Child abandonment issues CAN be helped
If you are in a close relationship with a child with abandonment issues, there are ways that you can help them.
Our brains, and especially a child's brain, is "plastic" and flexible in very deep, powerful ways.
Basically, child abandonment issues stem from events that are totally beyond the child's ability to name, understand, process or resolve.
When you help a child with abandonment issues, all you are doing is bringing nature (safe bonding) back to it's healthy, normal state.
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My son is 6 and has what I feel are abandonment issues. His mother and I were involved with each other for the first few years of his life but did not live together. He has a brother who is 2 years younger.
Shortly after his brother was born his mother and I separated and will not be getting back together. I see my boys one night a week and every other weekend.
For the past few years my oldest son has had issues with being left alone, even though his brother is there and other people are in the house. A few times each weekend that he is staying with me he will go around looking for me and asking my fiance' where I am. He also likes to tell me, at very random times, that he loves me.
This past weekend he told me he loved me 12 times. I like to hear it and I'm pretty sure he is telling me so that I will say it back and reassure him but it just doesn't seem healthy. He will stop what he is doing, whether it being watching TV or playing with toys and come to tell me that he loves me or just give me a hug.
I love it, don't get me wrong, but I wonder if its not an indication of some underlying issue. He doesn't have much of an imagination, never really has. His brother will sing along with the TV shows and dance around while he just watches. He doesn't seem to get out of his shell or comfort zone. He is very close to my dad and was watched by him from about 12months to 3 years and then started all-day daycare.
He seems to break down a lot when my dad is involved. He started crying this past friday because he sa my dad drive by to pick his school, it was pickup time and my dad was picking up his brother first and it took longer than my oldest son thought it should. When my dad picked him up he said he was crying because he didnt think he was going to get picked up.
I'm not sure what I need to be saying to my son, what questions I need to be asking or what I can do to help him avoid a lifetime of child abandonment issues. Please help, Thanks
I have been busy researching child abandonment issues, looking for where I learned about problems with attachment. I don’t want to give an off the cuff response. There are so many questions; so many places to begin building a foundation of understanding that you need before you can help your son.
The first thing I want to say is that while you are correct in your concern, please feel reassured that by your very quality of noticing and caring and wanting to help, you have already provided him the absolutely most crucial ingredient for his well-being. Immense kudos to you for that…REALLY. You have already given the number one ingredient to help his child abandonment issues.
The next thing I noted was the one-two punch of a new brother combined with your "leaving or break-up." Two enormous and immeasurably distressing events at the same time. The second part of this, and it cannot be overstated, is the effect upon the mother of these events. The effect on her emotionally and energetically have an unpreventable and unpredictable effect on very young children. Keep in mind, ALSO, all the energies and feelings, all the events and tones, that led up to that conclusion. Many child abandonment issues center on the parents' difficult relationships.
I know it sounds convoluted, and I will write in more detail soon on the site, but the first place to begin your understanding and helping is by learning about your own and his mothers’ experiences during childhood. About yours and her general security and attachments to your parents.
Is it possible that either of you suffered child abandonment issues...(not necessarily literal abandonment?) The feeling tones of your parents, the security of home, the predictability and safety of those early bonding relationships. Look into all that and gain some depth of understanding for each of you around YOUR child abandonment issues.
Also, often times a new partner (your fiance') can be a trigger for child abandonment issues.
Is there any growth being called for on your or his mothers’ part around child abandonment issues? Those feelings have to be called up and addressed, otherwise they are passed onto your children.
After doing that, I suggest you do what I wrote below, for another child. I made some modifications for your situation.
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For her traumas and triggers I suggest that you support her in making a picture story book of her life. You might do one for your life while she does hers. Let her LEAD and you match, while giving examples along the way. Ask questions: -What did it look like before you were born?- Then you might provide an example of what you mean by drawing a little picture of what it looked like before YOU were born. (Perhaps a scene with your parents or home?)
If she instead draws a picture of AFTER she was born, for example, then follow as she leads what she wants to focus on.
BIG picture: She needs a life story that goes from A to Z. Past first. Then PRESENT. Then future. This gives her a coherence, a through-line in which to get some perspective and integration. She can see her life as like a necklace with beads of events that keeps going. It helps her find the places where the story is unresolved and jumbled up inside her.
She needs your help to process and organize the jumbled places. Hopefully she can then begin to story-out the present time and see how it is safer. If you can listen carefully, you may hear where her fears and unmet needs and hurts reside.
Your job is to note where there is pain or confusion or unexpressed questions or feelings. These need to be resolved with loving communication, piece by piece. If there is a fear aspect, let him play at "slaying the dragon" - let his physical body have the experience of vanquishing what ever the fear is. A happy ending so to speak... Some imaginative way to feel better about things and to resolve those child abandonment issues.
Ask her, along the way, as she tells the stories with the pictures, -What did YOU WANT "X" (me, mommy, grandpa) to do or say?- If she can say what she wanted (Mommy to stay, for example, maybe help her imagine and draw a picture of that!)
This can be especially helpful for the present. Discover what she wants you to do or say and help her experience that as much as possible. Reassure her about the future.
It is all about resolution and completion of unfinished feelings and needs and a solidly reassuring life story. It is best to bring to light and truth EVERY thing. Do not let there be things unsaid, that feel unspeakable. If they are painful and difficult, explain that life is like that alot of the time, but we can all deal with it and get our needs met. We truly mostly just need to know what our needs are and to feel we are understood.
You can help child abandonment issues by activating a child's imagination. (This helps adults also, I use it all the time with clients). If it sounds too easy, too good to be true, think about child therapists. They use play therapy, stories, role-playing, art, theatre, movies, and likewise to help children.
If they can conjure up what they needed or wanted and what that would be like, it is great--REALLY GREAT. You can lead them along a little, with things like, "What would it be like if you could have hugged your Mommy back then? How would you feel?"
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