“One-third of children live in homes without their biological father present, and many
other dads are essentially absent due to issues like addiction or abuse.”
In many cases, key members of the family like mothers or grandparents go above and beyond
to fill up the spaces of absent fathers in their children’s lives, nurturing them into adults who, half
the time, turn out perfectly fine— even better than kids who had their father figure present all
through childhood. However, researchers say that “children who grow up without their fathers
have a higher risk of Negative outcomes including poverty, lower educational success and/or
behavioral issues notwithstanding the level of care and love other key members of the family
give these children.
The emotional impact of an absent father can be long-lasting and has the potential to interfere
with healthy relationships in adulthood. Females are, of course, affected in unique ways, since
many go on to have relationships with men as adults—and that can trigger unresolved issues.
And by unresolved issues, I mean “Daddy Issues.”
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.
“In our research we found that at least one in three women see themselves as fatherless. The
majority of them felt that losing the bond with their fathers deeply affected multiple areas of their
lives, including their emotional and physical health. Their number one fear was being
abandoned again, and their main coping mechanism was isolation. We have both been there,
and we wanted to open up the conversation about the effects of fatherlessness on female
development and the steps toward healing”
– Karin Luise, PhD, an integrative therapist, spiritual teacher and inspirational speaker, and Denna Babul, RN, a life coach, motivational speaker, and relationship and medical expert—two women who have dealt with these very challenges in their own lives—felt the call to help others who have struggled with the loss of a father in one way or another. The result is their transformative new book, The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives (Avery, June 2016), which draws on their personal experiences and those of more than 5,000 other fatherless women.
The hallmark characteristic of females who grew up with Absent Fathers is the fear of abandonment. You are either too scared to hold on to anyone for too long, careful of being too vulnerable or too involved in relationships because somewhere deep in your head there’s a crippling fear of “They’re going to leave anyway” or in most cases, you go above and beyond to do the most unbelievable things for your relationships on the impulse of fear of abandonment, for the sole purpose of keeping them, especially if your partner gave you the love and father figure experience you never had but always desired.
There are a myriad of things growing up without the presence of a father, whether emotionally
absent fathers or physically absent fathers do to females asides ruining future adult
relationships with men. Daughters of absent fathers reports having issues with men in their
relationships or workplace because they were never taught how to feel comfortable interacting
with men—having a present father automatically teaches you this!
However, on the flipside, females raised without their fathers are reported having great respect
for their mothers as they grew up, gaining a greater realization of the difficulties she faced and
being grateful for all she did to raise her.
On another positive note, fatherless daughters often develop determined spirits and survival
traits very early on.
What Are The Effects of Absent Fathers on Females?
Fatherless Daughters Have Self-Esteem Issues
Kids blame themselves when their dad leaves home or become totally Uninvolved 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 females. Countless studies have shown that the absence of a father 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. They learn subconsciously to accept less in relationships due to diminished self-esteem. They usually believe they must work for love or may not be worthy of it at all, and as a result, they go down the wrong path in love until they finally realize their partner isn’t the one.
Inability to Build and Maintain Relationships
Women who grew up with absent fathers 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—this could also be a
coping mechanism to get through their pains.
Daughters of Absent Fathers are Prone to Depression
Data suggests that women who grew up with emotionally or physically absent fathers are twice
as likely to commit suicide. Not surprisingly, girls who grew up with dads who were emotionally
or physically absent are more likely to struggle with depression as adults. They fear
abandonment and rejection, these women often isolate themselves emotionally. They avoid
healthy romantic, intimate 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 turmoil 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.
Fatherless Daughters Develop Eating Disorders
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 likely
to develop if she didn’t have a father figure growing up. Daughters without dads are also
twice as likely to be obese as she develops a coping mechanism aside from
isolation—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: “Why did my dad leave me?”
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, daughters of absent fathers are at a 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.
Dear woman, you are not going down this road alone, there are a thousands of other
women going through the same pain but you are strong and you can overcome the
weight of the pain.
Remember that developmental steps in your life might trigger some painful emotions. If
so, ask for love and support from those who care about you–then accept it. Days like
your wedding day, Father’s Day, and the birth of your first child can cause old emotions
to bubble up. Feel free to feel the way you’re feeling and grieve in any way that feels
right to you.
Claim your own journey, your own voice and your own strength as you keep going and
move into the stronger chapters of your life. Although you have learned to help yourself
and put on a tough-as-nails exterior, take a deep breath and realize that sometimes it is
okay to soften your shell and ask for others to support and understand you. This does
not make you weak, it makes you strong beyond belief.
Until next week ..