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!" From that day forward, I practiced radical acceptance about my dad. I stopped thinking about the way I wished things had been. I stopped wishing that they could have been different. I ended a lifetime of suffering by saying the painful truth: "I never had a warm, loving father and I never would."
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: 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: My dad was in my life for years, up until late 2016. All his broken promises and lies are mentally tearing me down. He fell in love with some woman who doesn't like us. He takes everything out on me and told me some mean or harsh things when I was little. I am thinking about telling him to never talk to me again. I'm never as happy as I used to be. I've been deeply depressed for 3 years now, a daughter in distress. Please, what do I do?
Answer: You need to make yourself a priority now and plan for your future. As such, it seems like your father has no place in your life at this time. He's not functioning as a good parent and is even detrimental to your well-being. He was selfish to marry (and stay married to) someone who doesn't like his children. While it's easy to peg her as the bad guy, it's actually your father who is 100 percent responsible for the situation he created.
You have your whole life in front of you with new friendships to make, new romances to embrace, and new opportunities to explore. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in this emotional turmoil with your dad. He's made his choices and now it's your time to make yours. Hopefully, you'll make better ones that don't create so much heartache for others.
Women get depressed when they feel helpless and immobile. Once you start taking steps to seize control of your destiny, you'll feel much better. If you feel it necessary, please set up sessions to talk with a therapist in person or online. Any positive steps forward—talking to a counselor, writing in a journal, beginning an exercise routine, meditating, praying, changing your diet, taking long walks in nature—will lighten your mood and make you feel empowered.
When I was in therapy, my counselor said something to me that made all the difference. It was: “Depression is angry toward inward.” That was so true for me. Once I acknowledged, verbalized, and dealt with my rage, I felt much better. If you admit how angry you are with your dad for being a lousy parent, you'll feel better.
You are now the architect of your life. You choose who's a part of it and who's not. You chose the path you wish to travel.
Question: My mother and father broke up when I was 10. I have never seen my dad since. My mother always favors my brother. I always feel a little left out. I feel jealous or a kind of hatred for my brother. Is there anything I can do about it?
Answer: Three is a tricky number in relationships, whether it's with family, friends, or co-workers. One person inevitably feels left out as the other two become tighter. It's terrific that you're in touch with your feelings regarding this situation and aren't keeping them bottled up inside of you.
The next step (and the only way to make it better) is to communicate them to your mother and brother. They may have no idea that you're feeling this way. Suffering in silence will only build up tension and resentment inside of you.
Since three is tricky, make an effort to spend time alone with your mom and time alone with your brother. That way you won't always feel like a third wheel and you'll grow closer to each one of them. You won't feel like you're in competition for Mom's attention as siblings so often do.
If you feel this problem is more than you can handle on your own, talk to your mom about the three of you attending family counseling together. It focuses on improving the dynamic within the family unit—exposing dysfunctional patterns of relating and working to correct them. If you've never talked to a therapist about your father's abandonment, this would provide a wonderful opportunity to do that in a safe space. Most certainly, his departure and lack of involvement in your lives is still affecting each one of you in profound ways.
Your mother and brother love you and want the best for you. Please talk with them so the three of you can work to make this better. Take care!
Question: Can this book help me? I only met my father once when I was 23 years old. He denied even knowing who I was. I married a narcissistic man who repeatedly discarded/recycled me over 20 years. At 41 years old I’m still deeply wounded and hoping this book can help me.
Answer: "The Unavailable Father" can give you comfort in knowing that you're not alone as a daddyless daughter. It can be useful by reading small parts of it at a time and then journaling how it relates to your life. More likely, though, your time and energy would be better spent by talking with a therapist about your own unique situation.
You experienced rejection from your dad as both a child and an adult. You then re-lived that dynamic many times over with your husband. There's a chance you unconsciously chose a narcissistic man, hoping to go back and fix your past. A good therapist could help you explore this possibility and formulate a plan so you won't repeat that pattern in the future.
I've spoken with dozens of fatherless daughters and the same commonality kept surfacing among them: namely, that they never felt seen and heard. So many of them had recollections of trying to talk with their mothers about their absent dad and how much he hurt them. Instead of being compassionate listeners, though, their moms dismissed them time and time again. Feeling guilty about the men that they picked, these moms reacted defensively and sometimes angrily.
Therefore, the daughters dropped the conversation. In adulthood, though, they still had a burning need to talk about their father's abandonment and their unresolved feelings surrounding it. That's why therapy was beneficial for so many of them. It gave them the chance to finally tell their story without being shut down.
I hope you'll get some professional support. You've been through a lot, and I wish you the very best.
Question: My father died when I was 10 years old. He was an alcoholic and died from cirrhosis. I have very little memory of him. I don’t remember him ever showing me affection. I also feel resentment towards him for choosing his addiction over his own family. How can I heal this pain?
Answer: Your situation reminds me of my own family. My grandmother died from cirrhosis of the liver (brought on by alcoholism) when my mother was just 9. Although she passed long before I was ever born, her tragic legacy lives on decades after her death. Sadly, it continues to this day because my mother never recognized and corrected her faulty thinking regarding her mom. I urge you to not make the same mistake regarding your father.
My mother, now in her 80's, still laments that her mom “chose booze over her.” By never reading a book about alcoholism and addiction, by never joining Al-Anon (a support group for friends and family of alcoholics), and by never going to therapy, she has suffered from this defective thinking her entire life. It caused her to have low self-esteem, which resulted in her marrying a not-so-nice man. He fathered four children, including myself, but was never a daddy to any of us. That, in turn, resulted in us becoming adults who've all battled depression and anxiety.
To prevent this from happening in your own life, I hope you take control of your thinking today. Become more conscious of your thoughts and more careful with your words, appreciating the power they have over your life. Saying “my father became physically and emotionally dependent on alcohol and couldn't function as a parent” is more accurate (and far less damaging to your psyche) than saying he “choose his addiction over his own family.” When I get destructive thoughts running in my head, I always use the following mantra to snap out of my negativity: “We are not our thoughts; we are the awareness of our thoughts.”
Keep feeling all your feelings and the feeling will lead to healing. One of the reasons people turn to alcohol and drugs is they seek to numb their hurt. In the process, though, they destroy their humanity and their lives. We all have emotional heartache; it's an inescapable part of the human experience. We, therefore, must learn to deal with it effectively, not run from it. Because of your suffering, you can decide to become a more compassionate and caring soul on this planet (and Lord knows, we need more of those)! By reaching out to help others, you can give your anguish a purpose.
Question: My dad was on drugs. My mom left him when I was 3. I just recently discovered that he had a girlfriend. I want to speak about it with my mom but I don't know how to bring it up. How do I address the matter?
Answer: You're compassionate to appreciate that this conversation may be hard on your mom. She may feel uncomfortable re-visiting this painful time in her life. She may feel guilty for choosing this man to be your father. She may feel sad about the mistakes she's made and how they impact the both of you today. She may feel defensive if you question the decisions she's made. She may feel that you don't appreciate all that she's done.
Give your mom a heads-up that you would like to discuss your dad with her. Instead of ambushing her with difficult questions, give her some time to collect her thoughts and put things in context. Give her time to formulate the overriding message she wants to impart to you, not just the details of the situation. After all, what she's learned from her journey in far more significant than whether or not your dad had a girlfriend.
Use this opportunity to understand your mother in a new and deeper way. Don't waste it by simply making it a fact-finding mission about your dad. Make it about getting closer to your mom. After all, she's the one who's been there for you.
Sometimes fatherless daughters fall into the trap of becoming preoccupied with their absent dads. Because they're out of grasp, they seem more mysterious and desirable. By doing this, though, a fatherless daughter can make her mom feel devalued.
Question: Do you think because I didn’t grow up with a dad it makes me get emotionally attached too soon? Then, when that person leaves, I feel totally abandoned. I just want the affection that I never got from a dad growing up. Now I don’t want to get involved with anyone else because I fear more rejection and abandonment. Am I damaged?
Answer: I think you're insightful and self-aware, not damaged. Nobody knows you better than yourself so listen to what your life is telling you. It seems to be saying that you're not available to be in a relationship at this time because you aren't strong enough. You're too fearful of what will happen if it ends and how it will negatively impact you.
If this is the problem you're facing, then you need to find a solution. Stepping back from relationships and focusing on yourself is something that would be beneficial. When you work on your personal goals, whether they're continuing your education, moving upward in your career, training for a marathon, or saving for a house—you'll build self-confidence.
When you become an accomplished, secure person, you'll be able to enter relationships, knowing full well that you'll be okay no matter what happens. You'll also attract a much higher caliber of men to date. Doing therapy (online or in-person) can be another powerful solution for moving forward if you're seriously motivated to make changes and not just content on wallowing in your pain. However, for therapy to have good results, you need to have specific goals in mind and be willing to put in the hard work.
No man wants to be your daddy. You didn't get the love and support of a father so you need to give that to yourself. A man wants to be your partner, friend, and lover but not a paternal figure. It's unfair of us fatherless daughters to expect that of our romantic partners and only leads to frustration and disappointment...for them and for us.
Bishop T. D. Jakes says: “Be what you are missing to yourself.” Those words are so powerful for us fatherless daughters and we need to take them to heart. This is your opportunity to take time for yourself and work on your goals. I wish you well with that.
Question: My father made me feel unwanted always. He told me that I was dirt under my brother's feet. He never treated my six sisters like that. Why, among my siblings, would my father single me out for abuse? He even turned his head to me on his deathbed.
Answer: When a child is treated radically different than their siblings as you were, they may have been assigned the scapegoat role. The scapegoat is often a sensitive child who's hyper-aware of the dysfunction in the family and, therefore, is resented by one or both parents. The scapegoat is the truth-teller who threatens the image of the perfect family that the parents so desperately want to display to the world. Because the scapegoat sees and feels things differently than the other kids, they're often viewed as “the other” and get blamed for anything that goes wrong.
A scapegoated youngster may grow up feeling deep shame but not understanding why. They may feel that no matter what they accomplish they're never good enough. They realize deep-down that they will never get parental approval and accolades. As an adult, they ask themselves the very questions you're wondering: Why was I singled out for bad treatment? Why were the others loved and not me? Why don't I feel close to my siblings? Why do I struggle with feelings of unworthiness?
Scapegoating is a common technique used by narcissistic parents. A good therapist can help adults who were scapegoated as kids to understand how it affects their lives now. That new-found awareness can free them from their designated role and relieve them of their shame, guilt, and confusion.
Question: Do these still apply if my parents were divorced a few months before I was born, and I've only ever heard about him?
Answer: They only apply in that you are a fatherless daughter because your dad was out of the picture. However, you may feel less of the sting from his absence because he never knew you. Therefore, you didn't experience the same rejection that many girls do when their dad's exit. If not given an adequate, age-appropriate explanation for why he left, some of them take it personally and blame themselves as kids are apt to do. This contributes immensely to the problems that fatherless daughters encounter.
Some women who grew up without dads have written to me, proudly proclaiming that they've never had any of the problems detailed in my article. I would imagine that's because their moms took full responsibility for picking the wrong guy and admitted as such to them. When mothers explain what they did wrong (I didn't know him long enough...I picked someone who was irresponsible...I hooked up with him just to get away from my family...I had sex too soon), they let their daughters off the hook. Moreover, they give their daughter hope that they can avoid making the same mistakes when they're adults. They make them feel empowered that they have the ability to make better choices and one day have a happy, strong marriage.
Being aware of the pitfalls that many fatherless daughters encounter can help you avoid them. It's crucial to focus on building self-esteem by accomplishing your goals. When you have confidence, you choose a guy who's decent, responsible, and worthy of your love. Without self-worth, fatherless daughters are just grateful for any guy who shows them attention.
It's also important to stand back and look at the patterns in your life. Are you always looking for a man to feel complete? Are you always escaping painful feelings by drinking too much, eating too much, or having meaningless sex? Are you always looking for a quick fix instead of putting in the time and effort to improve your future?
None of the problems detailed in my article need to apply to you. Some women use their dad's absence as an excuse for their failings. Those who seize control of their lives and look forward, not backward, fare much better.
Question: Why do I crave relationships more than others? Is this a coping method?
Answer: If you believe that you're craving relationships as a coping method, I'd trust your instincts. It's good to be curious about your behaviors and how they relate to you as a fatherless daughter. Being able to stand back, look at our destructive patterns, and change them is a rare ability. Those who do it, though, save themselves a lot of heartache and gain control of their destinies.
Your gut may be telling you to spend some time by yourself. Moving from one relationship to another keeps us from enjoying our own company and figuring what we want out of life. It distracts us from the task at hand. This would be an especially critical step to take if you're consistently in relationships with less than stellar men.
Like many fatherless daughters, I had low standards for the guys I dated in my 20's. I was just grateful for any man who gave me attention. My girlfriends with loving dads, though, had high expectations for the guys they dated. Their close father-daughter relationship gave these women an incredible sense of self-worth. Therefore, they simply refused to tolerate bad behavior from anyone but especially their boyfriends.
Since my dad was emotionally absent, I lacked confidence. I had to build it through my own achievements: graduating from college, starting a career, and purchasing a house. It was through my accomplishments that I gained pride and eventually expected more out of the men I dated.
I think you're on the right track and I wish you well.
Question: I find this article overwhelmingly depressing and fatalistic. Where is the hope for healing, practical tips for moving forward, support and encouragement that one can overcome this and lead a happy life? Is there more of that encouragement in the book or it is it more accounts of how messed up one is after having this happen to them? We need to empower ourselves and find hope and healing.
Answer: I address the topic of empowerment in the article, “5 Steps to Heal Her Pain: How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move on From a Dad's Rejection” https://wehavekids.com/family-relationships/How-Ab... As you point out, the goal is to move away from identifying as a fatherless daughter—a victim of something beyond your control—to liberating yourself so you can enjoy a life of purpose, joy, and autonomy.
The first step, though, to solving any problem is recognizing it. Girls (and boys as well) who grow up without involved fathers have become so commonplace in today's society that we tend to minimize the negative impact it can have on them. Because of this, many women struggle for years, or even decades like me, without realizing that their destructive behaviors are tied to that early rejection.
Once she understands that, though, a woman can grieve not having a loving dad, feel all her feelings, and move forward. She can get curious about her life, embrace her inner world, and make herself a priority. Otherwise, she may continue to numb her emotions with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or anti-depressants like I did, causing her to have a zombie-like existence rather than being a fully engaged human being in the world.
When a woman recognizes and accepts that her dad wasn't there, she can finally start living. When she stops resisting this reality, desperately wanted things to be different, she relieves herself of undue stress and finds peace of mind. She can forgive her father and live in the present moment, not be stuck in the past.
In "The Untethered Soul," Michael Singer refers to pain from our childhood as our “inner thorn.” After reading his book, I became acutely aware that my intense reactions weren't caused by the situation at hand but always by something else. More often than not, it was the pain of my dad's rejection. Today, when I get triggered, I step back from my intense initial reaction and realize that my inner thorn has been touched. In fact, I've done this for so long now that I sometimes say out loud, “Ouch, that activated my inner thorn,” and can chuckle about it.
Believe me, there's a lot of hope for healing and I wish you the very best!
Question: What advice can I give my daughter emotionally? She has never met her dad, and I’m terrified of the effects of that as she enters adulthood. She’s 18 and reading your article about suicide and drug addiction petrified me.
Answer: Instead of being petrified, share this article with your daughter and discuss with her the pitfalls that she may encounter. She probably has friends who are already struggling with some of these problems but don’t necessarily connect them with being fatherless. When young women know what to expect, they’re better prepared to meet the moment and stay focused on their goals.
Your daughter needs to know that she can open up and be vulnerable with you. Sadly, I hear from many fatherless daughters who can’t do this with their mothers and, therefore, feel alone and misunderstood. When they want to talk about their dad’s absence and its negative impact on them, they’re met with anger and defensiveness from their moms.
It’s helpful when moms admit the mistake that they made in having sex with a man who was ill-suited to be a parent. If they apologize for it and acknowledge the hurt that they’ve caused, they open the door for real conversation and truth-telling. They give their daughters hope that they can have a happy marriage and family one day. They let them know that it’s not a crapshoot but something within their control when they use good judgment.
The psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck, said: “True listening involves setting aside of the self.” Yet, how often do any of us really do that? When a mom puts her ego on the shelf, she can find out what her daughter is truly feeling. Listening is more valuable than any advice that you can give.
Question: My dad knows about me, but doesn't take a role in my life. How can I get over him taking a role in my other sister's life, but not mine?
Answer: Have you communicated your desire to have a relationship with him? Have you explained how hurt you are from the lack of one? Have you asked him point blank why he's involved in your sister's life but not yours? If you haven't had a blunt discussion with him, you must do so to clear the air and get his perspective on things.
A lack of communication is the cause of so many problems in families, so much unnecessary pain, and so much wasted time. Sadly, our society has devalued dads so much that many of them don't realize how extremely important they are to their children, making them feel worthy and loved. Your dad needs to hear this.
If, through his words and actions, it's apparent he doesn't want to play a role in your life, then it's best to accept it and move forward. Focus on improving yourself, achieving your goals, and developing meaningful relationships. Don't let your DNA connection with this man mean more than it does. Celebrate the family members and friends who were there for you during good times and bad and don't disrespect them by being preoccupied with a guy who wasn't.
If he wasn't around when you were little, he didn't develop that early and all-important bond with you. There are a lot of people in the world who are stingy with their love, and he made be one of them. My dad and his entire side of the family was like that so, when dealing with them, I just kept in mind the quote: “Everybody isn't gonna love you. Most people don't even love themselves.” Those words brought me a lot of peace and helped me see that they were the problem, not me.
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: My biological dad passed way before I was born. My mom didn’t want me to be fatherless. Therefore, she married a guy she knew for only a short time. He was an alcoholic. After that, I got a step-dad. He has his own kids so he never actually cares about me. I think I am in need of daddy’s love. Therefore, I feel like being a little girl to those other fathers. What else can I do to get over these daddy-lack-of-love issues?
Answer: It sounds like your mother was desperate to find a husband for herself and a father figure for you. In the process, she made some crucial mistakes that have left you feeling hurt and vulnerable. It would have been far better for you psychologically if she had not remarried, focused solely on you, and found surrogate dads in your grandfathers, your uncles, and family friends. Because your father was absent because of death and not abandonment, you wouldn't have felt rejected but now you do.
A father figure should not be seen as merely someone who's married to your mother. At this point, you need to broaden your definition to include anyone (male or female, young or old, familiar or famous) who embodies the qualities of a good dad: strong, protective, nurturing, encouraging, empowering, and wise. A father's primary goal is to bring out the best in his children so they develop solid characters and can lead meaningful lives. Surround yourself with people who can do that.
At this point, you probably won't find one person to fulfill the role of dad. You can, though, gather bits and pieces from many people: friends, family members, teachers, mentors, religious leaders, and role models from literature, politics, show business, and sports. Don't hesitate to reach out to men (and women) in your life and ask them for their support and guidance. Most will feel flattered, not burdened.
While it's extremely difficult to recover from a father's absence, it can be done. You're way ahead of the game because you understand your situation and the pain it's caused. Most importantly, you're motivated to move forward and not stay stuck in the past. Going to therapy would be a wonderful way for you to make sense of what's happened in your life and to understand how your mother's choices have negatively impacted you. It would be valuable to have an objective ear. Best to you!
Question: I'm struggling to determine what is best for my daughter. Her father was convicted of sexually abusing her step-sister. She currently has weekly supervised visits with her dad. I am getting married and my fiance is willing to adopt her, but I am worried about how to keep a relationship going between her and her father while still protecting her from his negative influence and manipulative tendencies. How much does having a loving step-father counteract these negative effects?
Answer: You have a challenging situation on your hands, and I admire you for thinking about its impact on your daughter. She'll benefit from having stable, loving, and involved men in her life, whether they're grandfathers, uncles, coaches, teachers, or your fiance. I hope he understands his importance in her universe and will stay committed to her even if the marriage were to end.
With the complications in your situation, it would be beneficial for you and him to attend pre-marital counseling. The therapist may want your daughter (and any siblings) to join you in some sessions as well, so you can discuss family dynamics. The therapist can advise you on how to talk with her in an age-appropriate way about her dad's bad behavior and manipulative ways. She needs to know that he has problems that don't, in any way, reflect on her. She deserves an honest assessment of him so she can protect herself.
A good therapist will introduce the hard topics that you and your fiance need to discuss before getting married. Your daughter's father will surely create issues for years to come. You and your fiance want to be on the same page, doing what's best for her. She's lucky to have you on her side and, with some honorable, devoted men in her life, she'll be just fine.
Question: How do I trust my mother with the absent father pain?
Answer: If she feels close to her, a fatherless daughter will naturally turn to her mother for comfort and support when feeling anguish over her dad's absence. Sadly, though, a mom in this situation may be ill-suited to provide the understanding that her daughter seeks. The reason for this is quite simple: a mom may be struggling with tremendous guilt for having had sex with a man who wound up being such an irresponsible father.
Therefore, when her daughter turns to her, she may react with hostility and defensiveness rather than compassion. This reaction can shock the daughter and cause her to shut down emotionally. It can cause her to bottle up her pain, leading to depression and self-destructive behaviors. That's why it's important for fatherless daughters to be discerning when sharing their grief. It's also why I highly recommend they talk with a therapist, an objective professional who's trained to listen and offer sound advice.
I've heard from countless fatherless daughters who desperately wanted their moms to validate their pain, only to hear comments such as “just get over it” and “I'm doing all I can for you and you're so ungrateful” and “other people have it a lot worse than you.” Needless to say, these kind of remarks are not empathetic and not at all helpful. Sometimes, though, a mom is just too overwhelmed with her own responsibilities and has nothing left to give.
In your heart of hearts, you must have a good idea whether or not to trust your mother with this pain. Perhaps, it's just too hard to accept that you can't. However, part of maturing is realizing that our moms are humans and have limitations just like everyone else.
I recommend you tell your mother that you want to see a therapist to discuss your dad's absence. The therapist, in turn, may bring your mother into one or more of the sessions to facilitate a conversation between the two of you. That could really bring about understanding and make your relationship stronger.
Question: I was adopted by my grandparents. My granddad drank. I got married at 20 and it lasted 7 years. 2 boys later, we divorced . Now, I have a 2-year-old daughter with a narcissist who abandoned us a year ago and has no contact with my sweet little girl. Thankfully, my sons' father, my ex-husband, adores my daughter. He helps me and takes care of her as if she were his own. I'd like to think that this relationship will fill the void of her father. Am I doing the right thing?
Answer: It sounds like you're blessed to have a loving father figure for your daughter. Because of your ex-husband's commitment to his sons, he'll always be a part of the picture—a constant presence in her life. It's important that you and he make a vow to keep him involved in your daughter's life and to not let new love interests (yours or his) disrupt that bond. She'll already experience some rejection due to her biological father's abandonment so it's crucial that your ex-husband stays invested.
He's already been more of a daddy to her than her sperm donor. This is a special guy with the ability to love not only his own flesh and blood but a child who's unrelated to him. Many men would simply say, “It's enough for me to take care of my two boys. I don't want to take on another child.” Don't take his involvement for granted and always express your deep appreciation.
Your daughter will benefit immeasurably from having him in her life. His devotion will make her feel worthy and build her trust in men. Their bond will be the foundation for her future romantic relationships. She'll look for guys like him, who are responsible and caring, rather than just any dude who satisfies her longing for daddy.
You should foster the connection between your ex-husband and your daughter and let him know how much you appreciate him. Sadly, our society today minimizes the importance of fathers and many men don't understand the enormous role they play in a daughter's life. They are the first intimate relationship a girl has with a man. They provide validation that she is strong, valuable, and capable. This contributes to her performing well in school, picking suitable guys to date and marry, and being bold enough to take on new challenges.
I admire your desire to do what's best for your daughter and to realize her need for a daddy figure. Best to your family!
Question: I have two fathers. I live with my step-father who is only there to make fun of me and then move on. My biological father is never around and has no desire to get to know me. I feel like I’m stuck in a hole and I just feel empty, but I don’t know who I should try to fix my relationship with or if I should even bother. What should I do?
Answer: I'm sorry you're in this situation and feel so stuck. I grew up with a father who called me names, made fun of my weight and criticized my intelligence. I felt so trapped, too, living in that home and spent many hours alone in my bedroom. It felt like there would never be a day when I'd be free of that but, thank God, I am now.
Fortunately, I learned enough from that experience to pick a man who's a loving husband to me and a kind father to my sons. Even decades later, though, I still struggle with feelings of shame and unworthiness from growing up with that verbal abuse. I'm so glad you're aware of the situation and its negative impact on you. Talk to others about what you're feeling and experiencing. Open up to your mother. Write in a journal. Talk to a counselor. The worst thing you can do is keep your emotions bottled up, causing you harm both physically and psychologically.
Our lives are greatly affected by the men our mothers chose—in your case, both a father and a step-father. You had no say in the matter but must live with it nonetheless. Take mental notes and vow to make better decisions when it's your time to pick a partner. You don't want to repeat those mistakes as so many women do.
As for fixing the relationships, I don't know if that's within your control. Are either of these men interested in improving their interactions with you and becoming closer? If so, you, your mother, and your biological father or step-father should begin family counseling. You are not the problem in this situation; the problems dwells within the family dynamic. Everybody needs to work together to bring about change, but that only happens if everyone is on board.
If your bio-dad and step-dad aren't willing to make an effort, I urge you to focus on yourself. Work hard at school. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Create meaningful friendships and develop a deep spiritual life. Most of all, give yourself a lot of positive affirmations, telling yourself that you're lovable and worthy. Keep reminding yourself that you won't let your self-esteem suffer because of these two men your mother chose but you didn't.
Oprah Winfrey said: “I know for sure what we dwell on is who we become.” Don't dwell on the people who aren't there for you but focus all those who are. Dwell on all the blessings you have.
Question: My parents split up when I was four. I have a twin sister and I live with my mum. I’m really privileged. I used to see my dad every other week but bad things happened and now it’s rare. I feel so much guilt about not seeing him. Will my guilt for not seeing my father go away?
Answer: Guilt is not what you're feeling. That word implies that you've done something immoral or illegal such as stealing, telling lies, or spreading vicious gossip. You've done nothing of the sort.
In fact, by writing “bad things happened,” you suggest that your dad's place was not a healthy and safe environment for you. If that's the case, then he should feel guilty for not taking the necessary steps to secure proper conditions for you. As an adult and parent, that was his responsibility.
So, if you're not feeling guilty, what are you feeling? I imagine that you're sad and disappointed. You feel bad because your father isn't the loving, protective, and dependable daddy that a girl dreams of having. You feel distressed that he didn't make more of an effort to safeguard the precious time he had with you. You wish things could be different.
Open up to your mom about your feelings. Perhaps, she knows some ways you can bond with your dad without actually staying at his place and being under his care. Perhaps, she can help you set up a time each day to Skype with him.
We're fortunate now to have many ways to keep in touch: texting, emailing, phoning, and engaging in social media.
Question: My mom left my dad when I was four and he never tried to reconnect with us until thirteen years later. Now it's really hard to even hold a conversation with him. He feels like a stranger. Is this normal?
Answer: Yes. This is entirely normal and to be expected since you two didn't have a father-daughter relationship when you were growing up, and an emotional bond wasn't formed. You led separate lives, and he didn't take on the responsibility of being a dad: tucking you into bed at night, attending your dance recitals and ball games, helping you with homework, and making you feel like a loved and cherished child. You don't have shared memories of good times and bad so, yes, you two are strangers to one another.
You can still build a strong relationship now if both of you are willing to put in the time and effort. You, however, are now facing adulthood and have many new and interesting possibilities in front of you. At this point in your life, you may not have a strong desire to reconnect with your dad because friends, college, career, travel, and romantic possibilities are all in front of you. You may not want to reach back in the past but rather look forward.
The choice is entirely yours. You have no obligation towards your father. It was he who had obligations to you that were left unfulfilled. You have no responsibility to make him feel better and less guilty about the mistakes he made. He must deal with those on his own.
You may be having a hard time conversing with him because you're avoiding the tough questions. It's best to be straightforward and honest with him about what you're thinking and feeling. Have you asked him to explain why he didn't get in contact with you all those years? Did he pay child support, and if not, why not? What was he doing during that time? What does he want from the relationship now? Why should you trust him now when he dropped out of your life? If you can't have big conversations like these, you won't get closer.
You may want to see a counselor for a short period to work through your relationship with your dad. You don't want to take the issues you've had with him into future relationships with men. I also have another article that hopefully will be helpful called “5 Steps to Heal Her Pain: How a Fatherless Daughter Can Move on From a Dad's Rejection.”
Question: For most of my life, I did not know my father. I finally met him after he got out of jail for drugs, but he was emotionally distant from me. My mom kicked him out, and she claimed that I told her that I wanted him gone. Because of this, I haven't seen him in years. I can't help but feel I'm to blame for his absence. Now, since I'm not an adult yet, my mom won't let me see him because she just doesn't like him. How do I get through this?
Answer: You're dealing with a lot of complex emotions. I hope you can open up to your mom or other trusted adults to talk about them. You'll feel much better when you do. Bottling up your feelings, worries, and frustrations can lead to serious physical and psychological health problems in the future. Since one in three women identifies as fatherless, there are many souls out there who can empathize with what you're going through and give you advice and encouragement. You're certainly not alone in feeling abandoned by a dad.
Please get it out of your head that you're to blame for your dad's absence. A child is never at fault for a father being an irresponsible parent. When we're young, we often think the world centers around us, but it doesn't. Your dad had a whole life before you were even born when he struggled, picked up bad habits, and developed unhealthy coping mechanisms. He had his own demons that prevented him from being emotionally available, loving, and kind. He's hurt himself more than anyone else.
It sounds like your mother has kept things about your dad to herself, wanting to shelter you from the harsh realities. It's time you two sat down and discussed the matter in depth. You need to fill in the gaps and stop blaming yourself. You need to ask questions and get answers. Your mom needs to take responsibility for the bad choices she made that negatively impacted your life (namely, having a baby with a man who wasn't capable of being a dad). I think you'll find that your mom has always had your best interest at heart and has wanted to protect you but may struggle to examine her own role in the drama.
Instead of getting stuck in ruminating about your absent dad like so many of us fatherless daughters do, please focus on yourself. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. Make plans for the future in which you'll make better choices than your dad. Put healthy daily practices in place: exercise, meditation, prayer, writing in a journal, and communicating with friends and family. You have a bright future ahead of you. Don't let something you have no control over (your dad's behavior) affect the here-and-now. Life is too precious for that. Seize control of your life and squeeze every bit of joy out of it. You are so much more than a fatherless daughter.
Question: I've never met my dad before, and I thought he was dead (because my mum said he was) up until I was 13. I was so mad at her for lying and this made our relationship even worse because she didn’t treat me well as a little kid. I keep having dreams about meeting him and I really want to get to know him, but I’m so scared that he doesn’t want me as he never came to visit. How can I stop having dreams about him?
Answer: Does your father even know you exist? If your mother lied about him being dead, she may have never let him know she was pregnant. I think you need to have a long, hard conversation with your mom and find out all you can about your dad. Perhaps, she told you he was deceased to protect you from him. Was he a felon, a child molester, a drug dealer? Why did she feel it necessary to lie?
If you're an adult, you can hire a private detective to find your dad. You may also be able to do it yourself by searching online. I'm sure there are plenty of resources that explain how to do just that.
Before undertaking such a project, though, you must be emotionally ready to handle whatever comes your way. You can't have the standard fantasy that your dad will be a kindhearted millionaire who welcomes you with open arms and showers you with love and affection. The reality will certainly be less fabulous than that. What if he refuses to meet you? What if he's really dead now? What if he's an alcoholic? What if he's mentally ill? These are all possibilities that you must consider and for which you must be mentally prepared to handle. If you're not ready for these outcomes, don't look for your dad.
I've known a half dozen people through the years who searched for their birth moms or dads and found them. None of them remain in touch with that biological parent today. Meeting with them satisfied a curiosity but, when in came to continuing a relationship, they all realized there was no emotional connection there. They came to realize that a parent-child bond wasn't about DNA; it was about an adult who cared for them when they were sick, helped them with homework when they were struggling, and read to them each night before they went to bed.
If you're not yet an adult, you need to focus on dreams besides finding your dad. Before you go to sleep, think about what you wish to do with your life and how you'll achieve it. Do you want to travel in Europe? Do you want to become a teacher, a doctor, or a scientist? Do you want to run marathons or do ballroom dance? These positive thoughts before bed will put you in a good frame of mind and, hopefully, lead to pleasant dreams of ambition and hope. They'll make you feel in charge of your destiny. You have the power to make your life wonderful so don't go off track by focusing on someone you don't know.
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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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 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 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: 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 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 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: 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.
© 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.