Raising children comes with so many layers. The immediate thought is that we feed them, clothe them, get them to school, and put a roof over their heads. We often forget about the emotional support we have to provide our kids daily. The emotional support of our children and ourselves during the parenting process can often be more encompassing than the physical support. We must ensure that our children feel completely loved, appreciated, valued, and irreplaceable, as the world already criticizes them enough. It is crucial to ensure that children feel as loved and supported as possible, and the more people provide that support, the better. But what happens when one of the parents, specifically the father, abandons the child? Before discussing how to support children when their father abandons them, we must examine the effects of abandonment. It’s far more than just what a person feels abandonment is. 


desertion or substantial leave-taking by a parent or primary caregiver of his or her custodial and other responsibilities to a dependent. ~ APA Dictionary of Psychology

What does abandonment look like? 

Parents may have a different definition of abandonment based on what they want for their child. They may view abandonment as being unable to talk daily on the phone. They may view abandonment as completely no contact. Or they may view abandonment as when the child has to contact the absent father and the father doesn’t reach out to the child first. Regardless of each parent’s definition, children are the ones who bear the brunt of the consequences of abandonment. Abandonment leaves the child with something missing that we must try our best to fill. 

A guide for how to support children when their father abandons them.How To Support Children When Their Father Abandons Them


Affirmation is crucial for our children. We can instill assurance throughout the child’s day in many ways. When the child is brushing their teeth in the morning, give them some positive affirmations.

  • I am brave.
  • I am strong.
  • I am enough.
  • I am smart.
  • I am beautiful/handsome.

Saying these mantras every morning to start the day can remind your child to hold their head high throughout the day. The goal is that if they feel affirmed at home, whatever comes their way to negate that, they will have the internal strength so that it doesn’t resonate. 

What To Do When Your Child Makes Mistakes

If your child makes a mistake throughout the day or does something mischievous, ensure that the child fixes whatever error (ex., Picking up the poured-out snacks, completing the homework they hid, apologizing to a friend or sibling for being mean). After they remedy this mistake, explain that you are proud of them for fixing it and that they are not a bad child. They just did a bad thing. Ask them how they were feeling when they did that action. Often, children act because of a lack of attention. Many children abandoned by their fathers tend to act out more because the father isn’t there to give them that love and attention. Usually, as single moms, we are stressed and distracted with trying to make ends meet, cater to ourselves, clean our household, and do the daily responsibilities that sometimes that individualized attention doesn’t seem to fit in our day! 


It is so essential to make time for our children. We can sneak in time and attention throughout the day, like talking in the car instead of playing music or having a joint favorite song and belting it out. Or instead of eating dinner separately, sitting down, eating dinner together, and talking about the day. You can also ask specific questions to check in with your child or children at dinner. How are you feeling today? Who’s a close friend in school? How are your friends treating you? Your child may be opposed to this kind of conversation, but it can provide insight into your child’s day-to-day life, their emotions, and how their friends treat them.

Often, when a child feels that they are missing attention from an important person in their life, they will tolerate whatever treatment they need to have more people in their lives. We always want to instill that we should have quality over quantity when it comes to the people in our lives. 

Whenever you talk to your child or children, ensure you are off your phone and focused entirely on them. Understand that what they think and feel is valid and deserves your attention. They don’t have to fight for it. Lastly, in addition to this day-to-day attention, create intentional time with your child. Quality time may be anything from playing Uno every Wednesday or Thursday being movie nights to making a day at Dave and Buster’s twice a month or having an outing every Sunday. It is all about making sure your child feels loved and valued so that, hopefully, they won’t feel a huge void.

Holidays/Special Occasions 

As single mothers who are busy with work, it can seem extremely difficult to impossible to make every special occasion or make every holiday or birthday memorable. Still, I encourage you to try your best! Go to the sports games and the holiday concerts, and make sure their birthday is a blast! These are monumental moments when a father is usually present, so it is vital for them to feel extra loved on these days. 


There is the old saying that a child should stay in a child’s place, but there are levels to that statement. Our children are brilliant; they can pick up on the littlest things and feel our energies. Part of our job is not to turn our children against their father because when they get older, they’ll figure it out on their own. Do not bad mouth the father to the child. When the child may be doing something negative, don’t say, “You’re just like your father.” Let them create their own identity, and don’t base it on comparisons of an absent man they don’t even know. If they ask questions, answer them according to their age and your comfort level. If you are dating someone new, take your time in introducing them because the worst thing would be a fresh abandonment from another man. 


Make time to make sure you are okay! Doing it by ourselves is extremely difficult! Have hobbies, and find community support. If there are male relatives in the family, try and have them spend time with the child so they can still feel supported from a male point of view. Make sure that you are working on your healing from the fact that the father has abandoned the child or children because it heavily affects us as well! We must pour love, healing, affirmation, values, respect, intelligence, etc., into our children daily, but remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Mamas, I hope you take at least one thing from this list of ways to support children when their father abandons them. If this is your lived experience as a mom, what advice would you add for moms currently working through this process?

Sending love, positivity, and healing.

Ranaa Billingsley

Ranaa Billingsley is a single mother of two young boys. With her degree in middle school education and currently working in a learning center, she has always loved fostering the youth of Pittsburgh to become the best they can be in every aspect.

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