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The Effects Of Absent Parents

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Life with absent parents as a young child is very difficult and has somewhat of an empty feeling to it. Growing up as a young child without a mom and/or dad takes years of putting things back together and figuring out life. It is extremely hard going into adulthood trying to learn and take on responsibilities that parents should have taken the effort to show to the child. Lack of parent involvement has caused a rise in need for emotional and behavioral health care. This has cost the US millions of dollars in debt and we as a society have become much weaker due to this. Parents should be mandated to raise their children, and if they don’t, the parents should be punished in order to protect children.

Parents and their involvement have an irreplaceable role in a child’s life. Parents provide a child with morals and values and overall help then navigate through life. According to family researchers, Osofsky and Fitzgerald, “Symptoms, such as extreme fearfulness, helplessness, hopelessness, apathy, depression, and withdrawal are indicators of emotional difficulty that have been observed among very young children who experience inadequate parental care.” Having both parents helps a child better form relationships and stronger connections going into adulthood. It also helps the child mentally by helping them learn to regulate emotions and navigate difficult situations. Teens that have both parents are less likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs. A parent may be absent for many reasons and in different ways. Not all absent parents are physically absent; some are emotionally absent or dependent on drugs which cause their absence.

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The absence of a father in a child’s life affects them dramatically, especially when going into adulthood. More than 1 in 4 children live in a home without a father. The absence of a father drastically increases the risk factors as a child enters childhood. According to a report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation which manages the KIDS COUNT Network children without a fathers presence are four times greater at risk of poverty, seven times more likely to become a teen parent, six times more likely to have behavioral challenges, two times more likely to be a victim of abuse, five more times more likely to be a victim of neglect, two times greater of dying at birth, three times more likely to go to prison, two times more likely to be obese, eight times more likely to commit a crime, and twice as likely to drop out of high school.

The absence of a mother or mother figure impacts a child drastically. Children whose parents do not fulfill either of these roles, even though they are physically present, can experience severe emotional conflicts. The effects of absent parents on a child often leave him unable to form healthy relationships, or he may have stress related illnesses due to the unresolved conflicts of his childhood. Many adults still struggle with the emotional turmoil they experienced in childhood caused by parents who were physically or emotionally absent. What may cause even further distress is that the very parents who were absent in a person’s childhood will demand or require the physical and emotional support as they age that they never provided for their children. The absence of a parent may be an advantage if that parent has a toxic personality or if they might harm the child If one parent is absent, the remaining parent may be loving and kind and do their best to fulfill the child’s needs, but the missing parent’s absence will still affect a person, not only when they are young, but as an adult. Absent parents are a trope in children’s and young adult novels. In fiction, the absence of a child character’s parents usually frees the child or young adult to follow their own dreams and adventures, to become independent, to bond with friends, and to learn about life and themselves. Though the effects of absent parents are mostly positive for young fictional characters, they are generally negative for real life children. While the fictional characters find adventure and maturity in these novels, real-life adults usually suffer emotional fallout due to the absence of parents in their childhoods. Adult children who lament the lack of a relationship with a parent who continues to absent themselves from their adult child’s life as they did in childhood. Others are happy to be away from their toxic parents who failed to provide the love and concern they needed during childhood. Others are conflicted between wanting a relationship with their parents and avoiding one because they know it will only cause them pain. The reasons for a parent’s absence ranges from the avoidable to the unavoidable: loss or relinquishment of parental rights, abandonment, negligence, preoccupation with grief or the illness of another child, work, death, incarceration, divorce, mental or physical illness, drugs or alcoholism, or hospitalization. Some parents are physically present, but they are emotionally absent and do not fulfill their roles as parents. Others may be narcissists or are otherwise psychologically unsuited to be a parent. They may be cold and distant or verbally and/or physically abusive. For whatever reason, some parents fail to fulfill their parental duties. In some cases, the child absences herself from her parents, often because her parents were either emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive or harmed them in some way. Even though a child makes the choice to leave, they still experience the absence of their parents. A parent’s role is to provide for the physical wellbeing of a child, to teach the child morals and personal values, to train the child to navigate life, to provide emotional support, love and protection, and to make sure the child receives an education. Modern parents are also expected to have a close, healthy relationship with their children and to make them happy and give them every advantage in life. Mothers are generally expected to be nurturing as well as to work if necessary, fathers are usually expected to financially provide for his children and to be the disciplinarian and moral guide; however, this is not always the way things play out. Sometimes the father is the caregiver and manages the home. Children whose parents do not fulfill either of these roles, even though they are physically present, can experience severe emotional conflicts. At times circumstances can make it impossible for parents to be involved in their children’s lives yet the impact of this for the young ones is disheartening. It is unfortunately rampant in society nowadays to have one of the parents abandon their children, even in homogeneous societies backed by principles which used to guard communities from this kind of situation. For various reasons ranging from separation, divorce, profession and death, to many others, we have witnessed in our society cases of single parenting, mostly affecting mothers and children. “Lack of parental emotion and attachment often affects children as they become defensive and baited. Their comportment as a grown up is unconsciously triggered by their emotional childhood isolation,” Neglected children often don’t realize they are being neglected at the time, and can internalize the pain and loneliness and think it is their fault. They are often told they are “too sensitive” or “selfish” if they try to get their needs met. Parents with little empathy often neglect their children and don’t even realize it, while there are also parents who don’t care. Either way, the child grows up wondering about their own self-worth and value. “If you were emotionally or physically neglected as a child, it can be a difficult journey to heal. Traumatic experiences like abuse and neglect have an adverse effect on children’s brain development. As the child matures the developing brain changes in response to the child’s environment.” Studies and clinical experience also show that childhood abuse and neglect can impact a child’s emotional development. In my practice, I see adult clients who were neglected, and most have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and significant trauma to resolve. If there was a lack of emotional attachment in childhood, this also affects relationships later in life and can make it difficult to trust others. It’s very essential for a child to be raised by both parents without excuses because it gives them a sense or feeling of association, love and security. This way, they learn how to associate, love and be there for others.

A child is also able to learn different characters from both parents since we all grow differently and have different characters. “A child learns and acquires skills pertaining problem solving simply because like aforementioned, we have different characters. Children are able to learn both maternal and paternal cultures and norms with their families and their backgrounds; this involves learning the languages too, which in time helps them to survive.” She believes that since it takes two to make a baby, it should be the same when it comes to raising them since each parent has a specific role to play in bringing up a happy and healthy child. “Because every child is unique, the effects may differ individually but generally, research has revealed that children with single parents tend to have issues such as drug or alcohol addiction.” “Children who grow up without their fathers, (especially if they are alive) have that feeling of resentment. And you will see those who grow in the absence of their mothers, always have emotion of sorrow and they miss that love from a mother which in turn affects their own caring act.” It is really absurd how some parents avoid the responsibilities to be present in the lives of their children. Children need role models and mentors to be inspired and get a clear picture before starting families.

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The Effects Of Absent Parents. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
“The Effects Of Absent Parents.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
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