Loss of parent during childhood.... h...

Loss of parent during childhood.... how does it effect relationships

Posted in the Psychology Forum

First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Indianapolis, IN

#1 Jan 11, 2009
Has anyone ever lost a parent at a young age? How does it effect your romantic relationships in adulthood?
I have been with my fiance for 2 years... he is a very honest and genuinely great person. However, he lacks social skills (hates groups, chit-chatting, bars, get-togethers, etc.) and has difficulty expressing his feelings- even the positive ones. He is very anxious and has suffered with bouts of depression and low self esteem most of his life.
I attribute this to losing his mother unexpectedly when he was 5 years old. His loving grandparents raised him in a stable home, but the rural/isolated setting did not bode well for making many friends. He became an angry child, and the computer/video games were his friends. To this day, he still escapes with video games and by tinkering with computers... he doesn't have many hobbies because he doesn't know what he "likes".

He has 2 very close friends who have known him for 15+ years... and they both agree that his relationships always suffer because of his inability to express emotions. He comes off as very apathetic... and that is a problem in our relationship. Previous girlfriends all left or cheated on him because of the same perceived apathy. I think this only furthered damaged him.

I try to remind myself that he went through a lot at a young age, and suffered emotional damage... but I can't relate. I'm used to people expressing their feelings in a normal way.

Can anyone offer some insight? If you've been in his position, or if you've been in mine... any experience or wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Somerville, MA

#2 Jan 17, 2009
I lost my mother when I was 3. Now I'm 20 and I find that it's hard to trust in romantic relationships. Keep in mind that your boyfriend had no model from which to learn what a healthy romantic relationship should be like (or any romantic relationship- I'm assuming his grandparents were on the old side). So, he may not know what to do, in terms of how to share himself with a partner. Maybe if you could kindly state your "goals" or hopes for your relationship, like "I'd love us to be able to talk about ___" or something. that may help him to open up, hearing you state how much you care about hearing his feelings. A lot of what comes from losing a parent in childhood (in my opinion) is fear of losing someone like your parent did. So, as a result you're much more protective of your heart. Good luck, keep loving him and try to remember there's a part of him that probably never got over being left (yes, that is what it feels like) by his mother.:) hope this helps
just Lance

Tulsa, OK

#3 Sep 29, 2009
I am 41 my mother was murdered when I was 8 years old. I don't know if it is how she died. or the fact that for over 30 years she has not been there for me. this has affected my whole life. I feel like a little boy sometimes who just wants his mommy. I married once and have one child. and I am raising him by myself now. he is 14 and I get scared the I will die before he is an adult. because I know what it feels like to lose a parent as a child.

Ottawa, Canada

#4 Oct 31, 2012
I see a lot of similarities in your description to that of my brother. We lost our father when I was 5 and my brother was 9. I have a hard time remembering him at all, let alone not being able to decipher what a loving relationship is (since I have nearly lost all memories of doing anything while he was alive, and no memory of him interacting with my mother). My brother however is a very closed person - he doesn't share emotions (while I do); has low self-esteem; grew to be quite angry in his adolescent years; has an outlook that "bad things always happen to me". He grew up very sad, quiet (takes a lot of time to warm up and feel comfortable with people); dealt with weight problems in his teens and early adult years; and doesn't deal with stress or "drama" at all (he has moved to the other side of the continent and says that he's glad he doesn't have to deal with my and our mother's "drama" because he has "issues of his own"). I worry for him. He has had very few relationships, while I have found that I was diving from relationship to relationship, hanging on to people who were bad for me - possibly looking to replace the male affection and protection I never received as a little girl. I don't know what else to say to help - but try to be patient. Do a lot of reading about the pain of people losing parents in their childhood. My best friend lost her mom when we were 14, and I know we dealt with a lot of the same insecurities, namely being preoccupied with "what would my mom/dad say about this? would they be proud with what i've done?" and wondering how life would be different. For those who lost their parent at a very young age as I have - we feel as though we don't truly know ourselves. You can only relate so many character traits to one parent, and the others - you're just left guessing how that other parent contributed to you being you.

New Zealand

#5 Nov 9, 2012
I too lost my mother unexpectingly at the age of 5. She was only 36 at the time. I have been quite like the lady who posted prior to me, bouncing from one relationship to the next. I find if things get serious or slightly rocky i end it despite usually still being heavily emotionally invested in things. I think it may be to have things hurt in my own terms and not out of my control. I also find if a relationship is going well i do something purposely to bring drama and hurt into it. Sounds weird but i often feel i crave the pain. Whether that is because i associate it with important relationships in my life like my mothers, i do not know. I also push people away so often just because i want them to re-assure they are not going anywhere. Often doesn't work and i am just back to the hurt again. My current boyfriend is a therapist. It has been an interesting ride so far. He re-assures me daily he is not going anywhere, and despite loving him dearly i have on a number of occasions purposely messed with things. i even push him into situations where i believe i can make him not want to be with me so i have reason to end things. The difference is he see's straight through my crap. He makes me sit down and talk about stuff and i am NOT usually a talker so it is hard work but he won't ever let things go unresolved. For the first time in my life i have noticed my self-destructive behaviour and i have been forced to deal with it. You need to tell him you are not going anywhere as often as you can even when he is purposely not talking or frustrating the hell out of you. If he is anything like me he needs and wants you to tell and show him this. You need to stick by him. Despite it being so long ago since his parents passed the foundations the loss has built in him are ever lasting and will always be a hurdle he must mentally cross. the biggest thing you can do is not to leave him like he is used to.
Hope this helps. Also nice to get it out as i have been requested to do by my man.
A freind in need

Acton, MA

#6 Jan 1, 2013
I lost my mother when I was under a year old and never new my father my name is David and a need help I am 11 years old and needed help sence I was 9 please anybody.....I Need help

Toronto, Canada

#7 Feb 8, 2013
A freind in need wrote:
I lost my mother when I was under a year old and never new my father my name is David and a need help I am 11 years old and needed help sence I was 9 please anybody.....I Need help
Hi David,

My name is David too. I see you posted this about a month ago, so I hope you get a chance to come back and see this.

We share more than a name though. I lost my Dad when I was your age. It was something I don't remember talking about with the rest of my family, and something that always made me feel incredibly awkward at school around Father's day.

I spent about 17 years telling myself and everyone who mentioned it to me that hey, I never knew my dad so it wasn't a big deal.

When I was younger like you are, this worked fine. Once I got around 18 or 19, it all started to come back to me and is still difficult for me now at the age of 24.

Honestly David, I'm not sure how to help you but you're doing a great thing by looking for ways to overcome this. Don't be afraid to talk to people about it, this sounds funny coming from me because I've always avoided councillors or therapy, but I think you're already ahead of me in that.

The one thing I can say is not to tell yourself it doesn't matter, or you might end up like me, lying in bed having a bit of a cry at 4am in the morning over these issues.

You're on the right track. Don't be afraid to talk to your family about it while you're still young. I've spent 20+ years building up a wall around my grief, and it takes a long time for that wall to come down.

Best of luck to you David. I hope my story helps you in some way. From one David to another.

Toronto, Canada

#8 Feb 8, 2013
Oh and just to clarify, I meant I lost my dad when I was about a year and a half old. I didn't know him either.
is that me

Istanbul, Turkey

#9 Feb 13, 2013
Seems like you are describing myself. :)

Mississauga, Canada

#10 Mar 19, 2013
A freind in need wrote:
I lost my mother when I was under a year old and never new my father my name is David and a need help I am 11 years old and needed help sence I was 9 please anybody.....I Need help
David you need help from someone. I think you should tell a grown up that you really trust about how you feel. I lost my mother when I was 4 years old. And I really needed help, but was too afraid to tell anyone. No one will know what you are going through and that you need help until you talk to someone.
Tell me if you can't find that someone.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

#11 Jun 3, 2013
I lost my mom when i was 8 and i now find it hard to trust someone in a relationship because i am scared of losing him and getting badly hurt all over again...i always stay away from guys that have already had girlfriends even though i may really like him...but at the same time i am desperate for someone to love me as much as my mom..

Evansville, IN

#12 Jun 24, 2013
I lost my dad at the age of 10 to suicide. Me and him was very close and I also lived with him and my grandma. I am now 19 It's hard to stay in a relationship because I feel like I'm scared to get close to someone because I'll lose them too. I have been suffering from depression ever since the incedent. I find it hard to trust anyone, an also express my feelings to anyone.

Since: Jun 13

Location hidden

#13 Jul 14, 2013
This forum gives me insight to a guy I love. He seen his father die, an anuryism. He has trouble with relationships. 3 times we ended our "friendship"(f.w.b.) I'm gay, he claims hetero. We have had sex the past 5 yrs. Last May was the worse. I asked him to standby me as I'm going through a difficult time. He escorted me out if his home. A few minutes later texted me nasty words. Then two death threats. I called 911 and showed the messages. Not one threat from me. So I tried to reason with him. He would not listen. I fiqure its really over this time. 2.5 months go by and I get a text from him apologizing! A few days later we're having sex again. I have had my losses and hndwrstand hurt. Why I always felt for anyone hurting. His pain has me very forgiving of him. Yes I was extremely angey at him. I always been there for him. The one time really needing him and he not only fails vut threatens! Yet I still love him. Be cause what he witnessed was awful. Know he'll be difficult. Told him before I'll never hate him. I wonder about myself for letting him in my life again. I conclude I have no hate for him. Love him uncinditionally. Even if I never see him again. He knows that and told him during his nasty words to me. He came back to me. Perhaps being strong in my beliefs impressed him or I' m a sap.

Merced, CA

#14 Oct 1, 2013
I am 15, i lost my father when i was about 2 and i dont really have no guy to look up to. I always want to be talking to a boy i guess you can say, like i dont have that comfort and with a boy i do like does this have anything to do with me not having my Father Anymore?

London, UK

#15 Dec 1, 2013
my biological father abandoned me when i was two and a half, and my step father sadly stuck around until I left home at 17. I say sadly because he could never hide his disdain for me- like I was a walking reminder that another man had had my mother before he had. I already had one father who didn't care about me and this second one who also disliked me only cemented the feelings of shame and failure- I was the one boy in the world that not one but two fathers disliked. as an adult i searched for someone to love me and prove them wrong, and my insecurities were terrible. in a break up I felt so inadequate and unloveable-of course they left. it was as is some cosmic voice screamed "see, told you that you were nothing worth loving". i get lost in the fear and anxiety takes over and then i cut or hurt myself before it kills me. so if you love this man, try to understand his limitations and incredible fears, but also keep in mind he may "know" (i.e., feel with all of his heart) that you are going to leave him because that's what people have done to him in the past. Once you feel unloveable it is (a) incredibly shameful to admit and face and (ii) impossible to ever truly shed. You have to realize that you and he are from different planets, with different languages. he sees life through his past (abandonment, fear, loss, shutting down to these) and you through yours (good feelings that you can express, feeling confident in asking for what you want, etc.). Just keep in mind that, if you feel like you can't accept the differences between you, or that he won't learn a new way, treat him with kindness as he is already very bruised and hurt.

Padre Island Ntl Seashor, TX

#16 Dec 9, 2013
I lost my mom when I was 20. I'm 25 now. She passed away in her sleep. It was sudden. I've never talked to anyone about it. I'm not the social type at all, I have bad communication skills. I've been dealing with depression, anxiety and now suicidal thoughts.I casually drink with my friends, but when I do drink it's a lot.Non of my relationships have worked for me and I'm feeling like I can't be loved back. I've been as strong as I can be, I'm about to graduate with my masters but I'm still feeling so lost in life. Not sure how long I can go on. I miss the love from my mother and it's broken my heart. I just wish I could be loved back, I feel like that could be my key to happiness. But like I said, none of my relationships have worked. I know it's my fault because I feel like I'm not mentally sane at times.

Fall Creek, OR

#17 Feb 12, 2014
I lost my dad when I was 2 years old to a heroin overdose, then at the age of 8 lost my mom to her abusive boyfriend. Now that I am 27 years old and have a fiance I had buried this pain for so long, it has over the last 3 years or so been resurfacing and I have always had problems in relationships. I would say I pretty much fit the description of the guy the first poster is talking about. Trust issues, detached, social problems, avoidance, distant, anxious, low self esteem, big bouts of depression, anger issues and apathetic. I do notice all of these traits yet can't seem to change them, luckily my fiance is very understanding but it has caused some rockiness in our relationship. I am hoping to find ways to help deal with this..maybe therapy will help.
subliminal steve

Boardman, OR

#18 Feb 13, 2014
I have cousins that lost their father whilst felling a tree. The eldest one turned out normal and is successful.

The younger one is a sociopath. He would abuse domesticated and wild animals as a child, even killing my grandmother's one cat. He abused me violently on several occasions as a child and destroyed my personal property and drove a ATV through a dam I made as a kid.

He eventually impregnated a high school girl and married her. Eventually they divorced due to his psychological and physical abuse.

London, UK

#21 Feb 20, 2014
Reading these posts - both mine and those of others - I wonder why, when things go wrong, that the natural first reaction is to think it must be "us" and "our fault"...(I cant be loved, I wasn't good enough, I was the cause of the parent leaving, I am not worth it, I am the problem) as opposed to "well it wasn't my fault".
Seems oddly counter to our (and most being's) survival mechanism and seems to doom us.
From my own experience, I was viciously angry, but since both my father and my step father left me, the only one left around to be angry at was me- I was the only one there. So I directed it at back inward at myself and blamed and punished myself or years- b/c there was no one else around to blame.
To all of those who have experienced loss that has left them feeling unloveable - give the child that you were then (and the person that you are now) a break - think about the fact that these things happened TO us, NOT BECAUSE of us. No child is born unlovable and worthless- we place that label on ourselves because of things that happened TO us, NOT BECAUSE of us. And if we do naturally go to a place of self blame, there must be a reason we do that. Every action serves some purpose.
In my therapy I have come to think that we do it to ourselves as way of punishing ourselves for our perceived faults. I.e."feel worthless and hate yourself for it, get angry, direct that anger at ourselves by punishing thoughts of "I am worthless and unloveable", reinforces the first thought of "feel worthless and hate yourself for it", circle continues.

The need for penance and suffering is age old, especially when one has guilt and shame. The penance and suffering are ways of atoning for the perceived "wrong" that has caused your guilt and shame, ways to make the "wrong" we see in ourselves "right"... but what if there is no wrong? if we can remove the wrong then we remove the guilt and shame, and without the guilt and shame there is then no need to do any kind of penance or suffer.

Christchurch, New Zealand

#22 May 20, 2015
I lost my mum at age 10 to drug overdose. I play it down like im ok with it im 21 now. And for the most part i am ok with it but im in my 2nd long term relationship and its falling apart again as did my last one. Im very insecure and apathetic and i dont want to meet her friends and im always very conscious of how everyone else perceives me. I have few friends and it takes me a long time to get to know anyone. I also turn into a wreck when my relationships come to an end and i cant handle it and i wonder if this is because im losing another important female in my life. All my friends ha dle break ups so much better than me. Does anyone think this has alot to do with it?

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Psychology Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
News Anxiety in America up since Donald Trump became... 3 hr Imprtnrd 81
Nano implant abuses! (Jan '16) Sat yepper 156
News The Future of Diversity Training Mar 16 lol 4
News Donald Trump Is Mentally Ill According to Petit... Mar 13 Frogface Kate 450
News BU researcher receives prestigious clinical psy... Mar 11 Humanspirit 1
News Prison psychiatrist Islam marry Skaf gang rapist Mar 10 Faith Michigan 3
group religious experience Mar 9 orbitr_1969 1
More from around the web