5 Steps to Heal Her Pain: How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move On From a Dad's Rejection

Updated on November 12, 2018
letstalkabouteduc profile image

My father remained in our home but stayed emotionally detached. His absence loomed large as I numbed myself with food and anti-depressants.

A fatherless daughter should understand why her dad is absent so she doesn't blame herself.
A fatherless daughter should understand why her dad is absent so she doesn't blame herself. | Source

Fatherless Daughters: Suffering in Silence

  • Did you know that one in three women identifies herself as "fatherless" because of her dad's death, his emotional neglect, or his physical absence?
  • Did you know many fatherless daughters blame themselves when their dads abandon them?
  • Did you know these women are more likely to have low self-esteem, struggle with eating disorders, and suffer from depression?
  • Did you know those whose fathers died are actually better off emotionally because they don't feel the heartache of rejection?

The good news is that fatherless daughters can rise above these pitfalls if they're unaware of them. Iyanla Vanzant, the inspirational speaker and author, says that when a dad leaves he takes a piece of his daughter's soul with him. She, therefore, feels an intense lacking in her life and may try to fill it up with food, drugs, alcohol, or a series of unsuitable men. When she sees her father clearly with all his limitations, though, she can make the conscious choice to not let his absence define who she is and limit her potential.

Isn't it pathetic how we waste so much time on certain people and in the end they prove that they weren't even worth a second of it?

— Anonymous

Fatherless Daughters: Shouldering a Father's Rejection From a Young Age

One in three women identifies herself as fatherless. Whether our dad left us and never looked back, divorced our mom and saw us just twice a month, or stayed in the house but was emotionally detached, we may have grown up struggling with a profound sense of rejection. We probably felt tossed aside and blamed ourselves as kids typically do.

We might have thought: If only I were cuter, smarter, prettier, nicer, more athletic, Dad would have loved me and stayed. Most likely, nobody around us took the time to explain how our father was damaged and how his absence wasn't our fault. Nobody told us that one piece of information we so desperately needed to hear: his absence had everything to do with him and nothing to do with us.

Iyanla Vanzant explains how daughters are affected by their absent dads.

Fatherless Daughters: Defining Ourselves by Dad's Rejection

After a lifetime of silently shouldering the burden of our father's abandonment, we need to finally let it go. We need to understand at long last that our dad's neglect of us doesn't define who we are in the here-and-now. We no longer want it to hold us back from experiencing all the joys that life has to offer. Too many of us fatherless daughters have struggled with addictions, depression, anxiety, troubled relationships, poor self-esteem, and an inability to trust.

I battled “father hunger,” a craving for a loving dad, that led to yo-yo dieting, an eating disorder, obesity, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors centered around food. Day after day I was tortured by an existence focused on eating or trying not to eat. When I finally understood that I was trying to fill up the emptiness in my heart left by my dad, I was able to stop thinking about food and find relief.

This only came about, though, because I did the hard work to heal. I continue to do so each and every day. It's easy to fall back into the role of victim—the poor, pitiful fatherless girl—and use that as an excuse for not striving and succeeding. If we make ourselves a priority and work through these five steps, we fatherless daughters can move on from our dad's rejection and lead a happy, meaningful life:

  1. Look at your father's rejection objectively, not emotionally.
  2. Examine how his rejection impacted your life.
  3. Reclaim your power.
  4. Make yourself stronger (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually).
  5. Surround yourself with positive people.

5 Steps to Take When Recovering From Your Dad's Rejection

1. Look at Your Father's Rejection Objectively, Not Emotionally

We're often so blinded by hurt that we don't step back and look at the situation objectively. When we do, though, we see the big picture and realize that our father's neglect had nothing to do with us. We must remember that our dads had lives long before we were born, and some of them were deeply troubled. When we do a little detective work, we find the clues that led to their personalities, their behaviors, and their weaknesses. We solve the mystery of why they weren't good dads.

My father, for instance, was born to German immigrant farmers who were stoic, stern, no-nonsense people who worked hard and showed little emotion. I never saw my dad have a loving exchange with his parents nor his sister. He grew up believing that a father's role was limited to providing for his family financially. I'm sure he never gave the emotional component of parenting a second thought. Knowing this made me realize his coldness wasn't caused by me but was a product of his upbringing. I wasn't unlovable; he was incapable of loving.

You either get bitter or you get better. It's that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.

— Anonymous
Deal with the emotional baggage from childhood so you don't drag it into adulthood.
Deal with the emotional baggage from childhood so you don't drag it into adulthood. | Source

2. Examine How Your Dad's Rejection Impacted Your Life

The legacy of being a fatherless daughter often includes a running tape of negative messages running through our brains. Many of these thoughts are distorted or outright falsehoods, but they still make us doubt ourselves. They may include messages like: I'm unworthy of love...I don't deserve anyone's time and attention...I don't have what it takes to keep a man's interest...If I was different, people would want to spend time with me.

I struggled with low self-esteem all my life until I examined how it was connected to my father's emotional neglect of me. Once I did that, I became aware of the self-destructive messages that entered my brain throughout the day. I then got hyper-vigilant about shutting them down as fast as possible.

I realized how damaging they were to my well-being, how untrue they were, and how they prevented me from becoming strong and confident. As soon as a negative thought entered my head, I thought of something I had done recently that showed strength and courage: running a half-marathon, asking for a raise, or completing a tough assignment at work. I resented how much real estate my father was taking up in my brain and decided to finally evict him!

3. Reclaim Your Power

We're largely at the mercy of our parents when we're children. Their reactions to us—positive or negative—shape who we are. An absent dad can leave a girl feeling insecure, and there's little she can do about it. When she becomes an adult, though, she can reclaim her power and not stay on the hamster wheel, spinning and spinning but going nowhere.

For too long, I thought the only solution to my sadness was to have a better relationship with my dad. In my mind, that was the cure for all my woes. That misguided belief, though, just kept me spinning. It would never become a reality because my father had no interest in building a relationship with me and never had. When I accepted that reality (brutal as it was), it helped me reclaim my power, find peace of mind, and start creating a wonderful life.

We need to seize control of our current relationships and not let our absent fathers shape them. Kati Morton, a licensed therapist, says fatherless daughters often take the unhealthy lessons they learned about men from childhood with them into adulthood. They continue to apply them to relationships for the rest of their lives, making themselves miserable but not understanding why.

For many years, I chose workaholic men to date who were like my dad. I walked around on eggshells like I had as a child, trying to keep things calm, quiet, and stress-free so my boyfriends wouldn't explode with anger and frustration. When I recognized that pattern, I broke free of it. I found a guy to marry who maintained a healthy balance between work and play.

Iyanla Vanzant says a fatherless daughter should say these two words to heal: "Daddy gone!"

I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life. They have shown me who I do not want to be.

— Anonymous

4. Make Yourself Stronger (Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, and Spiritually)

For too long, my life was on hold as I waited for my dad to see the error of his ways. I waited patiently for the day when he'd apologize for his neglectful behavior and start spending time with me. What a waste of my life!

I did that, though, because I was too scared and too lazy to get going and start my future. I was paralyzed with fear. It was so much safer and easier just to blame him, stay the perpetual victim, and avoid the hard work. I ate too much, didn't exercise enough, and always put everyone else's needs before mine.

Yet, when we do this, we pay a huge price. It comes not only in poor health but in the disrespect we get from those around us: our spouse, our children, our co-workers, and our friends. That's because people don't value us if we don't value ourselves.

Life coach and author, Charly Emery, reminds women that others watch how we treat ourselves and then follow our lead. If we have self-respect, they will treat us with dignity. If we don't exercise, eat right, and enjoy downtime, they will assume we don't care about ourselves so why should they. This is an especially critical lesson for us fatherless daughters to learn since we tend to always put others before ourselves.

Fatherless daughters are at a higher risk for eating disorders.
Fatherless daughters are at a higher risk for eating disorders. | Source

5. Surround Yourself With Positive People

Because one in three women identifies herself as fatherless, there are many role models around us who've dealt with a dad's rejection and are now thriving.These are the ones we need to connect with so we can learn from them and be inspired. Surrounding ourselves with friends who use drugs or alcohol and are perpetually dysfunctional and depressed will only keep us stuck.

Fatherless daughters are often passive about choosing friends because we lack self-esteem. We let others pick us instead of us picking them. By not taking charge, we wind up with pals who don't serve us well and keep us from achieving our goals.

The billionaire businessman and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, advises people to choose carefully because friends form who we become. As a fatherless daughter, we didn't get to select our dad when we were born. As adults, though, we have all the power in the world to select companions who will make our lives better.

Are you a fatherless daughter?

If so, how did you get over your dad's rejection?

See results
The Unavailable Father: Seven Ways Women Can Understand, Heal, and Cope with a Broken Father-Daughter Relationship
The Unavailable Father: Seven Ways Women Can Understand, Heal, and Cope with a Broken Father-Daughter Relationship

This is the book I recommend to those of us who identify as fatherless daughters and are eager to heal and move forward. No book will help us change until we have the motivation to do so, are willing to look at our painful past, and put in the hard work to eliminate our destructive thought patterns and behaviors. There's no doubt about it; this is a painful book for us fatherless daughters to read. It will surely make you cry as old wounds get opened up. If you're like I was, you'll have to put it down and walk away many times before finishing. I wrote in my journal after almost every page because something got triggered from my childhood that I needed to think about and understand.

Ultimately, though, this book provides us fatherless daughters with comfort and hope. Dr. Rosenthal does a superb job of detailing the six types of unavailable dads and provides stories of women who grew up with them. It feels good to know we're not alone in the treatment we endured and the struggles it produced. It's encouraging to hear the stories of fatherless daughters who've broken free of victim-hood and are now thriving. If you're ready to take the next step, please read this book.

 

Questions & Answers

  • How can a mother help a fatherless daughter?

    That's such a beautiful and caring question for a mother to ask. Your willingness to help your fatherless daughter will be so incredibly beneficial to her. Being open, honest, and real is the most important thing. You have a lot of information she needs to fill in the gaps and better understand her dad. Without that information, she'll fill them in with negative messages about herself: I'm too fat, needy, ugly, stupid, unlovable for Dad to spend time with me.

    My mother felt too guilty and defensive to admit that she picked the wrong man to be the father of her four children. She never explained to us why our dad was always working, stressed and angry. As kids are prone to do, we blamed ourselves and walked around on eggshells to keep him from exploding with rage. When my friends asked me why he didn't attend my softball games and piano recitals, I never had an answer and felt tremendous shame and confusion. If my mother had explained my father to me, I could have simply said, “he's a workaholic.” Being able to put a name to something is so empowering for kids. It lets them put the blame squarely where it belongs—on their parent, not themselves.

    Saying you're sorry for picking the wrong guy to be her dad would also be incredibly helpful for your fatherless daughter. Owning your part would make her see that adults are responsible for the situation they created, not her. My mom picked a man who was closed off but a good provider. She was willing to give up emotional connection in exchange for financial security, but that trade-off had devastating consequences for us kids. She never apologized for her role in creating an unhappy home life until after my father had an affair. Then her eyes were finally opened to the mistakes she had made, but that was too late for my siblings and me!

    Finally, going to family counseling would be extremely useful. This will show your fatherless daughter that she's not in it alone and not responsible for the situation. Instead, she'll see that it's a family dynamic that needs to be discussed and healed. She'll come to understand the mistakes that were made so she won't repeat them in her own life when dating, picking a partner, and having kids.

    Thanks so much for the question and caring so much about your daughter. Much peace and love to both of you!

© 2018 McKenna Meyers

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      4 months ago from Bend, OR

      Venkatachari, that makes me hurt for your wife. She had to deal with the rejection of a father, a mother, and an entire family. I don't know how someone ever recovers from that, but I'm glad she's doing well now. She's an inspiration to others. Thanks for sharing her story.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile imageAUTHOR

      McKenna Meyers 

      4 months ago from Bend, OR

      I agree, Bill. It takes so long to get over the damage done to us in childhood and some of us never recover. I think these are far better days when people are more thoughtful and deliberate about whether they want to become parents or not and society doesn't judge harshly those who choose to remain childless. In fact, many of those folks are admired. If my dad were a young man in today's world, he would decide to have no children or, perhaps, just one. Having four children was stressful for him and he did not enjoy it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, the damage some people do to their children. I know it's impossible, but some people should never be allowed to parent. Extreme, yes, but I think you understand the reason for it.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      A very informative and educative post. You are right that one should come out of those depressive feelings of rejection and move on in life with positive thoughts in improving her career and life.

      My wife was a fatherless daughter. He took his life on his own when she was in the womb. And, she got rejected or abused by all her family members including her mother who was indifferent towards this daughter. All of them cursed her that she was the cause of her father's death. So, my wife became a psychological victim and couldn't recover even after many years of marrying me. Only in her late forties, she was able to come out of it when her mother expired and she remained away from her siblings.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wehavekids.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wehavekids.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)