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How to Deal With a Teen's Feelings of Abandonment

By Ashley Miller ; Updated April 18, 2017
Teens who feel abandoned may withdraw from relationships with others.

Feelings of abandonment can compromise your teen's well-being and emotional health. Abandonment represents a core human fear, according to Psychotherapist Susan Anderson in an article for Abandonment.net. Whether due to actual abandonment or specific life situations, such as adoption, divorce, remarriage, neglect, abuse, parental death or absence, your teen needs your support, love and involvement in order to successfully deal with and overcome his feelings of abandonment. If he doesn't feel secure, safe and loved, he may develop abandonment issues that can impair his ability to trust others and maintain healthy relationships.

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Encourage your teen to express her feelings. Not all teens are comfortable talking about their feelings, but they may find comfort in artistic, creative or physical means of expression, such as writing, music, sports or exercise. At some point, you should let her know that talking about her feelings can be cathartic and may help her feel better. If she doesn't feel comfortable talking to you, encourage her to speak to a trusted adult, friend or teacher.

Explain the circumstances surrounding the abandonment as honestly and openly as possible, if you are in a position to do so. In an article for Family Education, Carleton Kendrick, licensed clinical social worker, says telling the truth may be the best path to healing. Provide as much information as you can and remain as supportive and neutral as possible. For example, if your teen was abandoned by his father early in childhood, don't disparage his father, and avoid minimizing or lying about the circumstances.

Provide consistent and frequent reassurances of your love. A teen who feels abandoned often believes she is unlovable or unworthy and may suffer from low self-esteem. Tell her that you love her. Provide hugs and other forms of physical affection. Let your teen know you aren't going anywhere, Kendrick advises.

Consult a therapist who can help your teen work through his feelings. Therapy is an beneficial way to heal abandonment wounds, says GoodTherapy.org. Your teen might be facing a host of painful, intense emotions, such as anger, sadness and grief. Building a trusting relationship with a caring therapist may help him take steps toward healing and forgiveness.

Demonstrate reliability and consistency. If you say you're going to pick your teen up at a specific time, be there. If you promise to take her to the mall after school, do it. Abandoned teens may feel the world is an unsafe and unreliable place. Being consistent and reliable sends the message that not everyone is as unsafe or untrustworthy as she might believe.


Seek help from a health care professional if your teen suffers from severe depression or exhibits suicidal behaviors.

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About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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