When a parent leaves, walks out or passes away and the child is young you can end up with the “parent trap”. The trap can happen out of caring or out of the other parent being really pissed of at the situation that took place.
The caring parent trap can be where the parent cares so much about the child having a positive image they make the parent that passed away or left a saint, this all encompassing hero, this larger than life person. I get that a parent wants their kid to have a positive model and good memories of the other parent, but his can be a real negative. If you create a saint to rival all saints and heroes in that parent, that child is going to feel their whole life like they have to bend over backwards to live up to being like this larger than life saint or person you and the whole family created. That does not help at all, not them, not anyone who has to live with them or deal with them on a day to day basis. Truly loving them means giving them a very human parent flaws and all, not some mythical hero with a heart, spirit, soul larger than life. My dad was by all accounts a nice guy, maybe too nice for his own good some might say. I am glad I have a very human picture of him, very glad, one that is a mix of strengths, but also weaknesses that hurt him in his life. Still, I prefer the very human dad than if I had some larger than life myth. Then there is the other side of the coin, the one where the parent is so angry, bitter they do nothing but tear the other parent down, creating a lot of chaos within the child, fear and a whole bunch of insecurity. They create anger issues in the child and through adulthood, lots of stuff that is projected and as a child, that child has no real way to process or understand. They develop a very warped and negative image of the male or female gender due to that. A lot of damage can be done by this other “parent trap” as I call it. I understand that loss of partner under less than ideal circumstances can be reason for anger etc.., but that is no reason to bring poison into the life of the children. Whatever war is going on between the adults need to be worked out strictly between the adults.
When one parent gives the image of the other parent, any mythology, needs to be left in the mythology section of literature either way. It is not in anyone’s best interest to create a false extreme narrative of a parent to that child positive or negative. Best to keep it as honest as one can, keeping in mind the age range. If a parent has left and the child is young, just say “mom/dad left, we have a lot of stuff to work out and it’s between us grown ups, but it’s stuff that happens with grown ups and sorry that you get stuck in the middle, but we love you”. Don’t create monsters. If the parent passed away, even if they were great people, don’t create a larger than life myth or saint, make them as human as possible, no grandiose anything to strive to live up to, don’t ever burden children or anyone with that. Not fair to them or those around them.