Kids With Abandonment Issues

By Morgan Rush
A child with abandonment issues might struggle to believe that she deserves love.
A child with abandonment issues might struggle to believe that she deserves love.

Parents abandon children for a variety of reasons, including poverty, substance abuse, mental illness or a legal crisis. Teen pregnancy and incarceration are other common reasons for abandonment, according to Achieve When parents leave, kids might develop abandonment issues. Feelings of guilt or fear can surface, leading to increased insecurity or behaviorial problems. Family members and other caretakers can help children adjust to their circumstances by offering unconditional love and professional support.

Characteristics, a site affiliated with the health care company Humana, details five steps of abandonment. During the first trauma of abandonment, children will feel shattered before beginning to withdraw. In the second phase, kids might wish that a departed parent would return. The third stage involves internalization -- children begin to blame themselves for their circumstances. Next, kids might begin to experience anger and blame others. Finally, as children accept the circumstance, they might begin to rebuild their lives in a more positive manner. notes that children can feel abandoned even when parents don’t physically leave; the abandonment issues could be related to a parent being emotionally distant or uninvolved.


When a child loses a mother or father to abandonment, the effects can be intense, according to Children might struggle with self-esteem, fear, unresolved grief or the inability to have intimate relationships. Additionally, kids might experience anger or guilt about their parent’s departure. Depression and self-injury can take place following abandonment, according to


Adopted children sometimes struggle with abandonment issues. In fact, the effects of adoption can last through a child’s lifetime, according to the International Adoption Stories website. Adopted children can face self-esteem or security issues linked to feelings of rejection by their biological parents. Children might wonder about their history and question why they were placed in the adoption system. Kids sometimes try to hide their abandonment issues in an attempt to avoid appearing ungrateful. Parents might consider talking with other families in the adoption community for insight, or talk with a counselor, to develop strategies for addressing these issues. Explicitly stating values of unconditional love might be comforting for these children.


In therapy, kids with abandonment issues might talk with a counselor or psychologist about some of their fears, according to Children might be encouraged to discuss memories or feelings associated with a parent’s death, divorce or departure. Over time, therapists could help kids disentangle their feelings about the past so that they become better able to face their daily life. Parents can support professional efforts by listening to a child, offering companionship and letting her know that she is cared for and valued.

About the Author

Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.