It is easier to raise strong children than to repair broken men ~ Frederick Douglas.
A few days ago, like many other people, I tuned in to the OWN channel to watch the explosive episode of Iyanla: Fix My Life that featured rapper Earl Simmons, aka DMX. The episode, which you can watch below, was full of emotion and brought me to tears at some points. DMX is a man who is suffering the effects of child abandonment and those effects have ruined every good thing in his life. As some may or may not know, Earl was abandoned by his mother when he was just 7 years old. As he puts it, “my mother threw me away“. According to his mother, Earl had several behavioural issues as a child and she had no choice but to put him in a home. Of course it deserves a side eye. But as justified as she might feel, it is clear how that action was portrayed in the mind of a 7-year-old; he was thrown away.
Fast forward years later, Earl has issues with drugs and alcohol abuse, acute infidelity which resulted in several children born outside of wedlock, as well as anger and control issues. As the conversation with Iyanla progressed, Earl said one thing that stuck with me, “I can never have enough women and cannot seem to fill the tank. I want to know why.”
Now, this issue is not just related to celebrities but is present in our every day lives. There are absent parents out there and some of us have possibly been abandoned too so I really feel this post can help someone. There are several effects to child abandonment. One of the long-term effects of some of the children that grow up with one parent missing in their lives, is that they are always constantly looking to fill that void that is left by the missing parent, anger, fear of loss, feelings of inadequacy, lack of intimacy and lack of trust. Now, I am not referring to children raised in a single parent household where both parents still co-parent, I am referring to situations where the other parent is gone from the picture, nowhere to be seen. These situations can potentially produce adults who deal with emotional instability like Earl does. There is no one who can ever replace a father or a mother in a child’s life and as the child grows, these effects become more pronounced.
In male children who do not have a mother present, it can be the need to amass material things and/or multiple women in their lives to replace that feeling of loss and of wanting a female figure. But because no other woman can never replace a mother and coupled with a feeling of inadequacy, that feeling is never quenched and the number of conquests just increases. The underlying need is the feeling of being wanted and wanting to feel like they matter. The women in these situations very soon fall into the role of a mother, just like DMX’s wife admittedly became. In situations where a female child has an absent father, the same behaviours can result; a strong presence of men in her life to fill that longing of wanting a father and also wanting to feel needed. Usually it manifests by dating men who maybe significantly older than them, a reflection of what they are yearning for. In both cases however, there is a lot of mistrust and in the case of these individuals being involved in a relationship, they do not trust the partner to stay in the relationship (“if my parent left me, how can I trust you will stay?”). There is anger, resentment, feelings of no self-worth (“if I was worth something, my parent would have never left me”) and never being satisfied with anything, usually resulting in the other partner saying, “nothing I do seems to make him/her happy”. Verbal and physical abuse are almost always present because there is so much pent-up anger within the abuser and because the partner is the closest person, they are usually at the receiving end of any lashing out that might occur. The effects of child abandonment are endless. More here.
A good way to attempt to resolve these issues as adults is to face those demons head on. A conversation with the absent parent and a complete revelation of the effects that their absence caused, will help with healing on the part of the child. As an adult, you might be able to get a lot of answers as to why they were not present, you might attempt to understand things from their point of view but most of all, all the pent-up anger, resentment and feelings built up over the years will be let out. Close communication and talking to your partner about your feelings will also help as it will help them to understand your emotions and possibly help you navigate through them.
The BEST way however, is to be in your child’s life. It does not mean you have to stay in a relationship with their other parent even if it’s not working, because that usually does more harm than good. It means forging a good co-parenting relationship with the other parent and be involved in the child’s life whenever possible because your absence will cause damage. It is up to us as a society to raise children that will hopefully become upstanding adults but a lot of that depends on how we conduct ourselves. If you or someone you know falls within the ranks of an absent parent, its time to make a change and give your child a chance. You do not want a DMX on your hands….just sayin…