In order to properly discuss the effects of Royal Tenenbaum’s absence of each child, one must divide the discussion among the children:
First we begin with Richie, because while the other two children were emotionally and physically abandoned by their father, Richie was not. Richie had most likely been the favorite of Royal. Richie was the only child that was ever taken on outings with his father.
But while Richie had a good relationship with his father as a child, that relationship skewed in his adult years. He had been the first to welcome Royal back into the family, and encouraged others to give their “sick and dying” father another chance. After learning that their father had been faking this illness, one thing lead to another and Richie Tenenbaum found himself in a tight position. He wanted to kill himself, and he attempted, but failed. Although the reason for this was not his father’s fault (Richie was in love with his adopted sister, Margot), this was the “ending” of a series of events that his father caused when he reentered his children’s lives.
Margot Tenenbaum is the adopted sister of Chas and Richie. Margot was often forgotten about as a child in the Tenenbaum household. Royal consistently introduces her as “my adopted daughter”, which creates a divide between Margot and her father (Gooch 26). She grew up as a successful playwright and was underappreciated by her father. Royal only attended one of her plays, performed on her birthday, and after she heard his response, he was never invited again. Margot also searched for her birth parents during her childhood. Finding out how her life could have been, in a rural land with farming the main priority. This helped her accept her identity in the Tenenbaum family.
As an adult, Margot had a harder time accepting her father into her life. Margot was always very secretive and kept her feelings hidden. She was mostly on board with her father returning because Richie was as well. Even as an adult, Royal exploited the fact that she was adopted and hearing such made her distance herself emotionally from him.
Chas Tenenbaum was born a genius. Like Margot, he was extremely gifted, but was never fully appreciated by his father. While Chas was emotionally neglected by his father, he was also hurt physically. One summer, during a bebe gun fight, Royal shot Chas with a bebe gun. Chas yelled that they were on the same team but Royal refused to listen, and shot him in the hand. Chas still has the physical scar from where his father shot him.
As an adult, the effects intensified. Chas’ wife, Rachel, died in an accident, and left him and his two children on their own. This increased the paranoia of his children being in danger and caused his small family of three many problems. Chas reflects the opposite of his father’s neglect onto his own children by over-protecting them. Chas was never really able to forgive his father for abandoning him and his siblings (until later in the movie), and shows the most disdain towards Royal. One of these reasons is most likely because Royal had no clue that Chas’ wife had even died and did not understand how traumatic the situation had become.
“Royal’s failures as both a lawyer and a husband only serve to exacerbate his position as father in his children’s eyes.”
-Joshua Gooch, Making a Go of it: Paternity and Prohibition in the Films of Wes Anderson pg. 27