Absent Dads Have a Profound Effect on Their Daughters

Tracy Stengel

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I went to the funeral with the mindset of being respectful. My friend’s father had passed. I needed to be there.

I didn’t expect my friend, a well put together woman and respected lawyer, to be an emotional train wreck.

She had always hated her father. He left her mother when she was eleven and disappeared, besides for cameo appearances and sporadic birthday cards. My friend always said he was irrelevant.

I thought what she said was true.

But when she saw me walk into the funeral home and fell atop me, she was sobbing. I have never seen her anything but composed poised.. I hugged her tight and she held me as if I was a floatation device in a wicked ocean.

“I’m not crying for my f-f-father,” she sputtered, but f-f-or the one I never had.”

My back straightened as I absorbed the words and tried to understand.

I had never liked her dad. The one time I saw him in junior high he was rude, lascivious, and seemed to have a God-complex. Everything his said was gospel in his own mind. He was overbearing and scary. My mother never let me spend the night at their house.

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I flew in for the funeral but wasn’t prepared to see my successful friend unraveled. After all, she was smart, strong, and a prominent politician. She had everything going for her.

Now, she seemed frail and uncertain. It made me angry. Not at her, but at her useless father whom everyone admired. Or maybe a man people feared?

One of her college friends nudged in and I moved aside. After a long embrace, the woman stepped toward me. “She fought her dad's negligence with multiple marriages, too many glasses of wine, and a whole bunch of feeling inadequate.”

I stepped back. This wasn’t possible. I hadn’t seen my friend much after graduation, but she always seemed an articulate, caring, composed adult. What did I miss?

The term, “Daddy issues,” seemed repugnant.

According to Tori Rodriguez in womansday.com, “Daddy issues” are real. After all, many men plant their seed and take off. Only one-in-four children live with their real dad.

While men feel comfortable with a proverbial hit-and-run, their children suffer.

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Karin Luise, Ph.D. and Denna Babul, RN, a life coach, motivational speaker, and relationship and medical expert have experienced deadbeat dads and feel compelled to hope to heal the daughters left behind.

We define fatherless as lack of an emotional bond between a daughter and her father due to … death, divorce, abuse, addiction, incarceration, or abandonment. Often the daughter experiences a combination of these, and she is not taught how to manage the trauma of her losses until later in life when she re-experiences her pain and realizes she has unresolved issues.

They have written the book, The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives.

For those of you who had absentee fathers, I would love to hear your stories in the comments. Let’s unite and take care of our abandoned daughters.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI
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