Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Anyone else feel unaffected by absentee parent?

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
3,160
That was an odd subject but I couldn't think of another way to describe it. I was listening to the radio this morning and they were talking about Kelly Clarkson who sang a song on American Idol about her father who abandoned her. She cried during the performance and it moved the audience to tears. That conversation led one of the DJs to remember his own who has never been there for him and how he is scarred by it.

It got me thinking...my own dad left our family when I was 3. It's actually one of my earliest memories. No real feeling associated with it but I remember my parents packing all of my dad's things into the family station wagon and asking if he was going to bring our dog back (he took him with him because my dad was a police office and our family dog was also his work sidekick). Anyway, as a kid, he was in and out of my life (our lives - there are 4 of us) and he wasn't a very nice person to put it mildly. I would refuse to go with him when he would come around and was sometimes forced. I didn't enjoy it but it wasn't terrible and I was with my siblings. But, when I got to the age where my mother allowed me to choose, I just stopped seeing him. My siblings continued but he lost contact eventually with each of them at different times.

My two older sisters were really impacted by this situation and talk openly about how they have abandonment issues and how this reflects in their personal relationships etc. My brother has kind of a chip on his shoulder about it and, when the subject comes up, he says some pretty hateful things. I feel bad that my siblings had a harder time but I can't relate. I feel nothing. I don't have any hard feelings toward him. One of my siblings (who lives cross-country) recently reunited with him and sent a picture. Even looking at the picture, I felt no emotion. She encouraged all of us to reach out to him which I didn't consider for a second because he's a stranger to me and I don't feel any connection to him. But I don't feel sad about any of it or wonder what life would have been like if he had stuck around. I rarely think about him and, if I do, it's in the context of a childhood memory of an event - not a wonder where he is now or why he left kind of way.

Anyone else have a parent leave and not feel affected? I realize there's no way to know how this influenced my personality but I truly do feel unaffected by it. Maybe because I felt in control of this situation by choosing not to spend time with him on my own? I don't think I'm a cold person and there are people in my life whose absence would completely devastate me. And I do value the relationship of a father with his children. I have a step-father that I love and my own husband is seriously the best father a child could ever wish for.

Sorry, this was pretty poorly articulated but I think I got my point across. Hopefully!
 

azstonie

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
3,758
Interesting subject, one which I've thought of many times over the years and in a lot of therapy and self-help books. My parents were on site but alternated btw not-benign neglect and cruel control and manipulation.

So!

In thinking of parenting models, in my case I believe it would have been to my advantage to have been sent to boarding school in about 3rd grade. (My mother really started with the cruel treatment at that time and my father seemed to be completely unaware of it or unwilling to reign in my mother.) This would have taken quite a bit of pressure off my mother and certainly been beneficial for me. My mother commented one time that mothers get harsh judgement by society, so I think she would never have done a boarding school for me because her parents would have been appalled. Thank God she sent me to camp every summer possible. I was off to college right after high school graduation.

Another parenting model, the English in the years with nannies prior to boarding or military academy. The children were brought out to say good night to their parents or for very limited quality time. As long as the nanny was loving and kind, no problem there. Social scientists and psychologists have written scads about how the old English model of nanny/boarding school/finishing school or university created on the one hand a kind of emotionally removed segment of society but on the other hand, a very independent thinker and one who could make and act on the 'hard decisions' as well. Not codependent at all.

When I was a teacher, I saw lots of parent-child relationships and I thought the healthiest ones were where the parents' marriage was the primary one and the children were satellites off of that. Those children knew they were loved, knew their parents had a secure marriage which was not the children's responsibility to hold together. Those children had a "job" to do in their lives, which was to have a good school experience, be positive components of their own families, and build their own social lives and passions and interests in life. I never saw good come from helicopter parents for the kids and I saw plenty of kids buckle under the pressure of carrying a parents reason-to-be.

Puppmom, you have resolved your FOO (family of origin) situation in a healthy way and have a happy family life of your own. Good on you!!! You could certainly dig around in your psyche some more but since you aren't broken, no need for a 'fix.' (I had broken aspects to my life that put me in a position to have to examine my parents and their behaviors and attitude towards me. I had to do work to change the parts of my life that weren't working for me.)
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,002
My family situation goes something like this... My biological father and biological mother separated when I was a baby. He was a drug addict which made him very unreliable. My mother wasn't too stable herself, but managed to find another man when I was three years old. That man is who I consider my dad. Biological dad did visit when I was young. I LOVED him!!! I was a little girl who LOVED everyone!! I was the type of kid who would fall in love with anyone, my parents could do no wrong. Then one day I realized, my biological dad wasn't going to come around anymore. Something inside of me just sort of shut down.

I thought I was ok. I thought that I had an awesome dad. What was the problem? I didn't really care one way or the next about the bio-dad. I went on and lived life and didn't think of him. Family members on his side would ask me about maybe talking to him and I would tell them that I didn't want to. I would tell them that I didn't know him, didn't want to know him, and that I was loyal to the man who raised me. Eventually, they stopped asking.

I even spoke to therapists about it. I felt that I should have some kind of gaping hole inside of me, a needle in my arm, and a stream of promiscuous relationships because my bio-dad wasn't there for me, but I don't. They all said the same thing, he was never regularly in the picture. There was no sense of loss because I had nothing to lose.


Then I recently found out he was dying and a floodgate opened... Now all of a sudden I am sad. WTH? But it isn't really my current self that is sad. It is a younger part of me that is sad, the part of me that used to visit with him. It is the same part of me that believed he could do no wrong, even though he was probably high on drugs at the very moment that I was looking at him with stars in my eyes.

The adult part of me knows this is grieving. To be honest, there probably has been a small part of me that HAS been grieving this entire time, but if I had given it any attention at all, I may not have been able to accomplish the goals that I had set forth to accomplish up to this point in time. I set the grief aside. I guess now, I can handle it.

I know that he wouldn't have been a good influence in my life. I think he knew that and that was his reason for staying away. He had even told me as much, many times. There is actually a very large part of me that is thankful that he stayed away. I have a beautiful life and family now. I don't know what I would have been with him around.

To answer your question, I felt unaffected for a very long time, but now I don't. Now I am grieving, which is the healthy thing for me to do at this time.

I have come to realize that being abandoned by a parent is complicated. There isn't a strict set of rules for anyone. What might work for someone at one point in time might not work at another. I have decided that I will allow myself to move within this complicated event and to accept my feelings as they come. I'm hoping that by doing this, the grieving will subside and maybe a positive outcome will be with me in the end.
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 23, 2011
Messages
5,294
My father left my mother when she was pregnant with me. He's still with the same girlfriend who was 16 at the time. They reside in another country, on another continent I was born at. People constantly asked me as a kid if I missed him. I don't even know him! He got in touch with me via Facebook after I was already 18 (what a snake), and now pretends to have a relationship with me. He writes and shares my photos on FB and says how proud he is of me, etc, and it really annoys me.

I can't say I'm "unaffected" as I'm unsure who I would be had he been involved. But I definitely don't give a rats ass about him.
 

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
3,160
Aztonie, that is all very interesting! I wonder what kind of adult relationships the "nanny raised boarding school kids" end up having with their parents. I could certainly dig deeper and it probably is unrealistic to think it didn't in part shape who I am. I do sometimes wonder if my feelings (or lack of) are normal especially when I hear my siblings talk in terms you would normally associate with a tragic event. It doesn't feel tragic to me at all.

Housecat, that all sounds very heavy but, I think you're right - how you feel about things certainly evolves with time and all you can do is deal with the current space you're in. There is a little part of me that worries I'm in denial (again when I hear how upsetting this has been/is to my siblings) and it's just a matter of time before the floodgates open. What you said really strikes a chord though - there was really nothing lost because there was nothing there in the first place. I also think young kids in particular are resilient and maybe the age of my siblings combined with how long they carried on the relationship after me contributes to how it's impacted them.

I should add - my dad was not physically abusive to me. He just wasn't nice (cold, very rigid and unkind to others) and I can remember thinking from a very young age that I just didn't like being around him.
 

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
3,160
Madelise, what a creep! It makes me appreciate that my biological dad doesn't try to force anything with any of us (or pretend to). He currently has a relationship with one of my sisters. She told me he is remarried and it made me wonder...I'm pretty confident I wouldn't marry someone who doesn't have a relationship with most of his children! How do explain that to someone you're dating?
 

katharath

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
2,833
puppmom|1456513572|3996163 said:
Madelise, what a creep! It makes me appreciate that my biological dad doesn't try to force anything with any of us (or pretend to). He currently has a relationship with one of my sisters. She told me he is remarried and it made me wonder...I'm pretty confident I wouldn't marry someone who doesn't have a relationship with most of his children! How do explain that to someone you're dating?
Totally agree with this. I always think the same thing.

Puppmom, I'm sorry I don't have anything helpful to add, but I do find your topic very interesting. I can't relate for myself, but my husband had a very difficult childhood due to many issues from both parents, so I am always trying to understand him better, and I value reading about similar experiences. I appreciate your post and hearing your thoughts.

ETA - azstonie, I really loved what you had to say re: parents being the primary relationship with the children as satellites. I just love that. It's definitely what my life model is like, and it's what I saw growing up from my parents (who are still happily married after 36 years). I know some people disagree, but I'm not one of them

And house cat - I think I remember reading your thread about your dad. It sounds like you've found some clarity, I'm glad and I wish you the best.
 

amc80

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
5,765
My parents divorced when I was 10. I did the every other weekend thing for a while. It seemed I spent more time with my dad's girlfriend than with him, and I didn't particularly like her. After a couple of years I just stopped going. He didn't fight it. He and my brother still have a good relationship. I have seen him maybe twice in the last 20 years. The last time was at my aunt's funeral (his sister) and he didn't even talk to me, which is fine.

The way I see it, I was a little kid. He should have cared that I didn't visit, but he really didn't. My mom remarried and I'm close to my step-dad. I feel sorry for my dad, that he missed out on my life and will never know his grandkids. But I don't think I'm really all that affected by it.
 

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,471
I actually talk about this with my friends quite often.

I wasn't "abandoned" per se, but I did grow up without a father. My parents divorced when I was 7 and my dad works in a specialized industry, so he had to stay where the jobs were. My mom moved across the country to be close to her parents so they could help out with my brother and me. Money was an issue for BOTH of my parents, so flying out for regular visits wasn't an option. We saw my dad once a year. It's not that he didn't want to be involved, he just, well, wasn't involved. My dad still apologizes to this day that he wasn't there for us growing up and I always tell him that it's fine, I turned out fine, I'm not upset (and I truly mean that). I haven't seen him in about 10 years, but I do talk on the phone or through email once a month or so... not a typical relationship but not what I would call "estranged" either.

My brother, however, did NOT cope well. He turned to drugs and alcohol and cites my father's absence as the reason. I've read a few articles about the same sex parent being instrumental to development (so moms and daughters, fathers and sons), so maybe that's why my brother had a harder time with it than I did as a girl.
 

PattyCo

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 26, 2011
Messages
593
Yep! No feelings. The dirty dog left us high and dry. Left the state, never paid child support. Mom worked 3 jobs at one time to support 4 children. Seven years later a man among men took us all on when he married her. Sadly this Super Man died 12 years later. Now that is what hurts. Twenty years later and the tears still come.
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
3,771
I think I'm unaffected or better off actually. My mom was in a bad place when she was with my dad, and he was not a good person or good to her. She left while she was pregnant, and while he was in and out (mostly out) she made a better life for herself. When I was younger I wanted him to be a dad. He lived on a farm, and would promise to buy a horse, take me to Disney land, etc. He would call once a year around my birthday, usually drunk or high and I stopped caring. I think probably around 13 I accepted it. I haven't seen him since I was 18 or so. His girlfriend added me on FB and tried to guilt me into coming to visit them. Saying he was dying or something. It tore me up inside that I didn't want to go. I didn't really care anymore, and didn't want to spend my vacation time going to visit people I have no connection to. That was a year ago, he's still alive. If he made an effort to come down to visit me I would see them. I wouldn't let them stay at my home but I would meet them for dinner. But there is no effort on their end. So *shrug* I just live my life.

I do know that if my mom stayed with him my life would be shit now. I'm so grateful that she was wise enough to get out.
 

Puppmom

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
3,160
Sonnyjane, that sounds terrible for your brother! My brother doesn't have issues like that but he is very angry. And he's super hard on himself as a parent. He really feels inadequate as a dad but his son adores him!

Patty, I would be devastated if anything happened to my stepdad (feels weird to even call him that but just easier to distinguish in this thread). He's one of my favorite people. I'm sorry you lost such an important person in your life.

AMC, it absolutely boggles my mind that someone walks away from their kids or acts indifferent. I understand why adult relationships fail and sometimes aren't worth the work but leaving your kids just doesn't seem like something any mentally well, reasonable person would do.

Telephone, better off...i think that is so true sometimes. I definitely feel better off. From what I understand he and my mom had a volatile relationship and I think the contributes a bit to my eldest sister's troubles because she witnessed much more than the rest of us. She was 11 when he left.

Kath, luckily I had one good parent! And then a great dad joined our family a few years later. I cannot imagine what it would have been like if both of my parents were uninvolved or indifferent or abusive. I can see how that would affect someone so deeply.
 

Andelain

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 10, 2010
Messages
3,525
It affected me in ways I didn't completely understand until last year. When I was a teen my parents discarded me like I was trash. Gave up custody of me to the state, but kept my brothers. And I never got into trouble to cause it. We regained contact, and had sort of a relationship through my adult life, but a few years back my father suddenly tried to claim he's not my biological father. He knows he is, and was trying to get me to say that to my mother to hurt her, as they divorced when I was a baby. By him saying that, he gave me an opening to just ignore his ass. That's what I do.
 

Andelain

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 10, 2010
Messages
3,525
madelise|1456512113|3996150 said:
My father left my mother when she was pregnant with me. He's still with the same girlfriend who was 16 at the time. They reside in another country, on another continent I was born at. People constantly asked me as a kid if I missed him. I don't even know him! He got in touch with me via Facebook after I was already 18 (what a snake), and now pretends to have a relationship with me. He writes and shares my photos on FB and says how proud he is of me, etc, and it really annoys me.

I can't say I'm "unaffected" as I'm unsure who I would be had he been involved. But I definitely don't give a rats a$$ about him.
You can always block him on FB.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
I actually don't think it's possible to be unaffected by an absentee parent situation. I think that someone might think that they're unaffected, but it can impact their life in ways that they don't even realize (on a subconscious level).
 

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,471
momhappy|1456688973|3997052 said:
I actually don't think it's possible to be unaffected by an absentee parent situation. I think that someone might think that they're unaffected, but it can impact their life in ways that they don't even realize (on a subconscious level).
Uhhh...sure...just as people are "affected" by being raised in a two-parent home. If you mean to say that nobody in an absentee parent situation can leave without being NEGATIVELY affected then I would definitely argue that there are homes with two parents that are far more detrimental to a child's upbringing than a home where one parent left. I think if a child was raised that way and has come out on the other side feeling "unaffected" or as some in this thread have mentioned, better off than they would have been had that parent stayed, then I believe them.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
sonnyjane|1456689664|3997058 said:
momhappy|1456688973|3997052 said:
I actually don't think it's possible to be unaffected by an absentee parent situation. I think that someone might think that they're unaffected, but it can impact their life in ways that they don't even realize (on a subconscious level).
Uhhh...sure...just as people are "affected" by being raised in a two-parent home. If you mean to say that nobody in an absentee parent situation can leave without being NEGATIVELY affected then I would definitely argue that there are homes with two parents that are far more detrimental to a child's upbringing than a home where one parent left. I think if a child was raised that way and has come out on the other side feeling "unaffected" or as some in this thread have mentioned, better off than they would have been had that parent stayed, then I believe them.
I didn't address a two-parent scenario - my post only addressed an absentee parent scenario, which is the topic of this thread. I would agree that there are two-parent scenarios that can have have a major/negative impact on one's life (maybe even more so than an absentee parent situation in certain circumstances). I wasn't implying that the impact from an absentee parenting scenario is necessarily a bad/negative thing. I said that I don't think that it's possible to not be affected by an absentee parent situation on some level (good or bad).
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top