General Question

Jude's avatar

Best way to deal with a child with abandonment issues?

Asked by Jude (32134points) June 3rd, 2010

I know of a young girl (she’s 6) who was rejected by her biological mother. Her father remarried and he is now living with his new wife (her step-mom). Her father and step-mom have a son (who is 5). So, that would make him her half-brother.

The six year old girl doesn’t feel loved, and acts out a lot. Her step-mom finally got her set up with a counselor (starting next week).

Her biological Mom stopped talking to her in December..for no reason.

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37 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Spend time with the child. Just spend a great deal of time with her and everything will work out fine.

BoBo1946's avatar

damn…hate stuff like that! The best thing is for someone to show some love…and that probably not going to happen! Sad deal! would be a good reason to bring back public flogging! Just kidding…but, will never understand parents that abuse little children. That is far removed from my mind!

Seaofclouds's avatar

Not that it matters, but if the boy is biologically her dad’s, he would be her half-brother, not step-brother.

Counseling sounds like a great idea. Other than that, just being there for the child over time and showing her that they aren’t going anywhere will also help.

Jude's avatar

She’s a great kid with a big heart. It’s really sad.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@jjmah You didn’t have to edit it. I was just being picky.
My son had abandonment issues when he was younger. His father left when he was 10 months old and last saw him when he was 13 months old. My son would act so attention starved when it came to attention from males, no matter how much his uncle did with him. For some reason, he was always better behaved with male teachers (I think because he was seeking their approval). Luckily those behaviors have passed in recent years as he has developed a great relationship with my husband (who will be adopting him soon).

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“The six year old girl doesn’t feel loved…”


She doesn’t feel loved? How does a six year old girl communicate that to an adult? Sorry, but I’m having difficulty envisioning that conversation between the child and… who exactly did she proclaim this too?

Who diagnosed lacking love as the issue the child is facing, and on what grounds was this diagnosis made?

”...and acts out a lot”


Children will do this if they are not getting the proper attention from the adults who are supposed to be raising them. Somebody needs to point that out to the parents.

“Her step-mom finally got her set up with a counselor.”


Typical. That’s a nice way of saying that the Child is the problem, and so of course she must need professional help. Consider that the parents may be the ones who need counseling. I’m all for good counseling when it’s needed. But I’ve seen nothing here to justify that this child needs any. She may not need counseling. She may just need good parenting.

And good parenting consists of spending adequate time with a child so they don’t feel unloved.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The person she needs the love and attention from (her biological mother) stopped talking to her and basically walked out on her. That is why counseling would be good for her. She is very likely to have a lot of issues with her mother walking out on her (like feelings of rejection, anger, blaming herself, and more).

BoBo1946's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies ummm…well, think @jjmah has more insight than any of us. Apparently, the child has some issues!

Val123's avatar

Just let her talk. And don’t tell her how you think she should feel.

Jude's avatar

The Dad works all week (is home on weekends), so, it’s only the step-mom at home to take care of the little ones (she works during the day, so, they have a nanny). Anyhow, I talked to the step-mom last night and she told me that they have been ‘getting into it’ quite a bit this last month. The little girl craves attention (from anyone). Positive or negative. The poor Mom is tapped out, trying to do it all..Anyhow, the little girl is jealous of her bro and picks fights with him often. She’s told her step-mom numerous times that the step-mom doesn’t love her (that she only loves her biological son) and that she (the six year old) wishes that she was in her step-mom’s tummy, as well. She freaks out about that. Her step-mom reassures her that she loves her, but, the six year old doesn’t believe her.

I’ve seen her lose it. Screaming, yelling, throwing things, slamming doors, and picking fights with her bro. According to her step-mom, she is 6 going on 16. She’s been through a lot at such a young age.

aprilsimnel's avatar

She’s not yet old enough to understand why her birth mom has done this, and that it’s nothing to do with her. All kids are self-centered in that way. It stinks that she’s well aware that her mother has left.

Until she is old enough to understand that her mom’s behaviour is her mom’s issue, not hers, it’s imperative that you all keep encouraging her to stay open and stay trusting, by showing her repeatedly that none of you are going anywhere, that she is inherently lovable and that she is loved, especially by her father. Her counselor will have more personalized suggestions to do this.

Hug her lots. Listen to what she has to say. Talk to her and treat her like she counts. If you get angry, make sure you tell her why, or else she’ll think she’s done something and that now you’ll get mad at her and leave her or stop loving her.

BoBo1946's avatar

Also, most children that have been abandon by their mother have issues. A trained counselor should be an option now…not later!

Without saying, the child needs lots of love from someone!

After reading @jjmah last comment, without a doubt, counseling should be done asap!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Seaofclouds The adults who have chosen to take over those responsibilities are very capable of filling those gaps. And my view is that her issues with feelings of “rejection, anger, blaming herself, and more” should be addressed by her current guardian parents. If they need advice on how to address those issues, then they are the ones who need professional counseling.

@BoBo1946 “Apparently, the child has some issues!”
The only issue I’ve heard thus far is that she “acts out a lot”. Like I said, kids will do that if the supervisory guardians are not spending enough time with her.

@jjmah “The little girl craves attention (from anyone).”
Of course she does. So somebody needs to give it to her. The parents need to step up. There will be a time of reassuring that needs to be gotten past. But as soon as the child is infused with that assurance, then things will settle down.

All families go through times of trouble. They should not immediately run off to counseling at the first sign of trouble, when in fact, they are more than likely quite capable of coming together to address any and all issues as a family, set the trouble right, and then get on with their lives. Americans are so quick to pass the buck and throw responsibility upon others. We fear taking the blame for anything.

It’s a sick and vicious cycle. If the counseling doesn’t work, then we can claim that the problem is either with the child, or with the counselor. Much safer for parents to deal with that than having to ever admit that the problem is with the parenting.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

And yes, I’ve had to deal with this sort of problem in the past… and worse. I’ve passed up jobs in order to spend more quality time with the child in question. Everything worked out fine and I and the child became better people for it.

chels's avatar

@BoBo1946 “Apparently, the child has some issues!” What? No. No no no.

I’ve been kind of through this first hand. How? My father abandoned me as a kid and my mom ended up just being abusive as well as pretty much ignoring me any other time.

What the girl needs is attention. Can the parents take her out alone and do something fun with her every once in a while? She needs the attention that she obviously feels like she’s not getting. With the father gone except for on weekends and the step-mom only being there after work, the kid is definitely not getting much attention from the people that she wants attention from.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes that’s right. She needs attention desperately.

BoBo1946's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies did you read @jjmah second comment?

Trained counselors deal with this everyday. The lack of self-esteem, anger issues, etc…all come from abandonment. Most children that have been abandon blame it on themselves and guilt can be a very heavy burden to carry for a small child. Really like the idea of professional counseling.

@chels I’ve been through this also….every child is different. Some can handle it…so cannot. All we have to go on there is what @jjmah said…It is an individual thing. From his prior comment there could be some issues. Maybe so, maybe not…but, a child in this situation certainly needs love and attention. A given…but, there could be deeper problems that needs to be addressed now. Not later.

Pandora's avatar

For now the only thing I can suggest is on a weekend, have the dad stay home with the son and the both go out shopping or to the park, or anything. She needs some alone time with step mom to feel more confident. The first most important female role model in her life obviously has selfish behavior issues and doesn’t see her daughter as being important to her. As the second most important female in her life, she probably feels her step mom will be the same and so not trust worthy. By going out together she has no choice but to feel dependent on the new mom and at the same time it will make her feel special to be the only one chosen to accompany her.
When my children where young and their dad would go away they would have some struggling issues with his return and I found some alone time would help reunite them.
You can also do the same with dad taking her out for the day to help her feel more secure in his feelings for her.
Once things get better than you can do more fun family activities away from the house. Having fun events helps her to realize that there are better things to do than lash out and will help her bond with her family and forget her troubles for a while.
Also not bad mouthing her mom would be sure to help. Its good your going to take her to therapy but it needs to be a family thing so all know how to cope with the situation.
I would be good if someone would explain to her that her mother is not a bad person and probably loves her very much only she doesn’t know or have the maturity to deal with being a mom. She needs to know that she wasn’t rejected because of who she is but rather mom just doesn’t know what to do.
She will probably love her mom no matter what at age 6 so going against mom will just agitate the situation.
My nephew spent his whole life looking for his dads affections no matter what anyone told him. So better to be there with support than be pushed aside when she need help most.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I agree that she needs attention, but having a professional guide her in dealing with her anger and fears of rejection and any other issue that comes up would be beneficial. Sometimes parents themselves aren’t able to do it alone. The dad and step-mom should be going to counseling as well for guidance. It should be a family thing. I’m not saying counseling alone is the answer, I’m saying it is a supplement to what her parents do for her.

chels's avatar

@BoBo1946 It doesn’t mean the child has issues.

I wish I had a quarter for every time someone said I had issues because of what I’ve been through? Do I have issues? Not any that I can’t handle.

Sure, it does vary from child to child. Do you know how counseling helped me? It didn’t. Instead I was misdiagnosed for things such as depression (and medicated for it, which made things worse), when in reality all I needed was some attention. Just because the child is acting out or feels as though she isn’t loved doesn’t mean she needs to see a counselor. There are better and more helpful ways of dealing with this.

Jude's avatar

I do know that the step-mom will be going to the counseling sessions with her (apart of therapy sessions).

chels's avatar

@jjmah Like.. the step-mom will be in the room while the counseling is going on? To be honest that really isn’t productive. The kid is most likely not going to speak up with her in the room.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Careful with that. I’d sure hate for the child to associate the step-mom with tossing her into the jaws of the mental health dragon.

I mean it sounds good and all… But that’s not quite the together time I was thinking of.

She’d get more accomplished by taking her out for ice cream, just the two of them, and listening to her speak about what she wants to be when she grows up. Or encourage her to talk about her favorite television show. Or buy her a new dress and tell her how beautiful she is and take pictures of her in it. Have the picture framed and hung on the wall in the house.

I’m a photographer, and I work with a lot of abused and neglected children. Nothing… and I mean nothing does more to improve a child’s sense of self worth than seeing someone take the time to frame and hang a picture of them on the wall for all to see.

BoBo1946's avatar

@chels if read my comments closely, there could be issues. Most children that have been abandon do have issues!...not all. Without meeting the child and viewing the child’s behavior, have no idea. But, it certainly should be a consideration.

Your situation is a whole different thing…understood…it did not help you, but again, every child is different. From my experience teaching school for a number of years, every child has to be handled differently. Without being around this child..have no idea…but, would not take counseling off the table.

Anyway, your points were well-taken and I’ve got to go…take care!

chels's avatar

@BoBo1946 True but why so quick to put the kid in counseling? Why not just try giving her attention and go from there.

BoBo1946's avatar

@chels again, would not take it (counseling) off the table. You are answering the question based on your experience. That might not fit this child. I don’t know. @jjmah asked the question and all we have here…is what @jjmah said. I’ve never met the child. Just think counseling should be an option. ..counseling by the right person can be a very good positive thing.

BoBo1946's avatar

@jjmah excuse me…in one comment referred to you as him…I know you are a girl! sorry about that! Don’t always proofread closely!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Obviously everyone here is attempting to offer suggestion to help the child. So no advice should be taken lightly, and all suggestions should be considered.

Jude's avatar

You’re all getting lurve here.

Thanks for taking the time to post.

stardust's avatar

This is such a tough situation and awful for the little girl in question. I’d suggest spending as much quality time with her as possible. She needs to know that she’s loved and she needs to be shown that in as many ways as possible. It’s a traumatic experience for her I’m sure and she needs to feel as secure as possible. She needs lots of hugs & close contact. Oh, I absolutely hate this :( It’s heart-breaking stuff. I really hope that things are going to work out okay for her.

janedelila's avatar

I’ve been there. I helped my boyfriend take his daughter away from her mother (crackhead) when she was 4. All I did was cook, clean, take her to the dentist, help with homework, her what a real mom does with no expectations, no crummy people around, no shouting about random stuff…she’s 16 and that’s all the “help” she needed.

skfinkel's avatar

She needs lots of individual time, humor, love, caring from her parents. If they could get some guidance, that would be good. Also good that the six year old girl will have someone to talk with, but, as has been pointed out, she is not the problem—she is reacting appropriately as someone who has been dealt a severe blow (I think being abandoned intentionally by your mother has got to be one of the most devastating acts a person can experience).

Having caring people (such as yourself) around will soften the blow, and if her father and step-mother can seriously rise up to this challenge and not give up on her, it will help enormously. It won’t be easy, but she is young, and many children, given enough love and support, are resilient.

BoBo1946's avatar

@janedelila my heart goes out to you….wow! Thank you for sharing!

PandoraBoxx's avatar

What you want to make sure is that you don’t fall prey to projecting adult assessments onto the child, and overcompensating to “make up” for her mother’s absence. Likewise, you need to make sure your attention is at a level that is sustainable for you. It won’t do to turn on the attention, only to take it away if your life gets too busy.

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