Broken family: Young adult shares painful journey, lessons learned along the way
A psychologist says sadness and anger are the two most prevalent emotional expressions observed in children who have experienced the challenges of a broken family.
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Parents play a crucial role in molding a child’s growth within the family. Through their eyes, we learn to see even the intricacies and the vastness of the world.
Yet, what happens when the familiar environment crumbles? When the lenses through which we’ve seen life blur? When the image of a united family shatters?
“Lisod. Being [the] only child of my mother and father, ako may na itsapwera. Ako may na left behind.”
(It was difficult. Being [the] only child of my mother and father, I was the one whose feelings was not considered. I was the one left behind.)
Growing up with separated parents
This is the perspective of Jenive Avenido, 22, when asked about growing up with separated parents.
From a young age, Jenive learned to live independently due to her parents’ separation, navigating life beyond the protective bubble of parental care.
At the age of three, she already found herself in the care of her grandparents.
Disappointed at parents
“I feel disappointed and sad kay feel nako, murag gibilin ra ko, and ilang gipasa ilang responsibilidad sa akong lolo ug lola,” Jenive told CDN Digital.
(I feel disappointed and sad. Because I felt like I was just left behind, and that they just passed their responsibility to my lolo and lola.)
She took on the role of caregiver for her grandparents, who provided her with the love and support she needed. However, when her grandmother fell ill, at the age of 16, Jenive’s responsibilities expanded significantly.
She knew that she had to find a job in order to cover the costs of her grandmother’s medical care and ongoing maintenance.
Begging parents, no help given
“Walay adlaw di ko maghilak just to beg both [of my] parents nga tabangan ko nila sa akong pag eskwela aron lang makahuman ko bisan lang og high school. But wala koy napala nila. They told me instead nga need unahon ug mas daghan need akong mga manghud from their different families,” Jenive said.
(Everyday I cried just to beg both [of my] parents to help in my schooling even if it was just in high school. But I did not get anything from them. They told me instead that they need to put first the needs of my younger siblings from their different families.)
As Jenive watched her parents build new families, the burden of her situation became heavier.
Did not fit in her parents’ families
She might sense love from both of them and their new families, but realizing she did not fully fit into either home made her feel distant and like she did not belong
“ [I’m] questioning myself unsay kuwang nako ug unsay akong angay mabuha[t] if naa pa ba. Sa akong emotional pud, halos every night ko maghilak tungod kay nafeel na nako na mura ra kog wala nila,” she said.
([I’m] questioning myselft what I lacked and what I should do if there is something more to do. In my emotional side also, every night I cry because I feel that I don’t have any value to them.)
Jenive could not help but perceive that her value to her parents was solely based on fulfilling their requests.
More of a resource than cherished family member
Though they respected her, Jenive couldn’t escape the sense that she was seen more as “merely a resource to be utilized rather than a cherished family member.”
“Usahay, manawag or mochat ra sila nako og naay kinahanglanon. Akong hunahuna is wala gani koy madagan katong nagkinahanglan ko, dili nako sila madaganan katong needed kaayo nako sila,” she said.
(Sometimes, they call or chat with me if they only needed something. What I thought about that is during those times that I needed help and had no one to turn to, I could not run to them for help in those times that I really needed them.)
As her duties piled up, Jenive sometimes felt overwhelmed and dispirited.
Fatigued and useless
The constant influx of obligations left her feeling fatigued and useless as if she were incapable of meeting the demands placed upon her.
“Wala ko nagdumot nila. Maybe, nahiubos lang jud siguro ko nila kay since bata pa ko, wala silay financial support gihatag nako. Maong struggle jud kaayo ko aron makapadayon sa akong eskwela,” Jenive said.
(I do not hold a grudge against them. Maybe, I’m just disappointed at them because since I was a child, I did not receive any financial support from them. That is why it really was a struggle for me to continue my schooling.)
Jenive strived as a scholar at a university, balancing her responsibilities as a student while also fulfilling duties as a striver after class.
Despite the challenges she had been through, she remained positive in life and hopeful about the value of family. That instead of dwelling on pain and hardship, she transformed them into opportunities for growth and learning.
“Tungod niini mas masinabtanon ko. Mas lawom akong pagsabot sa pagantos sa tawo. Mas taas akong sympathy sa akong isig ka tawo ug ako maduolan sa mga tawng nanginahanglan. Kay kahibaw ko sa feeling nga walang-wala, ug way kaduolan,” she said.
(Because of this, I have become a more understanding person. I have a deeper understanding in the suffering of a person. I have
Psychological nuances of family dynamics
In the intricate web of life stories, every tale weaves its own unique journey of ups and downs. As we step into Jenive’s world, it’s not just a personal story, but a glimpse into the psychological nuances of the complex realm of family dynamics.
Doctor Anna Kathrina Oaminal-Watin, a psychologist based in Cebu City, explained the two most prevalent emotional expressions observed in children who have experienced the challenges of a broken family are sadness and anger.
“It will start with sadness. The sadness of a family breaking up because it’s not just the marriage breaking up, it’s the family, so there’s that sadness among children which can also be an expression of anger because anger is an expression of sadness,” Dr. Watin said.
Sadness and anger
Dr. Watin further noted that these emotions of sadness and anger would typically emanate from the underlying perspective of fear.
“So the child gets to be afraid. It’s not just the worry but more of the fear [of] what will happen to me? What’s life going to be like after the separation of marriage?,” she said.
According to Dr. Watin, in situations where a child feels fear, some tend to withdraw and [become] quiet themselves, suppressing their emotions in the process.
These emotions that are suppressed may eventually transform into frustrations for these children, which creates an environment of insecurity that envelops them.
“It’s normal [to get mad at parents] because we get frustrated. Some children want their family to be intact for them to be together. It gets frustrating when you don’t get what you want,” Dr. Watin said.
Furthermore, Dr. Watin stressed that to lessen the effects of separation on children, parents should communicate well about the logistical arrangements involved.
“It has to be the physical arrangement that the parents have to address that — where will the children stay? Will they be safe? Will they be provided with? Even when parents are separated how will they fill in? How will they satisfy the needs of the children?,” she said.
Communication, logistical support
The psychologist said that this approach is a more constructive alternative than allowing children to become increasingly frustrated with the situation.
“This would have to be discussed among them, that the issue now is not just about them, but it’s more than them, aside from saving their mental health, they also have to take care of their children,” Dr. Watin said.
Exploring Jenive’s journey in a broken family helps us grasp the complex emotions entangled in the fabric of disrupted households.
Jenive Avenido’s narrative becomes not just a personal account but a beacon of strength for those navigating similar paths.
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