The Only Sign
By: Neil Siskind, Esq.

Child psychologists, school therapists, and parents are educated on the signs to look for or watch for to determine the level and soundness of a youth’s mental and social development. Some signs, among many, that should alert adults to a problem with a youth’s development include a youth being withdrawn, a youth acting out in violent ways, a youth drawing pictures or writing stories depicting sadness or anger, obsessive compulsive habits, attachment issues, bullying of others or getting bullied by others.

But in some cases, there may be no signs, or only subtle signs of a youth’s difficulty in adjusting and coping. In such cases, it may take a sudden small or large action by the youth to brings his or her inner turmoil to light. This can include anything from skipping school to starting a small fire to being arrested for stealing.

When it comes to a youth losing a parent via death or abandonment, the diagnosis of inner sadness or insecurity affecting the youth is easy to make. Why? Because you can just assume it. You don’t need actions, signs, or behaviors to tell you that a child or teen misses having a father and is either angry, sad, or worried.

Thus, if you know of a child or teen in your community who has lost a father for any reason, or due to any cause, reach out to that youth even if he or she seems well adjusted and perfectly happy. Be assured, it is not entirely the case. This is not to say that a person cannot be happy and positive and productive if he or she loses his or her father. That is not the case at all. Life marches on and adversity brings strength. But a support system is needed, and people need to step-in to fill a void and help a youth work through the challenge. So, it is our job as a community to reach out to offer the support needed before waiting to see how the youth copes. It is not a chicken or egg question. Do not wait to see how the youth copes to determine if he or she needs help. Offer your help now, so that the youth can cope successfully.

The only sign you need that such a child or teen needs your support is the fact that his or her father is not present. That is the only sign you need.