The Dangers of Abandoned Children

If a parent renounces their rights to their children, voluntarily surrenders their parental status, or has no interest in or ability to care for their child, they are considered abandoned. In the past, divorces, infidelity, and complicated custody battles often resulted in the removal of a parent from their children’s lives. Today, a parent who is not involved in their children’s lives may face the same problems with legal actions like child support and visitation rights, or simply fail to meet their child’s emotional needs. Regardless of the root cause, abandonment is always hurtful and damaging to children.

While physical abandonment is rare, emotional abandonment is common and equally distressing to children. Parents who abandon their children emotionally neglect them by failing to provide affection, closeness or interaction. This can lead to serious attachment issues and a fear of abandonment in adulthood. Examples of this type of abandonment include parents who ridicule their children or stifle their emotions, rely on their children for their own emotional needs, hold their children to unrealistically high standards and don’t spend enough time with them.

Some forms of emotional neglect are more dangerous than others, and can be considered child abuse. In addition to fear of abandonment, this type of neglect can manifest as low self-esteem and a lack of motivation. It also can make people more susceptible to toxic relationships, which could be why some individuals who have experienced childhood abandonment find themselves in unhealthy and controlling relationships as adults.

Emotional child abandonment is more common than most people realize. In the United States, approximately 50 percent of single-parent households receive no financial support from the noncustodial parent. Many of these children live below the poverty line. A few states have laws that allow parents to forfeit their rights to their children if they do not pay child support, but this is a complex process and the law is rarely enforced.

Individuals who have experienced childhood abandonment are at higher risk of depression, anxiety and PTSD, especially if their parents divorced or died. This can lead to a variety of behavioral problems, including addictions, relationship anxiety and inability to trust other people. These individuals are also at a greater risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, according to studies.

Fortunately, children who have experienced emotional abandonment can be helped. The first step is to address the issue. This can be done by letting them know you will never leave them and providing them with the loving support they need. Individuals who are struggling with this issue should consider a mental health treatment option such as BetterHelp, which provides access to professional and licensed therapists from any device. Learn more about how this service can help with abandonment trauma here.