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The Student News Site of San Marcos High School

Knights News

The Student News Site of San Marcos High School

Knights News

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Are You Experienced?
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Outdoor Play and its Positive Impacts
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Coming Back From the Sidelines

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The Impact of a Lack of Parental Roles

How the Lack of Parental Roles Impacts Teens
Abigail Hunt
Child crying in mothers arms in graphic art made by Abigail Hunt on Canva.

As Norah walks through the front door to her home, a wave of bittersweet nostalgia washes over her, carrying her into a world of treasured memories. Thoughts reminiscing her mother’s presence fill her mind, returning her to simpler times of innocence and joy. 

When we are young, we heavily rely on our parents and their importance in guiding us along the windy road of life. Our first steps, words, and cries tend to be in the presence of those we depend on the most—guided hand in hand to overcome obstacles until we are let off on our own. While many have parents to lean on in times of need, many individuals lack in that area. In this world where parental roles are diminished or absent, children handle tasks beyond their years. Robbed of the nurturing guidance and support parents should provide, youth are thrown into a realm of grown-up responsibilities that cast shadows over their personal lives. McDowell does not feel alone. “I have been taking care of myself food-wise, shopping-wise, and mental health-wise. The lack of a parental figure has interfered with my own life because I have to rely on myself at such a young age,” junior Norah McDowell said. She feels pressured as she is instructed to stand in the shoes that once belonged to her mother. 

 At twelve, McDowell was forced to mature and care for those in her household while maintaining the balance of caring for herself.  Society’s expectations on adolescence often negatively affect children in various ways. Instead of spending their days with carefree play and exploration, children complete adult tasks, including managing households, caring for siblings, and navigating complex emotions without a comforting parental presence. The weight of these additional responsibilities presses heavily upon their shoulders, taking away from childhood moments and ultimately affecting their emotional and social development. The absence of parental roles leaves an indelible void that leaves children wanting stability, warmth, and the chance to be children. On another note, the lack of parental roles can have a detrimental impact on children’s mental health. Without stable parental figures, children may experience a sense of instability and uncertainty, along with increased stress and anxiety. They may also struggle to develop healthy coping mechanisms and social skills and face challenges in trusting relationships and building confidence into a positive sense of self-worth. 

“This struggle has shaped me to be independent and not super reliant on others. I can set goals for myself and maintain them on my own,” McDowell said. McDowell has become more independent and overall strengthened as an individual, overcoming the obstacles thrown her way. Over time, McDowell has undergone a remarkable transformation, becoming a self-reliant individual who has navigated and triumphed over many challenges in her path. She has shown resilience and determination throughout her journey, inspiring those struggling to see past the negatives and never give up. 

“This struggle has shaped me to be independent and not super reliant on others. I can set goals for myself and maintain them on my own,”

— Norah McDowell

The difference between those who come from a stable home environment and those who do not is essential to understanding the importance of parental roles. Another Junior at San Marcos High, Ivy Beyerlein, recognizes how fortunate she is to live in a warm environment. “My parents are really supportive; they are always there for me when I need help with homework, and my mom always packs my lunch for me,” said Beyerlein. Seeing the difference between the two, one from a stable home environment and another who struggles from the lack of a parental role, gives insight into the different effects of both. 

Children from stable homes often benefit from consistent emotional support, a sense of security, and healthy role modeling, fostering their overall well-being. In contrast, those with challenging home environments often feel stressed, have a sense of insecurity, and have impaired social and emotional development. These circumstances and outcomes play a critical role in children’s mental health and overall well-being as seen through the experiences of McDowell and Beyerlein. Multiple responsibilities crucial to stability within homes are often placed upon these individuals, fostering endless negative effects to be carried through their lifetimes.

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About the Contributor
Abigail Hunt
Abigail Hunt, Writer
Abigail Hunt is a Junior at San Marcos High School. She joined the Pendragon because she enjoys giving others a voice and creatively telling their stories.

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  • M

    Martha EmmaFeb 26, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    I love this article. It is very impactful and serves as a testament of the need for parental guidance and support, as seen through the eyes of the kids. Is there any way to have it translated to spanish? I would love to send it to our EB parents. Martha Emma, EB Program Assistant.

  • T

    TreFeb 24, 2024 at 12:59 am

    Great job