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In the 1960’s, the ‘baby-boomers’ decided to completely turn this concept
of family life upside down. They challenged authority and rebelled
against those ideals that did not make sense anymore. With the
introduction of the pill, came the freedom of multiple partners and the
decline of family values. Play became as important as, if not more
important than, work. Rather than living with our parents until we married,
we moved out of the family home to live with friends or significant others.
We had little interest in participating in or taking over the family business.
We travelled and indulged our senses. We strove for higher education.
As parents, many stopped teaching the children by ‘strapping them’ into
behaving appropriately.  We explained things to the children and then
listened to their responses.

This was a fabulous time and we benefited greatly. We prospered. We
were more knowledgeable about the world around us and we were
healthier. We had freedom of movement, speech and expression. We
made our own music and had fun, fun, fun.

Unfortunately, we gained these freedoms at the expense of traditional
family values. Generation X-ers are the baby boomers legacy.
Generation X-ers became the abandoned generation, the fatherless
generation.

To a large degree, baby boomers swung too far from the centre and it
appears that Generation X-ers are now trying to deal with the fallout.
Many have been wounded. Some have been broken.  It’s time to find an
equitable balance between the old family values and the new freedoms.

Generation X-ers are looking for their fathers and they will not be
silenced. They demand answers. They are educated and informed and
they will look you in the eye and ask you point blank what they need to
hear. Now if you think for one moment that you can get away with that
sad story you have prepared, you had better think again. Responses
that begin with ‘when I was a boy’ and end with a moral will not be
accepted by this generation as reasons for doing or not doing
something. These people know what truth is, they expect the truth. They
have laser-like eyes that will penetrate you if you try to give them
anything less than the truth. These children want and need their
childhood to make sense. They need their memories.  

There are many reasons for single parent homes. What is, is. As
mentioned before, this page is not about guilt, resentment or shame. I
simply need to bring to your attention the fact that the time has come to
stand up and be counted. Much can be explained and probably should
be, but at the very least we all need to know that we matter, and we all
need to hear that we matter from our parents. Likewise, we as parents
need to hear that we matter to our children.

My niece will never have her own childhood memories of her father. We
will share our memories of him with her and hope that they help her to
understand who he was. Absent parents should make themselves
available to participate in the creation of their child’s memories. Reading
this now you may be holding back some information that could complete
someone. Why not take the time to share that information?

Many women have been devastated by the breakdown of their domestic
partnership, marriage or otherwise, and are extremely hostile towards the
father of their children.  Some women don’t know who that father is, and
there are also situations in which it really would be unwise or even
dangerous to make contact with the father. But, if contact can be
arranged and both parties do desire to reconnect then surly personal
differences between the parents should be set aside.

This should be about the child and not about the adults. If a meeting
cannot be arranged, then perhaps a letter can be. Contacting the father’
s family can also provide information. If all of this is totally out of the
question, then at the very least, you should make time to sit down with
your child, and putting your animosity aside, try to give your child a fair
understanding of who their father is or was, and what he is or was about.

In most cases, this man was good enough to sleep with and at one time
you saw something special in him. Put everything else aside for a
moment and recall what that was.

Simple things like the music, movies and books he liked, his facial
expressions and the sound of his laughter. See if you can find
photographs. Ask his family for some.  If you don’t already know, find out
about his parents and siblings, who his friends were or where he grew
up. Did he play sports or a musical instrument. What did he like and how
did he do in school. There is so much that can be filled in for your child if
you allow it.

Maybe your ex became a real loser or perhaps he was even dangerous.
Whatever the circumstance, it’s vitally important to remember that your
child has genetic links with this man and will be, in part, a reflection of his
genes.

Bad behaviour is not genetic. Bad behaviour stems from experience and
is a learned response. The basic nature of the beast is pure and loving.

I am not talking exclusively about absent fathers. Of course there are
absent mothers, and sometimes both parents are absent. There are
unique issues with adopted children and, more recently, with sperm bank
children, which makes it difficult to identify or trace the parent.

The absence of a connection with a parent during a child’s formative
years can be extremely detrimental to that child, it can result in feelings
of abandonment that cause emotional instability in later years. Grown-
ups are kids, too, and can suffer a similar sense of abandonment when
their child becomes estranged from the family. We tend to overlook the
immense pain and loss a parent feels when they become separated from
their child. Of course there are many households in which all family
members are physically present but abandoned none the less.

Fear of abandonment is at the root of many psychological hang-ups. Any
therapist will tell you that jealousy, insecurity, aggressiveness, lack of
intimacy, low self-esteem or other emotional imbalances will commonly
have a basis in abandonment issues. How can we not hold deep fears if
we were abandoned in the one place that we should have been safest,
by the one person who should have valued us more highly than anyone
else.

We need to re-connect, talk and listen

I remember a male friend of mine who had a falling out with his brother.
They went two years without contacting each other. They met up at a
party and stood nearby each other for a long period of time without
speaking. Finally, they did speak and by the end of the party it was
obvious that everything had been sorted out. I asked my friend what had
been said to bring them back together. He said, “Nothing, we were just
talking.”  I asked what they had talked about and he said, “Football”.
(Women find this a strange phenomenon.)

I often refer to this story as ‘two dogs peeing on a tree’. Men often seem
to speak without talking about ‘the issues’ and think they have sorted
everything out. It is rarely good enough, especially when you are
communicating with females or children.

Men often spend money on or joke with their children and consider this to
be communication. Children will certainly take advantage of the money,
but don’t kid yourself, it is not a connection.

Children rarely find their father’s jokes funny. Lectures are rarely
considered to be good advice and fathers are hardly ever thought of as
being cool. Have you ever noticed that when you think you are being
cool, your daughter’s lip curls up and she rolls her eyes upward.  This is
child speak for, “You’re such a dag”.

When my niece first contacted me she started the letter with:

“I have wanted to write to you for most of my life, but I did not
know what to say.”

Earlier, I mentioned that three men whom I knew had recently begun
making attempts to reconnect with their grown-up daughters. Each of
them had said, “I want to get to know my child, but I don’t know what to
say.”  These men had effectively put their child on hold for 20 some
years.

Don’t let this happen to you. Put simply: cut the crap. Speak with open,
honest words from an open, honest heart and do it now. Simple
statements like, I am sorry, and I love you and you matter to me, speak
volumes.  Maybe you will stumble and maybe you will fumble, but even
the smallest effort will reap enormous rewards.

Please don’t become overwhelmed with trying to explain yourself. If you
can find the words to make sense of everything that happened or
everything you felt, then that’s great and will be really helpful, but, it’s not
the important part of the message. If you really cannot find your voice
then simply write this and send it:

I am sorry, I love you, you have always mattered to me.

Copyright Sonya Green 2005
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Fear of Abandonment
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