Parental affective abandonment in childhood and parental alienation | Opinion

As a child or teenager, children need a healthy family environment, essential for any stage of their development, a family dynamic that is continuously warm, safe and appropriate, developed from living with both parents, regardless of the different family configurations.

Paternal or maternal absence can be due to different situations, such as the death of the father/mother, removal resulting from marital separation/divorce, parental alienation, away from work (having to go abroad).

In a process of parental separation or divorce, children are the most exposed to the effects of family breakdown and, as such, the most susceptible to a variety of emotional, psychological, social, behavioral and cognitive damages, which interfere not only in the present, but also in their adulthood.

Parental alienation as a form of serious abuse and mistreatment of children and adolescents, is a form of domestic violence, which is produced through the intentional and active adoption of behaviors by the mother/father directed at the children, through the impediment or make living with the other father/mother difficult on a daily basis. This situation causes a break in the bond of affection, leading the children to develop a feeling that they have been abandoned by a father or mother who wants to be present, making them feel insecure and unhappy, deprived of an environment of security and well-being. being affective, which is considered to be a significant risk factor for development. Alienating parents are not capable of fulfilling their role as reassuring parents and, more seriously, they expose their children to harmful effects, inflicting serious and lasting suffering on them.

Parental affective abandonment is determined by the absence or neglect of parents towards their children, depriving them of socializing, communication and parental care. Most children do not know how to deal with the sadness and suffering of losing one of the most important people in their life.

The impact of this detachment, whether physical and/or emotional, the pain of a child being abandoned by one of the parents, emotional abandonment gives rise to feelings that are very difficult to overcome, and may even be unbearable, such as sadness: “I feel sad I never saw my father again”. Anger and guilt: “My parents argued because of me, my father stopped coming to pick me up”. And anxiety, loneliness, longing and tiredness: “I don’t feel like doing anything”.

The consequences of parental abandonment can be observed at the behavioral and emotional level, when the child or adolescent has sleep disorders, appetite, social isolation, apathy, crying, difficulty expressing feelings, feelings of devaluation, or self-mutilation. At the social level, there is involvement in fights, antisocial behavior or destruction of toys and objects. On a cognitive level, it can manifest itself in disbelief, confusion and worry. In the school context, this impact is seen in low academic performance and lack of interest in school, absences from classes, fragile relationships with peers (friends, colleagues), and involvement with drugs.

The feeling of parental abandonment, in the divorce or separation of the parents, happens when the children cannot understand why the father or mother stopped loving each other, why the fragility of the affective bonds and, sometimes, why a of their parents having abandoned them. Children suffer, feel guilt, feel doubts and are confused about their deserving of love, about the abandonment of someone who should take care of them, who seems to disappear, leaving home or getting involved in new relationships. Children often cannot understand the intentions of their parents, their feelings towards their children, and the separation from parents is accompanied by the fear of being abandoned by them.

These behaviors and attitudes of pain and suffering are risk factors, they are ways for children and adolescents to act or express their emotions, they are requests for help, they are requests for help, which should be a warning to be given a lot of attention. attention.

In this sense, risk and protection factors must be identified, asking psychologists to assume their therapeutic responsibility of supporting the family, from an ecosystemic perspective, promoting a structured intervention, through an integrated plan and support that allow the implementation of transversal strategies involving all the possibilities of proximity responses from the child or adolescent’s relational network (parents, extended paternal and maternal family, educators/teachers, lawyers, pediatrician…) aimed at an urgent reestablishment of bonds with the father/mother, in all contexts of the children’s day-to-day life, namely in their routines and activities.

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