Ms. Meyers grew up with a dad who was physically present but emotionally absent. She numbed her pain with food and anti-depressants.
Growing Up Without a Dad Shapes Who You Are
It took six decades, but I can finally utter a huge truth that caused me tremendous shame and sadness: My father didn't love me. I never spoke that deep, dark secret, but it was always festering inside of me. It manifested itself in many ways throughout my life as I struggled with a food obsession, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression.
Whether a dad was present but rejecting like mine or walked away from his fatherly duties entirely, his absence leaves an indelible mark on a daughter's psyche as she grows into adulthood. What does the research say about woman who grew up with fathers who didn't love them—daughters who were never daddy's little girl?
Below, you'll find six ways a daughter may be affected by an uninvolved dad.
Fathers provide their daughters with a masculine example. They teach their children about respect and boundaries and help put daughters at ease with other men throughout their lives. [...] So if she didn't grow up with a proper example, she will have less insight and she'll be more likely to go for a man that will replicate the abandonment of her father.
— Caitlin Marvaso, AMFT, a grief counselor and therapist in Oakland, CA
1. Fatherless Daughters Have Self-Esteem Issues
According to Deborah Moskovitch, an author and divorce consultant, kids often blame themselves when dad leaves the home and becomes less involved in their lives. When they aren't given an explanation about why dad left, they make up their own scenario and jump to the conclusion that it's their fault and that they're unlovable.
This is especially true for daughters. Countless studies have shown that fatherlessness has an extremely negative impact on daughters' self esteem. Her confidence in her own abilities and value as a human being can be greatly diminished if her father isn't there. Academically, personally, professionally, physically, socially, and romantically, a woman's self esteem is diminished in every setting if she did not form a healthy relationship with her father.
As a child, I watched television shows like The Brady Bunch and Happy Days in which the fathers showered their daughters with tremendous amounts of attention and affection. Because I never got that from my dad, I convinced myself it was because I wasn't cute enough. I thought if I had blond hair and talked with a lisp like Cindy Brady I would then have my dad's devotion. I hated the way I looked because I thought it caused my father's disinterest in me. As I got older, my self-esteem plummeted and I was sure no man would ever find me attractive.
2. Daughters With Absent Fathers Struggle to Build and Maintain Relationships
According to Pamela Thomas, author of Fatherless Daughters (a book that examines how women cope with the loss of a father via death or divorce), women who grew up with absent dads find it difficult to form lasting relationships. Because they were scarred by their dad's rejection of them, they don't want to risk getting hurt again. Consciously or unconsciously, they avoid getting close to people. They may form superficial relationships in which they reveal little of themselves and put very little effort into getting to know others. They may become promiscuous as a way of getting male attention without becoming too emotionally involved.
Ever since childhood, I've built walls around myself. I didn't open up to people. I didn't ask questions about their families, jobs, or hobbies. I kept my life private, and I remained socially isolated. These were all self-protective measures so I wouldn't experience rejection like I did with my dad. Knowing this intellectually did nothing to help me change my behavior because my fear of rejection was more powerful than my desire to make connections.
3. Women With Absent Fathers Are More Likely to Have Eating Disorders
In their book The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders, the authors Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto write eloquently about the fact that girls with physically or emotionally absent fathers are at greater risk of developing eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge-eating, body dysmorphia, unhealthy preoccupations with food or body weight, and other eating disorders are all more likely if a girl does not have a father figure as she's growing up. Daughters without dads are also twice as likely to be obese. Because her longing to have a close relationship with her dad is denied, she may develop what Margo Maine (author of Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, & Food) calls “father hunger,” a deep emptiness and a profound insecurity. Daughters are left wondering: What's so wrong with me that my own father doesn't love me? If I looked different—if I was thin—would I earn daddy's love?
I've struggled with "father hunger" throughout my life—stuffing my face to fill the void, dieting to get model-thin, and always obsessing about food. My days have been filled with thoughts of eating—either doing it or struggling mightily not to. When I accepted that my dad didn't love me and that he was an unhappy man with deep-rooted problems, I finally started eating normally and began maintaining a healthy weight. I began treating myself in a loving way by exercising, gardening, reading, walking in the woods, and spending time with family. For the first time in my life, I only thought about food when I was truly hungry. This freed me to enjoy my life in so many wonderful ways.
4. Daughters of Absent Fathers Are More Prone to Depression
Not surprisingly, girls who grew up with dads who were emotionally or physically absent are more likely to struggle with depression as adults. Because they fear abandonment and rejection, these women often isolate themselves emotionally. They avoid healthy romantic relationships because they don't feel deserving and fear getting hurt, but they might jump into unhealthy relationships that ultimately lead to heartbreak. In either scenario, the women are in emotional peril and frequently become depressed. If they don't deal with the cause of their sadness—an absent dad—they may never be able to develop healthy relationships with men.
To top it all off, data suggests that children without fathers are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.
According to Denna Babul and Karin Louise, authors of The Fatherless Daughter Project, it's helpful to simply realize that we're not alone. In fact, one in three women see themselves as fatherless and struggle with feelings of abandonment. Knowing this fact helps us see that there's a whole sisterhood out there who share a common pain and a need to connect. When we open up and share our journey, we help both ourselves and each other. Whether we feel the loss of a dad through death, divorce, drug addiction, estrangement, or emotional neglect, we must grieve in order to move forward. Read How a Fatherless Daughter Can Recover From Her Dad's Rejection for ideas on how to avoid falling into depression. A gifted therapist can be key to helping us do just that and becoming happier people.
5. Dadless Daughters Are More Likely to Become Sexually Active Earlier
Studies have shown the many benefits that come from a strong father-daughter bond. Most notably, girls who are close to their dads are less likely to get pregnant as teens. They delay engaging in sexual relationships, wait longer to get married and have children, and when they do find a husband, their marriages are more emotionally satisfying, stable, and long-lasting.
Countless studies also show that women who have unstable or absent paternal relationships are more likely to start having sex earlier and engage risky sexual behaviors. Daughters are four times more likely to get pregnant as a teen if dad isn't in the picture. Studies show that more than 70% of unplanned teenage pregnancies occur in homes where there is no father.
My older sister (who, like me, did not have a relationship with our father) met her future husband when she was just 18 and married him when she turned 22, straight out of college. He was the only guy she ever dated. Without a doubt, she was looking for the love and validation she never got from our dad. She was looking for an alternative to a man who never said "I love you" or "you're pretty" and never gave the unconditional acceptance one craves from a parent. Although she is still married, her union has been a difficult one, and she discourages her own daughters from marrying young.
6. Abandoned Daughters Are Susceptible to Addiction
As with depression, eating disorders, and low self esteem, the absence of a father can trap a daughter in a negative repetitive pattern she can't easily break out of and turn to drugs to self-medicate and help numb the pain. She is more likely to find herself trapped in a cycle of substance abuse, for example. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse. Not only are kids in father-absent households about four times more likely to be poor (which can trigger many negative cycles), fatherless adolescents were found to be 69% more likely to use drugs and 76% more likely to commit crimes.
Can a Daughter Survive Without a Father?
Try as I might, I was never been able to get any traction, always making a mess of this or that and never able to form long-lasting friendships. I rejected happiness because I never felt worthy of it. I did so much to sabotage my life and make myself miserable.
Then last year my older sister revealed to me that she, too, had felt unloved by him. I immediately felt enormous relief and then great euphoria. I realized it had never been about me—that I was bad, ugly, stupid and undeserving. It had always been about him—his unhappy childhood, his cold mother, his negative nature, and his dissatisfaction with being a husband and father. It had never been about me...never.
I could finally shout: “You were a piece of crap and now I'm done with you! I'm not your prisoner any more!"
According to Caitlin Marvaso, AMFT, a grief counselor and therapist, to recover from a father's abandonment, a woman "must learn how to father herself, hold herself, and receive the type of love a father provides. It is a lifelong process, but with the proper support, tools, and patience, it is totally possible. That being said, the grief and pain never goes away, it just changes."
A daughter whose father abandoned her can grow, thrive, learn, excel, succeed, love and be loved, and live a wonderful life when she realizes that the problem isn't her, it's him. This is the first step toward healing.
Self-mutilation comes in the form of promiscuity and [...] it's violence against yourself. I never thought of it that way before!
— Oprah Winfrey
What Is Fatherless Daughter Syndrome?
"Fatherless Daughter Syndrome" (colloquially known as "daddy issues") is an emotional disorder that stems from issues with trust and lack of self esteem that leads to a cycle of repeated dysfunctional decisions in relationships with men. It can last a woman's entire lifetime if the symptoms go unacknowledged and ignored.
Does the Reason Affect the Result of Fatherlessness?
Half of the daughters in the US self-identify as having no father in their lives, but the reasons for that fatherlessness vary. Approximately 28% lost their connection to their dads via divorce or separation, while 26% cite emotional absence as the reason for the estrangement. 19% lost their fathers to death, 13% to abandonment, 13% to addiction, 12% to abuse, and 4% to incarceration. 6% say they never met their father.
Certainly, a daughter whose loving dad passed away when she was 15 will be affected differently than a daughter whose father abandoned her when she was born. Unfortunately, many studies do not account for the reasons for fatherlessness.
The effects of fatherlessness can be mitigated by many factors. Daughters who were brought up in households with two moms, a loving and very-involved step parent, or participating grandparents or other extended family members will probably not experience the same lasting wounds and negative impact of a father's abandonment.
What about you?
What Are the Emotional Effects of Being Abandoned by a Father?
Compared to those with healthy paternal relationships, fatherless women report...
- feeling less happiness and lower levels of well-being,
- higher levels of frustration, anger, and anger-related depression,
- difficulty navigating the emotions of intimate relationships, and
- overwhelming fears of abandonment.
The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives gave me the necessary insight that helped me heal. It made me realize that I was living a shut-down existence. Because of my childhood without an involved dad, I had become an emotionally numb adult.
Like many fatherless daughters, I grew up with a mom who was overwhelmed and struggling. Because she was shouldering all the responsibilities of parenting by herself (except the financial), she felt alone. As such, she turned to me for comfort and support.
Dr. Karin Luise, the book's co-author, says that a daughter who tends to her mom's emotions often neglects her own. As a result, she might bottle up her feelings. As an adult, that can lead to both psychological and physical distress. Once I understood this, I was able to get healthier by embracing my feelings: writing about them, talking about them, and using them to heal.
What Are the Psychological Effects of an Absent Father?
To summarize, depression, suicide, eating disorders, obesity (and its effects), early sexual activity, addiction-formation, and difficulty building and holding on to loving relationships are all side-effects of an absent father.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: My father was a good man who struggled with depression and alcoholism (so he was emotionally unavailable). How can I address my emotional issues without putting the blame on him?
Answer: I'm so impressed with you based on your question. It shows great insight, compassion, and desire to move forward with your life. So many of us (myself included) get stuck in the blame game, keep recycling our past, and don't enjoy the here-and-now. Since you already understand your dad was emotionally absent and why, you're doing great and are ready for the next step to jump-start a happy future.
My 80-year-old mother was recently reminiscing about her mom who died from alcoholism and said, “She chose booze over me.” I was immediately struck my how tragic (and untrue) that comment was and how my mom had no understanding of addiction and depression. I knew this ill-conceived belief of hers had negatively shaped her life and the lives of my siblings and me. I wished she had attended Al-Anon meetings, read books about alcoholism, and gone to therapy before getting married and having children. It would have saved us all a lot of heartache.
I hope you will avail yourself of the resources my mother didn't. By putting in the effort now, you'll have a happier life in the future. By talking with others, you'll realize you're not alone, find camaraderie in your shared pain, and learn how others have moved forward. There are so many of us women who identify as fatherless (I in 3), and 10 percent of U.S. adults say they grew up with an alcohol-abusing parent. Janet Woititz wrote Adult Children of Alcoholics, an excellent book in which she discusses the common traits that people with alcoholic parents share.
I found a lot of relief, support, and peace of mind by being vulnerable and sharing my experiences as a fatherless daughter. When you open up and reveal your pain, you meet so many people who will do the same, and an instant connection is formed. For too long, I lived a life where I seemed strong and put together. In reality, though, I was numbing my emotions by taking anti-depressants. The seven years I remained on those were the worst of my life, “my lost years,” because I lived like a zombie. While I felt no pain and never cried, I also felt no joy. My doctor did me a great disservice by prescribing drugs to me instead of urging me to do the hard work needed to get better. I do that now: meditating, writing in a journal, focusing on gratitude, spending time in nature, exercising, eating healthy foods and, most importantly, dealing with my feelings instead of stuffing them.
I wish you the very best as you move forward. I think you will have a lot to offer those who are on a similar journey.
Question: How can one heal from growing up without a dad?
Answer: That's the $10,000 question, isn't it? I don't think any of us fatherless daughters ever completely heal from the loss. We'll always feel sad about it from time to time, and that's normal. We'd have to be stoned out of our minds or numbed with anti-depressants (like I once was) to not feel some anguish, but we need to put it in perspective, move forward, and enjoy our lives in the here-and-now. As I've gotten older, this has become much easier to do because I don't want to spend my time feeling bad about my yesterdays (when I didn't have much control) instead of enjoying my todays (when I have all the control).
When I taught preschool, I loved watching dads pick up their daughters from class and sweep them off the floor in a big loving embrace. At the same time, though, I'd feel pain that I never experienced anything like that with my own father. I'd acknowledge my feelings and then think of a mantra to help me work through it. Some of my favorites were: “I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become” (Oprah), “failure is dictated by a focus on yesterday,” and “I'd rather be better than bitter.”
I've healed a lot by sharing my journey with others—by writing this article but also talking with friends and acquaintances. When you open up and become vulnerable, others will do the same. One in three of us identify as fatherless so there's a lot of women to whom we can relate and form an instant bond.
I've also found a lot of healing in taking better care of myself: exercising, eating healthy foods, making time for reading and relaxing. For much of my life, I was my own worst enemy, and it was really starting to catch up with me as I became obese and sedentary. I've also started to speak up more, sharing my experiences, my opinions, and my knowledge. My dad often shushed me as a kid, and now it feels great to reclaim my voice.
Question: My dad is a deadbeat. How do I emotionally get through all the years of tossing thoughts of only having my mother? I have neglected to recognize how truly alone I really am. How do I get through this?
Answer: I believe deep misplaced feelings of shame are at the center of a fatherless daughter's life. The paternal archetype—loving, protecting, advising—has a strong presence in all cultures throughout the world. Fathers portrayed on television risk their lives to save their children, are infinitely patient and giving, and are always warm and kind. When we don't have a dad like that, we blame ourselves when we're kids and even when we're adults.
I grew up watching Pa Ingalls on the “Little House on the Prairie” series. His devotion to his daughters was infinite. At the same time, though, I was a girl with a workaholic father who was rarely at home and, when he was, would call me names and berate my appearance. How does a kid wrap her brain around these disparate fatherly images? She blames herself and feels deep shame for her failures as a daughter. She thinks that if I were cuter, smarter, thinner, more charming, more petite, more athletic, and more talented, my Dad would love me.
Looking back now on my life, I see how it was molded by my feelings of shame, worthlessness, and never feeling good enough. These emotions resulted in my addiction to food, my low self-esteem, my neglect of my appearance and health, my inability to put myself out there to make friends, my willingness to settle for jobs that were below my abilities, and my reliance on anti-depressants. When I finally opened up to my sister about our dad, she confessed that she, too, felt unloved and unaccepted by him. Her admission lifted the weight of shame that I had been carrying on my shoulders, and I experienced a lightness I had never known.
I want you to experience this lightness as well. When you open up to other women about being a fatherless daughter, you'll feel so much better. Since 1 out of 3 of us identifies as such, you won't have a problem finding those who say, “I understand... I feel your pain... You're not alone...I went through the same thing.”
I'm the happiest I've ever been since I let go of the shame, and I never want to be bogged down by it again. Connecting with other women who've had a similar journey is the key.
Question: How can a guy help his girlfriend who didn't grow up with a father? How does he show love to her so she doesn't make a mistake of marrying young?
Answer: It's very sweet and noble that you want to help your girlfriend who's a fatherless daughter. But, let me give you a word of caution that I also give to my teenage sons: “When you rescue a damsel in distress, all you end up with is a distressed damsel.” Some men (kindhearted but foolish) fall into the trap of choosing a woman who needs to be “fixed.” That, however, is an impossible task. The only one who can fix her is herself. She must be highly motivated to change and willing to do the hard work—possibly with the help of a good therapist. Sometimes a fatherless daughter wants to stay in her victimhood and let it define her. It will be her identity throughout her entire life so please proceed with caution!
With that being said, you can encourage your girlfriend to do things that will build her self-esteem. With a healthier self-image, she won't be wallowing in the pain of being a fatherless daughter or wanting to fill the hole in her heart by getting married at a young age. Building her self-esteem is not some airy-fairy notion but involves taking concrete steps. You and she, for example, could tackle some goals together that involve getting in shape and learning new physical skills: training for a marathon, taking ballroom dancing classes, hiking to the top of a mountain, learning to ice skate, or pumping iron. You and she can tackle some ways to improve your mental well-being and career prospects by taking college classes together, joining a book club, or attending events at your local library. You and she can look outside yourselves and help others by volunteering at a homeless shelter, the SPCA, or a local elementary school. You and she can find peace through meditation, praying, attending religious services, and being in nature. By pushing herself and achieving goals, she will become stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
You sound like a caring boyfriend, and I wish you much luck in your relationship. Since one in three women identifies as a fatherless daughter, there are a lot of us damaged souls out there. If your girlfriend is motivated to move forward in her life, I think the two of you will be just fine. If she keeps slipping back into the hurts of the past, then that's a serious issue. You may need to end the relationship and ask yourself why you're attracted to a woman who needs fixing. You don't want it to become a pattern.
Question: My dad usually only in the summer, but he hasn't since 2015. I just can’t take it anymore. Does he not have any interest in me?
Answer: I'm sorry your dad is being neglectful and uncaring. No matter what's going on in his life (a new wife or girlfriend, deadlines at work, duties at home), he has a parental responsibility to see you regularly so a loving bond can be created and maintained. Unfortunately, some fathers are too self-involved to comprehend the hurt they cause their kids. My dad called me degrading names such as “Buffalo Butt” and “Rhino Rump” when I was a girl, damaging my self-esteem and causing me tremendous embarrassment. Now, as an adult and mother, I see how incredibly immature that was of him and I've let go of the misplaced shame I felt. But it took many years.
Your mother probably has some insight that would be helpful about your father's poor character. Perhaps, she hasn't wanted to disparage him in your eyes, but you need to know the truth. His behavior reflects badly on him, not you, and you need to know his past so you can understand why he's acting this way in the present.
If he doesn't see you in person, he should be staying in contact via phone, e-mail, or Skype. If he's not, you and your mom should set up a regular day and time for him to communicate with you. If he doesn't follow through with that, you have a tough decision to make. Do you want to stay connected with him even though it's sporadic, unpredictable, and only on his terms or do you want to take control, limit contact, or possibly even terminate the relationship? Talking with a counselor at school would be beneficial before making such a big decision.
In the meantime, focus on the positive things in your life. Keep a gratitude journal and write down five things you are thankful for each day (Oprah does this). Open up to your friends and family about your dad and get the love and support you need. Set goals for yourself and work hard to achieve them. Develop a rich spiritual life by meditating and spending time in nature. Be good to yourself by eating nutritious foods and exercising. Don't define yourself by your father's neglectful behavior. You are so much more than that.
I wish you the best. I know how painful it is to be shunned by a dad and have so little control over the situation. I'm glad you're reaching out. Please continue to do so. Many girls and women can relate to what you're feeling and experiencing, and we truly do care.
Question: How do I deal with a father who wasn't there, leaving me with a mother who often told me she wished I was dead and finally gave me to my grandparents? Now they're both in their 60s and they need me. I am an only child. How can I have a relationship with them now?
Answer: This is a dilemma that more adult children are facing today as their parent's age but may still live for several more decades. Some are now caring for their parents longer than their parents cared for them! This is difficult enough but made even more challenging when these adult children weren't lovingly treated by their moms and dads while growing up as was the case with you.
You'll never have a close, loving bond with your mother or your father because they both abandoned their parental responsibilities. You don't have a lifetime of happy memories and goodwill built up from the times you shared together. You'll always be hurt and resentful about that, and those feelings are normal and justified.
It's up to you to decide how involved you want to become with them now. Most importantly, you don't want to sacrifice your current life by reaching back to the past and trying to reconstruct what you never had. That would be a big mistake. Iyanla Vanzant, the spiritual life coach, said: “When life removes something from you, it's not helpful to go chase it down and get it back.”
If you have a husband and kids, your first obligation is to them, not your parents. You also have an obligation to yourself—to enjoy your loved ones, your career, your hobbies, and your friends. You have a responsibility to take good care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. You don't want to sacrifice any of that for an attempt to reconstitute something with your parents.
Being in their 60's hardly makes your parents old and in need of care unless they've been negligent about their health or have a serious illness. They should be able to live independently for years and even decades to come. If you want to be a part of their lives, do it slowly and cautiously. They're probably the same people you knew as a kid—just older. If it gets tricky, please talk to a therapist and come up with a plan where you feel good about helping but aren't getting used and abused.
Question: My mother was raped and I am the child. I grew up without a father figure that I think led me to become emotionally unstable, always seeking validation from men, prone to depression, and fearful of rejection, how can I address this?
Answer: You've carried a heavy load and it's time to lighten it by addressing these issues. It's difficult enough to be a fatherless daughter, but you've had an extra burden as the product of a rape. You may have experienced shame, confusion, and anxiety because of it. Talking to a therapist is what you need to do in order to make sense of these emotions and how they negatively impact your life today.
I'm curious how you discovered that you were conceived from rape as that's something most moms would strive to keep from their kid. Mothers would have a primal instinct to protect their children, understanding how damaging that information would be. Having this knowledge has done nothing to add to your feelings of self-worth and a sense of serenity in the world. Therefore, it's something important to discuss in therapy as well as with your mom.
It would be useful if your mother joined you in some of the therapy sessions, providing insight into how the rape affected her and her ability to parent. There must be questions you want to ask her and the things she wants to tell you. These are delicate and painful issues to delve into but can be handled with care by a professional.
The author and life coach, Vironika Tugaleva said: “Emotional pain cannot kill you, but running from it can. Allow. Embrace. Let yourself feel. Let yourself heal.”
You may want to read my article entitled, “How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move on From Her Dad's Rejection.” I wish you the best as you lighten your load. Take care!
Question: How do I let go of the rage and hurt that is not only directed at my deceased father but his second wife who was allowed to abuse me? How do I let go of the hurt so I can remember the good times, few as they are?
Answer: It's actually a healthy thing that you're feeling these intense emotions and not bottling them up, causing yourself grave mental and physical problems. After all, your rage is justified toward someone who abused you. Too many people today seek to selectively numb an emotion that they find undesirable, such as anger, sadness, and frustration. Because dulling just one emotion is impossible, though, they wind up dulling all of them with anti-depressants, illegal drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling, porn, and technology. It seems we want to do anything but feel our feelings and deal with them.
When I was in counseling for depression, my therapist would always say, “Depression is anger turned inward.” My sadness had taken over my life, paralyzing me because I had never dealt with the fury toward my dad. Instead of expressing it, I had turned it against myself with a cruel inner voice that attacked my intelligence, my appearance, and my personality. You're in a much healthier place because you understand the exact source of your anger (your dad and stepmom) and don't blame yourself.
You can use your anger in a constructive way. Instead of being a victim of it, deal with it in positive ways such as exercising, talking to yourself in an encouraging way, writing in a journal, meditating, spending time in nature, talking with a friend, seeing a therapist, practicing gratitude, developing a deep spiritual life, volunteering, and being kind to yourself. When you treat yourself with tenderness, love, and respect, you'll no longer want to be weighed down by your rage. You'll no longer want to give your dad and stepmom power over your life.
You've had a tough time of it, so let yourself grieve the loss of a healthy and loving family. Forgive your dad and stepmom and vow to do better in your own life. The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said, “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” If you can help others by sharing your experiences and showing them compassion, your pain will have a purpose, and your anger will diminish.
Question: How do you win back a fatherless girlfriend's trust and love?
Answer: I conclude from your question that you betrayed your fatherless girlfriend's trust in some significant way: cheating on her, lying to her, hiding important information from her, etc. Depending on the severity of your betrayal, it may be impossible to win her back. Because you two were just dating (not engaged or married), she may have determined your behavior was too big of a risk to move forward. Since dating is the time to discover whether the two of you have similar values, she may have realized you don't and made the wise decision to end it. If that's the case, you should respect her decision, learn from your mistakes, and move forward.
If she's still willing to date you, then you have an opportunity to apologize for your behavior and prove you won't do it again. There's no speedy remedy for re-establishing trust and love in a relationship. This is especially true with a fatherless daughter who may have already suffered an enormous betrayal by her dad. She won't want to get hurt again and will be extremely self-protective like she's wearing a suit of armor. It will take a lot of time, patience, and good behavior to make her feel safe.
The biggest challenges I've faced as a fatherless daughter are revealing my emotions and being vulnerable. If I expressed sadness about my dad's absence when I was a girl, my mother immediately shot down that expression of grief and became defensive. I learned at a young age to keep everything bottled up inside of me. I stuffed my emotions with food as a kid and then numbed them with anti-depressants as an adult. I became convinced that my emotions were wrong and, if I revealed them as I had to my mom, they would be rejected. This false notion caused a lot of damage to my physical and mental well-being and damaged my friendships and romantic relationships.
If she lets down her guard, you can help your girlfriend express herself, so she feels safe, heard, and understood. If you want to have a successful relationship, you both need to open up to one another, be honest about your emotions, and re-establish the trust. Your fatherless girlfriend needs to be secure enough in the relationship to be vulnerable with you.
Question: My father was a good man in my younger years. Then suddenly after my parent's divorce, he stopped being in my life. Is there any logical reasoning for this?
Answer: I've received other questions from daughters about this phenomenon that causes them so much hurt and confusion. Here are some reasons this happens:
After the divorce, the father marries a new woman and becomes enmeshed with her side of the family.
A wife typically takes control of the couple's social calendar in a marriage. She plans the holidays, sets up dates for dinners and the theater, and makes arrangements with friends and family for get-togethers. Most men are more than happy to leave the social planning to their spouses and tend to just go with the flow. Naturally, the wife puts her friends and family first, and sometimes the husband's kids become an afterthought. In a worst-case scenario, the wife, acting out of jealousy and possessiveness, intentionally exclude her husband's kids.
After the divorce, the father feels terrible and wants to distance himself from what he considers a failure.
Most men aren't as free and open with expressing their feelings as women are. Many don't have a support system of friends to whom they can turn when they're emotionally wounded. They may bottle up their feelings and ignore their anguish. Some men feel like they failed when their marriages end and want to put it in the past and move forward. In the process, they're oblivious to how much they're hurting their kids.
He was unhappy in his marriage for a long time and, after the divorce, is eager to start a new life.
Sadly, some fathers feel their obligation is over once their children are grown. They saw their paternal role in a narrow way—to provide financially for the family—and don't understand the emotional impact they have on their adult kids. The adult kids are left feeling hurt and rejected, not realizing how long their dads were miserable.
Even if you're able to wrap your brain around the reason your dad is no longer involved in your life, you'll still be sad. Tell him how you feel (if you haven't already) and then take a step back. If he stays away, please don't take it personally (I know that's easier said than done). There's a lot going on with him that you don't understand. Move forward with your own life. Find new people to love and new challenges to conquer. Don't let this hold you back from a wonderful future!
Question: My dad is a narcissist. Growing up I received a lot of criticism from him and it was really damaging. Recently he has been nice to me and it scares me. I want with all my heart to be close with my dad. What if this is just a phase?
Answer: I'd be cautious about labeling your father a narcissist. That's the “diagnosis du jour” with everyone utterly convinced that their self-absorbed partner, parent, friend, neighbor, or co-worker deserves the title. To know for sure, your dad would have to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
I'm stressing this point because it's far more useful to examine your dad's self-centered behaviors rather than focus on a label. What does he do (or fail to do) that disappoints you? Examples could be: not phoning when he says that he will, not showing up for birthdays and holidays, criticizing your appearance, nitpicking your clothes, complaining about your choices in a career, a boyfriend, or a place to live.
To determine whether or not you should become closer to him, you need to have blunt conversations with your dad. Open up to him about what's tolerable and intolerable in your relationship. Talk about what's hurt you in the past. Ask if he's willing to change his ways. He can't make the relationship better unless he knows what you want to state it clearly. Communication is key.
It's said that past behavior is the strongest indicator of future behavior. Therefore, keep in mind that your father will most likely revert to operating as he always has. You'd be wise, therefore, to keep your expectations low. The writer, Maya Angelou, said: “If someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” When I was a kid, we'd said it this way: “Fooled me once, shame on you. Fooled me twice, shame on me!”
Like all daughters, you want a loving and supportive dad. However, you may have to practice radical acceptance and acknowledge that you don't have one. While that's incredibly painful at first, it eventually becomes incredibly liberating.
Question: My kids were young when I left their father. They have little communication with him. I did remarry and they have a stepfather. He is good to them but a little strict. I feel my youngest daughter has issues of being abandoned by her father. What do you suggest I do about my daughter's feelings of abandonment?
Answer: I commend you for seeing that your daughter is struggling and wanting to help. Hopefully, by being proactive now, you'll prevent serious issues in the future that can plague fatherless daughters such as low self-esteem, promiscuity, and eating disorders. Apologize to her for picking a man to be her father who wasn't a good choice. Be open to any complaints she may have about her stepfather. Keep in mind that you had all the power to choose both men while she had no say. When we have no control over our situation in life, we can get depressed.
It would help immensely if you were honest with your daughter about why her dad isn't involved in her life, whether it's an addiction, selfishness, immaturity, irresponsibility, or low character. Too often parents try to shelter their kids from these harsh realities. However, this is a critical mistake because, without truthful answers, youngsters fill the void with reasons that put the blame on themselves: I was too much trouble. I was unlovable. I wasn't good enough.
It would also help if your daughter stayed focused on school and extracurricular activities. Studies show that teen girls who play sports feel more confident and empowered. They're less likely to get pregnant and more likely to remains virgins. Since fatherless daughters often look for male approval during high school, sports is a great way to counteract that.
Lastly, I recommend all of you attend family counseling together. This is not your daughter's issue but a family issue. Since her stepfather is strict with her, your daughter may be building up a lot of resentment toward him. The therapist may recommend that you handle the discipline, not him. All these group dynamics can be discussed with a professional and your daughter can have a voice in how the family operates so she feels heard, validated, and empowered.
Thanks for being such a caring mom. I wish you and your daughter well.
Question: I’m young and my father is in and out of my life. How do I tell someone how I’m feeling?
Answer: Expressing your feelings about your dad is so incredibly important, and I'm glad you're motivated to do it. Opening up and sharing emotions is so critical for our physical and mental well-being and is part of the human experience. Bottling up our feelings leads to sickness, isolation, and depression.
We're now dealing with an alarming increase in rates of depression and anxiety among teens and even children. This is due, in large part, to young people not communicating with others face-to-face. Instead, they're living in a virtual world of screens where everything is superficial and fake. Young people (and adults) are longing for real connection and communication: face-to-face with eye contact, body language, caresses, and hugs.
Since one in three of us identifies as fatherless, there are many girls and women out there who can empathize with your feelings. Talk to your friends and classmates. Open up to a counselor, a teacher, a female relative or a neighbor. Be honest about your experiences with your father-- how they've impacted your life and how they've made you feel about yourself. If the person can't relate, find someone who can. Don't give up!
Have you tried talking with your mom? She probably has insight into your dad's flaky character and bad behavior. Moms in these situations, however, often get defensive about the role they played in making an irresponsible man a dad. They often feel guilty and aren't always forthcoming with information.
Have you expressed your feelings to your dad? Telling him what you're experiencing and how it makes you feel is valuable for your soul. However, be prepared that it may not change his behavior. He may alter his ways temporarily and then return to his usual patterns. Not all parents are loving, kind, and unselfish. They're only human and can be self-centered, stingy, and driven by their own needs and wants.
When you talk to your father, be clear and honest. Use I messages: I feel frustrated when ...I feel sad because...I feel confused due to...Avoid using statements that will make him defensive, causing him to shut down and stop listening: You always......You don't …You make me...
Unfortunately, some people are not empathetic and can't connect well with another person's feelings. Instead of understanding your emotions, they get frustrated by them. My dad was like that. His rejection of my feelings felt like a rejection of me. As a teen and young adult, I stuffed my feelings with food. In my forties, I numbed them with anti-depressants. Hopefully, your dad will take the time to listen and absorb what you have to say. You can't change another person, but you can seize control of your own life.
I like the saying: “Don't hog your journey. It's not just for you.” By expressing your feelings and opening up, you can get the support you need but also help others. So many of us are wounded from poor relationships with our dads. By talking about it—bringing it out of the shadows—we can help one another. There's so much emphasis these days on girls and women being strong, but I think that's overdone. Being soft and vulnerable and full of emotion is beautiful. We shouldn't be walking around in suits of armor.
Question: My father abandoned us after he got an annulment from my mom. After that, I never saw him. Up until now, I didn't care about seeing him. Now I want to see him and ask him "why?" Why do I feel this way?
Answer: It's natural to be curious about your father's abandonment of you. You might be fantasizing of a scenario where he would say: “I was such a jerk to have left and I'm so incredibly sorry. I was battling an addiction to drugs and I was so ashamed.”
Yet, the truth of the matter is, moms and dads who leave their kids rarely are honest about the reasons why, don't have a lot of insight into their own actions, and probably don't have any kind of answer that will make you feel one bit better. Whatever the excuse is that he offers will most likely sound like BS to you.
You don't mention how old you are, but I'm wondering if you're in your late teens or early twenties. I say this because that's when young people need to be looking forward but often make the mistake of looking backward. It's an age when people have a lot of insecurities about what they're going to do with their lives: college, job training, career plans, housing arrangements, friendships, and romantic relationships. It can be scary and overwhelming. Looking to the past often feels safer and makes it so they don't need to take action. But, ultimately, it's extremely damaging to their futures.
The father who abandoned you is not worthy of your time and attention. You have people in your life who have loved and supported you and they're the ones you should focus on and cherish. There's a saying: “As you think, so shall you be.” Put your thoughts on positive people, goals for the future, and plans for making your life how you wish it to be. The spiritual coach, Iyanla Vanzant, says: “When life removes something from you, it's not helpful to go chase it down and get it back.”
Don't let thoughts of your dad keep you from moving forward. Don't give him power over your life that he doesn't deserve. I wish you the best.
You may want to read my article entitled “5 Steps to Heal Her Pain: How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move on From a Dad's Rejection.”
Question: Should I be there for my father now that he has had health problems even though he was never there for me? I am 37 yrs old and he still rejects me.
Answer: Many of us fatherless daughters (myself included) see a piece of ourselves in your question. We were once at that critical point, too, where we needed to step back from the situation at hand and ask ourselves: When are we ever going to stop being the poor little girl who desperately wants him to be a daddy even though he's incapable of being one? When are we finally going to stop identifying as fatherless daughters, release that longing, and enjoy the present moment? When are we going to cease re-wounding ourselves every time we think he'll be different?
If your dad still rejects you, he may be too wracked with guilt from being an absent parent and, therefore, doesn't believe he's worthy of your help and compassion. He may, perhaps, have other people in his life to assist him or think he deserves to suffer and die alone. Whatever the case, you need to accept that he doesn't want your support. You need to realize it has everything to do with him and nothing to do with you.
It hurts so much because of its finality--that stone-cold reality that you'll never have a loving daddy. You're holding on because you don't want to give that up and admit the truth. This is the time, though, to adopt “radical acceptance” and find peace of mind.
When my father was sick and dying in the hospital, he didn't want to see any of his children and grandchildren because that's who he was. He was no different in death than he had been in life—stubborn, detached, and unloving. There was never going to be the closure that we see in sappy movies with an “I'm sorry” or an “I love you” or a “Please forgive me.” He denied us his emotions in death like he had denied us his emotions in life.
In this situation, there's more power in letting go than in continuing to hold on. You need to accept that you can't have what you want and move forward with people who love and appreciate you and desire a reciprocal relationship. Take care!
Question: My mom and I left an abusive relationship when I was 10. Now, many years later, my stepdad walked out on us. I feel like I can't be loved or have a father. How do I cope with my absent fathers? I feel constant grief and blame myself.
Answer: This is a defining moment for you. You can make a choice now to do what so many of us fatherless daughters did (myself included) and continue to feel sad about not having a dad for years (and even decades) to come. You can use it as an excuse for all your failures and weaknesses: bad relationships, poor school performance, low self-esteem, crappy body image, and lack of motivation.
If you want to learn from those of us who came before you, though, you can start practicing radical acceptance now. Instead of lamenting until the end of your days that you don't have a father figure, you take it in and get on with your life. You can focus on all the blessings you have (family, friends, hobbies, passions) instead of giving too much importance to what (or whom) you lack.
Don't turn your power over to these men. Instead, claim it for yourself. Use this quote from the author, Wes Moore, as a mantra: “Don't let people that don't matter too much, matter too much.”
If you're truly in “constant grief” as you say (perhaps, you're being melodramatic), you need to see a counselor at school or a therapist in private practice. You have some faulty thinking and need a professional to help you see things straight. Your mother has made some bad choices with men, and you're in no way to blame. You had no say in the decisions that she's made and the guys she's brought into your life.
The empowering part of this, though, is you can learn from her mistakes and do better. As you grow up, you take the reins of your life and create what you want. However, you need to be laying the groundwork for that now by working hard at school, making plans for the future, constructing a strong mind, body, and soul, and developing meaningful friendships. You just don't have time to have a prolonged pity party about these men!
Please open up to a professional about your feelings. You're stuck now in the dark and need some help to see the light.
Question: What can I do to help my daughter understand that her dad went to work in another country?
Answer: I hope that this is just a short-term temporary solution, and Dad plans to be a part of her life. Otherwise, your daughter will continue to suffer because of his absence. While earning a living is certainly important, keeping the family together is even more critical. Hopefully, the two of you can brainstorm other solutions that aren't so drastic and detrimental to your daughter's emotional well-being.
You didn't say how old she is. If she's little, put a big calendar on the refrigerator. Have her X out each day until her father returns home. This will serve as a visual reminder of the days passing. Telling a child who is younger than 7 that daddy will be home in two weeks or two months means nothing to them since they have little or no concept of time.
More importantly, let your daughter express her emotions, especially her sadness, jealousy, anger, and hurt. These are all perfectly normal under the circumstances. Listen compassionately without judgment or commentary. Then, repeat back what she said in your own words, focusing on her feelings. For example: “I hear you saying that you're envious of your friends with dads who take them to the park and dance class. You wish that your father could do the same.”
Keep communication going between her and her dad by Skyping, phoning texting, e-mailing, writing letters, and sending packages. Encourage her to create cards and drawings for him.
Make sure her dad knows that he means much more than a paycheck. While we downplay the importance of fathers in today's society, there's no doubt that kids are better off with involved ones in their lives. Sadly, some dads simply don't know how consequential they are to their children's mental and emotional health. Make certain that her dad knows.
I wish you and your daughter well with this. Hopefully, you'll all be together again soon.
Question: How can I cope without seeing my dad?
Answer: Learning to cope involves acceptance. Realize that you'll feel sad sometimes as a fatherless daughter and know that's perfectly normal. I've spoken to dozens of women in their 60's and 70's who still feel melancholy about it and will until the day they die.
The well-adjusted ones, though, acknowledge their sadness but don't succumb to it. They don't let their status as fatherless daughters define who they are, limit their potential, or give them an excuse for not becoming their best selves. They appreciate the family members and friends who are a part of their lives rather than obsessing over the one who wasn't.
The best way to cope with being a fatherless daughter is to develop an attitude of gratitude like Oprah Winfrey and many other successful people recommend. Instead of focusing on what you're lacking, concentrate on all your blessings. Oprah has made it a habit to write down three things she's thankful for each day. She has said, “I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become.”
You'll feel much better about your life when you seize control. You have no power over the situation with your dad, but you do over many other areas. Focus on learning more, getting physically and emotionally stronger, developing your spirituality, becoming a good friend, and being a contributing member of society. There's nothing like volunteering at a school, a homeless shelter, the humane society, a hospital, or a soup kitchen to get out of your despair, appreciate what you have, and experience the numerous benefits that come from helping others.
If you're struggling, take this opportunity to see a therapist. It's a wonderful investment in yourself and your future. The therapist will give you coping skills and help you look at things with a new, healthier perspective. Take care!
Question: I never met my father because my mother divorced him before I was born. He knew little English, and she had met him in another country. As a little kid, I didn't think much of it. I would get somewhat gloomy when it was Father's Day. Now that I think about it more, I was always shy. I'm also very sensitive and emotional. I feel like I always need someone there with me and I have difficulty with being alone and isolated. Could him being absent have an affect on my emotional state?
Answer: It sounds like you're feeling sad about not having a dad and need to grieve the loss of this man you never knew. If you don't, you may get stuck, feel depressed, and not move forward to create a beautiful life. Consider why this issue is affecting you now and if you're using it to avoid taking the next necessary steps in life. Iyanla Vanzant, the spiritual counselor, said something so powerful in regards to this that so many of us fatherless daughters need to hear: “There is no greater battle in life than the battle between the parts of you that want to be healed and the parts of you that are comfortable and content remaining broken.”
Being a fatherless daughter has become so common in our society that many of its negative consequences get ignored or downplayed. There are countless studies, though, that reveals how damaging it can be to our overall emotional well-being. The father-daughter bond is one of the most significant relationships that a girl will ever have. It's the foundation for all future male-female interactions whether they're romantic, business, or social.
An involved, loving dad contributes immensely to his daughter's feelings of self-worth. His encouragement makes her more confident and willing to take risks. She can go out in the world--stumble, face rejection, and take some hits—but know full well that daddy will be there to offer comfort, support and push her to try again. This is extremely beneficial to a young woman, especially as she starts to date and forge a career path. Having grown up with a father, she understands how men express themselves emotionally and how it differs from women. Therefore, she feels comfortable and confident in the company of both genders.
Your shyness is a symptom of low self-esteem but can be remedied with time and effort. By going to therapy, you'll gain tools to make social interactions less stressful and more enjoyable. By putting yourself out there in the public arena, again and again, you'll eventually feel more at ease. We fatherless daughters face obstacles. Our awareness, though, gives us an opportunity to seek help and overcome them.
Question: I am constantly afraid that there are some fields in life in which I am bad at compared to others because I am fatherless. What might I be better at than girls from "normal" families? Could I be stronger in handling emotional issues for being a fatherless daughter?
Answer: Your question reveals what many of us fatherless daughters (myself included) have struggled with mightily through the years: not knowing ourselves. So many of us don't perceive our strengths and weaknesses, acknowledge our likes and dislikes, and understand what we're passionate about and what leaves us cold. Because our dads were either physically or emotionally absent, they didn't act as mirrors for us, reflecting back who we were.
A child with an involved mom and dad has two loving parents who act as mirrors, helping her build a positive self-image. They are attuned to her inner life, knowing when she's frustrated, angry, lonely, or depressed. They help her acknowledge and deal with these emotions. They give feedback on her school work, her relationships with friends, and her abilities in sports, clubs, and hobbies. They talk with her about areas in which she's sure-footed and those in which she needs to improve. They praise her talents and encourage her to persevere when facing challenges.
Dads are especially valuable when they support their daughters in taking risks and trying new things. These daughters are willing to do so, confident their fathers love them unconditionally even when they fail. Knowing this gives them incredible courage, security, and a powerful sense of self. Many of us fatherless daughters are lacking in those areas.
It sounds like you need to build up your self-esteem and get to know yourself better. Discover what you're good at and what you enjoy doing. Through trial and error, you'll find your place in the world and where you can contribute. As a fatherless daughter, you probably have a lot of empathy for others who struggle with feeling unlovable and unworthy. You probably connect with these people in a profound way, which is a marvelous skill to have.
As fatherless daughters, though, we must focus on ourselves, fill our own cups, and heal our past before we're able to help others. We cannot give away what we don't have. If we try to do so, we wind up being drained and diminished.
This is an exciting time to find out who you are. Take classes, read, and study. Try different jobs and internships. Volunteer. Explore the things that bring you joy. The author, Joseph Campbell, wrote, “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” So enjoy this journey to self-discovery!
Question: How can my child's father go years without seeing his kids? I just don’t understand how a parent can go that long without their kids and be fine.
Answer: A father who goes that long without seeing his kids is not fine, and suffers from profound flaws in his character. He may be staying away because he thinks his children are better off without him. He could be drinking, abusing drugs, gambling, womanizing, overworking, or overspending. He may be staying away because he's suffering from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. He could be staying away because he's a narcissist who's focusing on his own needs and not those of anyone else.
There's a popular adage that goes: “ You can't keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” As fatherless daughters, we need to stop focusing on why our fathers abandoned us and start focusing on our lives in the here-and-now. We will never get an adequate explanation that relinquishes our dads of their parental responsibilities or absolves them for all the pain they've caused us.
Unfortunately, having a child doesn't automatically turn people into warm and loving parents. It doesn't erase the lives they had before a baby came—a time when they may have been abused, neglected, or made to feel worthless. Those early years may have left them without the foundation necessary to be competent and caring parents. Most certainly, not everyone has it in them to be a mom or dad. Parenting is a job that requires tremendous selflessness and sacrifice, and not everyone is up to the task.
When we weren't given the straight scoop as to why our dads were absent during our childhoods, we filled in the gaps with horrible stories in which we blamed ourselves: I was unlovable... I was too much trouble...I got on his nerves...As adults, we may make the stories even worse: I wasn't even worth a visit once a month...He found time for fishing, but he never found time for me...I must have been so disgusting to him that he wouldn't even introduce me to his new wife.
We grow up with a false narrative running through our heads, creating tremendous shame and sadness. We think our dad rejected us because we were flawed when, in fact, he was the deeply flawed one who couldn't handle his responsibilities and was incapable of being a loving parent. We can get stuck, ruminating about why our dads weren't with there for us. When we do this, though, we don't enjoy the beautiful folks in our lives now who deserve more of our time, energy, and appreciation than that guy who left. As adults, it's our opportunity to write a new story for our lives, and we have the power to make it a positive one.
I feel your pain in the question you asked. I certainly identify with it as do so many other women. Take good care of yourself. I wish you much peace and joy.
Question: How can I heal from growing up without my dad?
Answer: As a fellow fatherless daughter, I hope you can learn from my many failed attempts to heal from having an absent dad. I've been in therapy. I've taken anti-depressants, and I've worked on my inner-child. What I've learned from all that is I'll never completely mend from my hurt. There will never be a magical moment when I say, “Hurrah! It's all behind me and I'm perfectly fine. I'm cured.” It's just not going to happen. You just need to take one day at a time, be grateful for all you have, and look to the future, not the past. Every day is an opportunity to be good to yourself by exercising, eating healthy foods, being in nature, meditating, praying, writing in a journal, and being open with friends.
It's only when I reached my 50's that I became sick and tired of spending so much time and energy on the heartache I felt as a fatherless daughter. My dad was long gone, but I still ruminated about him every day and blamed him for everything that went wrong in my life. I made the conscious choice at that time to not waste one more precious minute thinking about him and wishing things had been different. My mantra became: “You will never have peace until you accept reality.”
What helped me is discovering the term “fatherless daughter” and realizing it wasn't used just for girls whose dads had died. It also included girls like I was whose dads were present in our homes but emotionally detached for various reasons: alcoholism, drug use, mental illness, marital affairs, or being a workaholic. Claiming this term, I no longer felt so alone, and I became more comfortable opening up about my situation to other women.
I had felt so much shame because my dad had called me degrading names when I was a kid, and I was convinced nobody else had ever experienced that. But I was wrong. Quite a number of women I met had the same experience as I did, and we bonded over that pain and comforted one another. One woman, who's now a good friend of mine, said to me, “No child ever deserves to be called names,” and with those words, my shame was lifted. I had always known that was true in my heart of hearts, but someone else saying it with such conviction made all the difference in the world.
While it's unrealistic to think you'll completely heal from having an absent father, you have the power today to change your life forever. Oprah Winfrey said, “I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become” so focus on the positives in your life. Don't let being a fatherless daughter become your identity. Make the world a better place by volunteering to help people or animals. When you start helping others, you'll feel a lot better. I know I did.
Take good care of yourself and open up to others. You'll be amazed by how many wonderful fatherless daughters you'll meet that way.
Question: How can I improve? I know in my mind that my father doesn't hate me; he just never connected with me. And ever since mom died, there has been no effort to. He never told me he was going to propose to my stepmother. I found out after. It's like I've never been a part of his life, especially since then. He's involved in my stepmom's family. I'm tired of being around, hoping for a relationship.
Answer: Sometimes we fatherless daughters need to get so thoroughly sick and tired of the situation before we're motivated to make a change. Sometimes that takes years and, sadly, sometimes it takes decades. In your question, you have all the answers you need and show real insight. Now you just need the courage to make some real concrete changes in your life. You need the determination to make the best possible future for yourself instead of wallowing in the past.
“He just never connected with me.” That's exactly right. Through no fault of yours, he didn't take the time and make an effort to form a parent-child bond with you. When that isn't established in the early years, it's nearly impossible to construct it later. The feelings aren't there. He may be dealing with so much shame and guilt from the bad choices he's made that he just wants to forget it all, including you. You are a reminder of how he's failed.
“He's involved in my stepmom's family.” This is a common phenomenon. For the most part, women set up the social life of the couple, and the men go along with it. Your dad is loyal to the woman he shares a bed with and, if she puts her family first, he's fine with it. He gets sex from her, so he's not about to make waves. He's content with the situation. He's not longing to be with you like you're longing to be with him. That's the cold, hard reality staring you in the face. In situations like this, I'm helped by the mantra: “If you don't accept reality, you'll never have peace.”
When I was a kid, my grandfather got remarried in his 60's. He'd been involved in our lives marginally but, once he was with this new woman, we rarely saw him (only on major holidays). He was totally caught up in his new wife's world: her daughter, her grandchildren, her friends, and her interests. My siblings and I didn't care, but my mother was devastated by the rejection and was constantly complaining about it. Instead of enjoying what she had, she obsessed about what she didn't. When my grandfather's wife eventually died, he came back into my mom's life. Then she constantly complained about how thoroughly annoying he was!
The moral of that story is we often want what we can't have. Then, when we get it, we realize it wasn't so great after all. I think there's a good chance you would discover that about your father if you were able to spend a lot of time with him. The idea of him is much more desirable than the reality.
“I get nothing.” That tells you all you need to know. It's time to focus on the future. Make new friends. Start new relationships. Pursue a new hobby. Take classes at the local community college. Learn a new sport. Adopt a pet. Develop a deep spiritual life. Volunteer in your community. Make a difference in the life of a child. You have so much to offer the world. Don't waste any more of your life on your dad. Make a plan and take concrete steps to move forward. Best to you!
Question: What can I do to cope with knowing my father abandoned me?
Answer: You need to acknowledge the hurt his abandonment caused you and grieve the loss of a father. If you don't deal with your sadness, anger, and resentment now, you will regret it down the road. Bottling up our feelings can lead to serious health issues such as obesity, depression, anxiety, headaches, stress, and heart disease. Running from your pain can lead you to make bad choices with men as you try to repair your past with your dad. It can also cause you to numb yourself with drugs or alcohol. Take time to deal with your emotions now, so you don't spend the rest of your life as the wounded little girl whose daddy left her.
Grieve by writing in a journal, writing letters to your father (but not sending them), and talking with women who can empathize with your situation. Our mothers are often the worst people to talk to about this matter. Because they're defensive about picking the wrong guy, they can trivialize our anguish. They might tell us to “buck up” and appreciate all the good people in our lives and not focus on the one who's not there. Minimizing our suffering can make us feel even worse.
You also need to accept that your father was a broken man and forgive him. Right now he has way too much power over your life--this weak guy who ran away from his responsibilities as a parent. By doing so, he took away much of your innocence and hope. Forgive him and don't let him take any more from you. Albert Einstein said there is one essential question we must all ask ourselves: “Do I live in a friendly or hostile universe?”
Don't let your dad's bad behavior blind to all the beauty around you. Don't let it make you hard and bitter. Keep your heart open, stay soft, and remain vulnerable. Dr. Brene Brown says vulnerability is our greatest strength and “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Too many of us fatherless daughters (myself included) close ourselves off so we won't get hurt again. We miss out on so many opportunities for love, joy, and adventure because we're protecting our hearts.
Resolve at this very moment that you will create a fabulous life for yourself, not defined by your dad's absence. Embrace nature. Embrace spirituality. Embrace your feelings. Embrace quiet times. Embrace your future!
Question: My father didn’t want me when my mother told him that she was pregnant. He left her and instead created a family with another woman. He has four other beautiful daughters. How do I get past the pain of feeling ignored and not wanted? How do I trust people without having the fear of one day they will leave me as well?
Answer: We fatherless daughters never totally get over the pain of our dad's neglect, and we must be conscious not to make it our identity. We don't need to marinate in the hurt of that early rejection and become victims of it. We can choose to move away from our suffering and find peace. We can decide to be open, loving, and vulnerable instead of wearing a suit of armor, so we don't get wounded again.
Many of us (myself included) have tried to numb the hurt with alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medication but discovered those solutions were self-destructive and temporary. Acknowledging our agony and dealing with it in constructive ways (writing about it, talking about it, getting angry about it) is the path to healing. Some of us have also confronted the deep (but undeserved) shame we felt from having a dad who didn't love us. That was certainly true in my case.
You're doing a wonderful job of acknowledging your sad feelings, identifying the source of them, and putting them in perspective. This awareness is a valuable asset as you maneuver life and relationships. You have that internal voice that can talk you through difficult situations with cognitive insight: “I'm feeling insecure on this date. I know it's because of my history as a fatherless daughter. That, however, doesn't define who I am. I'm going to enjoy this time and be fully present in the moment. I'm banishing my dad from this date!”
You'll begin to trust others when you build up trust in yourself. When you experience life fully and don't hide from its hardships, you'll inevitably have friendships and romantic relationships that end. You'll discover that you can handle the heartache, and you won't fall apart into a million little pieces. Yes, you'll suffer like we all do, but you'll survive. You'll get over it eventually and be ready to try again. Dr. Brene Brown says this about those of us who risk getting hurt: “The brokenhearted are the bravest among us because they dared to love somebody.”
By getting through these tough times, you'll develop an abiding trust in yourself. You won't be so fearful of what the other person will do because you can handle whatever comes your way. There's a saying that goes “you can't give away what you don't have.” You won't be able to trust others until you've learned to trust yourself.
I know you're on your way to a wonderful life. You'll definitely encounter people who won't deserve your trust as we all do. But, when you trust yourself, you'll be able to cope. Take care!
Question: I think my father leaving has affected me more than I realized since most of these points are correct. But how do I move past it? How do I let it go and fix the issues I create for myself?
Answer: Having an awareness that you were negatively impacted by being a fatherless daughter is extremely important. A dad—an early and primal part of a child's life—was absent (for whatever reason) and this shaped the person you became. When you accept that reality, you realize how critical it is that you care for yourself. You must be mindful and avoid the destructive patterns that plague many fatherless daughters: developing eating disorders, marrying too young, suffering from depression, struggling with low self-esteem, dating unsuitable men in a futile attempt to “fix” the relationship with your dad, etc.
Some of the hardest women I've ever met are fatherless daughters who won't admit their dad's absence has hurt them. They have built up a tough exterior and showed no vulnerability, but they're fooling no one. It's a horrible way to go through life—so-self-protected and scared. If only they would open up, express their sadness, grieve their loss, connect with other fatherless daughters, and move forward, they could lead much happier lives. It was only when I accepted how much my dad's neglect had hurt me that I was finally able to lose weight, exercise regularly, go to the doctor and dentist, and take pride in my appearance. Before that, I just didn't care enough about myself to do those things.
We've all heard the expression “you need to mother yourself,” meaning to be kind, gentle, and nurturing. We fatherless daughters need to “father ourselves,” meaning we need to do things that build our self-discipline, strength, and self-esteem. If our dads had been involved in our lives, we probably would have grown up to be more confident women—taking risks, failing, getting up, and trying again. Since we didn't have involved dads, we need to do that for ourselves--pushing ourselves to try new things, experiencing successes, and increasing our self-confidence.
I recently started a self-defense class that helps me feel more powerful. I'm doing it for myself, developing the self-discipline and self-focus that I've never had. I set aside time each day to practice. I keep my uniform clean and ironed. I do mental exercises along with the physical ones. I set goals for myself and work hard to achieve them. I get distracted by other obligations--my kids, my husband, my job, and my 80-year-old mother—but this new discipline helps me stay in the moment. I feel in control and that's something fatherless daughters don't experience often.
Question: My father left my mother and me when I was a baby. We tried to develop a relationship when I was around thirteen, but that ended very badly (due to both sides, not just his) and that was the last I heard from him until now. I am a twenty-five-year-old woman, and we have been texting a lot the last few weeks. I'm confused. I don't think he has a conscious desire to hurt me. What do I say or how do I act at this point?
Answer: It's perfectly natural that you don't know what to say or how to act because you and your dad never established a parent-child bond. He's 100 percent responsible for this lack of connection since he abandoned you as a baby. That was completely irresponsible of him, and now he must live with the consequences.
He's a stranger to you with no shared memories, no shared experiences of good times and bad, and no emotional link. You'll never develop a parent-child bond because it's too late for that. If you're interested, you could form another kind of bond. That's entirely up to you. You don't owe him anything. It's not your job to make him feel okay about the mistakes he's made.
At 25 you want to be looking ahead in your expansive windshield, not behind you in a tiny rear-view mirror. You have your whole life ahead of you—full of possibilities, adventures, and loving, meaningful relationships. Your dad has already proven again and again that he's not a good bet for a significant relationship and you'll probably get hurt again. Do you want to continue this pattern of him coming in and out of your life or do you want to end it? Do you want to be fifty-years-old and still lamenting his flakiness? If you have children of your own, do you trust him to contribute something of value to their lives as a grandfather? Only you can decide.
Please understand that you weren't responsible for the relationship ending badly when you were 13. Again, that's entirely on your dad. He was not there for you during the early years, and no parent-child bond was established. Most daughters are difficult at thirteen. We have our periods and get hormonal and emotional. Good fathers understand this, brace themselves, and are man enough to take what comes.
Your dad ran away from his responsibilities once again and left you feeling like you were to blame in some way. You were not. You were just a kid. Do not shoulder that burden. If you become a mother one day, you will understand that a decent parent stands by their child through it all—even the roller-coaster teen years! It's all part of being a parent.
You have some big decisions to make. It's a good time to talk to your mom, your friends, and other people in your circle whom you respect.
Question: The last time I saw my dad was when I was two. I now have a step-dad, but he's never home and he acts like everything is fine. He and my mom are on the verge of a divorce. He is absent almost entirely and he always has been this way. I'm struggling with trusting any guy and I don't know what a good man is like. How do I get past this and be able to determine good men from bad men?
Answer: It's fabulous that you're thinking about this now before you get stuck in a life-long pattern of picking the wrong guy and being miserable. These decisions don't exist in a vacuum; they're influenced by our personal histories, fears, and inadequacies. We're drawn to what we've known from childhood. Sometimes we want to fix our past and sometimes we simply want what's familiar, no matter how awful. That's why children of alcoholics may marry a drunk or drug user. That's why we fatherless daughters might marry men who withhold love and affection.
My 80-year-old mother has been in a relationship with a man for the past 18 years. It's uncanny how she picked the exact same model as my deceased dad: emotionally unavailable, critical, and self-centered. Instead of examining her previous bad decisions and re-calibrating, she chose once again what she knew. She never took the time to heal, get stronger, learn about herself, and weigh what what she truly wanted in a guy. It sounds like your mother may have a habit of picking the wrong men as well. Congratulations for being resolute about changing this in your own life!
Like all of us fatherless daughters, you were damaged from the experience and you need to heal. Don't focus on finding a romantic partner but concentrate on yourself. Take the time to grieve the loss of the father you never knew and the stepdad who was largely absent. Forgive them and resolve to build a good life for yourself. Read, study, and learn. Plan for the future. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. Develop a spiritual practice. Exercise, spend time in nature, and cultivate meaningful friendships. Most of all, develop your self-worth by doing challenging things and impressing yourself.
When you become an accomplished person, you'll no longer be that damaged little girl looking for a daddy. You'll no longer be looking for a man to heal your hurt from childhood. You'll be a confident adult women looking for a suitable match—someone who can give and receive love, someone who's trustworthy and responsible, someone who will be there for you and your kids--both physically and emotionally.
So...put looking for a guy on hold and work on yourself. Have a myriad of life experiences and get to know men as friends, teachers, colleagues, and mentors. You'll start to see that there are so many fantastic ones out there, and your vision will be forever expanded from the narrow, jaded one you had as a kid. You'll gain a mature perspective and be ready to choose a partner as an adult woman, not a wounded girl.
Be patient. Believe me, your day will come!
Question: My father died when I was a baby. My stepdad does not want me. He told me to get out. Was I not good enough for either of them? Will I always feel this pain? I am fourteen-years-old. I really want a father, but he does not want me.
Answer: Feeling rejected is one of the most difficult things we humans must endure, and I'm sorry you're going through this. However, please realize that your father's death, while a massive loss in your life, was in no way a rejection of you. You'll always feel the sadness from his absence and wonder what your life would be like if he had lived, but you should never feel unloved by him. What you say to yourself—how you frame your life story—is so incredibly important. Please don't say your father rejected you when he most definitely did not.
As for your stepfather, I don't know the circumstances there. I hope you have a loving mother who's standing by you. As a parent myself, I know how much responsibility it takes to care for children and some people, unfortunately, aren't up to the task. They're too immature, too lazy, too needy, or too irresponsible to handle it. They may be dealing with addiction problems, financial issues, depression, or a midlife crisis. Again, this is not a reflection on you but on your stepdad. You're only 14 so don't take on the burden for the choices adults in your life make.
It would be extremely beneficial for you to talk to a counselor at school. When we talk about heavy issues such as rejection, it lightens our load, and we don't feel so alone and afraid. We get a new and healthier perspective. Reaching out for help is a way to make yourself a priority. You have your whole life ahead of you with so many things to learn and adventures to have. You don't want to stay trapped in this emotional state where you feel unworthy. Take care!
Question: How do I learn to love the child within that my father never did?
Answer: For fatherless daughters like you and me, not treating ourselves well is a common problem that can plague our lives and bring great misery. The unwarranted shame we feel from our dad's rejection often makes us feel unworthy of having fun times, supportive friendships, and loving relationships. The mere fact that you're aware of that and want to change it is huge. Otherwise, you might spend decades engaging in self-destructive behaviors like I did without knowing why.
When we truly accept that our dad's rejection had everything to do with him and nothing to do with us, we can move forward with our lives. There will probably never be a magical moment when we say, “Hey, I love myself and I'm going to start treating myself better.” Instead, we need to just do it, engaging in specific behaviors each and every day and never putting ourselves on the back-burner again. These behaviors, in turn, will generate feelings of self-worth and well-being that become addictive, and we'll want to do more.
Make a list of 50 things that bring you pleasure and peace. When I did this several years ago, I could only think of one: eating. I knew at that moment my life was out of balance and needed a total overhaul. Food had become my answer for dealing with everything—providing relaxation, relieving stress, alleviating boredom and, most of all, numbing my feelings about my dad.
Today, my list includes walking my dog, reading novels, gardening, visiting nurseries, drinking tea, writing in my journal, calling a friend, running on the treadmill, and painting with watercolors. Each day I make a point of doing three things on my list, which is prominently displayed by my work desk. I now start my day by sipping a cup of tea and then meeting a friend for a walk around the neighborhood with our dogs. I have these things to look forward to each day instead of just trudging through my life like I once did.
I finally got sick and tired of how much my father's absence had taken from me—how many hours I spent longing for it to be different and wanting to fix it. Now I don't want to waste any more precious minutes of my life going over it in my head. I want to move forward and enjoy a beautiful existence. The spiritual teacher and author, Eckhart Tolle, says the main cause of stress and anxiety in our lives is caused by wanting things to be different than they are. When I accepted that my dad was not a good dad, I finally had peace, stopped living in the past, and began living in the here-and-now.
Best of everything to you on your journey forward. Every kind thing you do for yourself now will help heal that inner child. She wants you to be happy and so do I!
Question: I started knowing my father at age eleven. I thought he would be excited to have us as part of his life, but he has phases. We don't talk much, and we only do so when I initiate the conversation. He claims that he cares about us, but he barely does anything for me, my brother, or my mother. Am I pushing too hard?
Answer: If you want your father in your life, you must accept him in “as is” condition. He's who he is and isn't going to change. That means you make a choice. Do you want to keep him, realizing his limitations and enjoying the little bit he has to offer, or would you instead let him go because his indifference is causing you too much hurt? Only you can decide what's right for you.
I'd stop pushing and focus on other areas of your life: friendships, education, career, hobbies, volunteer opportunities, exercise, and nature. It's easy for us fatherless daughters to become obsessed with what we don't have—our dad's love and attention—and not enjoy all the marvelous things we do have. It's ironic that in their absence our fathers' presence can loom so large in our lives. Our longing for them can blind us to the abundance of love, beauty, and opportunity in the world.
Most importantly, build a strong relationship with yourself and enjoy your own company. Don't think anyone—your dad, a boyfriend, a child—is necessary to make you happy and complete. When you're ready to have a romantic partner, you don't want to repeat the pattern you're now experiencing with your dad: pursuing a reluctant guy. If you feel confident and happy in your skin, you'll attract a partner who can give and receive love wholeheartedly and not be stingy like your father. Investing in yourself now will pay off in the future with healthy, balanced relationships.
Don't think your dad's behavior makes you unlovable. That's certainly not the case. He has demons from his past that keep him from being a caring and involved father today. A person can't give away what they don't have, and it seems your father doesn't have much love to spare.
Focus on yourself and all that you have, not what you lack. Value yourself and all you have to offer.
Question: What are some steps for healing when a father was forced out of a child’s life by mother?
Answer: Since your mother forced your father to be an absent dad, you have a lot of healing to do and may want to consult a therapist. That's a lot of pain to confront on your own, and a professional can guide you through this rough terrain. If you're angry with your mom for keeping you and your dad apart, you may be experiencing profound hurt as if you've lost both parents. If your mom is willing, you could invite her to join you in the therapy. Then the two of you can talk through things, see the other one's perspective, and move forward in your relationship.
The best case scenario would be that your mother forced your father out to protect you from him. Perhaps, he had a drug addiction, a drinking problem, run-ins with the law, or was simply a bad role model for you. If that's the case, you need to accept her decision and not hold it against her. She was acting out of love for you and was concerned about your best interest. She did what she believed was right at the time. Communicate with her and clear the air.
However, if she made your father an absent dad out of spite or revenge, it will be difficult to forgive her. She'll need to show true remorse and acknowledge the pain she's caused you. Otherwise, you may not want her in your life (at least temporarily) while you make sense of things and find peace of mind.
To begin healing, you'll need to forgive your mother—not for her sake but for your own. If you have bitter feelings toward her, they will corrupt all areas of your life. Holding a grudge against your mother will make you a prisoner of the past, preventing you from enjoying the present. You can't change history, but you can relish every day with the ones you love in the here-and-now. Forgiveness doesn't mean you need to keep her in your life. You'll need to make that decision based on the totality of your relationship, not just based on one thing.
Understanding your unique story and putting it in perspective will help you heal as well. When I looked at my family's past, I saw how my mom played a big role in my father's emotional detachment. Her father wasn't involved when she was growing up, so she had always seen dads as non-essential. As long as my father supported us financially, she was okay with it. My mom and dad made a deal that worked for them as a couple but proved extremely deleterious for their kids.
Question: Can later contact with an absentee father make up for the early years when the dad was absent?
Answer: If your father was absent during your early years, it's quite possible the two of you will never develop a close parent-child bond. You might enjoy a decent relationship but never see him as a paternal figure. This is quite normal and to be expected since he wasn't there during those crucial early years when you were incredibly vulnerable and dependent. He didn't establish himself as someone who could be trusted and relied upon when you needed him to provide security.
Since a warm, loving attachment wasn't formed in those early years, you may suffer the same negative consequences that other fatherless daughters do. This is true even though your dad eventually re-entered your life. It's important, therefore, that you're aware of these pitfalls and work hard to avoid them.
Since you asked this question, I assume you're struggling with some of the problems fatherless daughters face. Your awareness and insight can help you make healthier choices for your life. Because I grew up with my dad in our home, I never considered the possibility that my relationship with him (or lack, thereof) was the source of my struggles with low self-esteem, negative body image, depression, and anxiety.
It wasn't until I was in my forties and teaching kindergarten that I started to make that connection. I'd see fathers bringing their daughters to and from school: talking with them, hugging and kissing them, and showering them with attention and affection. While it was a beautiful thing to behold, it also made me terribly sad and even tear up at times. I hadn't experienced anything remotely like that with my father. I realized how much I had missed and how it had hurt me.
One in three women identities herself as a fatherless daughter. Some had dads who died. Others lost the connection with their fathers because of divorce, alcoholism, drug dependency, or mental illness. Other had emotionally absent dads as I did. We came to it in different ways but the effects are largely the same.
Question: My dad was so nice to me. I don't know the reasons why my parents divorced. Sometimes I feel empty, have low self-esteem, and am depressed. Can you give me some advice or solutions?
Answer: It's not unusual to get depressed when you're in a situation where you feel powerless. This certainly could be the case with you as your parents divorced and you experienced a loss of control over your life. Your powerlessness increased by not receiving an explanation from your mom and dad about why the divorce even happened.
To lift your spirits, you need to take charge. It's important you sit your parents down and discuss why the divorce happened in the first place. While they don't need to reveal all the intimate details, they do need to explain the big picture of why their marriage crumbled. For you to feel optimistic about your future (falling in love, getting married, having children of your own), you need to know that these things don't just happen; there were concrete choices they made that led to the end of their union. They must take responsibility for their actions and how those actions impacted you.
In what other ways is life making you feel powerless? Are you bouncing back and forth between your mom and dad? Are your parents involved with new romantic partners and you must now reluctantly interact with these new folks? Are your grades suffering because you're upset about the divorce?
This would be an excellent time to speak with a counselor at school about your situation and how it's making you feel. Just talking about our sadness and confusion can make us feel better and lighten our load. Opening up to friends who also have divorced parents would help you feel connected and not so alone.
I have struggled with depression most of my life and the thing that helps me the most is exercise. If I don't move my body vigorously every day, I feel down. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are also key. I recently eliminated sugar and meat and felt much better.
Please take back some power in your life and talk to your parents about the divorce. They've probably been so caught up in their drama that they haven't fully realized its effect on you. Make yourself a priority during this difficult time by reading, meditating, and spending time in nature. It will get better, but you have to take control.
Question: My father abandoned me when I was nine. How do I overcome a decade-long hatred of him and his “new daughter?"
Answer: It's quite understandable to have anger and pain over this situation, and I'm sorry you're going through this. It's healthy for you to feel that rage, talk about it with others, and let it out in constructive ways (intense exercise, writing, dancing, listening to music, painting, martial arts). Bottling up your fury can lead to physical and psychological problems so be sure to let it out on a regular basis for your well-being.
When I went to see a therapist after being overwhelmed with sadness, she told me that depression is anger turned inward. I didn't know how to deal with my hostile feelings about my dad, so I directed the hurt at myself. I suffered for many years because I didn't understand the source of my pain. You're fortunate to have more insight than I did. With that understanding, you can propel yourself forward.
Have you talked with your father directly, explaining your hurt over his rejection? This is an important step to take, irrespective of how he responds. Most people don't take it well when they're accused of something. They get defensive and often turn it around and blame the victim. It's still important, though, that you let your voice be heard using “I messages.” Give him an opportunity to explain his perspective and get a healthy dialogue going.
While your anger is understandable, after 9-10 years of feeling this hatred, it's time to say “enough!” You don't want to get stuck here. You want your fury to mobilize you to build relationships, have adventures, learn more, do more, volunteer to help others, and develop a deep spiritual life with meditation, prayer, and time spent in nature. You need to appreciate your value as a human being and not see your dad's choices as a reflection of your worth.
My father has long since died, but I had given him way too much power over my life. I let his emotional absence affect the way I saw myself and how I interacted in the world. Now, I look back all these years later and wonder why my dad loomed so large when, in reality, he was a very flawed and damaged person who didn't have much to offer me or anyone else.
It's said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. Don't focus on what's outside of your control; focus on you. Make a conscious effort to let the anger and hatred go and let peace and love into your life. Don't let your dad be in charge of your emotions. You take charge.
Question: My dad was a substance abuser and left when I was baby. I saw him on and off as he spent a lot of time in jail. Over the past two years, we became closer than ever. He was clean and things were going well. Sadly, he was diagnosed with C last year and his recovery was rough. He started using again and was found dead. Since then, I have started to doubt my partner's (of fourteen years) loyalty and am convinced he is having a relationship at work. It's like my mind is playing tricks on me. Is this normal?
Answer: First, let me express my condolences on your father's death. That was an especially cruel blow to endure as the two of you were grower closer. As we go through the grieving process (combined with not sleeping well, not eating right, and not taking care of ourselves), it's not unusual for our thoughts to become negative and distorted. You're fortunate, though, because you're conscious of this happening and can, therefore, take action to correct it.
For us fatherless daughters, grieving our dads can be confusing as we experience a myriad of emotions. We feel sadness and hopelessness over the actual loss but also over the loss of what could have been. We may feel rage and resentment that our fathers were never the loving daddies we needed them to be. There's a finality to it as we're forced to accept we'll never have what we so desperately wanted.
Shortly after my father died, my son was diagnosed with autism. This double whammy sent me into a tailspin of despair. I still have the journal I kept during that period and, boy, were my thoughts off the wall! I wrote paragraph after paragraph about my husband (who is a wonderful man) plotting to destroy my life even though nothing of the sort was happening.
Like you, though, I knew something wasn't right about my thinking so I had the presence of mind to see a counselor. That was the best decision I ever made for my mental and emotional well-being and for the sake of my family. My counselor proved to be a huge advocate for me, pushing me to take better care of myself. We fatherless daughters are notorious for neglecting ourselves, and that was certainly true in my case and always had been.
My husband and I started to spend more time together and our communication greatly improved. We initiated a weekly date night and regular trips to the gym (exercise was a huge help). My counselor helped me structure my days, so I was helping my son but wasn't doing so much that I was becoming dark and despairing.
I don't think my marriage would have survived this stressful period if I hadn't seen a counselor. While I had some good friends to lean on, there was nobody who had the time, focus, and expertise that I required. It sounds like this is the time for you to see a professional. When our thoughts get off course, we just need a little help to start seeing things clearly again.
Question: Why doesn’t my father understand?
Answer: As fatherless daughters, we can spend a lot of time pondering these types of questions about our dads: Why doesn't he understand? Why doesn't he love me? Why doesn't he realize how much he's hurting me?
When we're children, our world is so small and our dad's importance in it gets magnified. We're completely dependent on the adults in our lives to meet our needs. If our father is physically or emotionally absent, we can become preoccupied with the void he's left. We're too young to understand the complex reasons why he's gone (alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, a new girlfriend, being a workaholic, being irresponsible, being self-centered) so we blame ourselves. We're apt to take on the identity of the wounded fatherless girl (i.e. the victim).
As we grow older, though, we need to change our focus, taking it off our dads and putting it on ourselves. I can't answer the question about why your dad doesn't understand and, even if I could, it wouldn't do you much good. Ultimately, you'd still have to take responsibility for your life and move forward with your own plans and dreams. Too often we get stuck ruminating about our fathers because that's a lot easier than putting in the hard work it takes to move on from that.
I know because it took me decades. Today, it still requires a lot of effort, and I often fall back into the same old trap of blaming my dad for anything and everything wrong in my life. Now, however, I'm cognizant of my thinking, understanding why those thoughts enter my brain at particular moments. I have the strength to chase them away and get back to living in the here-and-now.
When I became an adult (and especially when I became a mother), I realized what a small, self-centered man my father was. He was a workaholic because it satisfied his ego and gave him an easy out from his other responsibilities that weren't so heady: being an involved parent, being a loving spouse, being a compassionate son, and being a contributing member of the community. I was mad at myself for having given this egotistical, emotionally bankrupt man so much power over my life, my time, and my emotions. He certainly wasn't worth it!
If it seems your dad doesn't understand, it's probably because understanding is not a priority for him. He's busy with his own life. Let's face it; people put time and energy into the things they value. We fatherless daughters find this hard to accept because it's so incredibly painful. But, when we do, we find a whole lot of peace and can move forward building our own lives.
Question: How do you deal with a father who has been in and out of your life since you were two-years-old?
Answer: You seize control of the situation because you are no longer at the mercy of your irresponsible father. You choose whether you want him to be a part of your life in this erratic manner or whether you want it to stop. You decide whether he contributes something to your world or simply disrupts it. You have the power. You have a say. If this arrangement is causing you too much hurt, you end it.
Just because he donated sperm at conception doesn't mean he has the right to put you on an emotional roller-coaster and cause you disappointment and heartache. You need to look out for your own well-being. Standing up for yourself now will serve you well the rest of your life and people will respect you more. In relationships, you get to say what's acceptable or what's not.
It's important you speak about your feelings with someone you trust: your mother, a counselor, a friend, or a relative. Talk about how your dad entering and exiting your life has impacted you over the years. Discuss whether the good times with him have outweighed the bad. Since one in three women identifies as a fatherless daughter, there are plenty of us out there who can empathize with your situation and offer support.
Don't ever think your dad's flaky behavior is a reflection on you. You are in no way responsible for his actions, only he is. Don't spend years of your life wondering why he didn't love you and blaming yourself as I did. I so regret those wasted years.
Get on with your life and build a beautiful future for yourself. Be ambitious and set goals. Don't be afraid to dream big and don't be afraid to fail. Learn from your dad how not to be a parent and do better by your own kids if you become a mom. Make sure your children have a dad who's dependable, kind, and loving.
When we feel powerless in a situation, we can get depressed. I like these words about the value of walking away from a damaging situation:
“A lot of walking away
will do your life good.
Walk away from arguments that lead
you to anger and nowhere. Walk away
from people who deliberately put you
down. Walk away from the practice of
pleasing people who choose to never see
your worth. Walk away from any
thought that undermines your peace of
mind. Walk away from judgmental
people, they do not know the struggle
you are facing and what you have been
through. Walk away from your mistakes
and fear, they do not determine your
fate. The more you walk away from
things that poison your soul, the
healthier your life will be.”
Whether you keep your dad in your life or not, you need to feel you're in control and have a voice. I wish you much peace and joy in your life.
Question: My father died 3 years ago. I am 17 and I think I am looking for qualities of my dad in my boyfriend as I have been speaking about my dad a lot to him but I never speak about my dad and how he was to anyone. Do you know what may be causing me to talk with my boyfriend and no one else?
Answer: It sounds like a couple of very positive things are happening here: 1) You're coming to grips with your dad's death and can now talk about it in a coherent way and 2) You trust your boyfriend enough to be vulnerable with him and open up about your feelings.
Releasing your emotions is an important step in the grieving process and a very healthy thing to do. It's when we run from our painful feelings--numbing them with food, illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication--that we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering. Talking about your dad is a wonderful way to heal from your hurt.
It's beautiful that you feel safe with your boyfriend and can share your thoughts and feelings regarding your father. If he's a kind and compassionate listener, you are fortunate because those people are rare in our lives. Although you're just 17, you've probably already experienced your share of self-absorbed folks who just don't have what it takes to be empathetic. They interrupt, try to one-up you (“You think you have it bad. Let me tell you what happened to me!”), minimize your pain (“Aren't you over that yet? It's time to move on!”) and always bring the conversation back around to themselves. For some people, the opposite of talking is not listening; it's waiting to talk!
Now that you've established a solid connection with your boyfriend, you should consider opening up with some other trustworthy folks. Have you talked with your mom or other close relatives? Have you spoken with a counselor at school? Losing your dad at such a young age has had a profound impact on your life and will continue to do so. It would be useful to have a professional's input.
Dr. Brene Brown says vulnerability is our greatest strength. Don't be afraid to ask for help as you deal with your dad's death and the aftermath.
Question: My dad stopped contacting me when he married his wife. He now has another two sons and one other daughter. He barely speaks of his sons but often about the daughter. “Daddy’s girl” she’s 19 I’m 30. He stopped seeing me from age 7-22, where he wants to be present in my own children’s lives. But I don’t know how to deal with the other daughter. The resentment/ anger I feel that I wasn’t good enough to treat like his daughter? I feel like he’s never wanted me or loved me.
Answer: Your father has earned the resentment and anger you feel toward him. He abandoned his responsibilities as a dad and gutted you emotionally. He left you thinking you weren't good enough, you weren't lovable, and you weren't wanted. You can't trust him with your heart but, yet, you still have him in your life and the lives of your children. You must ask yourself: why?
Sometimes we need to love ourselves enough to let go. It's time you seize control of the situation and decide what's best for you and your family. Does your dad add joy to your life or is he just a reminder of a painful past that keeps you from enjoying the present? Has he ever apologized for his actions and tried to repair the damage?
The spiritual life coach and author, Iyanla Vanzant, says: “You don't get to tell people how to love you or how to love. You get to choose whether or not to participate in the way they love you.” You have the option to pass on this relationship with your dad if it's not serving you. You're not the helpless little girl any more whose daddy left her. You're the mature adult who has all the power. The fact that your father often speaks of his other daughter shows that he's either clueless or insensitive to the hurt he's inflicted upon you.
Whether you decide to keep your dad around or not is not nearly as important as how you treat yourself. It's time to heal. Give yourself and your children what your father didn't give you: love, commitment, constancy, and self-confidence. Nurture yourself and your kids in ways your dad didn't nurture you. Enjoy your kids and don't let anything distract from the family you've created.
Question: My father was very loving until I turned 12 years old. Out of the blue, he hated me, and he became my enemy. Why does he love my sisters, but does not love me? He always said I was the weakest and the stupidest. How can I heal that rejection?
Answer: I'm so sorry, but there is a big piece of the puzzle missing here so I can't be of much help. People don't change radically as you suggest your father did, suddenly turning from a loving dad to one who hates you without explanation. Unless someone is using illegal substances or has developed a brain tumor, we humans are pretty consistent in our personalities and behaviors.
It's true that some dads turn away from their daughters when they start puberty, develop breasts and curves, and take an interest in boys. These fathers don't know how to relate to their daughters when they start becoming women. They may feel guilty that they find their own daughter attractive and sexually appealing. They slowly drift away and leave the parenting to the moms. However, this doesn't seem to be the case with you because it sounds like your dad stayed close with your sisters.
Another possibility is that something about your personality triggers your dad. He sees something in you that reminds him of himself—something he doesn't like and feels needs to be changed. Unable to look inward, he chooses to distance himself from you.
If you still have a relationship with your father, it's time to open up to him about your feelings. Give him a chance to explain his side of the story. Talk with your sisters as well and get their perspective. If everyone is highly motivated, you can start family therapy with a professional who can facilitate effective communication among all of you.
I wish I could be more helpful, but I don't understand what happened that would make your dad change so suddenly and dramatically. A therapist could help you get to the root of the problem because there must be a lot more to the story. Best to you as you move forward in the healing process. My article entitled “5 Steps to Heal Her Pain: How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move on From a Dad's Rejection” may also be helpful.
Question: Out of all my dad's children, I’m the one he spent the least amount of time with. I was always a last resort. Why was this?
Answer: Of course, I can't speak to the intricacies of your family situation, your father's personal history, or your relationship with him. I can say, in general, it's a mistake for us fatherless daughters to think we're the reason for our dad's neglect or abandonment. It's not true and can make us feel ashamed and depressed.
We fall into that trap as children because we're egocentric. We might have blamed ourselves when our parents got angry, frustrated, or sad because we didn't see the big picture; we only saw what related to us. It's crucial, for example, that moms and dads be honest with their kids when they divorce, explaining why they're ending the marriage. If they don't, youngsters will often feel responsible for the demise of the marriage, even though nothing could be further from the truth. This is a heavy and unnecessary burden for a child to carry.
You're not responsible for how your father behaved and the choices he made. You are responsible, though, for how you choose to live your life today. You can decide to concentrate on a hurtful past or savor the present. If you find yourself ruminating about the past, please see a therapist to get unstuck. It's so worth your time and effort.
Sometimes we get bogged down by a false belief (e.g., I was the only one my dad didn't love and didn't spend time with). It can define who we are and limit our potential. But you can get control of your thoughts with a little help from a professional. Allan Lokos, a teacher and author with a Buddhist perspective, says: “Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that—thoughts.”
Question: My father was never in my life. He immediately abandoned my mother when he discovered she was going to keep me. How do I productively address the scars he left me while not feeling guilty about having these emotions knowing my mother did the best she can to raise me right?
Answer: A wise person once said: “feelings are neither good nor bad; they just are.” Trying to ignore them, deny them, or bottle them up only makes us sick, both physically and emotionally. Acknowledging and accepting our emotions brings us peace, releases stress, and diminishes our worries.
We fatherless daughters can have all kinds of mixed-up emotions, especially when it comes to our mothers. Yes, our moms did their best and we owe them love and gratitude. Yet, we can also have some justified anger and resentment toward them for not making a proper nest with a decent partner before conceiving us.
Those feelings rose to the surface for me when I had children of my own. Fortunately, I had chosen a man who was a wonderful, loving, and involved father to our sons. Seeing him playing with them made me so happy. Yet, it also made me feel a twinge of ire at my mother for not having picked someone to be a good dad for my siblings and me.
These feelings are natural and don't mean we're unappreciative of all our moms have done and sacrificed. In all likelihood, our moms will never be okay with us talking about the pain we felt growing up without dads and the anguish we still feel today because of it. That would make them feel too guilty, too defensive, and too sad. For support and understanding, we need to look elsewhere.
That's why it's beneficial to talk with a therapist about what you're feeling. She could help you make peace with it and not be so conflicted. It's also beneficial to open up with other fatherless daughters and connect with them about shared experiences and emotions. Writing in a journal can also bring a lot of relief. My mantra is “you can't heal what you don't feel.”
Question: I don’t know any thing about my father. I never met him, but if I do, how do I talk to him or even think of him without crying?
Answer: Let yourself cry. It's normal, healthy, and necessary. Not having an involved father in your life is a very good reason to shed some tears. The worst thing you can do is bottle up your emotions, (which can lead to depression) or numb them with food, drugs, sex, or alcohol (which can lead to self-destruction).
“Feel the feels” every day by talking about them and writing them down in a journal. Discuss them with a therapist if you think that would be useful. With no intention of ever mailing them, write letters to your father that explain how much his neglect has hurt you throughout the years. This will get you in touch with the little girl you once were and give her a voice to express the anguish.
If you tend to your emotions every day, you'll be less likely to get overcome by them at any particular moment. Contrary to popular belief, getting in touch with our feelings actually makes us stronger. Crying is a beautiful thing and should not be seen as a weakness. You should never be ashamed to do it. It shows you're vulnerable and human.
As a fellow fatherless daughter, I've found it beneficial to pen letters from my imaginary dad to me. In these letters, my idealized version of a dad voices what I've always needed to hear – that he loves me, that he thinks I'm worthy of his time and attention, and that he knows I'll succeed if I'm ambitious and work hard. Since I never heard those words growing up, I find them incredibly comforting and empowering. Here's an example of one I wrote recently:
I want you to know how proud I am of you as you start your new job. I know it's difficult to leave a position that's safe and familiar for something unknown. You'll face many new challenges but are up to the task. I admire you for taking this on and wish you all the success in the world.
This exercise helps me understand what I missed as a fatherless daughter and how it's affected who I am. A good father figure offers encouragement to his kids, pushes them to take risks, and builds their self-confidence. I missed out on all that as a child, but I'm striving to give it to myself now.
Go have a good cry and then keep building a beautiful life for yourself. Take care!
Question: I was hoping my father-in-law would be a father figure but he wasn't. Who should I look to next as a father figure?
Answer: Nowhere. You need to enjoy the wonderful men in your life for who they are and not who you want them to be. Most likely, none of them will ever be a father figure and fill the emptiness you have for a daddy. That may happen in Hallmark made-for-TV movies but rarely in real life. Once you let go of that unreasonable expectation and practice acceptance, you'll find peace and start enjoying reciprocal relationships with men.
Like you and many other fatherless daughters, I was always looking for a dad figure whether it be an uncle, a teacher, a coach, or a boss. Instead of appreciating what each one had to offer, I was too needy and wanted too much. Therefore, I was always left hurt and disappointed.
With maturity, though, I finally realized that I had to make these bonds more relational, not transactional. I had to stop trying to get my childhood needs met for love, comfort, and protection. I had to start giving instead of receiving. The author and life coach, Iyanla Vanzant says, “What you focus on, grows!” I found that to be the case when I began celebrating each man for his special qualities and opened my eyes to how they were enriching my life.
When I stopped looking at my father-in-law as a surrogate dad who was failing me, our relationship began to flourish. Once I took that lofty expectation off the table, I could enjoy his sense of humor, his storytelling abilities, and his kindness toward my sons. I no longer expected him to fill the hole in my heart left by my dad. I had to do that myself through prayer, meditation, writing in my journal, spending time in nature, and forgiving my father.
Today, I'm the primary caretaker for my aging father-in-law. If I hadn't made peace with him years ago and let go of my expectations, I would be miserable and resentful helping him now. He's been a wonderful grandfather to my boys so caring for him, while difficult at times, is an act of love I do willingly.
Please stop searching for a father figure and enjoy the men in your life for who they are. Once you start to practice acceptance, you'll experience liberation and so much of your stress will dissipate.
Question: Why does my father treat me like a little kid even though I am an adult?
Answer: Being treated like a child by our parents is not uncommon. No matter how old we get, our parents will always see us as being younger. I'm in my fifties and, when I complain about aches and pains or wrinkles and gray hair, my 80-year-old mother acts shocked and says she can't believe I suffer from those things. I would once get irritated by this, wondering why she couldn't see me for what I am—an aging woman. Then I decided to change my mindset. Instead of getting frustrated by it, I now see it as endearing. In her maternal eyes, I'll always be her little girl, and that's quite beautiful.
With that being said, the problem of being treated like a child by our parents can be improved. It may take time and mature choices on your part for your father to view you differently. A 32-year-old son, for example, who lives in his parent's basement and works part-time delivering pizzas cannot expect his mom and dad to see him as a competent adult. It takes behaviors—holding a job, having a place to live, paying bills, maintaining stable relationships, building a strong support system, being responsible for doctor's appointments, etc.-- for parents to see their kids as adults. It's not just a matter of age; it's a matter of actions.
Since the subject of my article was fatherless daughters, I'm assuming that your dad has not been a big part of your life. Because he doesn't know you well, you may have to prove to him over time what a mature and responsible young woman you are. Perhaps, he's treating you like you're younger because he's trying to make up for the times he wasn't there when you were a child.
As long as you're self-confident and handling life well, I wouldn't let it bother you. Use the mantra: “What other people think of me is none of my business.” We cannot control how others see us, but we can control how we lead our lives.
Question: I have always looked and found older men to be with. Is it due to my dad’s death when I was a 12-year-old girl?
Answer: I can't say for sure, but it sounds like a safe bet. When we step back and look at the patterns in our lives, we learn so much and gain tremendous insight. If your pattern is seeking out older men as romantic partners, it's time to examine that and whether or not you want to make a change. There's nothing about it that's right or wrong, good or bad, but just a matter of what you want to have in your life.
There's no doubt losing your dad at 12 had a huge impact. You may have felt insecure about your situation and worried whether you and your mom would be okay. Because they have more life experiences and are financially stable, older men represent security and safety—something you would find highly attractive after losing your father. Older men are more confident and that, too, would be appealing to a fatherless daughter. Older men might shower you with attention, affection, and gifts, making you feel important and valued. You didn't get that from a man after your dad died so it's understandable you would crave it now.
Understanding your motivation for being with older men may or may not help you make a change. Do these older men treat you well? Do you enjoy their company? If the answer is yes, I see no problem with you being with them. If the answer is no, however, you may want to see a therapist to help you stop this destructive pattern and move in another direction. Dr. Robin Smith said: “Adulthood is to finish the unfinished business of childhood.” You may have been doing just that but are now ready to move away from it.
Question: My father raised me and was in my life for twenty years, then my parents divorced. Year by year he becomes more distant. Now at twenty-nine, he is completely out my life and not interested in coming back. I feel my issue is opposite of most, but I'm starting to feel unloved because of it. How can I handle this?
Answer: The phenomenon of fathers distancing themselves (or disconnecting completely) from their adult children most definitely deserves an article of its own. Not much has been written on this topic, but many of us know someone in our circle who's experienced this painful situation. While knowing the cause of the estrangement may help us make sense of it cognitively, it doesn't stop the pain from this perceived rejection. You may want to deal with your feelings in therapy, so they don't hold you back from enjoying your life and forming relationships with other men. Here are three key reasons why dads distance themselves from their adult kids:
1. His new wife or girlfriend is setting the social calendar.
When a man pairs up with a new woman, he typically lets her handle their social calendar as a couple. She makes plans for them: where they'll travel, how they'll spend the holidays, and with whom they'll spend their time. Naturally, she'll put her own children, relatives, and friends ahead of his. Feeling threatened by his previous marriage, she may intentionally marginalize his first family. Wanting to keep her happy since they share a bed, he goes along with her decisions.
This happened in my own family when my 65-year-old grandfather married a wealthy and well-connected woman. Even though my mother was his only child, he distanced himself from her and us four grandchildren throughout his marriage. He got swept up in his new wife's social world with her rich friends and their exotic adventures. It hurt my mother terribly, but nothing she said made him change his ways. He didn't connect with us again until his wife died but, by then, the damage was already done.
2. He saw his role as a father in a very narrow way--as a provider and little more.
Sadly, many dads even today see their parental role as merely to provide for their children financially. When they're done fulfilling that obligation, they no longer feel needed and move on with their own lives. They don't recognize the important emotional role they should play in their adult children's lives: listening, guiding, empathizing, and providing the unconditional love that only a parent can.
My father was a workaholic and didn't know how to relate to my siblings and me on an emotional level. When we were adults, he didn't see a role for himself in our lives and the lives of our children. He was too stiff, serious, and formal to enjoy being silly and playful with his grand-kids.
3. They see their divorce as a failure and are ashamed by it.
Some men are ashamed by their divorce and see it as a failing on their part, especially when it was instigated by their wives. They choose to disconnect because their adult children remind them of this failure and of that difficult period in their lives. They'd rather forget the past and move forward.
Many men feel incompetent and powerless when their marriages falter. They blame themselves for not being able to fix the problem. Because they're solution-oriented, they feel frustrated that they couldn't do something to prevent a divorce.
I'm so sorry your dad has chosen to disconnect from you. Please see a therapist if you feel stuck in your suffering.
Question: I have never met my dad at all. I constantly make my boyfriend beg me for my love and show anger at him for no reason. Do I have issues because of my father?
Answer: I can't definitively say these problems stem from being a fatherless daughter, but it's a good bet they do. It seems like you're testing your boyfriend to see if he'll abandon you like your dad did. This is a dangerous game to play because, even if he's a good and loyal guy, he'll probably get fed up with it and eventually leave. Then, you might say: “I knew he was going to go. All men do.” In reality, though, your actions will have pushed him away.
You may want to consider why you have chosen a man who puts up with this kind of behavior from you. Does he feel safe to you? Do you feel in control because he's weak? Why are you both in a relationship that's unhealthy and unbalanced?
Anger is a tricky emotion, especially for us females who are taught that it's unladylike and unattractive. It's good that you're able to express your rage but unfair to place it on your boyfriend who's not the cause of it. It's important to discover why you're so angry. Studies show that feelings of powerlessness are a major cause of women's fury. We fatherless daughters had no control over our dad's abandonment of us, and that can lead to our ire.
For years, I ran away from the anger I felt at being a fatherless daughter. Unlike you, I couldn't express it and, therefore, I fell into a deep despair followed by years of taking anti-depressants. It was only when I started dealing with my angry (and sad) feelings about my dad's emotional neglect that I experienced relief. I had to let those emotions out that I had bottled up for decades.
I suggest you go into therapy to discuss your father's abandonment and how it affects you today. You'll learn a lot about what motivates you to act the way you do. It will help you avoid unhealthy patterns that can sabotage your relationships and make your life miserable. If you value what you have with your boyfriend and want to make it work for the long haul, you need to explore these issues for your sake and his. Your therapist may invite him into the sessions as well.
Question: What do I do if I blame myself for his not being there because I cut him out of my life after he abused me? What can I do to forgive myself?
Answer: You don't need to forgive yourself because you did nothing wrong. You need to pat yourself on the back for doing the right thing and getting away from an abuser. Some women aren't strong enough to do that, but you were. Congratulate yourself for having the courage and for sticking to it.
All of our choices, whether healthy or not, have consequences. You made a decision, and now you're living with the profound sadness of not having a daddy. That longing is so intense that a part of you wants to accept an abusive dad rather than no dad at all. The intelligent part of you, though, knows that's not a good move to make and not in your best interest.
We humans have a strong desire to return to the familiar, even when we know it's not good for us. Why do grown men and women marry alcoholics when they experienced great trauma growing up with moms and dads who drank too much? It's what they know, so they're comfortable with it. It's also a way to try to fix the past but rarely succeeds.
Instead of looking in the rear-view mirror, look forward to all the positive relationships in your life or all the possible ones you can form. If you're like me, you'll always feel sadness about not having a dad, but it lessens over time as we let others enter our lives. Enjoy the here-and-now and don't dwell on the past.
Be proud of yourself. You did something very hard to do. Grieve for the warm and loving father you never had. Celebrate that you didn't stay around for more abuse.
I'm wondering if you have some misguided folks in your family or among your friends who are making you doubt your decision. If that's the case, they may have their agendas or personal issues that are causing them to give you bad advice and make you feel guilty. Ask yourself: Why would anyone encourage me to stay with an abuser?
I wish you strength as you move forward. Best to you!
© 2018 McKenna Meyers
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 28, 2020:
G, the spiritual writer, Bryon Katie, said: “To believe that you need what you don’t have is the definition of insanity.” You’ll be okay without a father, but you need to make your thoughts work for you, not against you. Otherwise, you’ll remain a victim of your circumstances instead of rising above them. Focus on the good people in your life, not the one who’s gone. If you feel too depressed to do this, talk with a therapist for some support.
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 28, 2020:
Valerie, you’re motivated to do something about your social anxiety so that’s a great place to begin. Your primary care doctor can give you a referral to a therapist who specializes in that. Then, you can speak with that therapist in person or online. You may need a prescription. More likely, though, you’ll need to put yourself in social situations that create trepidation (the ones you’ve probably been avoiding). Once you’re exposed to those circumstances again and again, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable. With time and practice, you’ll become more confident and less fearful. Keep moving forward!
G on June 28, 2020:
I hate my father. But sometimes, i will become too much depressed and i will cry a lot. I dont really need him. But i need a father. I lose my optimism, sometimes. Why i can't be happy? Please help me. I am always depressed.
ValerieProchazkova24 on June 26, 2020:
It's been 2 years now since my mom kicked out my father. I loved my father and I even preferred him over my mom before my parents broke up.
After he left he didn't contact me or my younger brother (I don't know why I guess he was busy looking for a new apartment...). My mom was super hurt because of that (she got really bad back pain and had to stay at home for a few weeks I believe) and I became 'the second mom' for like 6 months. It was hard.
My mom talks a lot about the break-up and my father doesn't at all (which I think is even worse! I hate when people pretend everything's alright when it's not.) My mom told us how our father was rude at her (most likely because his parents were/aren't the greatest. They told him that he was bad at sports etc. when he was younger). I started to isolate myself from him because he never apologized or tried to explain to us what he has done... Now it's June 2020 and I try to do all I can to avoid my father. My brother is the opposite, he's 13 now and doesn't really understand what the heck happened. He visits him regularly but I don't think they have that good relationship... (We went skiing in Austria earlier this year with other families also. Normally I would go skiing with the other families because I have 2 friends there but I was feeling sorry for my brother. Father shouted him whenever he was late or did something differently. And I don't think that's what family does... right? So I decided to ski with my brother and father instead. My brother would probably behave differently but he has ADD so I don't know, I'm just saying... (We were splitted into 2 groups - my father with my brother and then there was the rest that was way better at skiing than me, my father and my brother.)).
Well, the main reason why I'm writing here is that I think I might have social anxiety. I was doing ok when father was still with me but since he left I feel that changed. Yeah, I'm shy and introverted already but I think this could be the reason what caused my social anxiety. I really wish I could get rid of it and be 'normal' but I just can't. The only people who probably know about my anxiety are few of my internet friends. I'd like to tell my mom who most likely isn't aware of that and thinks I'm just VERY shy. I'm scared that she'd say that what I'm saying is just an excuse. I'd like to see a therapist or something but I don't know where to start.
(I'm sorry for this long comment, I've been feeling down lately... thank you for reading.)
Jean FVSU on June 02, 2020:
This is June 2, 2020 and it is enough. Enough of this false doctrine about a dad doing this and that, all on his own. Enough.
I am sick and tired of these evil notions that elevate and brag on dad, for something you all claim he does, all by himself, just because he is a man. have read and read about this notion that men created. It is not true.
While a son or daughter will normally, miss either parent, if the Laurent was absent. But not child will become damaged simply because dad is not there. A child does not become damaged goods, How dare you all keep putting that notion into these mind and heart if a girl. How dare you. These girls are not faulty or damaged. The dad does not make a girl, healthy. Her mother is there and will give her all the things she needs. Mom is just as capable, if not more so, to help her, guide her, protect her, teach her about men, and most of all love her,
I see children daily, who are motherless and fatherless. It may be a sons or daughters. And yes, I feel sorry for any child who loses a parent, but we should not be saying a female is faulty or bad, or horrible, or low self esteemed, just because dad is not there.
I am very concerned and I am disgusted by the continuous barrage of praising dads over mothers.. Time is out for this foolishness and double standards between males and females. Sexism is ugly .
Let us stop and see what we are doing to the female human being.
Just look and listen. These ridiculous articles and videos and tv programs are everywhere, They are wrong and unfair to the mother. We are telling females that only a dad can give her healthy self esteeem, self worth, confidence, know about men, and show her how a man should act, etc etc. Thise notions are not true.
You may love your dad and miss him if he is absent. But your mother is capable of doing all the things you all attribute to dad. He is not a god, only a human being. God created mothers for a reason. Part of that is to raise her daughters and her sons. Dad can never be more important than a girl's mother.
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 27, 2020:
Nujjiya, it’s tempting to see a guy as an easy escape from an unhappy home life with an angry father. It can be a wonderfully romantic fantasy that helps us get through trying times (been there, done that)! However, you’d be much wiser to learn from the mistakes that your mom made in choosing such a man as your dad and work on becoming an accomplished woman. If you focus on your education and career plans, you’ll be working toward a life that will make you strong and proud. Then, when you’re older and financially independent, you’ll be ready to marry a good man and start a family. At that point, you’ll be confident that you can provide a safe and happy home for your children. Take care!
Nujjiya on May 23, 2020:
My dad have a badtemper everytime he is angry. He will speak out ‘words’ that will hurt me in the inside and my mom is the one who always patient with his bad temper. Sometimes i saw with my own eyes both of my parents having fight. I always ask my self will there be a man can love me much more better than my dad? And now im in relationship with a guy..he is from a happy family. I felt insecure to open up about how i feel. Im scared that he will think that my family is boring and sucks. Im scared he will left me. Because im searching my happiness that i always want. I dont want my future children will feel the same way as me. Its very stressful crying alone at night on your bed :( i love my man. I hope one day i can be with him and create a better family
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 20, 2020:
Bella, I’m sorry that you didn’t have a close, loving relationship with your biological dad and your stepfather. Unfortunately, you were a casualty of the two men your mother chose. At this point, you can stay stuck with a victim mentality and continue to ask self-destructive questions such as: “Why was I not enough to try with?” This, though, will only cause you unhappiness and make you doubt yourself. Now you’re old enough to be responsible for the choices you make, especially about the thoughts in your head. You can dwell on the ones that keep you immobilized or focus on the ones that propel you forward.
A common reason that we get depressed is feeling powerless in our lives. You had no say when your mom had you with a father who wasn’t responsible and you had no say when she married a man who never took the time to bond with you. Yet, I hope that you can celebrate the fact that now you get to choose and one day you can decide to love a guy who possesses qualities that you admire. Until you’re ready for that, though, focus on your college or career plans, build strong friendships, volunteer in your community, set lofty goals and work hard to achieve them. Most of all, take good care of yourself!
Bella on May 20, 2020:
I have only met my biological father a couple times when I was first born. I am currently in high school, but my mom re married when I was 3 and her new husband was always considered my dad. Last year I was diagnosed with depression and went through self harm for 2 years. My step dad was never there for me through any of it. He would never check in with me to see if I was doing okay. He would never take me anywhere to get my mind off suicidal thoughts. He would work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, and then go to bed. My parents recently divorced, and suddenly he is trying to adopt me. He was supposed to adopt me when I was 10, due to other legal issues. But he forgot. Each year went by and I guess it just never crossed his mind. I am not as much bothered by the fact he forgot to adopt me, but am bothered most by his absence when I needed him in my darkest times. I never had that father daughter bond. I never had a true relationship with the one person who is supposed to be there for you no matter what. So I stopped trying with him. I keep asking myself over and over again "Why was I not enough to try with". He never made any effort with me, and still continues to make none. I have a younger half sister who is his biological daughter. She and him are really close and it hurts to watch. He does things with her and takes her places to talk. She and him DO have that father daughter bond. So another thing I am wondering is, is that why they are closer than him and I? Does sharing blood have any contributions to working harder at a relationship with your kid? It's hard to let people in my life without the constant fear of them leaving. I try to tell myself that it's not my fault. But questions just spiral through my head leading me to think something must be wrong with me if the one person that is supposed to be there and support you no matter what, isn't. I just want to know if I should have tried harder to form a relationship with him, or if that wasn't my job.
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 15, 2020:
Ananya, don’t fall in the trap that many fatherless daughters do of blaming themselves. Destructive thoughts (such as asking: Is there something lacking in me?) can make us question our worth, keeping us from being happy, moving forward, and reaching our goals. Parents are just human and may prefer one child over another for a whole host of reasons. They may like a youngster who is more like them, who is more agreeable, who flatters them, and so on. Build up your self-esteem by doing things that make you proud. You’re responsible for your self-worth, not your dad. Take care!
Ananya on May 15, 2020:
I feel you wrote my heart out by writing this article,but what can be the cause that my father gives more attention to my elder sister but not to me. Can there be something lacking in me or what can be the other reason for the same ?
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 09, 2020:
Sanskriti, I’m sorry that this is causing you pain, but please don’t take it personally. It sounds like your father is enthralled with his new love and is neglecting his parental obligations. It’s easy to wonder: Why is he choosing her over me? Yet, these self-destructive thoughts will only keep you feeling stuck, sad, and powerless. Instead, be grateful for the people who have been there for you and focus on achieving your goals. The spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, said: “Negativity is a denial of life.” Hopefully, your dad will come to his senses and reconnect with you. But, for now, don’t let him rob you of your joy and purpose.
Sanskriti dandapat on May 08, 2020:
My parents splitted up...i live with my mom.,.my father. Has married our house maid and i miss my father a lot but my father dosen't even talk to me
McKenna Meyers (author) on April 14, 2020:
Priya, cognitive therapy (online or in person) would be useful to re-frame how you perceive what’s happened to you. The way you’re thinking now about these events isn’t serving you well and is contributing to your anxiety and insecurity. In a relatively short amount of time, cognitive therapy can help you see things in a new and constructive way. It can help you break free from the negative thoughts that are keeping you a prisoner of the past. Your 30’s are such a critical time for building relationships. If you’d like to get married and have a family, this is the time to get moving. Cognitive therapy can help you put the past in perspective and start looking ahead to the future. Take care!
PriyaP7 on April 14, 2020:
My parents got divorced when I was young. We then lived with my brother's father one and off however my mother and his father separated and he had no involvement in his life after that. My mother re-married when I was in my teens but my step father was never loving towards us and they also divorced a few years ago.
I met my father after I reached out to him which was some 20 years later after the divorce of my parents. I met him once and he made no effort after that and didn't return my last attempt to contact him. A few years have since passed then.
I have suffered from anxiety and find it difficult to form lasting relationships amongst other things. I have not been able to form a strong emotional bond with my mother. I continue to suffer from the fear of abandonment and rejection. I say to myself that I shouldn't feel this way especially being in my 30s but I don't know how I can reduce the feeling.
McKenna Meyers (author) on February 18, 2020:
Inaya, I'm sorry that you're feeling alone in your pain. One of the most valuable mantras when we're feeling down is: “We are not our thoughts; we are the awareness of our thoughts.” We have the power to interpret the world, making it lighter or darker. Instead of saying of your dad “he didn't want me,” say something that's more beneficial to your well-being (and is probably much more accurate): “He was irresponsible...he was immature...he was plagued by addictions.” Catch your negative notions before they mess with your mood. Reach out to some friends to talk about your grief. Write about it in a journal. Spend some time in nature. Once you take some positive steps toward self-care, you'll feel better.
inaya on February 18, 2020:
My father left me when I was a baby. He didn't want me. My mother married another man with whom I can't connect with because he married another woman (father of 2 children). I don't have any siblings to tell them about my pain and being rejected...
Morana Rivera on January 10, 2020:
Even if you have the best father in the world, the truth is you will not (I hope) be dating him. Yes, it will affect the way you view men, more than likely. However, it will not affect how men view and treat you. Consider how strong mother-daughter bonds tend to be, but how petty and toxic a lot of female-female friendship relationships are (the frenemies, 3-way calling set-ups, hate and jealousy, etc.) My father and I have a complicated relationship. And, yes, I wish we were closer (I'm in my early 30s now so that ship has largely passed) and I see things on TV or some of my students relationships with their dads (the girls) and I feel like I missed out on some things. However, in my 30s, I know that my husband would not be my father and, so, even if we had the best relationship, given MGTOW and the lack of value ment and society put on women currently, it wouldn't matter. My parents were married when I grew up, a lot of people's weren't and/or got divorced so they, now as adults, don't view or value marriage as I do. The issues listed here that women go through with an absent father are identical to what boys go through because abandonment is abandonment.
McKenna Meyers (author) on October 12, 2019:
Mikayla, your words hit close to home because I spent my teens and 20's pushing men away and avoiding relationships. I felt so vulnerable from my dad's rejection that I just couldn't face being hurt again. I went to sessions with an outstanding therapist who gave me weekly homework assignments: activities that would help me gradually become more comfortable with dating. Sadly, though, I did what so many of us do in therapy, never following through with her recommendations because I was terrified to do so. To this day, that's one of my biggest regrets. I don't want you to miss out on all the experiences (both good and bad) that I did. By not socializing with the opposite sex, I stunted my personal growth. I hope you'll go to therapy, take the advice, and start putting yourself out there in the dating world. Whether we're fatherless daughters or not, it's anxiety-producing but the risk is worth it. Dr. Brene Brown says, “The broken hearted are the bravest among us because they dared to love somebody.” I wish you the best moving forward!
Mikayla on October 11, 2019:
I was raised by a single mother and grandparents who have given me a wonderful childhood without worrying about anything but when I was 9 years old, my father decided to come into my life and he spent time with me for a short period but he was unable to find a job in my hometown during the recession and he left to go work out of state and I never seen or heard from ever again. I remember, when my mom and I got into an argument one time, she said something about my father out of anger and I just broke down. I always thought of having an absentee father would never bother me when I was young, but since I'm 21 years old now, it's always something I don't like discussing about, like a taboo subject. Every time I had boys who wanted to ask me out, I lash out in anger if they said the wrong thing towards me and always declined their invitation. I do not commit to a lot of friendships or relationships because I don't find a lot of people trustworthy and I do not keep in contact with a lot of people. I remember the embarrassment I felt when I saw him show up to the same football game I was cheerleading for and he told me he showed up to see his friend's son, someone else's child instead of me because he didn't know I was a cheerleader. I never had my first relationship or never even tried dating, because I'm so afraid of being hurt. Sometimes, I feel like I'm unworthy as much I would love to date, I can cut off any guy quickly and disown them like nothing even happened. Is there any advice that you can give me that would help me with this self-journey towards healing from my father's wound?
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 24, 2019:
Judy, I'm sorry for your heartbreak. It's unfortunate that you, your ex-husband, and your daughter didn't attend family therapy when she refused to no longer see him. If he was a loving and devoted father, he deserved to remain in her life and she would have benefited immensely from his involvement. It was a shame that she was allowed to make such a consequential decision at just 13. She may be regretting her choice now and you're getting the fallout. If she's open, start therapy with her. With the help of a professional, you two can explore what happened in the past and learn to have respectful interactions today. Your daughter sounds hurt and resentful and is acting out because she doesn't know how to communicate her pain. When you're on the receiving end of her rude behavior, leave immediately. Dr. Phil always says, “We teach people how to treat us.” You need to change yourself first and then your daughter will eventually change as well. Take care!
Judy P on September 23, 2019:
My daughters father, and my husband, decided to leave our life for a mutual friend, who’s husband passed away suddenly at 38. He was a good dad who cared for our daughter half time due to our work schedules, from the time she was 6 mos. till she was 5 y.o.. he saw her regularly until she declined to see him at 13 y.o. From that time on, she treated me, her mom terribly. She is now 24 and I’ve never been able to treat me with respect, even though I am a respectful, kind woman. I don’t understand, I’ve done nothing but love her and care for her always. She’s broken my heart. Any advice?
McKenna Meyers (author) on August 18, 2019:
Suha, I recommend you read Dr. Brene Brown's book, “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage.” It sounds like you're trying so very hard to be strong and stoic. I'm afraid that this will eventually catch up with you, causing you both physical and mental suffering. As you begin your adult life with the promise of friendships, romances, and career growth, you want to remain open to life and love. You want to embrace vulnerability in order to connect with other people. Otherwise, you're going to find yourself very much alone. Dr. Brown says, “The brokenhearted are the bravest among us because they dared to love somebody.” Being vulnerable means you're willing to take the risk of letting your self be seen. The first step is to open up about your feelings regarding your dad—to yourself and to others. Take care!
Suha Ahmed on August 17, 2019:
I am a strong person. I don’t like to show my emotions or be vulnerable with people because I don’t like putting myself in a situation for someone to take advantage, I think I have always been this way.
My current situation is that my dad was out of the picture when my parents divorced when i was young. He came back and has been around for almost four years now, and he has now decided that he no longer wants to be in my life.
I keep pushing myself to move forward and not get upset over it, and I don’t feel like I am upset over it. But any little thing seems to trigger an emotional response from me now, and I just don’t know what’s actually going on in my own head anymore. I’m 21 and reaching all of these different milestones now, and I’ve reached so many before he was around again and I’ve always been fine without him. But it seems like it’s really hitting home this time. I don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone else about this, I’m not known to be the “emotional” one. I just don’t know where to go from here. Any advice would be deeply appreciated
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 09, 2019:
Ella, I'm sorry you're struggling. Isn't it crazy to think how somebody who was absent from our lives can have such a profound impact on us? It can be maddening. That early rejection is hard to shake. The paternal archetype permeates all cultures (strong, protective, loving) and when we miss out on it, we can feel incomplete. I'm so glad you've been to therapy. Now, you must choose each day (like the rest of us fatherless daughters) whether you're going to let the past destroy you or make you stronger. You have a lot to offer as someone who's survived your dad's abandonment as well as abusive relationships. If you volunteer your services to those in need, I think you'll start seeing that best version of yourself and finally understand why you've endured so much. One of my favorite sayings is: “Don't hog your journey; it's not just for you.” Others can definitely benefit from your experiences. Take care!
Ella on May 09, 2019:
I'm a classic example of a doughter growing up without her father. Reading the text made me so sad and everything makes sence now - all the things that have happened to me. My father desided to abandon me when I was a baby, he never wanted to find me and get to know me. He got married and had another doughter.
I was a depressed child, ashamed of my past and the things I had nothing to do with (being fatherless). My first abusive relationship began when I was only 15 years old. He was couple of years older than me and he was fatherless, too. I got pregnant and had an abortion. This left me stunned and scarred, I could not believe it happened to me. The relationship ended.
There was coulple of more abusive boyfriends after I went to therapy. My thereapist insisted I reach out to my father and meet him which I did. He tried, but he was so emotianally cold and scarred himself that we never really made any progress. Then he died.
I am a smart girl and I feel like have been stripped out of my prospects of success. Will I ever be the best version that I could've been..
McKenna Meyers (author) on March 24, 2019:
Kevin, it would be useful to see the problem as one with your family dynamic and not just with your daughter. She'll be more open and less defensive if the two of you are working as a team rather than you trying to fix her. Own your part, being self-reflective and vulnerable, and she'll be more likely to own hers.
Tell her that you've been struggling as a single dad since her mom left. Explain that you want to do family counseling together to heal from that pain. A talented therapist can facilitate discussions about her mother, the abandonment, and how you're feeling taken for granted. After a few sessions, the therapist may want to see your daughter alone.
Hopefully, your daughter has some strong and dependable women in her life (her grandmother, an aunt, a teacher) whom she trusts and talks to about her feelings. If not, do your best to make this happen. It's devastating to be abandoned by your mother. It happened to my own mom and it affected every aspect of her life. The pain from it was like a poison that leaked into the next generation and the one after that.
I wish you and your daughter the very best as you move forward together!
Kevin on March 23, 2019:
I am a single father-i have the complete different situation. My daughters mother took off-i dont know how to get thru to her. I am just trying to help her become independent and not wanting her to rely on someone to take care of her. I show her love and respect and get the feeling i am being used and taken for granted.
Any suggestions? I have tried to get her counseling, but she refused to open up.i know their has to be abandonment issues.
McKenna Meyers (author) on March 14, 2019:
Peter, I've received a number of questions and comments about the situation you describe (parental alienation), and I've hesitated answering them. That wasn't my experience nor the experience I describe in the article. However, I certainly appreciate that it's a real problem and many dads and daughters suffer because of it.
Unfortunately, I know of no way to deal with it other than involving lawyers and the courts. Parental alienation usually happens when an ex partner (typically the woman) is unwilling to cast aside the conflicts in the adult relationship for the good of the child. She badmouths the ex and brainwashes the child into believing he's a bad guy.
I know there must be obstacles that keep you from living closer to your daughter. However, to have a meaningful relationship with her, you must live nearby and see her on a regular basis. She must interact with you to see that you're a good guy-- someone to be trusted and admired--and not the man her mother describes. Without a solid relationship with you, she will be more susceptible to the problems fatherless daughters face: depression, low self-esteem, and addictions. I wish you and your daughter the best.
peter on March 14, 2019:
What is the best way to deal with a GATEKEEPER. I want to be part of my daughters life ( we live in two seperate states) but wife ex wife is active or passively letting her not have ant form of relationship with me. Thx PB
McKenna Meyers (author) on January 06, 2019:
Pou, I think so many of us fatherless daughters relate to what you're saying and feeling. When you experience that early rejection from a father, it's so hard to trust other men. I was fortunate to find a gentle, kind-hearted man to marry and have two sons. After a rough start in life, I'm now surrounded by guys I can trust and who love me. Wishing you much peace!
Pou on January 06, 2019:
To be honest, this is kinda true. But for me, add resentment towards men in general. I don't hate every men, but I have more ease trusting women rather than trusting men In general, and also the jerk husbands of some of my family members don't help matters.
My father now atones for his absence of my life, I don't know if laughing or helping. It's just too crazy...
McKenna Meyers (author) on December 05, 2018:
Victoria, this sounds like a very unhealthy relationship for you to foster. This man is your sperm donor, not your father. A dad is someone who was a part of your life as you were growing up and took responsibility for you, protected you, and guided you. You have no loving bond with this man (or he with you) because that wasn't established when you were born. Instead of looking in the rear-view mirror, trying to have a father-daughter relationship with this guy, you should look through the windshield at all the possibilities in front of you. Your 30's should be a time of tremendous growth in your career, your friendships, your spirituality, and your romantic relationships. Don't let the past keep you from what you need to explore and achieve now. Take care!
Victoria on December 05, 2018:
My dad was not present emotionally or physically, I still sought him out when I turned 18. I am 31, the one chance i had at making him him proud..i let him down. He got arrested, and was sent to prosin for drugs. I was charged with taking care of his house, my aunt was power of attorney but lived in north carolina. The house fell apart, I never took care of houses before so I drowned in all the things piling up. I moved out eventually into my iwn apartment, locked the house up. However, someone broke into it before he was released. On top of things that needed replaced, someone broke in so I got blame for that and he just told me today he wishes he never had me.
McKenna Meyers (author) on December 03, 2018:
Ebony, I'm sorry your dad is no longer a part of your life. Many of us fatherless daughters think if we understood the reason for our dad's absence we'd feel better. When I understood my dad was a workaholic and workaholics are self-absorbed, I felt some relief on a cognitive level. Emotionally, though, I was still hurting as much as ever from what I perceived as his rejection of me.
It was only when I stopped thinking of myself as a victim that my life got better. I forgave my dad and took away the power he had over my life. I stopped stressing about his absence and started appreciating all the wonderful people and things I do have. Iyanla Vanzant said, "When life removes something from you, it's not helpful to go chase it down and get it back." It's time to embrace the here-and-now and let the past go. Take care!
ebony brown on December 03, 2018:
my dad left i was 9 years old but he was still around us ,but now i m adult he not in my life. i wonder what happened ?
McKenna Meyers (author) on November 10, 2018:
The well-being of children reared by gay and lesbian couples has been examined extensively during the past 30 years. Cornell University took a close look at 79 of these studies and determined that 75 of them showed that “children of gay and lesbian parents fare no worse than other children.” A study in the journal “Pediatrics” showed that youngsters of lesbian couples actually “rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence.”
Fatherless daughters are most negatively impacted when they feel the sting of their dad's rejection. Studies show that girls whose fathers died were better off emotionally than those whose dads were absent because of addictions, mental illness, or irresponsibility.
Rejection is one of the most potent feelings we humans experience. It can cause deep and long-lasting wounds. It gets magnified even more when the rejection comes from a father, someone society tells us should love us unconditionally, protect us from harm, and take care of our needs. Because girls don't understand why their dads are not involved in their lives, they often blame themselves. This, in turn, can cause their self-worth to plummet.
Thanks for the question, Vicky.
Vicky on November 10, 2018:
So my question is if children in gay couples feel this neglect as well, as they would only have either 2 moms or 2 dads?
McKenna Meyers (author) on October 25, 2018:
Ivan, you sound like a kind and sincere man and this girl is lucky to have you in her life. I respect your commitment to her. For all intents and purposes, you are her father. You play that role in her life by spending lots of time with her, loving her, and attending her school events. That's far more significant than being the man who donated sperm.
My only concern is that you remain in her life for the long-haul, no matter what the future brings for you and her mom. Because you have romantic feelings for the mother that aren't reciprocated, you must be emotionally prepared if/when she finds someone else to love. Hopefully, you'll find someone as well!
But no matter what happens in your respective romantic lives, you must stay a part of the girl's life and her mom must allow you to do so. If you were to leave, the girl would surely feel abandoned and rejected. She would perceive it as a betrayal. It would make her less trusting of men in general.
It's important that you and her mom have blunt conversations now before a third party enters the picture. It's good the mom has been honest about her feelings and not wanting a future with you. I know it's hurtful and not what you want, but it's far better for you to know the truth. It would be terrible if she gave you false hope.
It sounds like the girl is doing well with you, her mom, and her extended family. You are making an unusual situation work. If you need additional guidance and support, I recommend the three of you (and other family members as well) attend family counseling. It would be a powerful way to understand your group dynamic and how you impact one another. You might also want to consult a lawyer to see if you would have any legal rights to keep seeing the girl if her mother were to marry and want you out of the picture.
It's good to know there are good guys like you in the world, Ivan. Best to you!
Ivan Paulo on October 24, 2018:
My situation is a bit different but I hope you can help me. I have been in a friend relationship with this girl I know for 15 years now. She got pregnant while in college, she´s currently living in Mexico (where i live) an the biological father has been absent ever since. Her daugther was born here as well and I have been with the girl since she was 3 months old. I babysat her for many years, built a relationship between the kid and I, the mother is present as well and in fact, the kid lives with her and her family. I love the kid and she loves me back, to the point that every weekend she wants to spend it with me, invites me to her school presentations and whatnot, I even say she´s my daugther . Her mom works everyday and only has 1 day off per week so she spends a considerable amount of time with me. I seek your advice for the fact that, for me, it will be best for the child to see her mom and I together, I love her mom but she has no feelings towards me, and I can, and do, accept that, my main question here is, what kind of issues will the child have with this kind of relationship? What can I do to minimize the issues? and what is best for the kid? I kindly apreciate your advice.
McKenna Meyers (author) on October 21, 2018:
Kenzie, at 12 you're wiser than many adults. By giving thanks for what you have (a loving mom and siblings and a protective grandpa), you're doing something that researchers say is key to our happiness: being grateful. Oprah Winfrey writes three things each day in her gratitude journal for which she wants to give thanks. She's been doing that for decades and recommends it to everyone.
I started that practice a couple years ago, and it has brought me a lot of peace. It focuses my thoughts on the good around me and minimizes the bad. Oprah says, “I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become.” Our thoughts are so powerful that when we show gratitude we become better, stronger, and more compassionate people.
Your dad's bad behavior is a reflection of him, not you. He may be struggling with demons from his own childhood that keep him from doing the right thing. Don't think for one second that he's kind and loving to everyone else but you. It may seem that way, but it's not true and makes you feel like a victim.
Accept that your dad is a flawed man who doesn't have much to offer. Focus on building a strong foundation for yourself by cultivating healthy friendships, learning a lot at school, developing a rich spiritual life, and planning your future. Don't let thoughts of your dad bring you down. Concentrate on the exciting life in front of you.
I allowed my dad's emotional absence to loom large in my life, and I wasted too much precious time feeling bad about it. Now I just think of the words from the inspirational speaker, Wes Moore, who sagely said: “ Don't let people that don't matter too much, matter too much!”
Take care of yourself, Kenzie, and keep practicing gratitude!
Kenzie Tayla Ledet on October 21, 2018:
I am a 12 year old girl who has 2 siblings and in my entire life my dad has never been there when i was in my mothers stomach he had ran away now he has kids that he loves but i was the only one he didnt want. But when i try to get in touch with him he curses me out and blocks me it makes me cry. Sometimes my grandpa trys to step in and help but it is never good enough... unless i have a mom who loves me and my siblings
Jasmin from Chicago Heights, Illinois on September 20, 2018:
Piece by Piece is my favorite song by Kelly Clarkson and that song truly shows just because shes famous that doesn't mean she doesn't have issues like every regular other human being.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 18, 2018:
You're so welcome, Jasmin. I'm so glad my article is helping others, and I'm so appreciative of all the thoughtful comments, questions, and personal stories that have enriched it. It's good we fatherless daughters know we're not alone and can move forward with fun, fulfilling lives. I hope we're getting the message out to dads that when they neglect their daughters they're creating deep wounds that can last years and even decades.
Jasmin from Chicago Heights, Illinois on September 18, 2018:
Thank You for all of your help McKenna it means alot.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 17, 2018:
Mia, you sound like such a loving and devoted mother and your daughter is lucky to have you. As you know from reading the questions and comments on this article, many fatherless daughters struggle for decades with their dads' rejection of them. Fortunately, it's not constant but every now and then when something gets triggered. Your daughter has a mother who realizes this and will be sensitive to those periods of sadness that are inevitable in her future. Even though I'm now in my fifties, I still get sad when I see a dad taking his daughter shopping or pushing her on a swing. I get over it quickly, but it still hurts.
I can never hear Kelly Clarkson's song “Piece by Piece” without crying. She wrote it about her dad leaving the family when she was six. If you've never seen the video, watch it on YouTube when she sings it live on the final season of “American Idol.” Even though her dad left decades before, she gets choked up and can barely finish. I think all of us fatherless daughters can relate to her raw emotion.
Best to you and your daughter!
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 17, 2018:
No Name, your pain feels so fresh and raw and rings true to me and many other fatherless daughters. Your grandmother's recent death opened up those old wounds from your past and now you're struggling. Many of us continue to do so for decades, even after our dad's death as is the case with me. This is perfectly normal as the hurt still affects us in profound ways from time to time. As long as you don't get stuck there in the sorrow, you need to cut yourself some slack and know it's to be expected. The only way that we can be unaffected by these situations is if we're stoned as I was for many years with anti-depressants. Believe me, that's not the way to go.
You're doing the right thing by writing about your feelings. I hope you also have some good friends with whom you can open up and discuss what's happening. The last thing you want to do is suppress your emotions, causing you great physical and psychic distress.
Even though you're feeling overwhelmed and troubled now, your words have so much wisdom and clarity in them. You see things as they are when you state: “I know that after the funeral it will all be over - and that I need to walk away fully.” It shows you want to take good care of yourself and lead a life of peace. It shows tremendous acceptance of your situation and a desire to move forward.
I'm so sorry about your grandmother. This is a difficult time you must endure. I'm glad your grandparents maintained a relationship with you even though their son acted like an unloving, irresponsible bum. Take care of yourself during this time as you grieve the loss of both your grandmother and your dad.
Mia on September 17, 2018:
I was the one who asked about my daughter who is now 6, thank you so much for the advice. I don’t really understand why her dad left her, he was largely inconsistent with visits so in a way I can I just never thought he’d actually leave her I still don’t know why he just stopped getting in contact and his sister confirmed he wasn’t gonna see her anymore. I will forever feel so guilty I brought her into this world with such a selfish father.
I’ve explained over the years he decided he wasn’t able to be a good dad and stopped coming, but she never really accepted it, however she seemed happier now when father related things happen as she has my new partner around and her school assigned her a male teacher, so she has a couple of key role models now.
I hope I can limit the pain as much as I can I’m sorry to everyone here who has experienced this ❤️
No Name on September 17, 2018:
My dad left when I was a toddler and I never had meaningful contact with him since (decades ago), though I did see him superficially via my grandparents every few weeks when I was pre-teen. He remarried when I was 4. His new wife, with whom he had three children (all in their 30s now), never wanted me to be part of their family, though she just about managed to tolerate me when I was a young child. The contact became less and less through my teens, not really at my desiring. I also eventually gave up trying - there are only so many letters you can write that don't get answered. I managed to retain a good relationship with my grandparents, despite this - and, I suppose, because I kept much of my deep hurt hidden. They were very good grandparents and through them I also continued to get news of my dad and his family and even see them very occasionally - never really satisfying. My grandad died over a decade ago. My grandmother died last week. It has brought everything back. Hard. My dad did let me know about my grandmother's death: in a conversation that took 45 seconds. I knew her better than him in the end, but he is the one planning the funeral etc. He has not been in touch since she died, despite my still stupidly hoping. I am - as always - making excuses for him - assuming he is also deeply upset, though he and his mum were never close. It's all so mixed up! I know that after the funeral it will all be over - and that I need to walk away fully. I can't quite believe that I am grieving him as much, if not more, as my grandmother. Especially as - intellectually - I do know how unloving he has always been. I found your article while surfing today and found it and the comments helpful.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 06, 2018:
Renee, your biological father or “sperm donor” sounds like a first-class jerk, and I'm sorry he's caused you so much pain. You're now dealing with his rejection yet again and that's rightfully causing you enormous anger and grief. You have every reason in the world to feel hateful towards him. The last thing you want to do for your own well-being is bottle up your anger like I did. That was a terrible mistake I made, leading to profound despair, taking anti-depressants, and living like a zombie for years.
I recommend seeing a cognitive therapist to discover constructive ways to deal with your rage. You already seem to be doing an amazing job of channeling your anger with positive pursuits. Great job with the paramedics training—way to go! I like cognitive therapy because it's goal-oriented—not just rehashing the past but having specific assignments to move forward. It doesn't drag on like some types of therapies do.
I'm afraid if you don't deal with your anger now it will affect your relationships for years to come. Once you have tools to deal with it, connecting your current situation to old wounds inflicted by your father, you'll do much better. It's truly worth the time and effort now to prevent destructive patterns that can mar your life for decades.
As a fellow fatherless daughter, my heart goes out to you. Please open up to other women and share your story. Anyone with an ounce of compassion will feel your hurt and offer support. Your desire to help others by being a paramedic is beautiful and noble. By helping others, you'll also help yourself.
Please get the support you need. While you must endure this pain, you don't need to do it alone. I wish you well.
Jasmin from Chicago Heights, Illinois on September 06, 2018:
Renee what your dad did to you was horrible. I Know my dad but he doesn't talk to me and I avoid him as much as possible he and my mom split when I was 12 and I don't miss him at all but if you need to talk I am always available. The fact he said those thing to you, you should be happy he's gone well not happy but maybe a weight lifted off of your shoulders
Renee on September 06, 2018:
I grew up not knowing who my father was. I found him when I was an adult and he rejected me. My brother and sisters also rejected me and all of them including my father and his wife said cruel things to me. I felt like I was the one who did something wrong. He died and I wasn't allowed to attend his memorial service. 8 weeks before he died he submitted DNA to 23 and me.com and verified his DNA connection to me but he never called me. He didn't even leave a note. The last thing he said to me was "STUPID GIRL"!!! I dove into paramedic school to distract myself from the grief and now I'm done I have to face it again. The anger is soooo intense. I wish there was a grave I could spit on, but he was cremated. I feel there is nothing that can help me.
McKenna Meyers (author) on September 02, 2018:
Jasmin, that's a smart move on your part and a terrific gift to yourself. You're so worth the time and effort. If you don't click with the counselor or aren't making progress, don't hesitate to find someone else. It's good to understand the past, but you don't want to get stuck there. You want to work on having a beautiful life now. I wish you the best. Good for you!
Jasmin from Chicago Heights, Illinois on September 01, 2018:
My father has been in and out of my life and I recently started counseling see we will see how that goes
McKenna Meyers (author) on August 29, 2018:
Sophia, I wish I could reach out and give you a hug. Your dad did so much damage to you through his absence and hurtful comments. My dad did the same to me when I was growing up and, when I was a young adult , I had multiple surgeries to alter my appearance. That was such a losing game because the problem wasn't with my looks; the problem was with a father who was cruel, insensitive, and clueless about the impact he had on his daughter.
I'm glad you understand that your dad is the problem, not you. Don't let him rob you of the beautiful life you can make for yourself. I wasted too much time stewing over my dad, wondering why he was the way he was and why he couldn't love me. I hope you won't do that with your life. Now you have the chance to seize control and create the life you want. Don't let him drag you down. I hope you have a good psychologist who pushes you to move forward. Much love and peace to you!
SophiaFarrow from Australia on August 28, 2018:
My father left us when I was 5 years old. Later, it was only talking on the phone and rare meetings, during which he gave critical comments to my appearance. To say that I grew up with complexes is still nothing to say. Now I also have a distrust of men for all my life. Because in every men I see my father. And only meetings with a psychologist help me a little bit to understand myself... Thanks for the article and for being not afraid to write about the problem openly.
McKenna Meyers (author) on August 20, 2018:
Denise, I'm so sorry you had to endure this and suffer the consequences. That was a cold, hostile, and inexplicable act on your father's part. I certainly understand why you've struggled because of it. I hope you've sought counseling for yourself in order to find peace and move forward in your life. That's too big of a hurt to overcome without insight from a professional.
I hope any father who's thinking of abandoning his daughter, believing it's no big deal, will read the comments and questions at the end of my article. It's truly heartbreaking to see the depth of pain a dad's neglect creates in a woman's life. It's a rejection that's extremely difficult to overcome.
Thanks for sharing your story, Denise. Take care!
Denise Cheshire Lowe on August 19, 2018:
My father walked out on my mother, me and my younger sister when I was one and a half years old. He Married another woman and had two children in the same town He was a loving involved father to To his new family. He was never involved in our lives again. My mother was psychologically affected by this and we had to live with her Trumatic outbursts and nervous breakdowns. I’ve had many relationship issues and self-esteem issues because of this
McKenna Meyers (author) on August 07, 2018:
You're correct, Bera Vinc. A daughter's self-esteem does not come from her father, her mother, or anyone but herself. A daughter's self-esteem (or anyone's for that matter) comes from what she does: completing a marathon after training for months, passing her chemistry class even though she struggled mightily, speaking in front of a group even though she was petrified. Self-esteem comes from trying new things, falling but getting back up, accomplishing what we thought was impossible, and reading and learning to become enlightened people. When children grow up without a mother or father, they've missed out on a cheerleader who pushes them to take risks, encourages their endeavors, accepts their failures, and loves them throughout it all. That's often why their self-esteem is low.
Bera Vinc on August 07, 2018:
A daughter's self esteem does not come from the dad.This is a man made doctrines, to exalt men over women.Women are stupid enough to believe this doctrine. The most important parent to a daughter, is the mother.
Kate2457 on July 24, 2018:
Michelle, I also grew up with a father who wasn't just unloving, but who was completely absent. I remember being a kid and having friends tell me that, yes, I did have to have a dad- somewhere. When I was younger I hardly knew what was missing from my life, but as I have gotten older I've realized just how catastrophic his absence has been on my mother's life, my relationship with her, and my journey in becoming an adult. You're not alone and I can definitely relate to your lack of answers. I have struggled with the same feeling for a long time. I don't feel necessarily that I'm unworthy of his love, just angry that his decision to be completely absent from my life has hurt my family and I.
McKenna Meyers (author) on July 23, 2018:
Michelle, I appreciate that you don't want to be lumped in with the fatherless daughters whose dads are absent because of divorce or emotional neglect. Losing your father through death is certainly a different experience with its own unique challenges and heartbreaks. Sherry Hewins wrote a powerful article about her father's death when she was 6 and how it affected her (https://hubpages.com/family-relationships/Understa... You're not alone, but your situation is rare. You have to make an effort to find those who've been through the same, unlike fatherless daughters from divorce or emotional neglect who are all around us.
My mother's mom died when she was a girl from cirrhosis of the liver brought on my alcoholism. That has shaped every aspect of my mom's life (both good and bad) and the lives of my siblings and me and our children. My mother is now 80 and recently said, “My mom chose booze over me.” I thought how terribly sad it was that she held that false belief for all those decades. She had no understanding of addiction and depression (which I think my grandmother suffered from since it runs in our family). The stories we tell ourselves (sometimes true but often times not) are so significant and we should be so very mindful of them. I wished my mom had seen a counselor during her lifetime so she could have better understood both her mom and herself.
I hope, Michelle, you form healthy, empowering stories to tell yourself about your dad. I'm sorry he died before you got to know him and him you. There will always be an emptiness in your heart because of that. It's a huge challenge for you to endure. Take care.
Michelle on July 20, 2018:
I would like to read a fatherless daughter article about a woman who didn’t physically have a father. Not one who was there but unloving, not one who was there but didn’t live at home etc. This article definitely makes me sad for you, but I want to know there really are other women like me out in the world. Someone who can truly, TRULY relate. I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from you. I’m sure it was hard but it’s still different to lack a father and go without answers. My dad died when I was a baby, he was physically, emotionally and every sense of the word GONE. Who else can relate to that? Am I really, truly alone in this?
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 15, 2018:
Thanks for sharing your story, Mayrapatricia. I strongly believe all the responses I've received from fatherless daughters are far more important and far more impactful than my original article. However, I'm grateful my piece was an impetus for women such as you to think about the topic and write about your personal experiences. We are so much stronger when we share our journeys.
We feel a lot of shame as fatherless daughters but we shouldn't. It wasn't our fault, and we need to connect with other women who understand our pain. Our mothers, feeling guilty about depriving us of fathers, often deny or downplay what we've been through and the hurt it's caused. Whenever I talked about my dad and how he called me fat and put me down, my mom would defend him and say what a good provider he was (which was true but didn't make up for the verbal abuse). There's a part of her that knows she should have stopped him but was too weak.
Mayrapatricia, you have done so much with your life and have overcome so many obstacles. You will protect your daughter and help her develop into a strong, educated woman like her mother. I'm sorry you missed out on having a dad but know you're not alone. There's so many of us out here.
Mayrapatricia on June 15, 2018:
This article is totally me. I grew up with an abusive aunt from birth to age 11
You can see the sadness in my pictures. Not one smile as a 2 year old, all the way till 11.5 . I am super anti-social. Unfortunately for me when I started asking my mother who my father was it was a family tree project I had to do for school, I was ignored and told to make it up. Later on I would keep pressing, and I had to stop when my mother would cry. I thought so many horrible things could of happened to my mom like possibly being raped, and it hurt her to tell me. Later, in one trip to el Salvador, I asked her sisters and they told me his name and I went to meet him, spoke to his sister, spoke with him on the phone. He did not seem like a bad person, he told me his name and acknowledged he was my father.
Throughout the years, I pressed on for my mom to tell me details and I would be ignored. I started not caring, I was already 18 when I started dating, I was dating a 45 year old man, 37, 27 -- whoever gave me attention (now thinking back, the 45 year old may have been a pedophile but he waited till I turned 18 to ask me on a date) & I was just 19 when I met my husband. Marriage was not something I thought of as sacred but I did marry him last year for health insurance. So we lived together, had a baby at 25, even though our relationship is not perfect,But like the article, I never thought I was worthy of anything better because my husband told me so. I keep the relationship because we have a child together and I will sacrifice anything for her to grow up with a mom, dad, little house. I found one of my biological father's children from his marriage (he had 6 kids while sleeping around with his patients in his dental office in el Salvador. My mom was one of those patients. She only has a 3rd grade education). She was so nice, listened to my story, but she had no clue I ever existed, and her mom never talked about her husband screwing around women from his practice. She asked me if I would do a DNA test which I gladly would. She showed me pictures of him and her together. His family is all professional people & out of all my family that migrated toAmerica, that have children in their late 20's, I am the only one that has a master's degree. I wish my mom had never ignored my questions or made me feel bad for asking who this person was. Maybe I would of made better life choices? I am not sure. I could not bare to tell my daughter why she did not have a grandfather. Ever since she was very small she asked and I simply told her he died before I was born due to bad choices. In my mind, it is better that, than to tell her "sorry, your grandmother was having an affair with a married man who had 6 children, I have no idea how because she was a live in maid and she will not tell me any details, I know this because that is all the information her sisters told me about. My daughter is having growth issues and this biological father of mine was only 5"0 height, he may have had a growth problem which those were not treated until the 70's. My biological father is 83 now.
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 08, 2018:
With one in three of us identifying ourselves as fatherless, you're definitely not alone Joanne. I'm so glad you shared your story. Like you, I had my father in the home, but he was often cruel to my sister and me, calling us names like Buffalo Butt and Rhino Rump. I think he thought he was being funny but, my god, how that affects a girl growing up and stays with her! When I see girls getting loved up by their dads like your granddaughter, I'm so happy for them but still a little sad for me all these decades later. Take good care, Joanne!
Joanne Hatten on June 08, 2018:
I am now in my 60's, single for 13 years, but married multiple times in an attempt to find that "Daddy Love". My Father was mostly present in our lives, but unreachable to me, his only daughter, or to our Mother, who suffered through many years of his infidelity. She raised my 5 brothers, and me, basically by herself, while he ran the roads and chased other women. They are both deceased now, for many years. I married at 16, left home, and the next 30 years were a total mess - couldn't form lasting relationships, left men before they could "reject" me; finally married a man, who I thought would be "the one", at 34, only to be dumped after 21 years of marriage, for a younger woman. I've mostly recovered, but the scars are deep, & I am a loner. I remember envying girls who were the delight of their fathers, and longing for mine to hold me & let me sit on his lap. It is a never ending, aching void. One bright ending, is that my Son has a daughter, & she has enjoyed all those wonderful things I missed; she is adored by her Dad! I don't wallow in self pity now, and continue to work toward healing; articles like this help, and I am grateful for them & to know I am not alonw.
McKenna Meyers (author) on June 05, 2018:
Yes, that makes sense you wouldn't care as much since you never had a dad. Kids have an easier time of it emotionally when a father dies than when he neglects them because of divorce, remarriage, starting a new family etc. It seems that the rejection is most painful as they wonder what they did wrong. I glad you're doing okay without one. Take care.
Garbage on June 05, 2018:
Never had a dad never cared about that. I am still trying to figure out why they are important at all.
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 24, 2018:
Sheridan, I'm so glad you shared your story. When we take pen to paper and write down our thoughts, it's so incredibly powerful. We make sense of our life in a cognitive way instead of just reacting to it in an emotional way (which can lead us down the wrong path).
You are wise beyond your years, Sheridan, with an awareness that will serve you well in college and beyond. You've had two men in your life who've caused you a lot of hurt so you must be careful not to recreate those relationships with boyfriends. We sometimes do that to fix the past, but it usually misfires. It's better to move forward, armed with the knowledge we've earned through our tears and pain.
I've had so many crappy female friendships over the decades because I didn't know who I was and didn't value myself. I'm sure it was largely due to the poor relationship with my dad. I always put myself in the role of "supportive sidekick" and was taken advantage of and devalued. It's only recently that I've started to choose friends rather than letting them choose me and, believe me, that works a lot better!
As you head off to college, you'll find so many women there who can relate to your struggles with your father and stepfather. They'll want to open up and tell you their stories, too. It's staggering to think one in three women identify themselves as fatherless. We're far from being alone, Sheridan! I wish you all the best as you have so much to look forward to as your life opens up before you with an abundance of new opportunities. Enjoy!
Sheridan on May 23, 2018:
I had 2 father figures, one my biological father who is still in my life, but attempts to buy my "love" which is really just superficial praise. He does not truly care. I break a little more every time he doesn't show up to another event. I've seen him less and less because he's just hard to deal with. He watched porn in front of me as a child, and just overall was so, so neglectful. I thought he was the "cool" parent for a while, as he let me stay up all night, and eat whatever I wanted, but I learned the truth eventually after not contacting him and him not reaching out for 9 months. He doesn't understand that I just want him to genuinely care, not money or material items.
My other Father figure was my stepfather. He was abused as a child, and was horribly verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive for as long as I knew him over stupid things, like not doing chores. I'm still very sensitive to being screamed at because of him. I didn't know it was abuse until I was about 11 or 12 snd finally told my Mom.
I thought it was normal, and that I deserved it. I also didn't want to ruin his realtionship with my Mom, since he made her happy, and I seemed to be the cause of every fight they had. I also acted out, intentionally as the rare times our relationship was good, he was a better Father than my own and I hated him, and my Dad for it.
He was kicked out when I was 14, and I'm still terrified of him. I want to talk to him, to tell him all the fear and hatred he caused me. That I cried those 2 years after, when he sent me Christmas presents, thougthful ones, that my own Dad never would've thought of. But the pain and particularly the fear...I just can't. I feel like such a coward, and I hate that he makes me feel this way, even though I'm 18 now.
I'm still struggling with my issues pertaining to both of them. I'm only just now beginning to see that I'm pretty, and a strong, empathetic and gentle person and that I deserve better than the toxic friendships I've surrounded myself with. They always rant to me about their issues, but I'm never once asked(genunely) how I am doing, or even been invited to outings or events. Hell, my best friend of 5 years dropped my like a hot potato over me telling her she didn't get an audition before she could see it herself, even though I was comforting her. She didn't check to see if I was okau, didn't even think I was tallim to her while crying in the bathroom, just so she wouldn't feel what I was.
It's not healthy. I see that now, but it's even more scary, now that I must figure out how to find genuinely kind and good people, who will care if I'm okay, and be able to tell that I'm actually not okay when I try to pretend that I am. That's all that I want, and I'm praying to God that I find people like that in college.
Sorry for rambling, just wanted to share my experience. Thank you so much for this article!
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 15, 2018:
Chris, I'm sorry you're going through this difficult time with your daughter. It sounds like she's hurting, missing you, and acting out because of it. She's fortunate, though, that you are aware of what's happening and will do your best to make her feel loved and wanted. Many parents, when breaking up with a partner, are so consumed with their own pain that they're oblivious to the child's. Hang in there, Dad. Don't ever give up on your daughter and she'll eventually see who you really are and how much you really care.
Chris Romo on May 15, 2018:
As a Father who just got split up from His Daughter about 5 months ago due to relationship issues, im starting to see the negative side effects it has on a child. I have seen how my Daughters behavior has gone from being a respectful, disciplined, and loving Child towards me, to being a Daughter who seems like i never existed in Her life. She is becoming a real bad mouthed child and just doesnt want to do anything but cause trouble. And She is also like that to others. Its a sad situation how She went from being respectful and well mannered to problem child. I see that this is going to affect Her for the rest of Her life.
McKenna Meyers (author) on May 13, 2018:
Osey, I'm sorry about your dad. I know his absence leaves a hole in your heart. For many decades, I tried to fill the hole in me with food, but it never worked. I just got fat! Now I let myself feel sadness and emptiness, and I tell myself it's warranted, normal, and natural.
Then I move on and do positive things that enhance my life and well-being: gardening, reading, exercising, listening to music, spending time with my husband and kids. I hope you treat yourself with love and kindness every day, Osey. Take care!
Osey NJ on May 13, 2018:
I have never met my dad I have always hoped he would come to England but he never has and he probably never will
Abby on April 10, 2018:
I strongly disagree with your psycho analysis of fatherless daughters and I am one myself. I have a fear of abandonment and tend cling onto men in personal relationships more rather than (be closed) and become more sentitive. I think you need to do More research.
McKenna Meyers (author) on March 16, 2018:
Unknown, you're already way ahead of the game by thinking and writing about these issues now. You're already connecting the dots in your life -- how your relationship with your father is affecting your relationships with boyfriends. If you can recognize the destructive patterns in your life and stop them, you will feel more powerful and confident. I didn't start doing that until my 50's so I applaud you for starting a lot sooner!
It sounds like you need to be focusing on life goals and not on having and keeping a relationship. You're so young and should be concentrating on your education, career, and friendships. I suggest keeping a journal -- not only to address your feelings and experiences -- but to make sense of them cognitively. This has been immensely helpful to me. When I write things down in an orderly way, it enlightens me, brings me peace, and makes me feel in control.
I wish you the very best, unknown. You have a marvelous future in front of you. Make sense of your past, but don't let it hold you back. Take care!
Unknown emotional all over female on March 16, 2018:
Im 19 and my father passed away back in January. I can say that I did cry for him only because I had questions that was never answered. I learned one thing he was treating & being emotionally distance is because of the fact my grandad did the same to him. On my end it wasn't easy for me and still isn't my mom didn't raise as a women should be. I'm learning all this more harder now. I only been in one long relationships and it was/still effecting me. I realised I was trying to get him to love me by acting on it the same way i was trying to get my dad to do. I ended it because I felt like if a guy don't accept my love & treat me right oh well. Moving with my story I have so many heart break with men. I cant tell or let a guy who actually right for me in cause I just dont want to get hurt. And when I be honest a dude run cause its a lot I got to work on. He just broke up with me last night. I want to get him back cause I feel like I didn't do the right parts on my side. Any advice or what can I do to have more confidence and how to trust again?
McKenna Meyers (author) on February 26, 2018:
Joanne--Thank you so much for writing and sharing your story. When I wrote this article, it was painful for me so I'm glad to hear someone benefitted from it. I'm sorry you didn't have a daddy. I know your hurt. There's still a hole in my heart where mine was supposed to be, but I'm now leading a life of peace and acceptance. You stopped the cycle by rearing a son who's a fantastic father to his daughter. You should be so proud of that. Take care!
Joanne Hatten on February 26, 2018:
Articles like these have helped me very much. I am 67, the only daughter among 5 brothers, and our father basically ignored us all. Our home epitomized the term "dysfunction", as he cheated on our mother constantly, ignoring her as well and he was absent most of the time. She brought us up the best she could, but we've all dealt with anger & various other issues; I remember the longing, as a girl, to be adored by my "Daddy", & it was so painful to see others who received that attention from their attentive fathers. My first 35 years were a mess, as I went from relationship to relationship, seeking to fill the void, but unable to emotionally commit to or trust any man. My last marriage endured 21 years, only to end with my being abandoned for a younger woman. After 12 years alone, I've found more peace, & greater understanding of my strange journey; also, that there are countless women who identify with me and the sadness/depression battled all my life. I won't marry again, nor do I date, for, at heart I am basically a loner. My joy is in seeing my teenage granddaughter living my long ago dream, for she is so adored by my son, & he is a wonderful father to her & her brother. He & his wife have been married almost 23 years, also proving the dream that never came true for me. Thank you for a great article!
McKenna Meyers (author) on February 07, 2018:
You're welcome, Anon. With one out of three women identifying themselves as fatherless, you and I know were not alone. In fact, when I started to open up and talk about the empty relationship I had with my dad, other women felt free to do the same. I heard a lot of painful stuff that was still so real and raw even for these women in their 40's, 50's, and 60's. I cry every time I hear the Kelly Clarkson song, "Piece by Piece." She wrote it herself, and it tells about her father abandoning her at 6 and then trying to get back in her life when she was rich and famous. We all wanted a loving Daddy, but not enough of us got one.
Anon on February 07, 2018:
I grew up without a Father and all of this is true for me. Thank you for the article X
McKenna Meyers (author) on January 02, 2018:
Thanks, Bill. As a kindergarten teacher, I worked with many boys and girls from fatherless homes. When I look back at those years, I see how hard I tried to teach them their letters, sounds, and numbers and how they resisted—how they didn't care. Their little lives were so tumultuous and learning was a low priority. Dads make such a huge difference but, unfortunately, it now seems politically incorrect to say so.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 02, 2018:
As a teacher I've seen the truth in what you say. All of those things happen, and the scars are still visible for decades. Thank you for speaking your truth in this hard-hitting piece, and I hope you have a very Happy New Year!
McKenna Meyers (author) on January 01, 2018:
That was a beautiful and smart thing your family members told you, Dora. You had a loving relationship with your dad even after his death. The stories we're told by others and the stories we tell ourselves are so powerful in shaping who we are.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 01, 2018:
Thanks for your insight on this important topic. I think that your findings are generally true. My father died before I was old enough to remember him. I've never had a father-daughter relationship, but my grandmothers, aunts and uncles convinced me that he loved me, and I grew up loving him. I think that the assurance of love is a great help, and the absence of that assurance creates a void.