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Abandonment Issues in Teenagers

author image Kristine Tucker
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
Abandonment Issues in Teenagers
A teenager with abandonment issues might struggle with depression. Photo Credit: Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Some teenagers struggle with abandonment issues because they had an absent mother or father during childhood. Others face abandonment issues because their parents got divorced and one parent, either by choice or by law, has little or nothing to do with them. Even though a teenager isn't responsible for her parent's decisions, abandonment can be a heavy emotional burden to carry. The teen might feel that the problems are her fault. Teens who struggle with depression or long-term abandonment issues should consult with medical professionals.

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Fear is a common abandonment concern for teenagers who have parents who died, left as a result of divorce or were never active in their lives. A teenager might worry that he won't have anyone to take care of him. He might fear that he and his siblings will get split up, and he will be forced to live in a separate household. Even in adulthood, a person who experienced abandonment as a child or teen might continue to fear that every significant person in his life will eventually die or abandon him, according to


Teens who feel abandoned often experience anger because they can't understand why someone would leave them. Even if a parent passed away, a teen might still feel rejected and abandoned. Most teens are dependent on their parent's financial and emotional support, so they might feel angry if they experience financial hardship and have to change their standard of living due to death or divorce. Some teens are forced to leave their homes and relocate if their surviving parent or caregiver can't keep up with current expenses. In some cases, the surviving parent has to work longer hours and is no longer physically or emotionally available to comfort the hurting teen.


Teens often face long-term anxiety issues when they feel abandoned by one or both parents. Feelings of apprehension and anxiety can affect every relationship, intimate, social, business or school-related, according to A teenager might avoid getting close to peers or family members because he doesn't want to risk being abandoned by them too. Alternatively, he might avoid social gatherings or school-related activities because he's anxious about building friendships and doesn't want others to know he has experienced abandonment.


Five stages take place when someone experiences abandonment -- shattering, withdrawal, internalizing, rage and lifting -- says psychotherapist Susan Anderson in New Living Magazine. Teenagers often feel that their whole world is spinning upside down and withdraw from social settings. They might internalize their fears, anxieties and frustrations because they feel ashamed or alone. When a remaining parent, caregiver, school counselor or medical professional helps a teenager see that there is still hope, the teen can begin to recover and "lift" out of the pit of despair. New and rekindled friendships can help the teen realize that there are people who won't abandon her.

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