What does abandonment look like?

Posted by Samantha on May 30, 2011 in Thought for the day |

You are the reason why he exists on this earth. You don’t have the right to abandon him just because he’s inconvenient or has trouble in school.

Michael Crichton


Do parents have the right to abandon their child because he’s inconvenient or difficult?  What about because they’re too immature to handle the awesome responsibility of parenthood?

I don’t think I even need to answer those questions.

I’m more concerned with the fact that parents DO abandon their children.  All the time.

What’s the difference to an infant between abandonment and having two parents who work and commute over a hundred hours a week between them?

What does the naughty step feel like to a distraught three year old?  Or confinement to their bedroom to an angry six year old?  Or being picked up late from school – again – to a self-conscious thirteen year old?

But let’s go deeper and even closer to home.

A few weeks ago I watched a lady on the train with her three children.  It was a one hour journey.  As the train pulled out she gave them all headphones and iPods.  Despite numerous attempts by the two younger children (ages 4 and 6?) to get her attention she remained engaged with her Blackberry (or was it an iPhone?) for the first 40 minutes of that trip.  Except when she chastised them for disturbing her (thinking perhaps that they “shouldn’t” be doing that) they had no meaningful, nurturing contact from her in those 40 minutes at all.

Is that abandonment?

I’ve come to realise that any time I’m not present with my children when they need me, it’s as though I’m abandoning them.

Clearly my children can’t have my attention every time they want it.  They can’t even have it every time they NEED it.

But I like to be sure that I’m reaching a tipping point so that there’s no doubt in my children’s minds that I am there for them, that I am not abandoning them.  Adults find it hard to believe how quickly a child’s fear of abandonment is triggered.

Today, I choose to give of myself to my children.  I choose to be present with them as much as I can.  And then, I choose to give them some more.



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