Why Unloved Children Stick Around

April 5, 2015

One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed is the way children still love parents who don’t show them love. I have seen it bestowed on the most unworthy parents, the ones who abuse their children either by benign neglect or by physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse.

There are many reasons why a child may not run away from home, particularly if he is of age. One of them could be that he feels responsible for his younger siblings or his other parent, especially if the abused parent is his mother.

He may feel the need to stick around to protect the other more vulnerable members of the household. He may also feel responsible for making sure that there is enough money to put food on the table for them.

But what has always surprised me is the level of love that a child can still have for this kind of parent. Even when a parent goes too far, and there may be a love-hate relationship between him and the abusive parent, that child, no matter how old he is, often still feels a love for that parent.

There is something else that almost feels like a parallel to this. Over the years, I’ve watched the health of children from neglected and/or abused parents and these children always seemed so healthy.

I’ve watched them go out in cold, drizzly weather without a sweater or a jacket, wearing dirty clothing and torn sneakers or barefoot, and they never get sick. They may get a runny nose but they don’t seem to run these very high fevers that other kids get.

On the other hand, I’ve observed the children whose parents dress them in freshly washed and ironed clothing, and who are always bundled up in the cold or made to stay indoors when it’s raining or when their nose is running. Yet, somehow, these children seem to always get sick. They are the ones who seem to pick up all the germs that are airborne.

I only mention the freshly washed and ironed clothing to denote a level of caring that these parents have for their children, not that clean clothing, in and of itself, has anything to do with the health of their children.

The two things may be entirely unrelated but it’s just one of life’s mysteries that has always baffled me. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the parents who coddle their children are not allowing their young bodies to get accustomed to airborne germs and so, when they are exposed to those germs, they get hit the hardest. Just a thought.

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