I wanted to write a part two of "When parents leave" to talk about the effects of growing up without a parent, and some things we can do to cope. It's proven that most girls who grow up without fathers often struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and unworthiness. Same for guys who grow up without mothers.
Let me first address how it affects daughters who grow up without a father. I get so many emails from teenage girls who can't seem to find a guy to treat them right. First question I ask is "how is the relationship between you and your father". Reason is because the father is basically the first relationship a girl has in her life. A father basically teaches the daughter how a man is supposed to treat a woman. When a father leaves it leaves a hole in the daughter’s heart that she will continually try to fill in a variety of ways. One of the most common ways I see in how it effects the daughter is her willingness to settle. I have so many teens who just accept being treated badly, cheated on, abused, and put down. A girl may go through many relationships chasing the love that she didn't get from her father. They already feel worthless because they think it's their fault in someway that their father left.
Same for sons who grow up without mothers. My whole life I have had trust issues with women. In the back of my mind I never felt good enough for any woman in my life. I always felt like I had to perform a certain way or do a certain amount of good or the woman would leave. Usually this would lead me to being rebellious to drive the woman away especially if it was a motherly figure. My mind was always scrambled trying to figure out how to make someone stay in my life and if I couldn't figure it out then I would just leave before someone could leave me.
So how can we stop ourselves from falling into these traps of feeling worthless because we grew up without a parent who didn't want anything to do with us. Here are some way that's has helped me over time. I hope they can be of value to you as well.
1. Break the pattern. When a parent leaves you can usually trace it back to their parent left them, and the pattern can either keep going or you can choose to stop it. I decided I was going to be a good father and give my daughter the love that I didn't receive. I make sure daily she knows she's loved. I wanted to be better than those who left me. Make that your mission as well.
2. Just show up. If you're a parent raising a child on your own just love them with all you got. Show up for everything in their life. Also make sure they're first in all your decisions. Will it make up for the loss of the other parent being gone? Not completely, but love is a powerful thing. It can help feel the void more than you know.
3. Know that you're NOT worthless. Realize that you are not the one with a flaw. The reason your father or mother left has nothing to do with you. It's not you who has the flaw it's them. Always remember you're not your parent’s choices. Your parent might have walked out of your life but that doesn't mean you have to bare the burden of that choice. Strive to be better than the decision they made. Don't choose to have low self esteem or feel worthless because of a choice the parent made. You were created to be great and to do great things. I finally realized that I am not defined by my mother who walked out of my life. I decided I will not settle for average and I will not do things to screw up my life and then blame it on my mother waking out.
4. Tell the truth. If you're hurting then tell someone. Talk to someone you trust and who can help you with the pain. It may be your parent who stayed, a close friend, Counselor, or anyone that your heart fully trusts.
I hope in some way these two articles have helped in a small way. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Brianearley25@yahoo.com