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Psychological Effects of Being Put into Care

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The question is relating to my father. He moved abroad for work when I was 12 and we have had very little communication since (approx. 4 visits home in the last 20 years and the occasional email or text)
I have long accepted that this is just the way he is and feel OK with the situation, however, after having children myself, I do not understand how he could be OK with not seeing us, knowing his grandchildren etc.
What I do know is that at 11 his mum left his dad and him and his sister (1960) to go off with another man, which apparently she did frequently. This particular time in 1960 after she left his father felt he couldn’t cope with the children, and hoping to make his wife return, he put them into care. Apparently they were in care a while, as it was hard to get them out back then once put into care. My mum told me that he never really forgave his parents for doing this and even though he had a relationship with them. He blamed his dad for a long time, but after his dad’s death, realized that his dad had only acted this way in order to try to get his mum back. He was apparently to busy at work (albeit in a different country) to attend his mums funeral. I will never know if this was the case or if he just did not want to attend.

My question, in the hope to better understand him is, if he was treated in this way as a child, why would he then have very little to do with parenting his own children? He has always tried to help financially, but is feels as though there is very little love or emotional connection with any of his children. And it feels as though his grandchildren are non-existent, as he never asks about them.

What are the psychological effects of being put into care at 11? And his mother leaving frequently? His dad choosing to try to get his wife back by using the children, rather than caring for them? Eventually my dad and his sister went back to their parents so they were raised in a family unit.

My Aunt is the complete opposite, and although has no children herself, she tries to maintain a close bond with me and my dad’s other children, and our children. (From England)

Psychological Effects of Being Put into Care

Answered by on -


It sounds as if the key feature is your father’s feelings of abandonment. He lost both parents in this process — and being abandoned in this way means that getting close to someone leads to them leaving you. My guess is your father’s behavior was a way to protect himself in the future. If you don’t have much of a relationship-there isn’t much to lose.

While I understand how difficult it will be, I believe your work is to accept your father’s limitations and invest in making your own family now as whole as possible.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Psychological Effects of Being Put into Care

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Psychological Effects of Being Put into Care. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 19 Feb 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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