The number of abandoned children is staggering. They live in poverty and are frequently victims of abuse, violence, disease and starvation. Often, their only protection is the kindness of strangers. Their plight is reflected in such fairy tales as Snow White, where the princess is left by her wicked stepmother and Hansel and Gretel, where the children are found by a corsair after wandering the streets. Abandonment is a global problem that has ruined the lives of millions of children.
The reasons for abandonment vary from country to country and even from state to state, but in many cases it is due to unplanned pregnancies. Women and girls who don’t want to be parents often have little choice but to abandon their babies, either through rape or simply giving them up for adoption.
Other cases of abandonment are caused by the parent’s internal struggles, such as drug or alcohol addiction and domestic violence, which lead them to believe they can’t provide the child with a safe and secure home life. Still other parents, who have sole custody after a long court battle, may decide to give up their rights, because they can’t care for them anymore.
No matter what the reasons for abandonment, the impact on the child is the same. The loss of parental love, guidance and support can have a profound impact on the child’s development and self-esteem, as well as their ability to form healthy relationships in adulthood. Children who are afraid of being abandoned can develop a variety of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as eating disorders and severe anxiety.
Some abandonment fears are normal, but when they become invasive, the help of a professional can be beneficial for adults and children alike. Getting to know the roots of a person’s feelings is an important part of forming a healthy relationship. Those who felt emotionally abandoned as children can learn to recognize the warning signs of their own patterns and break them.
It’s also important for people who care about abandoned children to remember that they can be the best possible role models for them. Respecting timeliness when it comes to discussing issues with a child, being patient, and listening with empathy are all key to helping these kids regain control of their lives. In some cases, the assistance of a family counselor or psychologist is needed. By working with a professional, the child can gain confidence in their own abilities and learn to trust others in healthy ways. After all, trust is what builds a strong and lasting foundation for life. Taking the time to build a solid foundation can prevent feelings of abandonment and help those who are experiencing them have a more positive future. It can be what keeps people from repeating their childhood experiences as adults, and moving on to healthier, more rewarding relationships. For those who have experienced parental abandonment, it can be what keeps them from ever wanting to have children of their own.