may also abandon them, and they will die; and healthy kids feel ...

grief over (a) involuntarily broken bonds, and later, (b) over lost hopes and fantasies of reunion. If a child is raised in an ''anti-grief'' family, s/he can unconsciously carry unfinished mourning into adulthood as periodic or chronic "depression."

Combined, these stressors can cause mixes of significant distrust, resentment, and anger that often carry into adulthood. When combined with significant caregiver abuse and/or neglect, these stressors may inhibit the child's ability to bond ("Reactive Attachment Disorder," or RAD).

     Another impact that may not become evident until adulthood is the effect of parental absence on a young child's sense of gender identity. Typical young girls need a father-figure's affirmation and appreciation of their femininity. They also need consistent maternal modeling "how to be female" and delight in the daughter as a special, beloved girl. Boys need to observe how a father ("a man") behaves, and to learn how to manage and appreciate their masculinity - specially how to relate to females and other males.    

     If these hurts are intense enough, an abandoned child can develop emotional numbness and/or selective "amnesia" (repression) to protect themselves from recalling and re-experiencing their abandonment trauma and losses. One or more of their personality subselves may be living in the past, and still fear the searing pain of re-abandonment.

     These effects are often magnified because parental and spousal abandonment usually signals (a) a low-nurturance ("dysfunctional") home and childhood, and (b) significantly-wounded and unaware caregivers and ancestors.

     Minor kids can be also be stressed by other family members' reactions to the abandonment. If some family members scorn and vilify the adult or child who left, biokids are forced to choose between loyalty to their absent parent or sibling, and other relatives. Older, less-wounded kids may be able to detach and not align with either side without excessive guilt or anxiety.

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