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Distant Dads Cause Major Abandonment Issues
Written By: Mark Smith


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How many of us can truly say that we got more than enough attention, nurturing, time, acceptance, encouragement, touch, discipline, tenderness, leadership, stability, safety, security, guidance, and wisdom from our fathers during our childhood years? If you got plenty of the above from your dad then you were truly blessed in a very unique manner. A whole generation of men were taught that it was the woman's job to keep the home fires burning while men were to busy themselves with the manly task of dragging home whatever sustenance that they could capture. Little boys and little girls desperately need the consistent love and intense focus of both their mothers and their fathers. Without enough effective parenting from both parents, children grow up with huge holes in their hearts.

Wounded and abandoned little boys grew up to become daddies themselves and they then had no idea whatsoever how to selflessly pour their lives into their little ones. It is very difficult to be a successful, balanced, effective, and productive husband, father and provider. Unless a man is exceptionally healthy, he tends to fall into a ditch on one side of the road or the other. Abandoning dad's cutoff either to work too much, or to play too much (involving themselves in self-centered, oblivious or addictive behavior). Unfortunately, your dad's not being there for you during your childhood not only hurt you then, it actually continues to hurt you to this day. How ever well our parents loved us as we grew up - that is the only type and quality of love that we are unconsciously attracted to in our selection of a significant other. If your father abandoned you, eventually your beloved spouse or significant other will abandon you as well. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when and how. That is what marriage is all about - it is nature's way of breaking down our walls so that we at least have an opportunity to heal our deepest childhood wounds. I tell my clients that it is bad enough that we had to endure the pain of our childhoods, but the kicker was that if we get involved in a relationship as an adult we would inevitably have to experience that very same pain all over again.

The lack of fathering has resulted in one of the most powerfully painful, one of the most emotionally reactive, one of the deepest wounds and one of the most potentially destructive issues that has it's foundation in father hunger - abandonment issues.

If psychological issues could be portrayed in Jurassic Park terms, then abandonment issues would be raptors - extremely destructive, quick on the attack and tremendously powerful.

You have abandonment issues if your reaction to people stepping back from you for whatever reason is highly exaggerated. Examples would be becoming enraged if your boyfriend arrives a few minutes late for a date, becoming possessive or jealous of your significant other's time, obsessing about the possibility that your beloved will cheat on you, becoming reactive if your spouse doesn't answer the phone when you call, becoming extremely depressed for long periods of time after a relationship is terminated or throwing a tantrum if your spouse turns down your invitation to make love.

Does your relationship have the ability to go up in flames instantly when one member feels abandoned (even if in reality they weren't)? Do ugly no holds barred conflicts erupt out of the blue for no apparent reasons? Are you utterly exhausted with trying to reason with someone "under the influence" of abandonment issues? That is like trying to reason with a drunk. Abandonment issues are like a beehive filled with angry bees. If the hive gets stirred up then it is difficult for the distancing partner to not turn tail and run for rear of being stung early and often. As I have worked with clients with abandonment issues I have tried to coach them to use a little honey in their communications rather than majoring in flashing their stingers.

The keys to recovery from abandonment issues are #1 gaining clear and unequivocal insight into the connection between their childhood abandonment experiences and their current relationship, #2 shifting paradigms away from a victim stance towards a proactive position where the client with the abandonment issues owns their choices and responsibilities in their life, #3 being able to objectively recognize when the abandonment issues are coming up and being able to then process them in a non-judgmental and non-reactive environment before the battle becomes heated and #4 developing additional sources of nurturing and connection so that the significant other relationship doesn't have the carry the burden of filling that huge father hole in your heart. When these pieces are in place, a relationship with someone who has abandonment issues doesn't have to feel like a roller coaster ride. See you next week.



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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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