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Forced parent child separation elicits different responses for parent and child dependent upon age of child during separation, length of separation, sense of powerlessness and suggestive influences from surrounding people.
From working with addict mothers as a licensed Marriage Family Therapist in the state of California, it has become evident that it is not uncommon for a forced separation between parent and child to result in parental apathy, especially in cases where the newborn is removed from the mother and in cases where the child is under the age of one.
Parental apathy for child due to forced separation also results from cases in which the separation lasts for an extended duration and the mother feels hopeless for reunification.
A metaphor for relating purposes is: if one is stranded within an open ocean, one will try to paddle and swim, hoping for rescue and/or to get to solid land for as long as s/he “can stand.” There comes a point in time when physical exertion and/or emotional exertion hijacks the will and able body resulting in giving up the battle or letting go of the fight. This drowning metaphor can be applied to the emotional flooding and powerlessness that can set into a parent’s struggle to re-connect with child.
A forced separation between parent and child can follow similar stages to Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s 5 stages associated with death. In my clinical opinion, whether applied to death or to forced separation Kubler Ross's stages would benefit from an additional
8th stage: "Spiritual Grows."
In the 8th stage of "the death" cycle, a parent and/or child (dependent on child's age) living in forced separation designs his/her own spiritual version of the shared story for "6th sense" making purposes and understanding.
When a child is exposed to forced separation from biological parent and s/he is within the age range of: birth – two years, of course the child is energetically and somatically affected by separation from familiar energetic body.
This concept stated, due to the pre-conditioning cognitive stage in which most 0-2 year olds experience the world, it is speculated that the child will most likely not go through the same cognitive thinking process and associated emotions as an older child or adult would be likely to experience the transition.
Infant resiliency in terms of biological parental separation and child’s maintained ability to form attachments with new primary caregivers even if not the biological parent allows for the formation of secure attachments.
While separation from primary parents do not affect pre-cog children in the same way that separation affects post-cog children, younger children get a wave of emotional reaction to the initial separation at a later point in time. Often, when a child and/or a teenager forms friendships and community connections with other children and various adults, the outsider's cognitive influences, language focus and speculated emotions, and assumptions relating behavioral choices to parental separation create the introduction of negative psychological and emotional effects with respect to the primary parental separation. The child's and/or teenager's emotions are experienced and are very real. However, it is unknown whether they would feel the emotions and/or think the thoughts associated to parental separation if society were to not introduce them at this later age.
Bowlby, a psychotherapist who specialized in Attachment Theory discusses the importance of a mother's and child's bonding, in particular for that child up until the age of 5. Bowlby (1951) claimed that mothering is almost useless if delayed until after two and a half to three years and, for most children, if delayed till after 12 months, i.e. there is a critical period.
In cases involving parent-child separation due to heroin and opiate addiction, the child, (especially in a new born scenarios) can easily form bonds with new primary care-givers. It is not as if these children are left in Romanian orphanages without touch for almost every hour of the week.
Of course, what is considered to be in the "child's best interest" is of fundamental importance. This stated, in looking at how the effects of parent-child separation affects the parent is also important to investigate from a psychological perspective. If the parent doesn't have an opportunity to bond with a child between the ages of 0-5, how is parental bonding to the child affected?
It is interesting to note that in most cultures and populations around the world, there are not many words used to describe a parent who has parted with a child. In the english language we have words for adoptive parent, adopted kid, divorcee, widower, but no term for the individual who has experienced a loss. What is the brother called who has lost a brother? What is a mother called who has lost a child?
Vilomah is an Sanskrit word meaning "against natural order." It is used to refer to a parent who has parted with a child.
Taklah is an Arabic word used to reference a parent who has been parted from a child.
What would you call a parent who has a severed relationship with a child?
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