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Child Psychology Questions

I am curious about the implications abandonment can have on children.

My daughter is 5 1/2 years old. Her father has never been involved in her life (not by my choice - by his).

She was an unplanned pregnancy. I have told her that her dad is "too sick to take care of us" in an attempt to ensure the problem is NOT focused on her. I do not say mean things about her father.

Now, every day, several times a day, she asks about her dad. It will either be in the form of "I miss and /or love my daddy," to "do you have a picture of me and my daddy."

It has now escalated into unusual fantasies about her father, such as, "when I was a baby, my daddy took me on a trip," to "when my daddy feels better, he will come and see me."

I have kept in communication with her father and have asked several times for him to be involved in her life. He has not yet committed to any involvement. He is not a criminal and I have no worries about any bad effects he would have on her - I really want him to be involved - if only for 1-2 days per month.

I would like to know, from professionals in this field, several things:

1. What effect will his absence have on her later in life?

2. What can I tell her to ensure that this issue is not about her?

3. At what age is it appropriate for her to enter counseling?

4. Will she continue to have abandonment issues for the rest of her life?

5. Any other feedback you would like to provide?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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Abandonment issues
by: Anonymous

I am not a psychologist, yet, but I must say that kids do take things to heart, and the way they deal with a problem is unique to each, but has an underlying cognitive similarity. Around this age, yes they cannot fully understand and will try to, by any means they have available.

Now, as far as telling your daughter that her father is sick, I really don't know if that is a good idea. That to her means that he could become better and come back anytime. I would suggest telling her in a way suitable to her, that her father will not be coming back into her and your life. It may take some time to figure out exactly how to do this with your child, but allowing for her to think at any moment he could come back, is not (in my opinion) the best thing to do.

I would also suggest trying to get an outside support system for your daughter. Kids who have multiple, dependable and secure attachments will overall lead healthier lives (I noticed you were concerned with abandonment). Perhaps get her into big brothers/big sisters, or a similar program. I was raised by my mother and was told from a small child that my father would not be around. I found comfort in my grandparents and other caregivers, besides my mother.

I wish I knew the answers!
by: Anonymous

I am comforted by your story, because my son and I have a similar one. He is also 5 1/2 and was the result of an unplanned pregnancy (an unexpected gift!), and his "father" has not been in contact since I was pregnant. He is struggling now with all kinds of behavior problems, specifically anger and impulsivity, which no doubt would be less severe (if existant at all) with the constant love and support of both myself and a father.

I'm sure the way in which a child deals with this loss in their life differs according to individual temperments. It sounds like your daughter is using fantasy as a way of coping with her feelings. My son uses anger because he is unable to understand what he feels.

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