“Daddy Issues,” they call them, but could they be ‘emotional disorders’?
We live in a rather judgmental society. Dating an older man, a lady is termed an opportunist. The man is called a sponsor or better still, a sugar daddy. An older woman is branded a cougar. Quickly we point fingers and put excuses and justifications as to why a relationship is right or wrong. How much it will not function or worse still, how one is just after monetary sustainability.
Come to think of it, have you ever thought of the psychological effects of parental – mother or father absenteeism? Do you know what that gap does to a young one? And do not pull that narrative of kids from single-parent families, some do come out great. I know they do, but deep down, if they could speak out their truth; there lays some emptiness, in a hole of no return. A dark zone that harbors those questions that cannot be asked, and a place they would not want to visit no matter what.
My own dad chose his sons with my stepmom vis-à-vis, his daughter. “What will my wife say?” he asked. “She runs the family,” he had insisted. “You are my daughter I agree, but until she agrees to come into your life, I am afraid but we just need to be a little be patient with her.” Well, looking back, that had been the worst call I had ever taken in my life. Who wants a coward for a dad?
And when it came to my step-father, this one was god-sent in away. In a different direction, he had no idea what being a parent really entailed. A newspaper became the best gift I ever got from him. Looking back, I appreciate this of him, at least, I have a small command of both written and spoken English. At least I can ask for water, understand a greeting and show direction with ease. But ask the guy about my report form or better still a need as a daughter, reality will hit you so bad – from cleaning his vomit in the middle of the night to opening the gate for him at 3:00 am because we’d been commanded so. I hated him so…
And that is how the ‘fatherless daughter syndrome’ bit me.
What is ‘fatherless daughter syndrome’?
Fatherless daughter syndrome is about issues of trust and lack of self-esteem leading to non-functional cycles of relationships with men on the girl child. These scenarios can go unnoticed for eons and could last a lifetime when ignored. The concerned women end up nursing shame, sadness, or withdrawal syndromes from the larger society. Social anxiety becomes a norm, the introvert nature taking the day. Depression creeps in, and a shitty life somehow becomes a lifestyle. One lives turning ghostly and very few women ever get to live, and transform their lives for the better.
This lady has never had the opportunity to be ‘daddy’s little princess’. They may have faced total absenteeism, rejection, or a present but emotionally neglecting father. And this gap leaves an indelible mark in the given woman. A gap that only the presence of a father in their formative years could fill, or at least assured. But where did the rains start beating us?
Outcomes of a Father’s Absenteeism
Building and sustaining relationships is a struggle
Scarred by rejection, or the absenteeism of a parent, you begin to blame yourself for whatever happenings in your life. You stop taking life’s risks. Relations with either sex are hard to come by, either consciously or unconsciously. May it be ladies or gentlemen, the challenge is set at the self-trust level; one barely believes they are worth it, or worth to be with their given partners. Worse still is living a lie, pretending to be living a perfect life, from a perfect family and running above par relationships. Relationships become superficial and one may end up promiscuous as they strive to get the needed male attention.
Introverted? One does not check-in much with others, to the extent of building walls around self. You become extremely private and like myself, my policy stands: ‘I do not ask about you while you also do not get to ask about me.’ You manifest behavioral issues, with the aim of hiding the underlying fears, unhappiness, resentment, and any anxieties. Divorce comes easy than finding solutions.
Friends are set on a weighing scale and expectations so high; we tend to forget that others may not have gotten to understand what it is that you have undergone in life. You like I, have perfected the art of locking yourself in a cocoon. You are at peace when alone, with little or no interference. Your parents may be assuming something is wrong with you, especially in the African context because you do not relate with them as well.
Developing food disorders
Binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, and unhealthy food habits become the norm. These habits come as a result of the longing for a father, that was denied. A hunger for a father may develop, with a deep hole of emptiness and insecurities creeping in. The challenge here remains, ‘if I look different, will he love me?’
Lack of self-esteem
From academics, professional, physical, social, romantic, personal, or whatever types of affirmations, a father’s assurances while growing up inspire one to believe in self. Being showered with love and affection makes all the difference for the girl child. One supported by a father figure grows without the need to be told by another that they look pretty et al. On the other hand, not having been showered with such affirmations a girl will feel abandoned, learn to accept less in relationships, and tend to believe they have to work hard for love instead of them being showered with it.
Likelihood of sexual activities being adopted earlier
In a struggle to fit in the gap, promiscuity becomes a norm. This, unfortunately, has triggered the risk of girls being exploited by mature men. Looking for love and validation brings on the urge of having to involve in sex earlier on or in risky sexual behavior. Such a woman may go looking for men with habits similar to her ‘daddies’ or may decide to stay single forever.
“I love you” “you are beautiful”’, and the lot are simple words that can be life-changing to a woman. Oprah said, “…self-mutilation comes in the form of promiscuity, and … It is violence against the self.”
Risk of depression and emotional effects
The fear of abandonment and rejection may easily lead to emotional isolation. Committing to romantic relationships becomes a thing of the past. One may feel to be undeserving, fear getting hurt, nurse anxiety and other mental problems, be in unhealthy relations and have suicide temptations on the extreme. Isolation becomes normal, feeling unhappy, higher amounts of frustration levels and anger related to depression.
- Get therapy or accept life coaching.
- Sit and write down your story.
- Establish a tribe or women support group.
- Accept, acknowledge and deal with triggered emotions.
- Allow yourself time to grieve.
- Ask for love and support from those around you.
- Put a claim to your own journey, strengths, and voice.
- Allow yourself time to crush, and that it is fine to ask for help – it is a human need.
- Remember, you are not alone and it is therefore not anything not be ashamed of.
- Accept you as you and that it is these experiences that define your story.
Fatherlessness is the lack of an emotional attachment or bond between father and child or daughter due to abuse, divorce, rejection, addictions, death, absentia, abandonment or one being incarcerated. The lack of a mate for a girl or woman somehow ends up pushing her to come up with a survival manual. Women affected by such experiences have a flip side though. They develop determined spirits, respect for others, survival tactics are learned early, and they make for rather loyal friends.
It may be a tough call in life for the woman affected by this situation, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The future is set as you see fit.
Would you like a support team, a sisterhood of sorts? Hit me up!