The death of a parent, whether natural or accidental, is always a traumatic event for a child. This circumstance can favor the appearance of some disorders, when it is older. These adverse effects can be minimized if the child is given the right advice and environment..
The way in which a child expresses the affection and pain, due to the death of one of the parents, can vary greatly, depending on certain circumstances: the type of death of the parent, the intensity of the affective bond with the deceased, the years age of the child at the time of death, etc..
When something as unfortunate as the death of the father or mother occurs, the child can react in many different ways: he can blame the living father or he can believe himself to be responsible for the death..
Sometimes death is the consequence of a long and painful illness, and the child may feel that they were not attentive enough to the deceased in the last moments of life. Sometimes the child is more affected, seeing the pain and suffering of the living father, than by the absence of the deceased.
Regardless of his age, the child can show immediate, abrupt changes in the way he behaves. Some are excessively withdrawn, others become grumpy and demanding. They may show hostility or suspicion. They often stop eating or have unfounded fears when they are alone.
These behaviors are natural reactions to such a highly traumatic event. Normally, they tend to disappear as soon as the child notices a safe and loving environment at home again..
The long-term effects that the death of the parent produces on the child will be fundamentally conditioned by the magnitude of the changes that occur in the child's life. Unfortunately, children under three years of age can suffer emotional damage that marks them for life, as they are deprived of the links necessary to achieve emotional stability and personal balance..
The father or mother, with a child of this age, before the death of their partner, should seek the help of experts or specialists who can indicate the best way to counteract the terrible loss they have suffered and the negative effects that it has. may have about your child.
If the son is older, and is able to understand the nature of what happened, the most natural reaction is for him to become emotionally closer to the surviving father, trying to compensate in this way for the loss of the deceased.
We cannot categorically affirm that this excessive approach to the living father is harmful for the children, as long as it does not fall into excessive overprotection. But it is especially desirable, in these situations, that the child can develop some kind of bond or close relationship with an adult of the same sex as the deceased. This relationship favors the sexual balance necessary for the normal development of the child, which has been truncated with the death of one of the parents.
When children are between nine and sixteen years old, they feel the family cataclysm in a heartbreaking way, because it is precisely the most difficult age for them, the step to become adults, and the time when they need more help.
At this time, the death of the father of the same sex is usually a real shock, since they are his role models to mold his virility or femininity respectively. The death of the father will affect the son more, while the daughter will be more affected if it is the mother who has passed away. Adolescents who have to live this period without that reference figure of the same sex, can suffer strong emotional tensions, which affect them in their studies, in the social sphere with friends and in the personal: alterations in psychosexual and emotional development.
It may interest you: Grief in children and adolescents: frequent behaviors and tips to help
A particularly delicate case appears when the child who loses his father has no siblings and is an only child. It has been shown that brothers who have suffered the death of a father are capable of sharing their grief and pain by talking to each other. This strengthens them as a group, but also gives greater security to each one separately. Pain groups them together and makes them stronger.
The only child lives the paternal or maternal death with special intensity. He has no brothers to console himself with. He is alone and isolated. In most cases, if you do not receive supplementary psychological support, you will be emotionally marked.
There is a widely held opinion that a child who has lost one of his parents in childhood is marked for life with an indelible emotional stigma, which will prevent him from being happy in his adult life and unable to maintain stable emotional relationships.
Obviously, it will not be easier than children who enjoy the company of their two parents, but this absence of a father / mother figure will not necessarily condition their future existence. It is only necessary that in his childhood, after the tragic loss, an atmosphere of security in the home and an atmosphere of happiness in the family can be restored. Of course it will not be an easy task, but if everyone contributes their two cents it can be achieved and this will give you the opportunity to lead a normal and happy life as an adult..
The death of the father, in most cases represents a significant decrease in emotional security. The boy suffered in his childhood a strong emotional trauma with the loss of one of his strongest emotional ties. There is nothing in particular that in his adult life, when he tries to establish a lasting affective relationship, that insecurity hovers over his head and makes him feel more vulnerable and fearful of suffering a new and painful loss..
The good part of this insecurity is that once you have taken the step and accepted the commitment, you will be a person much more likely to turn over and give yourself emotionally with your partner..
It is not an easy task, reestablishing a warm family atmosphere after the death of one of the parents. On many occasions the structure of the home is damaged. Neither the mother nor the children are able to deal effectively with the situation. This can be terrible for the child, especially in cases where he is raised with only one parent or is admitted to a state institution for being left without both parents.
Such a situation leaves the child deeply resentful. "Why me?" he will ask himself over and over again. And you will find no answer, only pain. If this situation becomes chronic, it can leave traces for a lifetime and will surely condition their adult emotional relationships..
At the moment of death, children will feel disoriented and lost. They don't understand what happened. Furthermore, the surviving parent is often so affected that he is unable to articulate an explanation for them. However, the living father or mother must make an extra effort and try to make the children understand what happened..
If the children are very young and cannot understand the concept of death, a simple explanation may be helpful. Phrases like "dad is on a trip" or "mom has left home" can help..
From seven years of age the child is able to assimilate what death means. You may have already experienced the death of one of your grandparents. Or maybe you've lost your favorite pet. A satisfactory explanation can be articulated from some of these previous experiences. Sometimes it is not necessary to overcomplicate and the child is satisfied with a simple explanation. Over time, this idea may mature within you and you begin to ask more questions or insist on knowing more details..
One of the attitudes of a father who has lost his companion is to try to hide his feelings. He will try to hide his pain. “My children already have enough with having lost their father. The last thing they need is to see me, crying in the corners ”. This attitude, as frequent as it is understandable, that seeking to save children suffering is a mistake.
It is much better not to hide the tears, to speak with the children and to express the own feelings. “I am saddened and sad because Dad is no longer with us. I really miss him". Children can easily understand this, since they are experiencing something similar. This declaration of pain opens the door to comfort and mutual support..
Likewise, it is of little use to deceive the children, to avoid them pain or to prevent them from asking too much. Answers such as "Dad will be coming home soon" are a source of frustration ".
When children are adolescents, it is necessary to treat them as adults and not hide any information from them. They need to know all the details about the death of the father or mother. It is also important to listen to their opinion and allow them to express themselves freely. It is good that they give their opinion on the topics of conversation that affect the future of the family.
Many parents are pleasantly surprised when they discover a positive attitude in their adolescent child. They find in him a maturity that they did not know. Your child brings you unexpected comfort. At the same time, the adolescent son feels stronger seeing how his opinion is important. All of this further strengthens his relationship with the living father..
In the future development of the child and in its emotional stability, it is not only the father or the mother who influences. The family environment is also very important. If after the death of the father, the child feels removed from his environment, he will react with strange and abnormal behaviors. You should not be separated from your friends or home. It is not a good idea to travel to your grandparents' house. Nor go on vacation to forget what happened. Habitual family customs should not be changed.
It is quite common for parents to try to lessen the pain of their children by being excessively complacent. They allow them everything or buy their every whim. The child who has lost his father needs above all to feel loved. Therefore, the most important thing for him is that his father or mother show him their affection. All the time you spend with him will be the best gift.
Widowed parents are often unlikely to try to start a new romantic relationship. They tend to think that such an attitude would hurt their children deeply. For the children, it is not a pleasant one to see an endless collection of lovers parade through their house. This would damage the children's self-esteem and make them feel displaced.
However, a stable relationship, once a reasonable time has passed, is usually very beneficial. Finding a caring and understanding person can be a great help for the whole family. It will take a lot of tact, early in the relationship. The children must accept that person and not think that they are betraying the deceased.
A stable partner provides a number of advantages: it will help the widower to bear the weight of the family. You will give your children greater security and will be able to offer them a role model. It will restore the necessary balance in the male and female roles. It will be for the children the example of an affectionate and satisfactory adult relationship.