Though there are many expressions that abandonment of a child by a parent can take, it is not always intentional or malicious and it does not necessarily mean that the abandoning parent does not love the child. Alcoholism, for example, is almost without exception abandoning of the child because it regularly impairs the parent's judgment, consumes their attention (away from the children) and disables their capacities, not only to be there for the child, but to be appropriately protective of the child. Thus, children are left on their own, often, to fend for themselves. The degree to which alcohol affects these elements of the parent is the degree to which the parent abandons the children, regardless of how much he or she loves them.
Below is a summary of Abandonment.
Actual Abandonment - (of the child by the parent) · Physical leaving through divorce, imprisonment, death etc.. · Emotional indifference or absence. This involves a parent's emotional detachment from a child; a lack of emotional support and encouragement; persistent negativity or criticism with little if any affirmation or other significant compensation. · Persistent absence of approval. · Decided, persistent favoritism of one child over another. · Perfectionist expectations that carry few, if any, praises or affirmations. · A pattern of anger directed toward the family or a particular child and lacking compensatory behaviors or affirmations. · Any pattern of behavior or persistent attitude that signals a lack of acceptance of the child. Failure to distinguish between the child and his behavior, so that unacceptable behavior translates as an unacceptable child becomes emotional abandonment of the child by the parent if there are no positive compensations.
Perceived (or Apparent) Abandonment can occur when parents are, either fully, or in some significant fashion, available to their children. This perception by a child that he can't go to his parents can occur when someone other than a parent is sexually (or in other ways) violating the child. The offender creates a secret, exclusive - 'special' - world with the child in order to hide his activity: "This is our secret...you are my special, secret friend...I love you in a special way that no one else can know about....you can't tell your parents or they won't like you....they'll think you're a bad girl....something bad will happen to you parents if you tell them...they will die....you're parents will hate you if they know....etc..Such a secret world abandons the child to his parents, even if they are emotionally and physically available to him or her. The child does not have permission to reach out and, therefore, isolates into his own private world. The public child and the private child have begun. The child will very quickly feel on the outside looking in with her family. Isolated within the family system, the child again retreats to his own inner caverns to try to build a world in which to survive.
This perceived or apparent abandonment also occurs when one parent is sexually abusing and the other, available, parent is truly unaware. Secrets, laced with implied or real threats, again are used to keep the child quiet and to protect the offender. The magnitude of the child's disconnect from the rest of the family, her (or his) sense of isolation and of being on the outside looking in is cataclysmic. No longer is she a child...free to play as her other brothers and sister do. She lives in a different world, now. She knows things they don't have a clue about. She is different from them, maybe even bad. No longer is she her mother's child, she has betrayed her, though she is not quite sure how. She has been an unknowing competitor to her and, somehow, her father has chosen her over her mother. Often he will be very tender with her in the abuse and very removed from her the rest of the time. He has ruptured her relationship with the rest of the family and most of the time, except in the secret places, she is isolated from him as well. This is actual abandonment by the offending parent but perceived abandonment as it pertains to the parent who is unaware. The problem is that apparent abandonment is as wrenching and wounding and real to the child as actual abandonment. And the child lives in the catacombs of her own soul seeking ways to survive.