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The Day I Abandoned My Daughter

Uncategorized Apr 05, 2024

I want to share a deeply personal story with you, a story that changed my life forever. As a child and forensic psychiatrist, I always believed I was emotionally stable and calm. But one day, I discovered I had my own demons to face.

Several years ago, I experienced a day that still haunts me - the worst day of my parenting life, perhaps even my entire life. It was a day that shook me to my core and made me realize that I needed to change.

Imagine this: A young child, my child, left distraught, anxious, and crying in a bustling school car park as I drove away in a fit of anger. The image of her tear-streaked face in my rearview mirror, her hand reaching out, pleading ‘daddy please,’ is etched in my memory. I could see other children nearby, wondering who the heartless man in the car was. Yes, that was me.

That morning, I was anxious about an important meeting. My daughter, sensing my anxiety, began showing signs of not wanting to go to school. I was torn between my professional commitments and my duty as a father. I chose wrong.

As we drove to school, I saw her angelic face in the backseat, tears welling up in her eyes. I was getting more upset, thinking about my meeting and her reluctance to go to school. We reached the school, a place buzzing with parents and children. I found a parking spot, and with people waiting for me to leave, I hurriedly asked my sobbing daughter to get out of the car.

She stepped out slowly, her pleas falling on my deaf ears. I drove away, leaving her alone and scared. A few minutes later, the gravity of what I had done hit me. I had abandoned my child. I turned the car around, fearing the worst. What if she hadn’t gone to class? What if she had run away?

I called the school office, and they assured me she was in class, albeit not her usual self. I knew what this meant. My daughter internalizes her pain, and I had caused her immense distress. The guilt and shame were overwhelming. I cried in the car.

Ironically, the meeting that seemed so important was cancelled. That evening, I apologized to my daughter. I admitted I was wrong. I had prioritized work over her needs. I had hurt her spirit. I vowed never to repeat this mistake.

This incident led me to introspect deeply. I realized that my connection with my children was more important than anything else. I decided to prioritize my family over everything else. This decision did not mean shirking my responsibilities, but it did mean that other obligations would have to wait if it was a choice between my girls and other things.

The guilt and shame led to a depressive episode. I felt like a fraud. Here I was, a supposed ‘expert’ in human behavior, yet I had failed my own child. I decided then that I would never put my kids in that position again. I needed a way to ensure that despite my feelings, I would still be the parent my child needed.

So, I developed a framework to keep me and my kids safe from my own shortcomings. I had no intention of turning it into a course, but when I saw the positive impact it had on my family, I knew others could benefit from it.

Parents do their best most of the time. But we are limited by our knowledge and our personal flaws. I believe that equipping oneself with certain frameworks of thinking is critical. It doesn’t have to be my framework - you can develop your own or use other systems. The important thing is to have a system. Your kids will thank you for it.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. If you ever feel like you don’t have what it takes, remember, you’ve got this. You just need a system.


These are the systems I made. For me and the wellbeing of my family. I hope you get something out of them too.

"Connecting with Anxious kids"


"Empathic guidance for Anxious kids"


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