How Do Fatherless Girls Gain Confidence?

This morning, I noticed someone found this blog by googling, “How do fatherless girls gain confidence”. It wasn’t hard to imagine the mother of a fatherless girl googling that, or even the girl herself.

Whoever it was most likely landed on a post I’d written last year in which I attempted to summarize a few differences I’ve encountered between girls raised with and without fathers. In that post, I tried to make clear I was speaking only of my own limited observations and not recounting science. The post ended on these dark notes:

In general, the difference [between women with and without fathers] was this: The fatherless women were less self-confident around men than the women with fathers.

For instance: The fatherless women were less likely to assert themselves. They were less likely to let men know what their boundaries were. They were less likely to be strong individuals around men.

On the other hand, the fatherless women were more likely to be relatively obsessed with their boyfriends. They were more likely to be emotionally dependent on them. And they were more likely to cling to relationships in which they were being abused.

So that’s where I left it last year — without at all dealing with the question raised this morning, “How do fatherless girls gain confidence?”

Unfortunately, that’s an important question these days. More and more girls are being raised without fathers, and some studies suggest it can aversely impact the girls’ lives. For instance: An international study released in 2003 found a strong link between the absence of a father and adolescent pregnancy. Girls whose fathers left before they were six years old were about five times more likely in the United States — and three times more likely in New Zealand — to get pregnant during adolescence than were girls whose fathers stayed with them. Yet, finding “statistics” on fatherless girls is one thing, finding good statistics from reputable sources is another. From what I’ve seen, there appears to be a ton of questionable stats out there and not much gold. But it gets even worse when you go hunting for information on how a fatherless girl can gain confidence.

I could find almost nothing on the net that actually addressed that question. I think that’s a pity because, as I recall, many of the fatherless girls I’ve known were less self-confident around boys than girls raised with fathers. Which in a way was quite odd because several of my fatherless friends were extremely competent in other life skills. Harriet, for instance, had planned meals, made grocery lists, and cooked suppers for her family since the fifth grade and, by the time she was in high school, she probably knew more about nutrition than some dietitians.

So I’m going to risk discussing how a fatherless girl can gain confidence around boys — but with this strong caveat: I’m not an expert and don’t know for certain what I’m talking about. My own father died when I was two years old, but I faced the problems of a fatherless boy, rather than those of a girl. I’ve been friends with a handful of fatherless girls as they went through adolescence, but that is certainly not the same as being a qualified therapist. And I’ve heard countless adolescent confessions, but I was usually empathetic at the time rather than taking notes. So, the only real qualification I have here is no one else seems to be offering fatherless girls any advice on how to become confident. And that’s sad.

Having said all that, here’s “Paul’s Brazen Advice” to fatherless girls on how to gain confidence with boys:

Confidence comes with success. That’s true regardless of what you are talking about. It could be gaining confidence with boys or it could be gaining confidence driving. Each step you succeed at builds up your confidence. Each step you fail at tears down your confidence. So take small, manageable steps — especially at first.

I’ve known fatherless girls (and even girls with fathers) who rushed into sex in order to please boys. That’s a mistake on several levels. For one thing, it’s not taking things in small, manageable steps. Make the boy court you.

Courtship is basically the process of making friends with someone you might want to have sex with. Don’t rush it. In my 51 years, the best relationships I’ve seen all began as friendships and involved courtships — sometimes long courtships. As one person (who has an outstanding sex life) recently told me, “My husband and I have always been friends first and foremost. The fact we’re also lovers is icing on the cake.”

You have a right to resist any pressure to rush things — and it is a test of genuine friendship that your real friends will respect that right of yours, while your false friends probably won’t. So, if you loose a few “friends” because you’re marching to your own drummer, keep your chin up and march on. They weren’t real friends.

So my advice on how to gain confidence with the boys is to take things in easy, manageable steps. I realize that it might be easy advice to give and yet difficult advice to put into practice. More importantly, it is by no means comprehensive advice. There are so many other things I might say, but for which I don’t have room here.

If I had just one piece of advice to offer a fatherless girl, that’s the advice I’d offer her. If any fatherless girls are reading this, please let me know — either in the comments or by email — whether any of that makes sense. Also, please tell me a bit about yourself. And for everyone: What advice would you yourself give a fatherless girl on how to gain confidence with the boys?

Please see also:

Jackie in the Year of the Comet

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207 thoughts on “How Do Fatherless Girls Gain Confidence?

  1. This is more of a question about fatherless girls once they are in relationships. Do they tend to have more trouble maintaining trust over time even if they have found some sort of initial trust? I’ve noticed my students that they often at first start off trusting and then their insecurities get to them in dealing with all aspects of their social lives.

    Everything Will Be Alright – A Journey Through Couples Therapy

  2. Hi SymbolicGodzilla! Welcome to the blog! :)

    That’s a very interesting and important question, I think. I’m not qualified to give anything approaching a definitive answer, but in my limited experience I have seen some instances in which girls have had difficulty maintaining trust in relationships. In at least one of those instances, I’m fairly sure the trust evaporated because the girl was inordinately afraid of being abandoned by the guy.

  3. I’ve only seen one real example of this kind of situation, where the girl lost her father before adolescence, and well. In the end she found a guy who was patient enough for her moods, insecureness, and such. I guess he taught her that it was okay to be her, in a way. Then she fell in love with an other guy, and everything is fine.
    I’ve known this girl all my life, even before she lost her father, and those couple of years of emotional safety which this guy gave her, really helped her in general. Meaning that I think girls without a father kind of long for that masculine security, in a way. Something which is probably very much of biological reasons…

    Speaking for myself I kind find this quite logical, not that I am actually fatherless, but my father has been rather absent from time to time during my childhood. So in somewhat meaning I have some idea of what not having one is like.

  4. Thanks for the welcome. Concerning the idea of fears of abandonment I’ve noticed that as well- in otherwise mostly functional relationships the girl seems inordinately afraid of abandonment and I guess it is a process of learning to trust for them in slow careful steps for them. I think the idea of it coming in steps makes a certain sense as well, such as in Feanare’s response. After a few fairly stable trusting relationships, maybe it helps them to move along till they are able to have truly productive one?

    Everything Will Be Alright – A Journey Through Couples Therapy

  5. I feel the first question that needs to be asked is “how does any one gain confidence?” Perhaps an understanding of that process might help build an understanding of which bits of that go wrong with fatherless girls that might explain the pattern of lack of confidence that you mention.

    For me I think there are at least two parts to it – firstly a base of love and self worth built up by parents/guardians/friends that support the growing person by expressing their confidence in him or her.

    I think also there’s a second stage which is learning to protect that core of self-confidence from those who don’t share the positive views.

    Could it be that the father plays a more important role in defining this second part of self-confidence?

  6. my question is,.. what can the adults DO to help a fatherless girl gain confedence? my step daughter is a teenager, shes beginning to date and i want her to have all the confedence in the world. its hard enough being a teen girl, boys are pushy, your friends are pushy, school gets harder n harder. i remember this all so clearly. i had a few very bad years, got mixed up in drugs and drink, became very sexually agressive. i know now the reasons why, but what could someone have done to help me? what can i do to help my stepdaughter before she starts having any of that type of trouble? i would have never been with a man who abused me, i got all the abuse i could stand from myself. we cant know what to expect with her. are there “right” things to do, or say at this point? i tell her shes beautiful, but if we say that too often she may think her apearance is her best, or only asset. its very confusing. anyone have any idias? i see friends of mine cling to bad, or abusive relationships, i cant immagine how wrenching it would be for me to see this sweet girl in a similar situation. would luv idias… thanx

  7. Hi Feanare! Welcome to the blog! :)

    “I guess he taught her that it was okay to be her…”

    That strikes me as an astute observation. I’ve come to suspect the fatherless girls who used to hang out with me were looking for something like that from me. Almost a hunger with them.

  8. SymbolicGodzilla, I think the lucky girls get into healthy relationships that become steps to even better relationships. But I’ve too often seen fatherless girls get into dysfunctional relationships. I’ve wondered why that’s so?

  9. That’s fascinating, SG! My own therapist, Arun, once told me that most people find the degree and kind of intimacy they had with their parents or guardians while they were growing up to be their “comfort zone”.

  10. SG – I think you’re right that therapy can help us a great deal. But I no longer see it as a crutch so much as I see as an exploration.

  11. Hey there, well I am a ‘fatherless girl’ so wanted to express my feelings on this subject. My dad left when i was 4, now twenty three years later, having been in relationships of my own and finding myself showing the characteristics already described, especially a lack of confidence i feel in my case i understand why. Firstly how could I understand men when I have never known one close to me, how could I understand relationships when I have no experience of them either? third, how could I believe that any man would love me when the man that created me didnt and fourth knowing how easy someone could walk away from me I find myself clinging to men because im scared they are going to go away. I have always battled with confodence, despite the fact that i am a bubbly person, I can get on with anyone, except men that I like!
    I hope this is useful.

    • I understand this completely, Debbie. My father was out of the picture completely by the time I was born (left at 5 months gestation, ugh). I did grow up with a step-father , who did the best he could, however I believe that the wounds inflicted by the abandonment of my biological father are not only deep and painful but something that ultimately defines me and every relationship that I have, something that I seem to be passing onto my own daughter through my actions and interactions with others. So, how does one gain confidence after the experience of being a fatherless girl/woman/person? For me, going back to college, speaking up, creating meaningful friendships and experiences, losing weight, finding my voice, standing up to negative people, realizing that I’m still looking for my father in almost every man I meet, realizing that it’s never going to be “okay” in the same way it would have been if I had been raised by a father (nurturing, kind, loving..), I will have to make myself okay (parent myself), I will have to overcome everything (well, as much as possible) and learn how to survive functionally – thereby teaching my daughter to do the same. Wow, I have a lot to think about, hope this was helpful.

  12. @Paul, thanks for the comments. I appreciate you starting the discussion.

    @Debbie- Are there things you find that men can do to help you feel more comfortable in relationships or to help you with that? Or do you find that you really have to face your own issues before you can find a healthy relationship? After getting out of my recent relationship I think my ex’s issues with her father may have had a large role to play in many of her insecurities and I don’t think I really understood their impact until late in us knowing each other.

    Everything Will Be Alright – A Journey Through Couples Therapy

    • Paul, I apologize for interrupting, but ..Only my opinion here, one small voice of experience..There are things men can do to help insecure, fatherless women to feel more confident and secure. Be a man of integrity, honor and respect. Be there when say you will, text and call (not too much – but just regularly and almost predictably), be available, don’t try to be her father. Be her friend and have your own life but make sure that she can depend on you. That’s all we want, stability and dependability. Well, not to mention real love and devotion, respect, simple gestures of adoration. Afterall, if someone is searching their hearts and the horizons for their father..these are the little things that their looking for and the simple things that they missed.

  13. Hi Debbie! Welcome to the blog! :) Thank you for such illuminating and helpful comments! I’m a “fatherless boy” and find a great deal in what you’ve stated that I can intuitively relate to.

    Hi SG! You’re very welcome!

    Hi Spinoza! Welcome to the blog! :) And thank you for your kind words!

  14. Every reltationship i have been in I have never been able to accept someones feelings for me I have made excuses and reasons as to why they were with me- no-one better or using me for sex/money. So I dont think any amount of reassurance would have changed how I felt about that and i dont think they could have done any more to help me. I accept now that i am the only one who can do this. I have spend a good few years making excuses for myself because of my circumstances, but I have had to tell myself that what happened was the actions of just one man and it had no reflection on who i am or who i was. I will always feel bad about myself and I will always find it hard to trust people but like has been said every relationship is a learning experience and i guess because I havnt had much experience i have to kiss a few more frogs before i find my prince- sounds like fun to me!

  15. WOW! I am actually reasearching the impact of FATHELESSNESS as it relates to women and girls. This article is very intersting. I am fatherless as well. I personally never had an issue with expressing my feelings to my male companion (s) and neither Have I been dependent on a man. I think I am very assertive.
    However, there are several characteristics regarding fatherless girls/women that I can identify with. Such as, the “triple fear” of rejection/abandonment, rage/anger/depression.
    In order for a young girl to gain confidence with boys; she must first be confident with herself. It starts with ‘SELF’! My advice is to love yourself, motivate yourself so that your confidence level will rise, overcome all insecurites, and let go of the past.

    Best Regards,
    Niq ;-)
    http://www.niqhardwick.com

  16. I’m also a fatherless woman. My father disappeared, possibly with my mother’s encouragement, when I was three years old. Thirty years have passed and it still seems like the thing that defines me. Which is disturbing and disheartening, in and of itself.

    Another issue which I think is quite common is the likelihood that a fatherless daughter’s mother will continue choosing bad partners. This happened to me, after a string of boyfriends who all went away at some point, my mother got together with my stepfather. I’m loathe to complain about him because he always made sure I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. But he despised me for much of my childhood and was emotionally abusive. He died at the point where he was ready to make amends or whatever, but I was not. This followed a highly self-destructive period post high school, and I think at that point he recognized what he had done to me through years of intentionally demeaning me. So, it’s really a triple whammy. I doubt that’s uncommon.

    What I find really bothersome is the “damage” label. We’ve all heard men talk about women with “daddy issues.” We’re supposed to be crazy and insecure. Kind of like a bird once thrown out of it’s next is never accepted by any nest. We’re socially devalued, and it can be very hard to gain a toe hold in respectable society. I was on a date recently where the guy said of his crazy ex-girlfriend (who was physically abusive), “Well, you know, her dad left her so there you go.” I told him I resented that as my dad had left me, too, and I certainly would never hit anyone, etc., etc. He said, “Well, but you had a stepfather, so it’s not the same.” I just read something today on a Details men’s blog about those crazy hot chicks. And how they rampant with “daddy issues.”

    And don’t be fooled. The “daddy issue” trope is a cover for a lot of poor male behavior. “Well, she’s not really upset because of xyz. She’s got daddy issues.”

    As for the confidence thing, there’s nothing that a few bland platitudes will heal. The fact is, most relationships do fail, and so the feelings of unlovability and betrayal get reinforced again and again. I am by most measures an extremely good catch. Nonetheless, I’m currently single and no man has every wanted me to be part of his immediate family. And of course, from the perspective of women like me, what matters most is not whether I want him, but whether he wants me. Perhaps central to the issue of confidence, of being fatherless, or of being emotionally rejected by a parent, is this very inversion.

    And maybe that’s the self-fulfilling prophecy part. If a woman tries too hard to please a man, or asks for too much reassurance, that’s off putting, or maybe it attracts users, etc.

    The advise I would give to women is this. You can’t blame another for your own behavior. It sucks that you weren’t taught or given some of the basics, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The important thing is behavior. And listen to the stories you tell yourself about yourself. Slow them down and hear them clearly; stories like, “people are wondering why he’s with me,” or “this is a trick, he’s being nice to me for some other reason.” It took me until my late twenties to realize that I said those things to myself.

    It is a very hard balance. We’re not familiar with appropriate male affection and love. So it’s very hard to navigate the waters between being used and being too suspicious. Other people seem to do it with ease.

    Sorry for the long post…

  17. My father suffered from severe depression and killed himself when I was only 9 years old. I found out a few years later that this mental illness had come from a childhood of abuse at the hands of my grandfather. For years after his death I was nervous around men and hated being touched – even by the men in my family who I had known all my life! I even contemplated suicide. Because I attended an all-female high school, I never had any male friends and was attracted to them but also afraid of them. I made my first male friends at college, which was a big step but I still do not confide in them like I do with my female friends. I used sex to try and win the love of whoever I happened to be dating at the time and only ended up getting hurt when they used and abused me. My first and only serious relationship was with a man in the forces who I saw for a weekend every two months. Because he was overseas most of the time, I never told him if I was in trouble or afraid because I felt guilty telling him about my problems when he wasn’t able to help me. After a year he became afraid of commitment and dumped me. Now a man that I’ve known since we were teenagers has started “courting” me and I’m actually afraid of being with him, because I don’t know how to open up to him and I’m afraid that he’ll hurt me like all the others did. I sometimes wonder how I can trust any man when the one who was supposed to protect me abandoned me?
    I’m sorry about the essay, but I just wanted to say all this because I felt guilty about my feelings towards men until I read these posts. Thanks for reading.

  18. no one should be sorry about writing an essay on here because it helps others understand – somthing we all lack because we are so reserved!
    i am only 17 nearly 18 and therefore seek for the confidence i dont have due to my situation ..

    My parents devorced because my mum didnt love him any more, yet i live with my mum and see my dad less then once every 2 weeks. what everyone has been sayin about ‘fartherless girls’ i can relate too because i have not had that father- daughter contact that is soo needed in a family. Debbie’s comments truly have helped me realise im not alone in my feelings and how i deal with relationships.

    i lack confidence not only in men but myslef . I believe you have to work on your own confidence before you can achieve confidence with others; though thats harder to actaullydo !living with my mum has made me even more body conscious because she worries about her looks which only rubs off on me (as im the only one she can moan to in the house). she lost her parter recently (he ran off) so now shes depressed which again only rubs off on me.

    when u loose that mother, father situation in life.. both parent, at least i’ve found, become something else.. in my case i find i am my mother’s best friend and my father’s counciler. my stepfather taught me alot though, like “hugs and kisses are very important”, sounds simple but its what you cling to!

    i was moved to an all girls school when they devorced, the sisterly bond i had with friends helped me feel more, well, normal. i became a very open person to try gain trust, something i’ve realised im terrible at! although i was open about all sorts, i was never open with feelings- i kinda shut down that day when i was 8 and they split, i became the mystery girl that no on could truely understand (even to the point that my stepfather ran off and i had no feelings about it)

    i have no positive self esteme, i dont have a good body image, i’m terrible socializing though im affraid to be alone- i have tohave a few really close friends. to be honest my main issue is i hate being hypercritical because everything i’ve said i dont have- everyone else, even close friends ,believe i have alot of.

    before my parents split i had that secret ingredients that made me possitive and confident talking to guys and having guy friends .. now after an all girls school i’m back in co-ed and cannot make many guy friends at all, in fact i have only one.. i thought of him as a friend, soon rumours about me to do with him went around the school- i seem to be prone to them even though i havn’t done anything..this i hate, it makes me so insecure and reminds me of all the gossip that happened with my parents devorce. so i cant, as some say ‘just forget about wt people say’.

    i trust him because i dont find him attractive physically but now that trust is wavering as he wants a relationship and im scared of saying yes i feel i could be saying yes for what a relationship is and not who im having it with or saying no and hurting him- something i’ve seen my dad go through and it upset me. i’ve had 2 online relationships before ( with friends of friends) both times i refused to meet them even though they wern’t complete strangers because they said they loved me. i know deep down that i did it all because i seeked male approval and wanted to know someone actually likes me, but each time even with the guy at school i’ve made the kind of person i dont want to date fall in love with me. i want a guy who knows how to look after a girl, but each time i’ve attracted the fragil and ‘i’ve never had a girl friend before’ guys… y with parents and boys even friends am i the mother figure?? i feel i was made to grow up too fast!

    if a relationship is a pond that i have to step down into, i find it hard to take those steps down, i’d rather jump and get that first awquard bit over with..does that sound wrong?

    i promise im a bubbley person, not as depressed as i seem but i feel pretty messed up when it comes to boys as friends or relationships, i cant even take a compliment on my looks even if from my own parents yet when someone faults my appearence i can go into days of depression.

    leaving children father or motherless creates so much pain and troubles. My advice to any parent would be for them to realise this and help the child to accept it (because with children in the equation there’s more than 2 in the relationship ! ) even if it means couciling (unfortuatly my mother aint like that – shes a .. ‘if you have cold deal with it without the medicine and build yourself up’ kinda a person) my dad probably would, if i lived with him though stepmother No.2 hates me so i dont go to the house anymore – my room is ‘for storage’ and in the basement!

    i hope this has kinda helped you understand what a ‘girl’ who lacks a father figure goes through. sorry its an essay .. confidence starts with the person though..then trust ..

    let me know if theres a quick way to confidence lol !

    regards
    me

  19. i supose not many people walk into adulthood unscaved. the breakdown of the family unit takes its toll on more than half of all of us. i do believe that we can be dammaged goods even growing up in a home thats not truely broaken. disfunctional families are the norm. maybe they allways have been. more people are more open about personal things now.
    my mother and i did not leave my father until i was about 13 yrs old. so for most of my formative yrs it was not a broaken home. but a father can be in your life without realy being emotionaly there. a father can exist in your life only to make you feel worthless. watching my mother unhappily be patient and kind to him, put her all into the marrige, try to keep it all together, just tought me that nice girls finish last. mom was such an angel, she had quiet understanding and compassion for everyone she knew. i loved her dearly, and never wanted to be anything like her. she was constantly taken advantage of by her husband, by her friends.
    i feel like she spent most her life being suport for people who diddnt appreciate her or deserve her. i supose none of the details of what made my father a less than wonderful father, dont matter anymore.
    sometimes even now that im in a good marrige with a good person, i still tend to generalise men as being horrible selfish people. i think of them as villans and lowlives. i know that thats not a notion i should let creep back in, but its so deeply rooted in me.
    i will have to find a way to get rid of those thoughts that haunt me if i am going to do a good job raising my 2 sons.
    i know i dont have the confedence i should, i fake it. i think… would my daughter feel good about who she is if i let someone talk down to me? no… she would think its ok to let people talk down to her.
    if i have to pretend to love and believe in myself some days, thats ok. pretending teaches me self confednce, as much as it teaches her. i think we’ll be alright. my biggest concearn is my stepdaughter. shes been astranged from her father for many years. i wonder now what i can do, or what he can do to repair what dammage that astrangment has likely caused. its a confusing place im in right now. i dont know what the roll for a stepmother is suposed to be. maybe just be as much emotional suport to her mother as i can be. maybe i have no bussinus at all trying to bond with the girl directly. im realy not sure. no one seems to have any solid ansers about how i could help her avoid going threw self inflicted tramatic events as result to the lack of relationship shes had w her father up until this point, nor does anyone seem to have a clear idia of what roll im to play in the picture. if there is anyone still blogging in to this blog, id so love to hear feedback. realy you dont have to have a phd, anyone who is slightly less clueless than myself in this area. im not too proud to call out for help,…. help? idias anyone?

    lol, yes i supose there is no quick way to confedence. from my personal battle w that, i could only recomend faking it. waring clothing that isnt sleezy, sleezy or over revealing duds are a dead givaway that a woman is not confedent. if i pretend to feel respectable, i will eventualy acualy feel that way. most days i do feel good about myself, so it must work! :) i try to be as kind to myself as i am to other people. none of us want to see our friends in unhealthy situations, so i vow to be my own friend, and not put myself in one. maybe thats the quickest way to confedence. thanks for the space to rant n rave. ill be back to read more from others.

  20. As a young woman who grew up with an absent father and horrible father role models (mother’s bad choices) for 16 years, it is sad to say that only this year have I began really looking into my situation, “daddy issues” as they. In the back of my mind, I always knew that my mistakes in previous relationships were somewhat caused by the lack of my father’s love – I seriously cannot be fully satisfied with any one man, no matter how much I love him and how much love and attention I get in return. In the end, it is the poor men of my life that have paid the toll. I have broken too many hearts in my young life – three long relationships and a string of short flings.

    I certainly lack confidence in many different aspects of my life. I know I am a great person with many wonderful attributes, but I look back at my teenage years, when my promiscuity, lowest self-esteem and carelessness was really obvious and think to myself: why was there no one around to help me??

    I do not consider myself an extreme case, but my lover thinks I am – who might I add is saving me right now, making all this truth come out. So here I am, searching for info online, and will soon be walking into a psychologists office… I believe that my issues could have been dealt with at a much earlier stage of my life. I want one man in my life, one family, one home. And yet, I cannot even be inlove with myself…

    My advice to these poor women who suffer as I do: get help ASAP!!! We need to have more control over these young girls who are growing up to be “childish, selfish and even selfdestructive” as I read on a blog. They are good souls inside, just lack proper direction. I am personally still trying to find myself… lol, do I sound crazy?!?! :)

    • Nicole..you do not sound crazy at all. You are not an extreme case. With that thinking I fear that you won’t receive the help you need in therapy. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or to what degree you’re hang-ups are negatively affecting your life. As far as the therapy, maybe a good idea, maybe not. I tried it a year ago and I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t need it. I had done the work on my own and just needed to practice it. There are two things that have helped me the most, 1-becoming my own best friend and 2-sharing my experiences with others while listening to (and learning from) their’s. The best way to get over it is to help someone else. It’s beneficial not only to the other person but it’s extremely rewarding and self satisfying because it is a genuine concern for and assistance toward another person, and because it let’s you know that you’re normal and just all part of the big group of people with problems in this world. Get out there Nicole, the world is waiting for your experience and your wisdom. Start small and simple with those around you; friends. Then go a little further; let’s say, to the coffee shop. Then stretch yourself and attend a support group – going in with the feeling of a teacher not a victim. Open minded women, however broken – are destined to be healed!!

  21. Oh, and thanks Paul for your advice and care. Although you might not be a professional, this issue is more important then some seem to believe. And it all has to start somewhere by someone!! ;)

  22. This blog is amazing. I have read most of the comments but none of the ones I read completely relate to me. I am a 19 year old hispanic female. My father left my mother and his three daughters when I was only three years old. I saw him about once every year after that, and never really cared to develop a good relationship with him since he was never present in mine, or my sister’s lives. My sisters and I were sexually molested by a man my mom was going to marry, when I was about six years old. My sisters are very shy when they meet people. They don’t like to take challenges, they hold insecurities with men. They don’t trust men easily, and are very clingy in relationships. Both of my sisters are emotionally weak when an obsticle comes their way. I, on the other hand am the complete opposite of my sisters. I am strong, talkative, friendly, and I like to take challenges. I joke a lot and get along well with everyone I meet. I am outgoing, not shy at all. I trust the guys that I date, and I am not clingy or dependant on men. I am very independant in every aspect. I have had jobs here and there ever since I was six years old. I have always depended on myself for anything that I needed. I always provided myself with clothes, shoes, etc. with my own money from my own jobs and work. My sisters got expensive shoes and clothes through my mom, but material things were never in my interest. I am a very open minded person. I had a three year relationship with a girl, and have had boyfriends after that younger than me and older than me. I have never been obsessed with anybody in any of my relationships. I don’t have self esteem problems or low confidence, and I don’t always get what I want and that is not an issue for me. I am not religious while my sisters both believe in god and take religion very seriously even though we were not brought up very religious.
    The only thing that I do find odd about myself, is that I am attracted to older men, about four to five years older than me. The reason for that is because I find boys my age too immature considering the fact that I may have matured early for my age since I am very independant.

    Paul, How could you explain my sisters being so different than me, when we have all gone through the same life experiences and were fatherless?

  23. I am dating a girl who lost her father when she was 9. It saddens me to read these comments as I have been sensing that she has problems but did not realise the extent. I am patient caring loving mature man who is older than her. Up until now her constant rejection has caused me grief due to my own history of physical abuse by my parents. She will not admit any feelings for me yet occasional she let her guard down and I get a glimpse of a lonely little girl reaching out. After the most fantastic date she will run away into her house. I was just about to give up on her but reading these comments has given me an insight into what she is feeling.

  24. @ Nicole: Yikes! How did I miss your comment until now? My apologies!

    Nicole, you don’t sound crazy to me at all. Instead, you sound very much like a resourceful, insightful, and determined woman. I admire you for having the wisdom and courage to seek professional help. Consider me you fan!

    And thank you for your kind words!

    @ Lotus: I don’t know how to explain your sisters being so different from you, but I do know how impressed I am with you! My apologies for not responding sooner, but reading your story has just made my day. Consider me your fan!

    @ Mike: What a poignant situation you’re in! You sound to me like a very good man and I applaud your love and compassion for your friend.

    @ Everyone: Please feel free to email me at some point down the road to let me know how things work out! Or post again in this thread!

  25. I am a fatherless girl. My dad died of cancer when I was 6 and my mom never remarried or dated. I also, am an only child. I am now 20 and I have always been insecure about myself. Ever since my first boyfriend I have been very dependent on love and acceptance. I never actually thought that being fatherless could have had such an impact on me and my life but my curiosity rose after seeing something on TV about how important it is to have a father in a girls life, and I have been exploring the idea online since then. I have a ton of experience I would love to share with you if you would be interested.

  26. Looking back on my 20, nearly 21 years of life, I’m constantly trying to figure things out. I want to know why I feel the things I feel, I want to know why I do the things I do, and the things I did. I saw an episode of Dr. Phil the other day, on accident being as I don’t watch the show regularly. The original topic had my interest; “Addiction to online gaming.” Well, that caused a break up between My (ex) Boyfriend and I after 5 years, so I figured I’d watch. In a nutshell, Dr. Phil told the guest that if he doesn’t quit the game his daughter is going to grow up with out a father and would then have a higher chance of dropping out of school, running away from home, and becoming pregnant out of marriage. This intrigued me, I’m a fatherless child! Can it really affect a girl that much?? The thought had been in my head before but I never thought much of it. So I figured I’d do a little research on the internet about girls growing up without fathers in their lives. The statistics I found were shocking but very plausible to me.

    “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.”

    Thankfully, I have never had a drug problem. I have suffered with alcohol problems though. The mental illnesses, well sometimes with the thoughts in my head it defiantly makes me wonder. Suicide has been a thought in my mind, but thankfully not for over a year. The poor educational performance, teen pregnancy and criminality have never affected me.

    “Drinking problems. Teenagers living in single-parent households are more likely to abuse alcohol and at an earlier age compared to children reared in two-parent households
    Source: Terry E. Duncan, Susan C. Duncan and Hyman Hops, “The Effects of Family Cohesiveness and Peer Encouragement on the Development of Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Cohort-Sequential Approach to the Analysis of Longitudinal Data,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 55 (1994).”

    Like I said, I have fought the battle of the bottle, but it didn’t start until late last year. So it wasn’t necessarily early in my life, seeing as how it can happen to kids a lot younger than me. What caused my harsh addiction to it though? Was it because I had never drunk alcohol in my previous relationship and when I was allowed to I just went wild? Was it because it was an escape from life? Was it so I could be accepted? My deep down thought is that I am so starved for attention and acceptance, and I’m scared that people will not like me for who I am, so drinking made it easier to open up and let out myself. Being the drunk one used to appeal to me and I thought people liked me because of it. I have recently learned that that is not the case. I have gained much respect for myself and do not have to have a drink to have a good time. Realizing the problem is half the battle. Now that I know what really drove me to drink I can abstain from it easier.

    Another personality trait I’ve been learning over the last couple years about myself is that I am very dependent on a boyfriend or someone to give me love and affection. That can be directly linked to a fatherless upbringing.
    “In general, the difference [between women with and without fathers] was this: The fatherless women were less self-confident around men than the women with fathers.
    For instance: The fatherless women were less likely to assert themselves. They were less likely to let men know what their boundaries were. They were less likely to be strong individuals around men.”
    Lately I have become much more self-confident about myself around others, but I also fake it a lot. If I pretend I’m self-confident then it rubs off on me and I start to believe it. But deep down, I am insecure. I’m not assertive, and I have had troubles with letting someone know my boundaries.
    “On the other hand, the fatherless women were more likely to be relatively obsessed with their boyfriends. They were more likely to be emotionally dependent on them. And they were more likely to cling to relationships in which they were being abused.”
    I have been known to be obsessed with my boyfriend. I do want to spend as much time as possible with them. I also am emotionally dependent on them. And as far as clinging onto relationships even with abuse, I’m guilty. Whether it had been emotional or physical abuse, I stuck it out because I didn’t want to give up on the relationship. The fear of being alone scared me to death. I have had sex with guys in hopes that it would lead to a relationship. My thinking was that giving them what they want would lead them to liking me, when in all actuality it makes me look low class and that I have no self-respect.
    When I was 12 my mom went to jail for theft and left me with my grandparents. It was only for 60 days, but I did feel like I had to grow up real quick. Although I don’t blame any of my personal problems on my mother, she did the best she could raising me, I do think it shaped me into who I am today. When I was 19 I was living with my boyfriend, my mom and grandfather. I had been with my boyfriend for just over 5 years. He was physically and mentally abusive, extremely controlling and jealous, but I stayed with him for 5 years. After 5 years I finally wanted out of the relationship.
    “90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes”

    In Feb of 07 I ran away from Nebraska to Florida to be with someone I met over the internet, but never physically met. I moved to a state 1600 miles from home where I knew no one. It was a stupid decision on my part, but I don’t regret it. The new relationship didn’t last, partly to do with my addiction to alcohol. I got into a car accident in Oct of 07 due to alcohol, was put on probation in Dec of 07 and I lost my job in Jan of 08, all because of my drinking problem. I then began sleeping with anyone who showed an interest in me, I thought that if they slept with me then they must really like me. In March I started dating my most recent boyfriend and although he was never there for me emotionally or even physically, meaning he never wanted to spend time with me, I still clung on to him like he was the best thing in the world. We recently broke up and I felt like the worst person in the world. All that was going through my head was: “What did I do so wrong?” “Why does he not love me anymore….what’s wrong with me?!” I was so afraid of being alone. I still am. But, I have learned that I will be ok on my own, I don’t need someone to love me to love myself. And as cliché as this sounds, you can’t love someone until you love yourself. And I think that once I over come my feeling of worthlessness, I’ll be much happier.
    It really is overwhelming to think that all of this can relate to being raised a fatherless girl, but from what I’ve read, it’s very true, and common.

    I know this is very long but I did try making this as short as possible.

  27. I am a fatherless woman even though my father is alive. My mother had to take me and leave him when I was little and I’m 30 now. The first step in gaining the confidence everyone is talking about is talking and reading about other people who are thinking of this issue who’ve had similar experiences. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s posts and it’s really comforting. I was born on the west coast and in addition to what others described I grew up with a mother who didn’t remarry but instead raised me with warnings on the dangers of men and from time to time took out her frustrations about my no-good father on me verbally. It was wierd, she’d be my champion and then my harshest crtitic. It took a toll on my self confidence and definitely affected my trusting people. I’ve got a way to go but think it’s great to hear others tales of sabotaging their own relationships like I have when I doubted my boyfriends, or got into dead end relationships, with men I knew were selfish because they seemed like less of a risk because I guess I felt I wouldn’t really rely on them versus someone better. I can relate to the suspicion of a good guy thing too. So glad we’re all working on it so we can all be the confident wonderful people we were meant to be.

  28. Hi Lissa! Welcome to the blog! You are most certainly not alone. Would I be out of line if I urged you to find men every bit as good as you yourself are? You see, that has been one of the major problems I’ve seen with fatherless women — they sell themselves short when it comes to men. And, really, if you only knew how many good men have complained to me of this or that woman they love choosing a dead end relationship instead of them — and how heartbroken those men were. Some days, I almost think you women have a duty to go for the very best men in order to prevent such heartbreaks!

  29. @KiloDelta

    Oh, I can so relate! I’m 32, and my father left when I was 10. I always felt like he “replaced” us with his “new” stepchildren, and my stepsister felt like a “better” version of me (she’s the same age, but I perceived her to be brighter, better looking, and more socially confident.) They also went to expensive schools, while we could hardly afford to eat, which I felt quite jealous about.

    My father didn’t contact me for 20 years, and I reached out to him at 30. Even though reaching out to him was important for forgiveness, it’s given rise to so much anger, too. And so much more self-awareness.

    For years, I have searched for “him” in my relationships with men. I have chosen emotionally unavailable men “beneath me” who devalued me, or only wanted to use me, and clung to them for fear of being rejected. When they did reject me, as was their tendency from the outset, the pain was excruciating. But it was the pain relived of my father leaving me every time. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand rejection, and I’ve been single for years as a result.

    The depression, feelings of not being good enough, and sense that only when I succeed (on my own ridiculously high terms) will I be entitled to love, is hard to kick. Additionally, I too feel that if my father couldn’t love me, who will? I realised I don’t know what the qualities of a healthy relationship are, so I looked them up. And when I did, I bawled my eyes out. Because I still think that a man will only endow those qualities on a worthy girl, and I don’t feel worthy. Why would a man pick me from every other woman out there? I can’t think of a single reason. If you were to look at me, you wouldn’t pick that I feel like that: I project a cute, successful, perky vibe. I’m ashamed to tell anyone I don’t feel worthy, because as today’s society tells us again and again, I’m responsible for how I feel and how I act, so I am clearly weak on that front. But inside I feel like nothing and no one.

    I never had grown men around me when I was growing up, and still feel at odds around uncles, people’s fathers, and any man older than myself. I become submissive, and try to appease them no matter what they do to me; it’s as automatic as breathing. Recently a colleague verbally attacked me and I sat there and appeased him, which shocked me into delving deeper into why I act the way I do around men. I walked away from that job, which I never would have once, but it still frightened me that I smiled each time he verbally punched me.

    I think it’s unfortunate that too much of society is increasingly labelling fatherless daughters as “damaged goods” — it’s a new breed of classism, and plays down the fact that all adults have baggage. It can also be used to justify bad behaviour towards women, and to keep fatherless daughters from moving forward, by victimising them. Additionally, it can be used to strengthen the patriarchal notion that a nuclear family is always best — which it isn’t.

    I’m not a victim — I’m just a woman who grew up differently to many other women. Other women have their issues — I have mine.

    • Hi Hmmm,

      I have to say I am reading your post 4 years later and it completely applies in my case. I am 30 and have always wondered how come all the other girls manage to find themselves a good man, but I couldnt, no matter how hard I tried. And I did try very hard every single time I fell for a guy!

      Another problem I have been experiencing is the fact that I tend to fall for abusive men just because they seem a lot more powerful. On the other hand, I would reject most of the nice guys who would really like me for who I am and emphasise my qualities. Also, whenever I get compliments, I tend to make up an excuse for them, which is definitely the silliest thing ever!

  30. @ Hmmm: Very well said! Thank you for such a thoughtful and well-written post!

    Contrary to you, I can immediately think of at least three reasons a man would single you out from everyone else: You obviously have an immense gift with words, analysis, and insight into yourself.

    The point you made that strikes me the most is that fatherless daughters are not damaged goods. I think you are right on the mark with that.

  31. Please note: I am seeking people willing to write a separate blog post for Cafe Philos on the subject of fatherless girls/women. If you have any interest at all in doing that, please contact me for details. My contact information is here.

  32. Isn’t it scary the common thread that runs through every comment? My current and third choice of husband, unfortunately, was also once my psychiatrist. I thought that somehow his knowing everything about me would make it easier, as he loved me despite all that had transpired. And since he was educated in matters of the mind, it would make for an easier relationship. But after eleven years, I have come to the foregone conclusion that he is a narcissistic person who seems to feel no empathy. Narcissists seem to take pleasure in tearing others down. And even worse, he uses my past he learned through therapy against me. I am devoid of any feeling for him now but distrust. But I am not a young woman any longer, have no money of my own, and have nowhere to go. I live in a state that would “grant” me half his debt, which is considerable. And I fear losing my health insurance, which means I might not get the medication that keeps my depression at bay. I find gratification in my gardens and with my pets, and solitude. I will not trust a man again, if ever I did in the first place. He can try to hurt me, but I now have a reinforced armor that dilutes his words. Perhaps due to being the narcissist he is, however, he has begun to grow somewhat violent. And that is what I fear the most. He knows he has “lost” me, though he devalues me constantly. But obviously he cannot bear what he must see as “abandonment.”
    Brenda

  33. I am an 18 year old female and for most of my life my father has been imprisoned. He was gone from my life since i was maybe 2-3 years old. Although he has had stints where he was released from jail. And to tell the truth, my dad is a good guy. He’s made terrible decisions which is what landed him in the position he is now [ sentenced to 30 years in prison] but when he was out he did whatever he could to help us out. Especially financially. I guess that was him trying to make up for his absence. Him not being there affected me more than you could imagine. Being fatherless basically ruined my life in my opinion. I have been intimate with 11 different men and only 1 of those relationships is standing on two feet today. Mostly i did it because i was so desperately seeking the love, affection & attention of a man, which was something i had never had. I needed confirmation and to be validated through these guys. Basically, it was me acting out because of the pain of growing up without a father.

    I sometimes feel like i will never find a man that loves me for me and isn’t out to use and take advantage of me.I was also molested so i fight feelings of insecurity, worthlessness and i sometimes feel like all i’m good for is sex.I get so lonely and all i’ve ever wanted is love and acceptance. And so far i haven’t gotten it. After all of the men that i’ve been involved with, the many times i’ve been hurt and my emotional issues i wonder if i should just walk away from relationships so that i can reevaluate myself and my life and become whole on my own.

    I think a need a break. I need to get a job, get into nursing school and just live my life without a man or guy or whatever. I think that 1 day i’ll find someone who is patient and understanding and that treats me with dignity and respect.

    I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.

  34. Thank you for such a powerful comment, Ty! I think you are on the right path. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen my fatherless friends make at times has been to have nothing in their lives to live for but men. Your decision to get a job and get into nursing school seems very healthy to me.

    You strike me as bright and exceptionally insightful for someone your age. I think things will be hard at times, but that you will pull through. In my opinion, you’d be an easy person to love for herself. Best of luck to you!

  35. Hey paul!! I have been keeping up with the blog and I am very interested in what all of the bloggers have to say. I like how people can be so open and tell their situation as is. I have been thinking about women insecurities with men, their not knowing when to put a limit to men, getting overly attachaed..etc. because of being fatherless. But what crossed my mind, is “What about fatherless men? How does growing up without a father affect men in general? Paul, let me know your insight on this subject, or maybe just your knowledged opinion.

  36. Very good post…but unfortunately not what I’m looking for personally. Kudos to you though for raising the issue and reaching out to young girls that are right now devastatingly vulnerable.

    I am now a fatherless wife and mother, and however odd it may seem, I only recently realized my low self-esteem, insecurities, and fear around men is related to my father’s absence. I’m not quite sure how to distinguish which– or to what extent– has to do with my father’s absence or with the reason for my father’s absence, being that I was born a girl rather than a boy. All I know now is everytime a man shows me any interest, whether sexual or not, an almost paralypitic wave comes over me. When a man tries to take an interest in me just as a friend I am automatically suspicious. No man has ever been interested in me for anything other than for sex. What does a friendship with a man look like?

    As a teen, I was coerced into prostitution and submitted just because I was afraid to say no. I let men cross boundaries I never should have, tolerated abuse ( emotional, psychological, and physical), and even felt rejected by men if they weren’t interested in me sexually.
    I have now come to the realization that I’m not even sure I know what being a woman is all about. It’s not all about sex…yet, that’s all I know.

    My abandonment issues are huge. I don’t trust men. Not in the least. I never have believed I was enough. This led me to try to secure my relationships by using pity or lying. I always felt in competition with other girls. As time went on, in order to feel pleasure during sexual relations, I had to use fantasy and not really be present in the bedroom. To be sure, my fantasies were not of men either. They were of other women. Women are safer.

    The worst part of this now is that I often find myself watching my husband play with my daughters and I become nervous. I wonder what his alterior motives are. I wonder if he really loves them.

    As far as confidence goes, people may or may not like what I’m about to say, but I have found much of my security in Jesus. God is the Father Who has never left me, Who never changes, Who will never let me down, and Who will always love me no matter what mess I get myself into. Knowing my every lie, He loves me. Knowing my every secret thought, He loves me. Knowing my every evil deed, He loves me. He is never any further than my knees are from the floor, and He understands everything about me…even better than I understand myself.
    Keeping this at the forefront of my mind helps me to accept myself the way I am, and accept that not everyone is going to like me and that’s ok. However, I still don’t know how to relate to men and I still become nervous around them. I’m trying to understand exactly where my fears are coming from in all the different aspects of my life. I want to untangle my thinking process so I can work to correct the thoughts before I react to them, but, as you said, no one seems to want to bring it up.

    How strange it is when you grow up believing “this is just the way I am,” and later find out it never was “you” at all. Considering the epidemic of fatherless children, you’d think people would be talking about it a lot more.

    Thank you and God bless.

  37. Hi Desley! Welcome to the blog — and thank you for sharing an extraordinarily interesting story.

    I have found that therapy has helped with my own fatherlessness and I would encourage you to try it out. It sometimes takes a bit of shopping around before you find a therapist with whom you have a strong, non-judgmental rapport — so don’t be shy about checking out as many therapists as you need to check out until you’ve found the right one for you.

    I think your insight into how we so often grow up thinking “this is just the way I am”, when it’s not really us at all, is quite a profound one.

    I wish you the best.

  38. I’ve found this blog after searching about fatherless girls. I’ve recently fallen in love with such a girl. All I’ve read here and around the web gave me a picture. It’s a picture of her. I’m ten years older than her and, after years of oblivion, I’m now desperately in love. I would like to get suggestions and advice here. How should I deal with her? I’m really committed an serious, I’d really like to make this girl happy, or less sad, at least. I know she likes me a lot, but she’s keeping back. Thank you.

  39. Hi Niky! Welcome to the blog!

    Every fatherless girl is an individual first and foremost, and a fatherless girl only second. So, how you best deal with a fatherless girl has more to do with her as an individual than it does with her as a fatherless girl.

    Having said that, I’ve found in general that it helps to have a lot of patience and — if you are interested in a long term relationship — become best friends first. Even if she dates someone else, stay friends. Patience and friendship.

  40. Hey Paul, how do you know she’s dating someone else? :)
    Yeah, that’s what I’m doing, patience and perseverance. She’s so strange and unpredictable I think any other man would have got tired of chasing her at this time. Not me. I think all you really believe in will come true one day. Thanks for your advice.

  41. Recently I was told I was damaged.

    Surprisingly, it was a turning point for me.

    Almost as if someone else had the courage to say what I’ve been thinking for a while, but not willing to put in such blunt terms.

    In a sense, it helped me be “ok” with me and put into perspective every negative outcome of:

    – my father being absent for much of my life and then turning out to be a pro at lip service and low on follow through when I finally decided I had to mend or understand things with him so I could improve my relationships with men in general;

    – my single parent mother being highly unaware of how very controlling and emotionally abusive she was / is of me in her negative reinforcement brand of “tough love”;

    – and spending 12 years of my life in boarding school (which was actually a safe haven given that, for a while we were all temporarily parentless kids compelled to follow the same rules and lifestyle) and away at college.

    Even if these events put together did handicap me in one sense (building real and genuine relationships with people) they gave me a lot of inner strength to meet life head on, so that even though I’ve “successfully failed” several relationships with men (and people I thought were true friends) – and didn’t really know how to “fix” things, I could dust myself off get back up and try again. I’m competent and smart (in every area but men).

    At 31, like many of the women on here, I’m pretty self-aware but have for a long time lacked that basic deep-seated self-confidence that allows women to maintain their sense of self around men (and other more grounded women) without needing to be continually validated by them.

    Thankfully, since the “you’re damaged” comment, my focus has shifted and gotten a lot clearer. I’ve managed to take stock of what happened (once I <– that’s key – decided the cycle needed to and had to end!), begun to educate myself on how to be the person I want to be and the type of parents I want but missed out on FOR MY SELF (self-help books and therapy are essentials), and start to move forward as the person I see myself being.

    The process is on-going, but at some point, I now believe it is essential to find a way to let the past be the past and learn to let it go.

    Yes, father was absent and mom was not great but did provide the best and did what she felt was her best. The difference is, I can now see them for the humans they are faced with their own set of tough life choices that I’m not certain I would have handled differently had I been in their shoes. But key to letting go, is that I’ve had to let go of my disappointed expectations of what they should have put into my life and didn’t. And to also accept that at this age, neither is going to change.

    So, like I said before, I’ve decided to learn about what a father was meant to have done for me (the research is helping establish a calmness in me), be for myself and to myself the parents I wanted to have, lean on the people and professionals I trust to hear me out through ideas and emotions that are new and at times hard to grapple with (but so worthwhile, ’cause now I know I’m more “normal” than I previously imagined), and generally forgive the past and myself for what it has been.

    (Trust me, I’m still learning to forgive the people that are my father and mother. That process I know will take some time and I’m kinda happy to work on it as it comes…)

  42. How does a “fatherless” girl gain confidence?

    Depend on your self..But dont let that muck up your vision of man love..

    Love

    Dallas

  43. This is a great blog with alot of really great advice. Like everyone here, I can relate to many of these stories but my situation is also unique. My father left when I was a baby, so my mother and I moved in with my grandparents for a few years. Then when I was four, my mom remarried to a decent man, had three more children, and they are still married today (I am 19 now). I have quite a good memory, so I recall many memories from living with my grandparents, and I remember being in my parents wedding, and I remember the first time I called my mom’s husband “dad”. My grandfather has always been a stable father figure in my life, though when my mom’s husband entered the picture I really liked him too. He would let me do things that my mom didn’t usually allow, and he’d buy me things if we were out. We also went on great adventures throughout the first couple years of their marriage. However, we he turned into more of a disciplinary figure rather than a fun friend to have around, that is when I started to resent him. He was in no way abusive or extremely unreasonable, but at my young age (probably seven or eight), I just not put up with what he was telling me since he was not my real father. And from that point on, I grew a hatred for him. I would do what my mom wanted me to do, but I could not bring myself to listening to this man who I have no real relation to (although he did adopt me as his child when they married).

    Fast forward to now.. over a decade later, and I am a psychology major, analyzing myself from the inside out, considering all major events in my life and why I have the feelings I have. I realize that my feelings towards my new dad are not really fair, but I still do not like him. I have come to the conclusion that he is just the type of person who I would not like, whether he was my father or not. We disagree on every aspect of virtually everything. But there are numerous people who I have strong disagreements with, so I learn to put up with that. I no longer hate people, I just agree to disagree, and try to spend as little time around them as possible, or keep conversation on the surface. I will never have the true ‘father-daughter’ bond with either of my fathers, and I sort of have it with my grandfather, but that is it. *oh, one thing to mention, I found my biological father on the internet last year after months of searching. I talked to him and realized he also fits into the category as my adoptive father. That category of people who I don’t like (prejudiced, closed-minded, ‘rednecks’ ).

    So in conclusion, here is what I can say for confidence, and growing up ‘normal':
    Although I lacked confidence in my high school years, I think I suffered in the same ways as duel parenting households. Everyone in high school goes through– it is really a time of figuring out who you are. But to overcome this, I started learning. I came off to college and started studying something I was interested in, and I immediately saw how unimportant the things I worried about are. I started reading books. Books about people who I could related and then philosophical books about life. Once you start putting things into perspective, you no longer worry about silly little things. As for emotional relationships… Sure, fathers USUALLY play a role in teaching these things to their daughters, but this is common knowledge that can be learned from numerous other sources. As long as you emotional bonds with people who you can trust, healthy relationships, then you will not be deficient in any way.

  44. You know, I’d never thought I’d be actively writing this but I guess that, at this point in my life I finally got enough of a jolt mentally to look around and say ‘Something isn’t quiet right with me’. I was doing some search on the internet and came across this page and read what others had to say. I’m not sure 100% if I’m the ‘kind’ of person you’re interested in hearing from but, I figured, if even getting it out of my head, was worth the time if nothing else. Maybe this information will be helpful for you or someone else.

    Did I grow up a fatherless daughter? YES, Very much so. When I was a baby my father died when I was only a month old from cancer. My mother raised me herself (with some help from my grandparents for babysitting) and I was an only child. It was always just me and my mom. We moved around a lot as she went from job to job and did her best to put a roof over our heads but other then a pet or two, for most of my younger life I didn’t get a chance to get close to people. However this didn’t mean I didn’t have friends. I was often very nice and well liked outwardly, inwardly however I didn’t let people get close (which is and has been a recurring problem to the point I feel I sometimes push people away because they are getting ‘too close’.)

    By the time I entered my early pre-teens, we had finally settled down in one place for more then a year or two and I stayed in school, in the same school district for the first time in my life and so I was finally able to make the very close friends that I hold dear now. However having those friends, who, through anything less then blood, sweat and tears have worked through everything with me doesn’t mean it’s any easier for someone to connect with me, more so guys now then anything else, when I was younger, almost all of my friends where guys but now my choice in friends has done a complete 180, almost all of my friends are girls. It seems to me that, now, because I have that close select group of friends, I don’t need any others. I’m now a junior in college and still stay in close contact to the friends I had made in elementary-school throughout high school.

    High school however was a very hard time for me, which it isn’t for most people. I struggled with the idea that my freshmen year my mother was finally going to get remarried to the man who is now my step-dad. I had grown up from age 0 to 15-16 (given they got married over the summer) without a father figure in my life and my life was going to suddenly and abruptly be turned on its head. To which I acted out, more verbally then physically. I found myself not falling into the ‘stereotypical’ crowd of fatherless girls who acted out and started to have sex early, yada to get attention. I didn’t seem to have ‘common’ ‘daddy issues’. To be truthful, I never understood why a girl would but herself through that. I made near an A- average in school and didn’t want to ‘ruin’ my future by doing something that stupid…I digress. So, I ended up putting my step-dad (whom I’ve grown very much attached to) through hell and back trying to drive him –away- from my mother, needless to say he put up with it and didn’t work. He knew deep down I was a good kid, and proved himself in my eyes, I guess.

    Entering college, however I started to reflect back on my life and found myself noticing I felt like I had a void in my life that I simply chose to ignore because I had goals and wanted to reach them come hell or high-water. Now that I’m among peers that are generally as intelligent as I am, I find myself lacking the ability to connect with most of them. Self-Esteem issues (again another ‘stereotypical’ problem) was never an issue for me, possibly because of my naturally strong will and drive to learn, yet I still find myself keeping the people I meet on the very ‘far’ side of the wall. I think it has a lot to do with the absence of my father in my life; it is possible that it was the very void was what made me strong. The idea that I didn’t need anybody and other then the people who have already accepted me, completely as I am, no one else will or would. And the fear of loose that void (it sounds stupid I know) would somehow make me weak, almost like while I –want- someone there, I don’t want them to fill it and take it away from me. I know my experiences in life made me –what- I am, a deals list student, a respected artist and a good friend. But that doesn’t help me answer the question of ‘who’ I am. More and more I find myself talking to other people who have grown up with the same problems, the same past yet…outside of that small circle no one seems to talk about it.

    I have included my email in case anyone as any questions/feedback on something I have written. Sorry for the long post.

  45. I’m glad I ran across this blog topic. I was just thinking the same question early this morning.

    I’m a 33 year-old woman and I’m becoming increasingly aware of my low self confidence. I’ve been told I have low confidence throughout my childhood. If I wasn’t told this, I think I may have not been aware of it. But after I turned 18 and joined the Air Force, I met people who told me about my low self esteem/confidence. I tried to figure out what it was so I can “fix” it.

    Although I’ve had the plague of low self esteem I’ve been able to serve my country, traveling around the world, earning medals and awards. I later graduated at the top of my class in college and then earn my MBA. While I was in business school I was recruited by a top financial services firm as a financial advisor and I was able to garner a team to help my build my business plan to start my own company. I quite my job a couple of months ago and I’m operating it.

    So with the process of all the things I was able to accomplish, I started feeling that that label of having low self confidence was misguided. I’m just taken wrong by most people until they get to know me or work with me, I figured.

    But now-now that I’m relying on myself for my next meal, coming out of another painful “relationship” with a man, and room mating with two men to cut down on costs, I’m made to see myself more clearly. I don’t know myself. I don’t have a clear self concept and I don’t know where to get it. I’ve read, heard, been counseled that your self-concept comes from yourself, but how do I know what’s true or not. I mean-that’s what I’ve been doing all along. Relying on my self for my self concept. And I see that I’ve perceived wrong. And what is true is that I do not have self-confidence. I can’t confide in myself because I don’t know who I am!

    So how much of this has to do with my absent father. A lot. My father is chemically addicted-drugs and alcohol. He really became “absent” right when I reached puberty-when I needed him the most. My relationship with him went from “Daddy’s Little Girl” to unexplainable hatred he has towards me. So I missed the model/example girls have when they grow up with a present father. And today, at 33 year-old, I have no idea what I should expect from a man, how the mating “game” works, what a “good” man looks like…I don’t know. I guess in other words I didn’t grow up with a foundational knowledge of my value-as a woman to a man. I did not have that base knowledge.

    I have no idea what book to read (that’s not based on some celebrity’s or salesperson’s personal opinion or a someone’s marketing tool) to find out. I just pray and hope I hear the answers. I’ve prayed for my husband since I was about 14-year-old. And I still have faith that I will be able to have a happy, healthy marriage and raise a family. I just have to get to understand my value…and get some confidence!

  46. I’m really glad I found this blog topic

    As a highly independent, relatively well-adjusted young woman this is a subject that holds a bafflingly, and increasingly pronounced grasp on my life.

    I for one, never knew my father. My mother is a strong, very intelligent woman who was more than capable of financially providing for me. From a very young age, she instilled in me the beleif that I am capable of acheiving anything and everything I set my mind to; I’ve lived my life never doubting this. Confidence in life, with people, is one thing. Confidence WITHIN a relationship entirely (to my continued frustration) another.

    I began to notice that the absence of my father perhaps had a deeper effect on my psyche than I had previously aknowledged around age 16. Before then, the only definable aspect to any emotional response I had to his absence was numbness; a remarkable lack of any feeling about the subject in general. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t sad, I truly believed that I couldn’t miss what I’d never had. Jealousy for the attention other girls recieved from their fathers, sure, but nothing deeper than the shallow response of a self-centered child.

    At 16 I began watching my friends pair off into relationships. The notion of intimacy seemed so astoundingly foreign to me. As long as everything was platonic, flirting within boundaries, or emoptionally devoid (at least on my part) sex I was ok. As soon as it became anything more, I panicked. Intense, uncontrollable bouts of insecurity plagued every attempt I made at intimate relationships with men.

    Years later (I’m now 24) I’ve made little progress. Relationships still feel incredibly stifling to me, I am insatiably attracted to much older men (to the continued astonishment and occasional disgust of friends and family)and the idea of being in love remains just that- an idea. The few times I’ve allowed myself to even get close to feeling something more than attraction for someone I’m involved with inevitably progresses into an increasing realization that I am losing control over my emotions…. and then I bolt. Not to sound cocky (believe me I’m not) but I have no problem attracting or even keeping men – my problem is wanting to keep them once I have them. And to top off the whole mess, the one thing I long for most is a truly loving, secure and happy relationship – whether or not I will ever manage to attain one remains to be seen.

    As I stumble blindly to tear down walls I don’t remember building, I occasionally lose hope – but the belief that I AM capable of loving and being loved, of accepting love from another keeps me going. I don’t take myself or my situation too seriously, there are many who have had much worse to overcome, and nothing gets you back on your feet like laughing at your own fall.

    For any men potentially or currently involved with women like me – never lose patience and get ready to be VERY confused!

  47. I would like to more than ever figure out this tangle inside of me. My dad passed away when i was 10 of drug overdose. I didn’t really feel the pain up until highschool. I’m trying to figure out why i feel this way. Its dangerous to say but i feel like i need to be depressed and physically injure myself to the men i care about the most in my life. Like some male teachers i feel like i have to do something to make them worry. Its horrible, but it gives me a satisfied feeling i guess to know they care about me. And my friend is a boy and we do everything wrong from skipping class to smoking weed, and ive gotten in trouble with him so many times but i cant stay away from him no matter what i do or say. I’m 19 now and still finishing up highschool, im extremely worried when i leave, i just feel like nobodys going to care anymore. like i have to forget about these feelings and grow up which will be really hard for me. im so lost in what to do. and so scared. I feel like i should leave and get away from everything annd start new somewhere else. i’ve already tried dropping out 3 times. Please if anybody has ANY advice what to do, please, please please , let me know .thankyou.

  48. Thank you for everyones stories and insight. It has really helped me to understand my reluctance and fear of truly opening up to people. My father was “absent” in the sense that I can’t have any sort of meaningful conversations or relations with him. It seemed the only thing we had to say to each other that was emotional was angry yelling fits and childish arguments. I am at a point in my life where I now(at 28, father twice my age) am the mature one and don’t fall into the trap of arguing with him.

    As a result, I have dealt with self confidence issues throughout most of my life until my later years of university. I was lucky to live with friends during university who have helped me become confident and realize my self-worth.

    Like Mim, I also have no problem getting in to relationships, but maintaining them is another story. I too feel like by opening myself up and loving someone, it opens me up to a whole new level of pain if the person were to cheat or abandon me. Its a risk I know I should take, but its safer and easier to shut my emotions off and run away.

    However my main reason for searching this topic is that my best friend is dealing with much more severe problems because she grew up without her father. She is battling with self-confidence issues, suicidal tendencies and a sense of leading a meaningless life. She also has been in relationships which have caused her a great amount of pain, yet stays in them despite everyones advice to leave.

    For the most part I have been able to battle my demons, but I am not at the point where I know what to do to help her.

    Please tell me about your strategies for dealing with these issues and what other people have done for you to help. Thanks!

  49. This is a very good post, My father left when I was one and a half years old. Now that I’m a teenager it really does affect me. All the things you mentioned I feel are true. Like knowing your boundaries, all the boyfriends I’ve had I never told them to stop if it became sexual. When they would touch inappropriatly I just thought that was something guys did. It’s pretty easy for me talk to guys, I’m just very shy and I don’t open up to them. Instead I let them open up to me, making me easily attached to them. I still struggle with the whole issue of if I want to be in a relationship, or I’m trying to find a guy to fill my fatherly emptyness. This really did help and I’m really thankful you posted it. I do have very low self-esteem, so I use guys as a way to feel better about myself. I constantly need to know that they like me or that they care or that they aren’t going to leave. This whole lack of a father really sucks. But yea one day I hope I feel that I have some value. Thanks again.

  50. As a guy I would like to know how to make it easier for the girl I like (who has had an absent father and no boyfriends before) to have a wholesome relationship with me. I noticed there is fear to open emotions and loads of periods of distancing from me. At the same time she says she trusts me. :/ I am yet to meet her since we know each other online but am going to this year.
    Thanks, looking forward to your opinions.

  51. I have a beautiful girlfriend who is very capable and has done a wonderful job raising her child. However after reading this blog I believe that her not having a father figure during her childhood, has made her unable to trust me, and continue to have panic attacks and other stress related conditions. I want to support her and ask if anyone out there has any other literature or web pages that may assist me in doing so. I really care for her but feel limited in my ability to help her gain trust and gain a good nights sleep and wellbeing for her beautiful soul. Genuinlely Concerned
    Partner. I’m glad these blogs exist and “may we all return to Love”.

  52. Hi, I stumble upon this website but I am glad I did. This is an area that I am studing not only for myself but for my ministry to girls. I myself grew up without a father in the home at 11 I had a stepdad but it seems the damage had already been done. I have healed in many ways but I still see some effects in my life which I recognize in your article. Now, at 50 I have started a mentoring program for girls in TN. called “It’s about a G.I.R.L.” (A Glorius Intelligent Real Lady) my goal is to stop the cycle of self abuse. Young girls know that they are a woman because they have all the parts but being a lady is different and that takes having self confidence/esteem. I would love to share more with the writer of this blog because this was from God that I would happen to this site. Please contact me I would love to include more of your findings as I form my website which should be up soon. Anyone who wants to add too and help me with validating the subject please email me at cheryllogos@netzero.net. Thank you and Agape

  53. Werty and Phs: Sorry, guys, I didn’t see your posts until now. In answer to your questions, I’m no expert on this subject, despite having posted on it. My best guess is that you would be best off approaching the women in question as a friend first and lover second. But I hold that opinion because I’ve seen it work before, not because I know that it always works.

  54. i just found this blog… mostly young people, until i saw cheryl. who is mentoring at 51. i am so impressed that she is healed to the point of helping others because i am 50 and trying to come to terms with a father who never saw me, and was an intense disaplinarian. i also was sexually abused by my brother in an upper middle class family who’s appearance is much more important than the my development. i am looking back at the pattern over my life and have narrowed it down to not trusting anyone, and being intensely serious. i can’t even get to letting anyone close enough to really get to know me. the older i get i fear the more gruff i appear. i’m so lonely. therapy has helped a lot over the years get to the root of the problem… but after this much time in the wrong programming of my brain, do you think it is possible to find happy? how do i retrain my brain to believe a different message about myself other then the one that was acted out to me my whole life?

  55. Hi Mizzy,

    Sounds like you’ve come a long way. I’d stick with therapy. Progress can be slow, but it seems like the best bet.

  56. I too found this site after I started searching. At first, I was looking at Adult orphans, I then found fatherless daughters. I’m 36 and have been asking these questions like the one posed in the blog for so many years. Taking small manageable steps…I will keep this idea close to me as I continue moving forward in my current pursuit of recovery.

  57. I am doing a research paper on fatherless daughters and ran across this blog…it truly is wonderful. I am 36 years old and I never knew my father. I was lucky enough to have my grandfather and uncle in my life, it means more to me to make them proud of me rather my mother whom I have a great relationship with. I was married to an abusive man and I was very jealous and clingy. I eventually left him. I have always been insecure about my looks, I always felt different than other girls mainly I never felt as feminine as the other girls. I later became a sex worker for about 5 years. I thought I enjoyed it, looking back I was craving a male figure to adore me without having a “relationship”. I new as long as I was a sex worker I could never be in a relationship. I was fine with that since I never wanted to have children…simply for the fact there is no guarantee the father would stick around and I refuse to put a child through that. I do not regret being a sex worker however I have since done quite a bit of soul searching and I now know I am a beautiful, smart,and funny woman. I have since found someone I care a great deal about, I am no longer a sex worker, I have a great career and going back to school. You know the saying you don’t miss what you never had…it really is not true…I know I am messed up in the head because of it, but I am able to realize and understand some of my issues. To close I would like to say that I finally found my biological father. He lives in the same county, about two years ago I looked him up and knocked on his door. We had a very pleasant visit. I have not spoke to him since, after 34 years of chaos, I now feel at peace with who I am.

  58. I was on google trying to figure out how to gain confidence, because my lack of self-esteem is ruining my relationship with the man I am in love with. I didn’t technically grow up without a dad, but I never saw him or had a relationship with him. He was just never there. I have the “symptoms” of a fatherless girl, and I want to put an end to my incredibly horrible case of low self-esteem and what seems to be an incapability of trusting those who really care about me. It truly is painful. I was wondering if you could recommend any books that could help me? I don’t have money, I can’t see a therapist, but I am so desperate to change. I want to grow, and I feel so stuck.

  59. Hi Faith! I regret that I don’t know of any books on the subject. I think the issue of fatherless girls has been overlooked until recently, and so there is not much material on it yet. Under the circumstances, if you have an specific questions, you might email them to me and I’ll get back to you with whatever I might know. I wish you the best.

  60. I didn’t know my father growing up. We went to ask him for support when my grandfather died. He fought us in court over it. I am now 42 years old and wonder when the pain of rejection will stop. I have had dozens of horrible experiences trying to turn men into fathers. I have terrible boundaries and very low self esteem. I don’t know why my father rejected me, but the pain has followed me through life. I am happy that people are putting time and effort into studying this. I think if men knew what pain they were causing their children, mayb they wouldn’t walk away.

  61. Polly, I am as certain as someone can be here that your father’s rejection of you had to do with him and his failures rather than with anything you yourself did to deserve it. Do you see that?

  62. Wow, I didn’t expect a reply. Yes, thanks. I can get that intellectually. It’s hard to make it sink in though. Thank you so much for your work, putting this here. It’s a huge service to those of us who experienced rejection from fathers.

  63. I read your article and it really hit home. I raised by a single mother my and I have never met father or know what he looks since my mother didn’t take any photos. The male role model in my life was a homosexual man who left me when I was 11 years old. Growing up I have always shy ed away from relationships with men because I never understood what to expect since I never had any role models to show me what being in a romantic relationship entails. It was frightening to think about until I learned to be friends with straight men and used them as a type of father figure in my life. Because of that I had many men leave because they would get “sexually frustrated” since it almost made me sick to think of sleeping with a father figure. While, I have had many male friends a have been having trouble starting romantic relationships with men. Many of the times I ended up bedding them because of a night of drinking, which is the only way that I will have a relationship with them and feel connected. Si I guess for my life, instead of being promiscuous I have been overly reserved to the point of unhappiness.

  64. I grew up in a fatherless home and I know the issue is huge for men too. My mum was very unconfident and lost and though she did her best, in many ways couldn’t cope. My father abandoned her before I was born, largely I suspect due to her clinginess. I do the best I can. I’ve focused a lot on studies and now work and trying to build confidence. But it’s a hard lonely road. I keep going hoping things will improve. I traced my father but I I had to give up talking to him. He could never admit he did anything wrong. My mum died last year, just me at the bedside. I fear I could go that way. She was a lovely person. I don’t know what to do without her. I so often think of the what ifs/might have beens. I’m sure it’s caused by damage handed down through generations, for I have done my homework. My question is. Can you break the pattern or am I doomed. I know it’s tough being an insecure woman. But it’s just as tough being an insecure man.

  65. Thank you for writing this blog. It seems as though fatherless daughters have been forgotten in our society. Many statistics have been written and discussed but no one goes beyond that. What about those of us who didn’t become teen moms or drop out of school or any of the other awful statistics out there? What about those of us who overcame those odds? We are adult women who are struggling every day with issues that are a result of being fatherless. Most of those issues we can’t see and if we can we aren’t sure how to deal with them. In my quest for information I seem to only find discussions of girls who lost their fathers to death. What about those of us whose fathers CHOSE to leave us? There are similarities, but there are many differences too.

    All of our stories are different so here is mine… my father left my mother shortly after my mother learned she was pregnant. I have never met my father. I have a brother who is 2 years older than me. My mother has only ever told me what a bad person my father was and how bad all men are in general. I struggled when I was a child when things like father/daughter dances would come up. Or who will give me away at my wedding someday? I’m 31 now and I still haven’t had to answer that wedding question. I find that I am extremely uncomfortable around men in all aspects of my life, i.e. work and personal relationships. For most of my life I, like so many women who have written here, held the belief “you can’t miss something you never had.” As I get older I realize that is so far from true! And in fact, in some way or another, we are constantly searching for that missing piece.

    It has been comforting to read this blog and the comments. If only to know I’m not alone. Thank you.

  66. I agree with Jennifer, i’s a comfort to see so many other girls (i think on this issue all of us are still little girls inside) and boy with similar stories.

    My dad left us for another woman when i was 14, we stayed in tough for a few months but after an arguement where i told him to F off (like a normal teenager!) he never contacted me agaain, i’ve since found out his new tart was filling his head with lies about things i’d said to her etc…over the years i’ve tried to contact him and had it thrown back inmy face, to the point where I can’t take one more rejection.

    for the first 14 yrs of my life, My dad was actually a pretty good one, He made me feel like I could do anything I wanted and that i was beautiful smart etc… told me he loved me more than anyone else in the world. then he left and never looked back. how can you ever trust a boyfriend husband when the one man who’s supposed to love and adore your no matter what can walk away so easily??

    I am 26 now, and spent the few years after my dad left sleeping around, trying to buy love with sex. it didn’t work, the one guy i did thing the right way round with I ended up marrying at 23, but from 18-21 our relationship was stormy, I had mood swings, was jealous of stupid things, didn’t trust him at all, even though i could rationalise that i knew he wasn’t the cheating type. I however was, I couldn’t seem to stop myself enjoying attention, the last two years of our relationship (7 yrs in total) I was so focused being a good wife, but the relationship was all wrong, I should never have married him, but he’d wanted to marry me and that was enough for me, security.

    needless to say it didn’t last. security doesn’t compare to actual love and lust. I’m with a great guy now, and I’m starting to behave like a maniac with him. I’d never cheat now, I know how awful it makes me feel and that if i’m doing that the relationships not right, after sitting my husband down to end a marriage I know I have the strength to end a relationship rather than cheat. but i’m insecure and jealous, even of his best friend, I just want to feel like the most important (even the only!) person in the world.

    my dad chose to leave, and at a very hormonal time in my life, I dont feel like I’ve ever fully left that age, I can start a day happy as sunshine and by teatime I can’t even fake a smile and I want to cry or rage at my boyfriend, for something so un-important it’d be funny if it wasn’t so likely to end up in heartbreak!

    just trying to work out how my own thoughts process so I can stop ruining my own happiness. it’s almost as if there’s two of me fighting for air time inside my head, there’s the confident, pretty girl who was already part formed at 14 and who my mum and grandad did a great job preserving, she can talk to anyone, laugh, have fun. she’s actually an enjoyable person to be!!

    then there’s the 14yr old who’s dad has slapped her down time and time again, the girl who used to sneak off and make herself sick, just because it was almost comforting to do, a secret all to her self. this girl is childish and selfish, throws tantrums and gets jealous. she pushes people who love her further and further away to see how far it takes before they leave her, because deep down she knows they will eventually…

    I don’t like this girl very much!!

    It pathetic how I excuse my own personality flaws by being my dad’s fault, every ones got their story. I’m trying my best to get over this, but it just feels like there’s a hole in my life that nothing else can fill even though my dad is clearly an arsehole and wouldn’t be much cop at filling that gap. maybe when I have my own family I can find that love from the next generation, but I’m not going down that route until them two girls are united as one pleasant one!!

    sorry to ramble on, but It feels good to let it out!

  67. i think i’m a fatherless daughter and i don’t know what to do . my dad keeps leaving me and coming back and leaving and coming back and leaving and coming back and then leaving again . it hurts so bad , more than anything in the world i swear . i’m only 16 , and i love my father but i don’t think he loves me . because if he did , why would he keep doing this to me ? i’ve seen 2 therapists and they don’t help . the first one just bashed my father , the only man i’ve ever loved . and i got tired of the second . i have no friends to talk to because they all have fathers in their lives , and even if their parents are separated , their fathers still take care of them . my parents are separate and my doesn’t . i don’t know why i still love him . he called me on my 15th birthday and talked to me for 5 minutes and didn’t say happy birthday or even mention it . it KILLED me . literally , i still cry over it . if it were possible , i would “dump” my father . i wouldn’t talk to him but i need money , and i want a car for my birthday and i want to go to college in the fall of 2012 , and my mother , as a teacher cannot afford all of that alone . i can already see that i’m going to end up in an abusive relationship . i already know it . it sucks . i have zero self-esteem cuz i’m probably the ugliest thing to walk the Earth . i feel like i don’t deserve all of this though . i don’t deserve to not have boyfriends , to never have made honor roll , to not pass my ap exam , to not be good-looking . i don’t deserve all of that and most importantly , i DO NOT deserve to have a father who could care less about me . you what killed me the most ? on my half birthday in december , i came home and my older brother was in the shower and i go to the living room and see he had been on my laptop which i HATE ! he left his facebook open , and me being the nosy thing i am , went to his messages and started snooping around . i found a message from this girl who basically said that she is my father’s daughter . so it started to make sense . my daddy kept leaving me for months on end to be with her . he didn’t love me because of her ! is she prettier than me ? more talented ?smarter ? more athletic ? what is it ? what makes me not worth loving ? my father did this to me . he’s made me cry more than anyone else . i swear i’ve shed too many tears for this man . and the worst part of it all is that he doesn’t love me . all i want is money . if i had money , then i would leave my daddy so quickly . i would do everything i want and buy myself the best therapist in the world to listen to my stupid problems . oh yeah , i forgot the worst part of this all . i have no best friend to talk to about this . no one to understand me . or did i mention that already ? ugh i don’t even know what i’m saying but its 1:30 in the morning and i’ve been crying my eyes out for the past hour and i needed to write this to maybe help calm myself down . if anybody has anything meaningful to say to me , please don’t hesitate . i need help or feedback or advice or something . i need to know how to get over this . please

    • Dear Stcy,

      I am very sorry to hear you are suffering. The best and truest thing I can tell you, though, is not to give up. You life is very likely to get better — much better. I once went through a depression so deep that I did not laugh — not even once — for two years. I did not think it would ever get better. I thought my life was all but over. Yet, today, I am one of the happiest people I know of. Never give up.

    • Hi Stcy! I’m so sorry that you are going through this very difficult time in your life. I didn’t have a father growing up and I understand the pain of it. It hurts and it hurts bad. Please do not give up on yourself as you are a beautiful human being and you came here for love and to experience this cRaZy life. I have several books and references that I think you might find beneficial and I’ll list those at the bottom of my reply. Please take the time to read them. I found them extremely helpful in my search for me. I felt lost and to be honest, sometimes still do. I think that is fairly normal. I’ve found it extremely helpful to forgive my father because he didn’t know any better. He had is own “stuff” he was going through. We all wear masks to protect ourselves from being hurt or from experiencing pain. I know my father didn’t have the greatest upbringing either and therefore he really didn’t know how to be a father. It’s unfortunate, however that’s just the way it is. I wish him happiness on his own journey in life.

      Trust me I’m no expert, I just want to reach out to you because I feel your pain. I think you’re an amazing person for reaching out to get help. You need to love yourself and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn. YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE! I didn’t love myself and expected everyone to fill that void for me. Well, it doesn’t work that way… hence the two failed marriages. The first book I think you would benefit from is The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz.

      Please feel free to contact me as I’d love to help you on your journey to finding YOU! YOU ARE LOVE AND YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL SOUL!

      Warm regards,
      Shanna

      Other books…

      The dark side of the light chasers… by Debbie Ford
      The Four Agreements… by Don Miguel Ruiz
      The Vortex… by Ester and Jerry Hicks

  68. Hi Paul, Well I’m kind of a “fatherless girl” my mother divorce my father when i was seven and he didnt really care for me until i got older(around 13 years old). And now he just gives me money and then leave. We dont really have father and daughter time. I think this is why I am the way I am. Every relationship I get in I’m always geting hurt. Ive been in a sexual abusive relationship, a physical abusive relationship and a verbal abusive relationship. I always get the feeling its something I’m doing wrong. But i awlays find myself in another relationship and I’m alwys stuck on whoever im dating at the time. At first i start out trusting him and then the trust level just starts going down but not because of him, i just always thinks if he is not texting or with me or calling me then he’s with or talking to someone else. I think i push men away. But i dont try to. My self esteem is really low but i constantly get told how pretty I am, but i dont feel pretty unless I’m with someone and he is telling me that constantly. Even after i get treated bad i always think come back to them, I dont know why. Ive even had suicide thoughts. Whats wrong with me and what should I do?

    • Hi LG!

      First, have you tried therapy? If so, what did it involve? Did you see any changes in your feelings about yourself or your behavior? And, if you’ve tried therapy, are you sticking with it?

      Second, you need to break the cycle of abuse in your life. At this point, that happens to be your tendency to get into relationships in which you are abused. Breaking that cycle can be very difficult. Which is why I ask about therapy. Basically, I want to know what kind of support and help you have available to you.

      Freeing yourself of abuse, LG, is key to self-esteem. Your self esteem isn’t going to improve much so long as it’s being knocked down by the folks you’re close to.

      If you’re serious about pursuing this further, drop me an email, so we can start a conversation about this. Also, I’m thinking of introducing you to a friend of mine. She’s in her 30s now, but she went through hell as a kid and later on in an abusive marriage. She’s a magnificent person. I think she might have some insights for you.

  69. For the past few years, ive been delving as to why my relationships with men have always been failures. I never really knew my father. I only met him once at the age of 8. I grew up in a single parent home with no siblings, only my mother. I was never angry at my father, because I had no emotional connection to him.

    My mother came out of an abusive household, so she spent many years running away from men. I always watched her settle for men who didnt give her or me the respect we deserved. Her latest boyfriend seems to be a great catch, although I have never met him personally.

    I myself have I had two relationships with guys who didn’t really value me or make me feel very loved. I’ve had numerous alcohol fueled one nighters with men, and all my attempts at building a relationship through dating have failed. Men often show slight interest in me then never follow up with dates, texts, or calls. Men seem like they never want to commit to me. I dont know how to date or feel comfortable dating men because the only thing I am familiar with is rejection. I dress well, have lots of friends, and I am very outgoing.

    Every time I fail with a man I ask myself questions on how to improve myself and my outlook so that I dont get caught in the cycle. Yet it never seems to work. At this point, I feel callous about love and dating because I fear I will never know true, safe, love from a man. Everyday I try to make myself the best person I could be, and heal my old wounds. Yet and I am ultimately alone, and I still cant get over being lonely. The feelings of loneliness have led me to many nights of crying and wondering why I cant be ok being alone. I always ask myself what lessons I must learn from such pain and I cant come up with answers.

    I desperately want to be free of the loneliness I feel. I get tired of feeling the hurt and I want to move on to a brighter future. I hope that all of us who have commented with these experiences can heal ourselves and be strong, beautiful women.

  70. While it is comforting to know that I’m not alone in these feelings, it’s disheartening that so many women sharing here are in their 30’s and still struggling with their fears and insecurities.

    I’m 26 now, trying to get my feet wet in the world of adult relationships, but the whole thing stinks of futility. I know right away if a man is wrong for me (most are) but I’m so grateful for attention, I find myself giving them whatever they want. Once a relationship starts getting comfortable, I start getting panicky, anxious, crying for no reason. I want to be loved, but I will never believe a man when he tells me he loves me. I “know” he’s lying to get something from me. Usually I’m the one to leave or to cease contact. I got dumped once and it took me 5 years to date again. When that ended, I began to fear that it would be another 5 years before I experience my next relationship failure. It’ll be the same as the last one where I said, “we’ll break up eventually, we might as well do it now before we’re invested.”

    I’m so angry at my father. Why was it so easy for him to walk away? What is it about me that makes me so unlovable? What makes his new daughter better than me? Is his stepson better than my brother? Is his new wife better than my mother? I can bear to ask these questions, to be vulnerable before my father terrifies me. We don’t talk much, but when we do, I don’t let him see my weaknesses. I don’t think he has any idea how badly he scarred me. Even if he knew, there is nothing he can do about it now.

    How does one even begin to heal from this?

  71. I have been following this thread for the past year and it always surprises me a little when I see another woman share her story. Is there not some kind of support group for women such as ourselves? I know that I live here in the Bay Area (north bay) and would welcome contact just to know that like everyone else here, we are not alone. The world can be a big, scary place when you feel like this. If anyone feels so inclined, you may direct message me at moor007@hotmail.com

    Blessings, love and light to all on their healing path.
    ~Monica

    • I’ve often wondered this myself. I was going through a depressive episode in high school, so my counselor put me in a grief counseling support group. Here I was in a room with kids whose parents died and I’m crying about how my daddy doesn’t pay attention to me. I felt like an idiot. I shut up after that. It wasn’t until the dumping episode (approximately 3 years later) that everything came back.

      It’s so weird how I was perfectly fine for most of my childhood and adolescence. The only times my dad’s leaving bothered me was when he did (or didn’t do) something thoughtless, like forget my birthday, fail to come through on a promise, berate my for bad grades (from 3000 miles away! he never helped me with homework a day in his life, how dare he!). It wasn’t until fairly recently that his actions became a crippling force in my life.

    • Monica and Rejected Child —

      Have you two considered setting up a website or blog where people can discuss these things and lend each other mutual support and perhaps guidance?

      • I think it’s a great idea. I, however, volunteer on multiple projects here in my community, am graduating from college, seeking new employment and have web maintenance skills but not the ability to create one from scratch. If someone else is interested in doing something together, I’m open. I also think it would be great to actually have local group activities that are positive and life-affirming instead of constantly dwelling on the negative. I do think as well that getting professional help at some point is critical to our success in overcoming trauma such as this. I have found in my personal journey that healing is best done with support of those that can relate.

        I’ll offer up my time if anyone else wants to make a go of it as well. =)

  72. It absolutely does… Im a “fatherless woman” & infront of women I am strutting with confidence– infront of men I become a mouse and can’t make any assertions (whether that be setting boundaries or breaking up; it’s terrifying to lose or be absent of a man). The other day while describing my perfect mate my friend pointed out, “that’s not your perfect mate.. That’s yOur perfect father” and men feel like distant species.
    I use to sleep with them almost immediate, trying to please & couldn’t understand the “short term-long term” conditions of dating and how women are in control of the boundaries. Men chose me, not other way around… And once they did I felt locked it. Taking it slow is a MUST- too fast becomes an awful cycle of “what’s wrong with me he isn’t staying around??” but I’ve also noticed I shoot lower in terms of dating than what my standards should be. Still a work in progress.

  73. I really don’t even know how to start this, but here it goes. I’m currently 20 years old and my loving father passed away just four days after my 2nd birthday. I have a lot of home videos with him that I’ve watched since I was a little girl. I’ve witnessed through those videos how great of a father he was. Family members and friends always tell me stories about how awesome of a father and husband he was. He was a legend. But recently I’ve been asking myself what is wrong with me? I’ve never had a serious boyfriend and I’m a virgin by choice. I’ve had ‘flings’ but they never last because I know all the guy usually wants is sex..which I never allow myself because deep down maybe I know this guy doesnt really want me for me..even though I do like the guy a whole lot. And then the guys that actually like me for me I have no feelings for at all. My biggest fear and insecurity is being sexually intimate (I have no idea why and I struggle with it till this day) and being alone forever. One of my biggest dreams is to be a successful woman and a mother. Maybe my dad is just my guardian angel preventing all these guys from hurting me in the end and not allowing me to settle, and if I do meet the right guy sex and everything else will come naturally? The only thing I guess I can do is have faith.

  74. Hello,

    I just read this and I do agree that girls without fathers are much more likely to have low confidence. I was raised by my grandmother. My mom was unable to care for me becaue of mental health issues and she was going to put me up for adoption before my grandmother took me in. My father never even knew my mom was pregnant or that I existed until I was 3 or 4. But I didn’t meet him until I was 14 in highschool, I’m now 18. He also has mental health issues. I have noticed that I am much more clingy and dependent on my boyfriend. And I have some problems with confidence. Most of the things you mentioned in this post is true.

    • my confidence & self-esteem aren’t even there, i feel like nothing. I’m motherless & fatherless, i live with people who don’t even care about me.

      • Your true father is with you every second of every day. Jesus Christ! He loves you perfectly and thinks you are perfect. Try a church and/or counseling. You are on this earth for a reason, not by mistake. Everything happens for a reason. You are worthy of love in your life. Love yourself!

  75. Thanks for being there for me on this unfortunate state of affairs. My little girl deserves the very best in a man, as she has no role model. Her father is defiant in every way, so I search these sites a lot looking for additional help and advice. Maybe he will read this and decide on the counseling we should attend to get on the same page and he can regain his relationship back with her. God willing!

  76. A fatherless girl, in my opinion, might need exposure to trustworthy, solid male figure(s) in her life to help her reestablish confidence that her father did not. These ‘male figures’ aren’t boyfriends, but are likely older men who – with boundaries – pour into her life (ie. uncles, friends’ fathers, mentors, etc). Unfortunately, I think, other boys (dating) only worsen the problem. She needs to heal before she opens up to dating. IMO

  77. @singlemommy
    When God the Father is just as absent as a girl’s earthly father, she tends to associate the church with her resentment towards the latter. Religion is not a sufficient substitute, however they offer excellent daycare programs and can be a good support network for single mothers.

    @The Motley Sage
    Exposure to “trustworthy solid men” can help if they are indeed that, and faithful and respectful to their wives. Family members and trusted friends are best I think, while friends’ fathers and mentors sometimes reveal the darker side of male nature when they notice a girl has grown up, if you get my meaning. I can assure you that this worsens the problem.

  78. Thank you all for sharing your stories. They brought me much encouragement after I felt so hopeless when a guy who likes me told me I had no self confidence, and it was what I needed to hear even though it hurtful. My Mother did an exceptional job raising me but no one could take the place of a father. At age 2 my parents divorced and I never had a relationship with my Father. I am 32 yrs and I lack so much maturity when it comes to the opposite sex. I hardly ever date and when a guy is finally attracted to me, I don’t know how to communicate with them and I tend to push them away with my insecurities and unapproachability. The ones that finally talk to me I tend to push away because of my trust and insecurity issues. I have a difficult time accepting compliments from others because I don’t really trust them, I am negative and skeptical all the time. I get depressed, extremely quiet and have a hard time expressing myself. Now I have recognized my issue I am researching and educating myself on the issue to end the cycle so I could one day have healthy stable emotions.

    • Facinating topic. I cannot be alone here. Perhaps another generation? I am 50. Fatherless and an only child. Mother emotionally absent. In my world this contributed to me needing to be self confident, self reliant, and assertive. I would not have survived otherwise. There were not alot of folks in my formative years around to “teach me” what to do. I had to do it all on my own. Went to college, No abusive situations, no drugs etc. no children ( a deliberate choice) i would be interested in hearing from women who were fatherless and due to additional circumstances needed to avoid all of those other things in order to survive? What happens when the daughter becomes the emotional support for the Mom at the age of 3?

      • My story sounds very similar to yours. My father died when I was 3 and I am too an only child. I’m 27 no abusive relationship, no kids, have put myself through college and will continue. Even others in my family have said that I raised myself and I would agree. My mom says that she feels like I’m her mother and somehow the role got reversed, I guess that’s what happened because she was depressed, on drugs, distant, and co dependent in relationships. I watched her make one relationship mistake after another and always had to be the one she leaned on in the end. Often times, I remember her partners also coming to me with their problems and concerns about the relationship too even though I might have been as young as seven years old.
        I’ve been to therapy and I’ve been repeatedly appluaded by how “resilent” I have been. I am proud of myself too for that, but it doesn’t exactly mean that I’m happy. I’m happy about the decisions I’ve made and the direction I have taken my life but I’ve often been described as “too serious” by those who don’t know me very well. When I’m around people my age I don’t feel very comfortable. They seem very childish to me and make me feel like I have gotten older before my time. Even during the time of my life when I yearned for their acceptance it never happened and always left me feeling crushed and hurt. At this point in my life I have learned from repeat experience that I will never “fit in” and that I enjoy studying, doing my art, and my gardening projects more anyway.

  79. I’m 16 and so confused and self-conscious. I’m being raised by my mom and I just feel like having a boy’s attention will make me feel good. What should I do?

    • I am raising my daughter by myself and if she had this question I would want her to tell me (her mother) how she is feeling. My first thought for you is to look to a trusting male teacher or male counselor at school or professional male counselor, or maybe a close friend’s father or uncle if you trust them. If you can tell your mother how you are feeling, that would give you an honest and open approach and hopefully she can help guide you in the right direction.

    • I think it’s good advice to tell your mother about your feelings. Beyond that, I think you should try to make friends with two or three boys. Just friends. The experience of having boys as friends will probably help you later on when it comes to having boys as lovers.
      As a general rule, lovers should be friends first and lovers second.

  80. I never learnt to say the word daddy – I never even knew what my own father looked like until I was about 30, yet I’ve been walking around with his face all my life.
    It never occurred to me that a man could like me for me – I thought I had to do something to make people like me. I traded sex for attention – I’d never received any male affection in my life. My father was gone before I was born and I’ve never had a relationship with him, or any other father figure like a grand-dad, or uncle, or step-dad.
    I’ve absolutely no concept of what male affection is – I feel like such an idiot at 38 to be able to say I’ve never had a boyfriend.
    I’ve dated men but nothings ever progressed beyond a few dates – they’ve never had any genuine interest in me as a person – but being ignored has always been normal to me – its my comfort zone, if a man seems to be showing an interest on me I’m like WTF? And think he’s taking the piss.

    I’ve only recently started to realize the impact of being fatherless has had on my life.
    I’ve recently had some ‘substances’ that uncovered some deeply suppressed emotions, like that fact that as I child I felt ashamed that I didn’t have a dad, I told kids at school he was dead – even though he’s still alive.
    I never even realized how ashamed I was that I didn’t have a dad, its like I didn’t want to talk to anyone in case they discovered my dirty secret – I don’t have a dad.

    I never trust men, or people in general – since my family have never been close or dependable – on top on my father being absent, my mother was emotionally absent/abusive – she was constantly calling my absent father a bastard, and me and my brother bastards because we didn’t have a dad. I ended up hating her, and my dad.
    The hate I had was just normal for me; some times I could spend all day thinking ‘that selfish bastard, what sort of man abandons his own children?’

    Now I just want to be free of the burden of hating my parents. I’ve never had a life, because I’ve just been shut down emotionally. I’ve never been emotionally present. I’ve never taken off my clowns mask and just been myself – I’ve always suppressed myself in order to ‘please’ others, now I just feel fake and empty and pissed off. I don’t want to be a clown anymore, I don’t want to be angry anymore. I don’t want to be alone forever.

    But although I dream of the emotionally intimate relationship with a man that I’ve never been anywhere close to having I can still see that I’m almost repulsed by men.
    That hate and disgust I feel for my father has spilled out onto all men in general – I think they’re all no good selfish ****s.

    Its sad to see the impact being fatherless can have on some ones life. I’ve resented my mother for making such poor choice in husband, she could have chose a man that wanted his kids and would have been there for us. I always say I’ll not repeat that mistake – why cant these women be more discerning about who they get pregnant by?

    I never felt pretty or feminine when I was a girl, nobody ever told me I was beautiful – I wonder what it would have been like to have my daddy lift me up in his arm and kiss me and tell me I’m beautiful, I think I’d be a different person than the one I am today.
    I never feel I’m good enough, I always feel invisible, I always hide the real me – I never speak up and ask for what I want – I’ve always thought that what other people think is more important that what I feel.
    The worst things are the feeling invisible, empty, unworthy, and not belonging.
    And hopeless, I don’t think I’ll ever feel worthy or genuinely happy – the emptiness and longing will always be there.
    When I see other people being happy – like a couple holding hands – I always think happiness is for other people, because I’ve never had it. I don’t believe I can have it. And if my own dad didn’t want me – who the **** is going to want me.

    I’d like to go on a date, but how can I go on a date when the sadness and anger are so evident in my eyes – I don’t want to sit opposite someone and pretend – so I just stay at home, alone.
    I resent the fact that as I never had a role-model for what a real man is, I wasted myself on idiots who took advantage of my neediness, vulnerability, and gullibility.

    Do fathers who abandon their children have any idea how much they mess their kids up?
    Selfish ****s.

  81. Hi Kelly,

    I had to reply to you as your story rung so close to mine….

    I’ll try and keep it brief…. I’ve had three father figures in my life, one step father between the ages of 3-9 (the most influencial), my step father now who came into my life (rudely as I thought at the time) to help end my mother’s relationship (he was a lawyer), I was 9 and I remember my mum telling me after a few months she had some news she wanted to tell me (I knew what they were going to say…what the hell was I supposed to say)? We are getting married she said …’Congratulations’ was what i knew i should say, so that is what i forced out my mouth…. past the, ‘this is too soon’, that kept screaming in my head. So, my repessed feelings and my pleasing patterns eventually came out and I got very sick with Glandular Fever and ME. My whole family had been broken, my joy and fun with my step dad who i considered brought me up and my sister and brother who i adored and looked up to… just vanished, they might as well have died. I wasn’t allowed to see them anymore…or at least i never mentioned it…I just knew it wouldn’t go down very well… we were in the new mans house. Horrible!

    The new man and my mother though, incredibly are still together 16 years, he’s a very kind man and I’ve grown to love him, but it wasn’t a natural relationship at all. My mother still gives him a very hard time – just the way she is… but regardless of all this…. having a father not having a father, you aren’t alone.

    My Grandad my real father’s father was the constant male rock in my life, but when i was 16 he passed away.

    So as tricky as it is I’m learning nothing is permanent, but to give it all you got, to be as open as you can.

    I try to keep in mind not be a subject of your past, no matter what has happened… you need to push yourself through.

    I think the biggest thing is recognising your behaviours and becoming aware…. which sounds like you’re doing that…. but you don’t need to live through your mothers negative patterns… regardless of what happened to you growing up without a father figure.

    I like to find someone I really admire, be them a friend or family and aspire to them, my nana’s a very aspirational lady, she’s fun loving never will shut you out, always listens is an absolute wonder star in my eyes and to so many people I know and my best friend was one too.

    Anyway, I said I would keep it brief..sorry it wasn’t very… I just wanted to round it up with a few things that have really helped / help me are Homeopathy, Theta Healing and Reiki. Finding a good homeopath has really saved me, so please find one! A good one will help you with physical and emotional problems you might have. If your in the UK I can reccommend a good one!

    Good luck and go find your happiness it’s out there! xxx

  82. I found this post most interesting because I grew up without my father at home, and I’m the complete opposite of how fatherless girls are described here: “less likely to assert themselves… to let men know what their boundaries were… to be strong individuals around men.”

    I actually speak out a lot about the stereotypes of fatherless girls. Because I’ve never had to ask a man for permission, never depended on a man to pay bills, never been led by a man, it’s actually hard for me NOT to be assertive in a man’s presence. It’s actually hard for me to consider a man’s opinion about certain things. It’s actually hard for me to be subordinate to a man even at work or school.

    Just wanted to share another side of the story. Because I know lot’s of timid and shy girls who have fathers. I think it depends on the father, and if there is no father, it depends on the mother.

    Sarah

    • Yey Sarah! Exactly! Glad to hear your thinking – not to lessen the pain that others have and do feel. But it would be interesting to hear from more women who were fatherless, confident and assertive, Doing/being much of what you describe!. There are more than two of us out here! Ladies?

      • I’m glad to know there are others who want to talk about the positive outcomes.

        I’ve done a few blog posts about success stories and hope stories for single parents at blog.slwrites.com. It’s not about getting traffic on my blog. I’m just passionate about sharing a more positive perspective on single parent households. I’ve been battling stigmas around that topic my entire life.

  83. I am going to try your blog. Thanks! With this kind of support, we can raise our children to be confident, strong, bold people, whom think positively about life.

    • You should be able to click on my name to get there. Leave a comment on my blog if you find it, and I can point you to more blogs by single mothers.

  84. My advise is that the fatherless girl should not blame herself for being fatherless,it was not her choice,my believe is that there is a reason for every situation.She should just take pride in the fact that she is a human being and that those with fathers are same with her the difference is that their fathers are probably active in their lives,am saying probably because we don’t know exactly if indeed they are active in their lives.Am a fatherless woman my self but I turned out to be the best am a legal practitioner by profession and will never stay in a relationship where an not happy or stay for the wrong reasons .Believe in your self !!!!

  85. I am a parent of a fatherless girl. My goal in raising her was th. at my love and the team that helped raise her that she knows love. The greatest thing she said to me on graduation day that she got all the love she she needed. The effects good side she is a go getter head strong, and the down side is like my husband. She finds. It hard to believe he loves her especially when her best intrest is compremized. As far as guys she puts her all in and when something goes wrong she goes off the deep in.

  86. My parents divorced when I was a baby. I never knew my father. All that I knew about him was that he was an abusive alcoholic. I have an older brother, but I’m sure he had his own issues to deal with, growing up without a father and one day looking in the mirror and noticing he looks exactly like him. I’d like to believe he loved me, but I guess I will never know unless I find him and ask. My mom became very depressed after the situation with my father and I had to grow up dealing with everything that goes along with depression (messy house, mom’s lack of confidence in just about everything, financial issues). When my mom lost her job life seemed to get worse and worse. I’ve always been pretty insecure. I think I was most insecure in high school. I’ve always been awkward around men and boys. I’m starting to get over being awkward around boys, but I’ve noticed I’ve had a lot of crushes growing up. One after the other like I’m searching for something. I kept getting more and more obsessed with these crushes the more I had and the last couple of crushes rejected me after I told them how I feel. So I was left feeling abandoned, worthless, and I couldn’t help but notice the intense longing/needy feeling I would get waking up every morning. I’m started to realize it probably has more to do with my dad not being around than I had thought growing up. Growing up, I told myself I didn’t need a dad because that was more or less the attitude my mom had about our dad. My mom’s depression also made her a little emotionally distant. I don’t remember her hugging or kissing me growing up, or if she did it wasn’t that often. I know my mom loves me but I can’t recall her really ever saying it. I know I’m searching for emotional closeness in guys and I am still pretty insecure around them because they keep letting me down.

  87. It had taken me years to understand this: I as a fatherless daughter, have lacked the knowledge of my role in a romantic relationship with a man.

  88. makes sense…if you email I will tell you my story and issues I still fvace to this day. I know the problem but I do not know.how to solve it. Usually figuring out the problem is the hardest step except.in this case.

  89. I am 19 years old. My father passed away from cancer when I was 10. The affects of his absence really surfaced as I was going through the changes of adolescence. That’s a very delicate time for a young girl and she needs the support and guidance of both parents especially the father. I am still awkward around men and terrified of anything intimate. I have little self-confidence and find myself seeking the approval of older men. I avoid relationships because I’m afraid of becoming too attached and dependent. I have no father figure whatsoever and it has taken a while to realize just how much that has shaped me. As hard as I try to seem independent and strong I feel that people can still see the lost ‘little girl’ in me. Bottom line:growing up is so difficult without a father.

  90. Mila, I grew up with a father and have the same fears and awkwardness. You are in a time of your life where you figure out who and what you want to be regardless of your upbringing. Take responsibility and face your fears!

  91. I recognize this so much! My parents divorced when I was 2 yrs. He was never really ready for a child not interested, drinking a lot, women…I never met him after this, never had any contact. Although if he wanted he could have, he’s married again and has several children. I never had a father figure in my life and I remember I was always mesmerisez by older teachers/men. I tried to get their approval, attention, tried to be nice to them….It was very akward for me. Now I’m at my early thirties and never had a relationship (nor any sexual relationship whatsoever). And I know if it would ever come down to it I would be really scared of being intimate, I have no confidence at all and getting older makes it worse and feeling more ashamed. I’m not even close to being interested in men of my age. Never ever felt attracted to somebody of my age, but always to men who could be my father. It freaks me out. I don’t dare to tell this to anyone, I’m extremely ashamed of it. Some older men were very nice to me, it’s strange on one hand I hoped they could be some kind of father figure and on the other hand I felt attracted to them. So that’s very confusing. Most of them fell in love with me (and I eventually with them) and were looking for more. But I never went further than meeting a few times and a hug and stuff like that. Otherwise I’m kinda of shut off to attention of men, because they don’t interest me (the ones of my age; I would be terrified if one of them wanted to come ‘closer’ ) but also because I don’t want to end up in a relationship with someone way older. It doesn’t feel okay in this society and people usually find it very strange. And I have no idea how that would turn out on the long term. I’m actually very scared of getting hurt and stuff. And most of them are married anyway. If an older man draws my attention I notice I start to behave different, always looking for approval, trying to do anything that pleases them (gifts etc), acting quite funny because I’m scared of saying something wrong. I’ve been struggling with this for years. And I know what the cause is…I’m know what I do, in what situations. So I don’t need a therapist to find all this out. But I don’t think a therapist could change this behavior because it’s all with taste. A man of my age is equally as attractive as a woman, meaning not at all. So I’m thinking that it’s better not to look at men any more, avoid all this kind of stuff and live on my own. No problems then. On the other hand what if I meet someone who’s like 50 yrs old, single and very nice. It’s all very hard for me, but I’m kinda relieved that I’m not alone and our history with our fathers caused us to feel like this. i wish I could change it, but I’m sure I can’t. There is always this emptiness that we try to fill with attention from older men and such, but it’s an endless gap and it will never be filled. So avoiding any contact with men seems the best solution instead of causing more ‘damage’.

    • I feel this way too.. about the being attracted to older men thing.
      I’m 27, right now my boyfriend is 6 years older than me (which is *whew* more “socially acceptable” than some of the previous men I’ve been attracted to.
      The last one before him was about 23 years older than me. It had nothing to do with his “status” or money. In actuality, he had a lower paying job than I do! There was just something about him… the way he had about him. He seemed gentile and soothing. We had similar interests and he never failed to inspire me. He was always so welcoming and we got to know each other very fast. He always made me food, I liked that a lot!
      He always accepted my company but I know that it was frustrating for him to just cuddle with me all the time. He hadn’t had a girlfriend in many years and of course he wanted sex to alliviate his frustrations. I didn’t want to go further than touching and kissing. So in turn I ended up feeling very uncomfortable with this man all the time, although I was captivated by him. I ended up taking a job assignment in a different state and left.
      I tried very hard to just “not look at men anymore”. It’s hard. I had already accepted that I was going to be single forever because that’s what I felt God wanted for my life but then my current boyfriend came along. I love him, but I constantly doubt our relationship and wonder if he just is faking his love for me because I am successful and he could exploit me and then leave me.
      I wish there was a more clear cut solution for people like us who have this situation. I find it to be very embarassing when I am attracted to an much older man. I had to explain to him a few times that there was no way I was going to be able to explain this to my mother, let alone the rest of my family!
      I feel guilty saying this, because I’m not saying this to generate attention either… and maybe I will regret it later, but I’ve decided that the next time that happens the best thing to do will be to end my life. I just can’t take much more of the pain I feel inside and the humilation anymore. It’s exactly what you said before, It’s a “taste” thing, therapy can’t fix it. I don’t encourage anyone else to do such a thing, but I’m not sure what I can do for myself. If I could feel attracted to men closer to my age, I would feel so normal and good about myself.

  92. Thank you to all the men and women who have shared their stories in this blog. You’ve opened up new insights for me, as I’m in my own struggle, in that I care about a girl who also grew up without a father.

    She keeps pushing me away, but lets me back in after it takes me some time to “figure out” that she was just “running away,” and that it’s a pattern that she’s repated in the past. She left town in March for a semester of school in Germany and will be back in August. But before she left, she stopped talking to me really abruptly in February, just as I thought we might be getting closer. I was really confused about why she stopped talking to me during that month before she left, until I pieced it together somewhat.

    When everything and everyone tells me to forget about her, I simply can’t. Maybe it’s my own disfunction, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her. One of the earlier posts here (from a young lady who herself grew up without a father) told a gentleman not to give up on a girl who kept/keeps pushing him away.

    I don’t know what kind of reception I’n going to get from her when she comes back, but I feel compelled to try. I’d love to hear the thoughts of anyone who can relate to my situation. And if there are any ladies who can offer me some insight, I’d be especially appreciative.

  93. Hi, I just read your post, thanks for giving advice to us women who grew up with absent fathers. In my case, my father was angry, mentally ill and tortured inside. He beat my mom and his children, he was also extremely sexually abusive to my two older sisters. My father himself was abused after being left in an orphanage with his many siblings. He was molested by the men who supposedly devoted themselves to god. Me being the youngest..the last memory I have of my dad was him pacing in our hallway waiting for the police to come and take him away after he had finally been caught. After this I was raised in very poor conditions by my mother who was suffering from severe depression and mental issues. My father died 2 years ago from lung cancer, I (23 now) didn’t have a chance to say bye ( to be honest I was actually scared to see him). I have had a recent breakdown.. very horrible, depression, attempted suicide the works. I am realizing that I have been empty my whole life, trying to fill my void with a number of strange things. First of all I am in love (really in love not emotionally co dependant etc.) My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years, he is my best friend I love him deeply. I struggle with serious identity problems, low self esteem, no confidence I constantly doubt myself and am extremely depressed. One thing that is causing my depression is my need to obsess about other random men in my life ( co workers, ppl I meet briefly) I realized I actually feel the need to be accepted by them ( not in an obvious way but in my head) I have been doing this my whole life and have been basing my identity on this aswell ( I hope this makes some sense). This absolutly KILLS me, I can’t focus on myself or my life.. I constantly obsess. Its too a point where I become paranoid of these men and avoid them. And because I avoid I obsess more..then I start to have feelings of guilt and confusion this is really affecting my relationship and myself. Does anybody else experience anything like this or have any advice? Thanks for reading.

  94. I can relate to this really well. When I was about 3 my dad left me and my mom, a couple years later she had my sister and her dad didnt stay either but still spent time with her as my father didnt. Now my sister is so much more outgoing and great at making friends boyfriends she can let go easily but for my im very hy around all.people but mostly for guys.. I’ve had a couple boyfriends and got attached really fast. My current boyfriend now told me he needed a break due to seeing eachother to much and i cant handle..Its so hard fr me. Ive been searching on the internet my i get so attached and this made the most sense, I do see that this post is pretty old but still hope to get an answer…

    • Hi Nadia! Thank you for posting!

      I’m no expert on this, so you’ll have to think through this advice to see if it might fit you. But one of the things I’ve noticed about my friends who have been raised fatherless is that the girls who develop strong interests in other things besides boys seem to do better than the girls who are only interested in boys.

      For that reason, I would suggest that you might — if you do not already — put as much effort as you can into developing your natural talents. For instance, if you have a talent for music, then pursue it!

      I think that works for so many of my friends because their efforts to improve themselves give them a sense of self-worth that prepares them to hold their own when it comes to boys.

      Does any of that make sense?

      • Hi Paul, thanks for replying!

        Iv’e been searching for advice and help on different things and this is my first time ever writing on the internet. But at home I dont really have anyone to turn to im not the closest with my mom and my step dad of 5 years has never really been there ever..
        I do actually have 2 of my own.guitars and Iv’e taken lesson before but stopped because i went back into dance but that hasnt started this year yet. But I guess.iI could pull out the guitar and keep learning. Iv’e also thought of maybe going for a run but not sure.if thats a good idea at all.

        Thank you so much for your advice and hope to hear from you again!

  95. Hi Paul It makes sense what you say…I’m also a very creative person and there are certain things in which I know a lot about and I’m very interested in. But nevertheless, it doesn’t make you happy to focus on those talents. In the back of your mind you are constantly worried that what you do isn’t good enough. No confidence altough some people tell you what you do is great. Also it’s a surrogate for what you are missing, we sometimes live in this fantasy world, doing stuff that we like and we’re good at…it keeps our mind away for a while. I notice I’m sometimes very into another world. Sort an escape. But I don’t find it very healthy to avoid the real feelings we have. And when it comes to relationships, attraction and noticing other people who have normal relations and boyfriends who find normal love is still keeps feeling akward, unhappy, not knowing what to do and how you will end up.

  96. This topic will draw much debate from both men and women or women who had a different experience in this area. The bottom line is that there is dysfunction on the count of fathers (daddies) not being there, I choose to say daddy because father means in the Greek Protector and if the dad left he was no protector. I have heard that God Father (i.e. Religion) doesn’t help but in my case it did and even if I couldn’t see Him or when I called on Him I didn’t see instant results I can see now that all that happen to me from the results of me not having a dad at home or a part of my life until now made me a stronger woman. I am 52 and my store is much similar to most of the women on this blog; I was sexually abused, raped, and understand my daddy had 24 children by 9 different women so he couldn’t love me as an individual nor spend much time to protect me from all the stuff that happen. My mother was great but she was a single mom who had to work a lot so that void of dad was opened wider when men abused me but I hold no one hostage to that pain but to only say Jesus was there and He protected my mind. Now, how did all that affect me over the years or today I guess I can say unhealthy choices in men, relationships which affected my self-esteem and my self-worth. My mother was strong as she could be but life didn’t hand her no rose garden either so she struggled to take care of her own emotional needs. For women who say they are assertive and they are confident I commend you but sometimes we take it to an extreme so the balance on both sides is off because then you control your relationships with men and have the attitude I am so strong I don’t need you (Man) but is that what God designed. I may not be able to really discuss what I am trying to say in this short blog but the one thing is for sure many of us women are hurting because we have lost the true essence of what God (Adonai) designed and men have not did what God expected them to do as He showed them in the beginning Genesis chapters 1,2,3. There is a balance and only you can find that it’s not being so insure that you need a man to do for you or is it being so assertive that you don’t need a man to do for you, it is simply understanding where you came from and who you are which only you’ll understand if you can relate to God’s design not RE-LIGION but the Holy Word of God by the spirit. God loves His little girls Proverbs 31:10 and sees you as a Ruby that every man should value, but if you don’t believe in the Bible then everything I just said is null and void and you will debate me on anyway. I Thank God for His son Jesus who showed me how important I was with or without a dad but I love my dad because it was his seed that made me and I am a wonderful lady today….if you want to know more then read my book when it comes out this fall 2012. “NO MORE MISTAKES” or follow me on my facebook for the time being until my blog page is set up. cheryllogos/facebook or facebook.com/cheryllogos. I pray that all women walk in their healthiness for our children’s sake…Agape

  97. These stories are incredible. I stumbled upon this by accident, and I can’t express how grateful I am to know that I’m not alone out there. I am also a fatherless woman, having had 2 terrible step-fathers since the age of four.

    I recognize in myself a lot of the same issues other women are suffering– low self esteem, distrust for men, inability to function around men, romantic desire for older men, and attachment issues to the few men who either treat me poorly or decide to give me a chance.

    Having recognized these issues, I am going to work very hard to change the way I think. I refuse to be a victim of my fatherless-ness. It was not my fault, so why should I have to suffer for it?

  98. As it seems with many, I can across this site trying to find ways of overcoming/breaking the bond of being a fatherless daughter. I like what J stated “It was not my fault, so why should I have to suffer for it?” We suffer for it because we don’t know the difference.

    My dad left when I was 9 months old, so for 13 years (8 of which I can actually recall), it was every other weekend, a card in the mail at birthday, maybe a summer trip and Christmas Eve (atleast through elementary school 1st-8th grade, to my knowledge). But high school and after, he wasn’t there. I joined the military, had one child (at 21) got married (23), had two more kids (23 & 24) divorced after 2 years, completed college all by the age of 27 ~ still no father. About the time that I was 32, I contacted him. We now talked a few times a months. But this does not mend or heal what has been done.

    I have had to work at changing my life from this person who seeks love in areas that are unhealthy to the woman who feels abandoned when her husband leaves to go on a hunting trip knowing that he will return but still feels rejected or not good enough (yeah still working on that one).

    But the original author is right to state that there is not much in the way for advice or coping mechanisms to deal with this issue. I have come to terms with being a fatherless daughter. Which has made me stronger because I know that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Therefore God knows that I can over come this life issue, if He didn’t think I could, then I am sure He would have planned a different life for me.

    It is a choice – to either be a victim or a victor (thank you Joel Osteen). I feel that mothers may need to step up to fill in the blanks for a young girl but as with every situation, it is difficult. But to allow what another person has done to you, with it not being your fault as to why they left you, to have such control of your life when again, they left, boggles the mind.

    By claiming this “fatherless daughter”, what are we doing to ourselves? Are we giving ourselves an excuse as to why we can’t do something? Are we defeating ourselves hoping someone will save us? We can only save ourselves. We all have goals and desires in our hearts all placed there by God. If those dreams are there, then God knows we can accomplish them. He believes in us, has faith in us, encourages us ~ shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves.

    No one is better than us. Yes there may be someone that is better at a task, or skill, but no one can tell you that you are wrong…..you as a person are not wrong but what you may do, how you act or react may be. You, as a person, you are RIGHT (Right In God’s Hand Today).

  99. I’m a fatherless girl. I suppose a woman now at 27. Growing up fatherless is tough for all the reasons you stated. The main reason is that girls start to look for love to fast to replace that which is missing. It’s like a natural, animalistic, human response to replace something that is missing that we feel we deserve, lack, and need (love and affection from a male, in this case). To the fatherless girls I give this advice: wisdom comes with age, a hollow space may always be in your heart and don’t try to fill it up with a boy or man. Fill it up with you and the love you have for yourself.

  100. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for sharing your insight and encouragement. And I am humbled to read these moving personal stories.

    Right now, I am a graduate student in a scientific (and male-dominated) field. Raised at home by a disciplinarian father and a gentle mother, I excelled at school, being called a “child prodigy” in the sciences, in languages, and in sports. Once, a university classmate even fell in love with me, but I was unready for intimate hand-holding and hugs, and ended things when my ideal of purity overcame my desire to feel loved.

    In the past four years, I have come to think so lowly of myself that I made a suicide plan with poison here in our laboratory. (In teenage years, I was depressed due to family breakdown.) Now at a womanly age, I believe this damaged sense of self is due to the way I was raised by a loving yet troubled father. My siblings and I were yelled at, called names, and hit on the head. This is normal in Chinese culture. (However, my sister began to cut her wrists at age ten, and now my siblings do not talk with my father.)

    After graduating from college, I was beaten hard on the head by my father for making a fast turn while I was driving. Normally I can stand this with the patient endurance that is natural to me and characteristic of many Asian women. But this time, something in me snapped, and I had a collapse of nerves that year, telling strangers and family alike that I hated them and hated myself most of all. This had never happened before to my curious and cheerful nature, and created shock and shame to me.

    After a two-year break, I entered graduate school as a top student. All of a sudden, I had to interact closely with a male research advisor and male colleagues. Thinking of my father’s ways and words since childhood, and realizing I am vulnerable as a woman, I am sensitive to the presence of men, and feel a tremendous amount of distress.

    Fortunately, I have one of the best mothers in the world, a wonderful church family, understanding siblings, as well as the kind of world-class education that empowers a true woman. (In fact, after earning my PhD, I hope to pursue international work, fall in love and get married to a good man, and together raise a happy and productive family.) But I feel extremely sad, worthless, and damaged inside, and have plans for a Christmas suicide.

    So my question for you, Paul, is: How do people like us heal and get well? This is my Christmas wish, to be well so that I can pursue my dreams.

    Thank you for your advice, and may you have a joyful Merry Christmas!

    “Jojo”

    • Don’t give up! Right when you decide to give up a miracle is around the corner. The hurt you will inflict on your mother and siblings will damage them for the rest of their lives. You will find a man to break down your walls. I am alone as well and didn’t have a good father, but I will continue on in this life alone if I have to. Your future children are waiting and without you they will not have a chance to exist. And there is no better pure love than that you will get from your child. Precious true love.

    • Jojo, you strike me as a very beautiful person. I am not a professional counselor so please be cautious in taking my advice. Moreover, I would strongly urge you to seek out professional counseling. Your problems will not be solved overnight and — though it is not fair to you, for you have done nothing yourself to cause those problems — they will not be easy to solve without professional counseling.

      Having said that, it sounds to me that you might not yet fully understand how wrong your father is to treat you as he does. By that I mean you might still on some level be blaming yourself for his treatment of you. In fact, though, his abuse of you has nothing to do with what you deserve and merit. It is instead a reflection of his own weaknesses and failings as a father. If that’s the case, then I think that, until you deeply and thoroughly accept that as the case, you will tend to respond to his abuse of you either by punishing yourself or thinking about punishing yourself. The thoughts you have of suicide, in my opinion, are a reflection of that.

      I do not know whether you will ever be able to change him. People tend to resist change, even when the heavens themselves cry out for them to change. But I think you can change yourself by deeply and completely recognizing that it is his fault how he treats you, and that you have done nothing to deserve it.

      A dear friend of mine was, like you, raised by an abusive father. At some point, she came to realize that it was his fault, rather than hers, that he abused her. That gave her the strength to forgive him, which in turn liberated her from the confusion, guilt, anger, and sorrow that his behavior was causing her. If you would like, I will tell you more about her, for some of the ways and methods whereby she overcame her upbringing have been both effective and surprising. Just email me at paul_sunstone@q.com, and we can have a conversation about her. Perhaps you can benefit from some of the things she did to overcome a very similar situation to yours.

      Above all else, please do not kill yourself. In the first place, things will almost certainly get better for you. We are more resilient than we expect. As you go through life, even the most terrible wounds can heal. And you will be helped in that regard by meeting good people who will treat you with the respect and decency that you deserve.

      In the second place, Jojo, you should not kill yourself because by doing so, you will be depriving people you have not yet met of the wonderful friend that you would otherwise be to them. That may sound corny, but there is far more truth to it than we are apt to recognize. Some person or persons will be fated to suffer a less rich and more loveless life if you remove yourself from this world.

      Again, Jojo, you are a very talented person. You strike me as having great potential to make a really valuable contribution to this world. If you decide to kill yourself, that potential will mean nothing, and the world will have lost what you — and perhaps only you — could bring to it.

      And last, Jojo, there are people who will love you and cherish you for who you are. People who will not abuse you, but treat you decently and with kindness. Perhaps you have not even met those people yet, but you will. A suicide would amount to a monstrous rejection of the love they will have for you.

      So please seek counseling and do not give up. Things will change for you. Twenty years ago, I was in despair. Today, I am among the happiest people I know of. But if you had asked me twenty years ago whether I could ever be as happy as I am today, I would have foolishly told you that I doubted I had such a future. Stay will us, Jojo.

  101. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for writing and sharing advice. Right now, I try to be with family and friends, and may seek counseling if needed.

    In a way, I have come to accept this inexplicable sorrow and sense of worthlessness as a part of life. I think it is healthier to focus on good things, such as graduate school, work, and healthy ways of socialization, rather than dwell on sad things that may not change. And I do have loving parents and an excellent education, so I pray to be humble, diligent, and cheerful.

    Often, though, I wonder how life would be with the life-giving affirmation, encouragement, and love that fathers give to daughters? So far, I hesitate to interact with the opposite gender in personal and professional life. Do you think people whose father raised them in such a way can ever be healthy and happy? Do you know of stories with happy endings?

    Jojo

  102. Great information in the article. I am going to attempt to share it with some women with terrible self esteem that I associate with. I am a Mother like figure too them. Your research was excellent.

  103. Thanks for the encouraging words. Maybe such experiences are a way to test our character, so I will try to embrace the challenges and endure things well. Meanwhile, if it is all right, I hope to share the humbling and inspiring stories here with others in need. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

  104. im so glad to read all this stories, my life feels like a mess, im married, but it seem like i struggle to keep the good going. my dad left when i was 11 months old and my mom had one to many men in her life. i feel like i need attention and affirmation all the time. got it from the wrong person and cheated. we are not getting divorce and will go for couple therey to help him with the pain i caused, but i also need to find the root to my problem, really wane be a whole mental healthy person. got to the root why i need men to approve, i never had a dad and always missed it. so glad i found this blog, and would like to know iif any one is in South Africa and wane e-mail. thank you.

  105. I am a fatherless daughter. I’m having a difficult time finding much information about how we can improve ourselves. There are certainly many sites dealing with daughters whose fathers just left or died while they were young. I, on the other hand, have a different story. My mother was 8 months pregnant with me when my father passed away. I never got to know him at all, but my siblings did. So, really, all I have as far as a biological father are what others have told me. Sure, I ended up having some “father figures” in my life (my mother re-married an abusive alcoholic, divorced him and then lived with another man for over twenty years, never married, but together). Still, a father figure is not a father. I never paid much notice to this or how it would affect me in adulthood and my relationships until recently. I was in a relationship with a man for nearly two years. I am divorced and this was the first long term relationship since. He has a daughter. Although I was annoyed at myself for doing so, I found myself jealous of his relationship with his daughter. I have to admit, as well, this man was controlling and emotionally and verbally abusive so in many instances I knew that he was well aware of my feelings and used his daughter, showering affection on her in front of me simply to irritate and annoy me, while abstaining from showing me a shred of affection in her presence. The child was sweet – I liked her and she liked me – so there was no issue there. It was more so the way he (my bf) intentionally ignored me, treated poorly, and refused to acknowledge me when she was around. That’s not to say that there weren’t other problems and that I’ve not had problems in other relationships. This fresh instance is just what triggered my investigation as to how being a fatherless daughter has affected my life.

    From young adulthood, I will admit I have always lacked self confidence with men.If and when I am able to start dating someone I’m very attracted to, nine times out of ten I will self sabotage the relationship. I will think, ‘what would this person want with me? I’m not good enough, or they are cheating on me, using me and/or will soon abandon me. This thinking leads me to over compensate most of the time, be a nervous wreck in my relationships, and constantly try to please them, going completely over board. This, sadly, also includes most of the time sleeping with the person very early on in the relationship, sometimes upon our first meeting or date. That’s not to say that the men I’ve been with have all been perfectly normal, honest, and great guys. Some really have been, but even those and most others I seem to attract and be attracted to have “issues”. One was a manic depressive. Another I would say was a narcissist, but I’m no doctor and cannot diagnose, and another displayed what I would consider bi-polar tendencies (the last one I wrote about in my opening paragraph). It seems I find these injured or abusive men. When and if I have found a man that is more ‘normal’ (pardon the phrase) I tend to not be attracted to them and the relationship just fizzles out after a few dates.

    I’m learning now that I do have an extreme fear of abandonment and I’m very co-dependent. I’ve not spent much time alone since I was a teenager (always a boyfriend, etc.) Once my mother passed away it seemed to get worse. Now, without a mother or a father, I felt very alone and like an orphan. This has caused me to stay in at least two relationships even though they were abusive and/or I knew it was over and not working. For the past few months I have been alone. Although, my first thought after my last breakup was to jump into another relationship or get the old one back, I’m starting to realize that I need to learn to be alone. I hate it, I must say. I really hate it and I’m really depressed, but I’m too depressed to even think about meeting anyone else. Sometimes I want to, but I feel that I’m not good enough. My last relationship knocked every bit of self-esteem I had out of me, so now I don’t even try. I don’t make an effort to look nice, I don’t go out where I could meet new people (I don’t go out at all other than work). I’m trying to make sense of it all, but it’s difficult. I’d like for my next relationship, if I ever have one, to be better, healthier, and more stable, but I fear a repeat of my past, so here I sit! I hope this information helps someone in a similar situation. Should anyone have any good information they have found on the net about true fatherless daughters (not those fathers who have left but those who have passed) I would greatly appreciate it. I’m trying very hard to find answers and to better myself and would greatly appreciate any insights. Thank you!

  106. I just re-read what I wrote and I must apologize…I said, “true fatherless daughters” and I didn’t mean to say it that way or to say that those whose fathers abandoned them are not fatherless. I really wasn’t thinking when I wrote that and I’m sorry. I mean to say, any information about daughters whose fathers have passed away before they were born or when they were too young to remember it. I know as fatherless daughters we ALL have it rough and things are different so please don’t misunderstand.

    • Yes, Sarah. I know fatherless girls who have healthy, loving, and functional relationships. In some cases, it has taken them several tries with different partners before they did, but they did. And in some other cases, I’ve known fatherless girls who have had healthy, loving, and functional relationships from the start, or very nearly the start of their sex lives. There is nothing about being a fatherless girl that condemns you or anyone else to unhappiness.

    • hi Sarah, i think we can, with hard work and understanding of yourself. also good to discuss your past with your partner so that he understands why you re-act and why you scared to trust, i personally struggle to be too close to my husband. when things get too good, i wane break down and turn away. suppose you dont trust with all of you. like you said deep down you know you can, but struggle. read, blog and this is a long process pf constant working on yourself. try to change your view of the male image in your mind. if you get negative thoughts ask yourself if your partner is really that mind made image?
      hope this help. good luck.

  107. I’m a fatherless daughter… I don’t trust easy or almost at all, I get jealous. My fathers never been in my life.. A few years back I had moved in with him for 3 months I was physically, emotionally, verbally nd mentally abused. After a few bad relationships I am now with someone n He’s a great guy I know deep down I can trust him but sometimes I don’t let myself. how do I get past everything nd move on and learn to trust..

  108. My father left when I was two and a lot of these statistics rang a bell with me. When I was a teenager i would do anything to please the boy I was dating. I felt like I was not good enough for any guy so I would try to change myself and make myself better for him. I got pregnant at sixteen. The father of my child wanted more children so without question I had two more. Now he has cheated and left me twice with his three kids but whenever he comes back I welcome him with open arms because I want my children to have a father and I am afraid to be alone.

  109. I think it is very painful to discover that you are a fatherless daughter if you have a father yet he is emotionally absent. If and when you make this discovery and realise you have been filling this hunger in your relationships, I think it important to try and fill this hunger with some kind of mentor. I am sure there are many fathers out there who crave a daughter even if it is a surragate one.

  110. I’ve met 3 men that I thought were some kind of mentor, all of them ended up falling in love with me, or they wanted something more. First they give you the attention you were looking for your entire life and after a couple of months their attention turns into sexual attention. A big dissappointement each time. So I guess it is practically impossible to find someone like that….. Maybe 95% wantstuff you don’t want…

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  112. I would just like to start out that this blog is a very kind thing to have done. It made me feel like people in the world actually care. I am a fatherless teenager. I am 17 years old. My father however, managed to raise a daughter and is married and gives her the love and affection I never had. He has kept me a secret. He denies my existence. He is the only one who knows. Everyone else is fooled. I have never met him and frankly I really doubt I would like to. I personally feel like I am emotionally unavailable. But I feel like I have taken on the role of a father figure in a way. I imagine a father as being level-headed, stern, unemotional, and a good problem solver possibly? I feel like that is who I am. I don’t like affection at all. I don’t like being touched. I like to be by myself mostly and I am convinced that I really don’t need anyone. Especially a father. I believe I would probably be clingy and needy, however I choose not to involve myself in relationships or commit to much of anything. And tonight after reading several articles, I realize why. I wish I could offer more insight towards this. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions. I am usually rather closed off, but I wouldn’t mind talking to someone who wants to genuinely understand it.

    • Hello my name is Derrick Brown. I am just reading your post from earlier this year. I am emailing you because I would really like your advice on the subject because I know nothing.

      I recently met a young woman, 17, who has grown up fatherless. She is a single child and her mom is hardly ever home. We have become friends, not sexually intimate, but that is only because of my self-discipline and choosing. my goal in the relationship is to help her in any way I can. She is in an emotionally abusive relationship with her boyfriend, but clings to him for reasons she doesn’t understand. She tells me she doesn’t have the strength to leave. She does everything to please him and unfortunately I don’t think he is worthy. She is a “A” student, stunning, but claims he tore down her confidence and she struggles with her self worth. I just turned 24 and I want to help her because I see so much potential and purpose for her life that she may not realize. I’d love to talk with you. My number is 925-548-3582 or email is fine. 

  113. I have found this blog to be very interesting, and I feel much less alone after reading it.
    My father died when I was 3 years old and I don’t remember him at all. He was studying in another state to be a doctor during those first three years of my life.
    My mom was gay. She had several partners live with us as I grew up. It was frustrating to experience a “new family” every few years and I don’t think she understood what this lack of consistancy has done to me in addition to not having a father.
    One thing I would suggest to the mother of a fatherless girl is to try to be a good example of a strong woman for her. My mom was not that for me, as she weaved in and out of her relationships and her partners would move in with us even though she hadn’t known them for a very long time (sometimes… less than 3 weeks went by before she decided that the new girlfriend could move in with us and her kids too!) In many ways I learned a good lesson from seeing this over and over again and I have never been too eager to jump into a serious relationship with a man right away. Even though it’s easier said than done, I believe in the “Fake it until you make it” approach and I try to practice this in my life too.
    Another thing is how the relationship between daughter and mother is SO important. My mother has changed a lot since I have been an adult but who I remember when I was a child was an angry woman who would get mad and yell for silly reasons. She would come home from work and go straight to her room to smoke weed and be with her current partner. She did not demonstrate to me that she WANTED to spend time with me. When I brought up concerns to her she would make me feel bad about saying what I honestly thought/ poke fun at my concern. Because of these things, I never felt like I could tell my mom things that were important. For example: When I was 10 years old, I started my period. I already knew what it was but I felt as if I had done something “wrong,” or “bad” because I was not expecting it so soon. I hid my underwear from her for a couple of months until I finally let her find a pair in the laundry because I absolutely could not muster up the courage to tell her. I seriously thought she was going to get mad at me because it came at such an early age. She was actually more angry at me for not telling her! I felt like I could not win!
    Another thing, and this one is hard is to do sometimes, is protect her from SEXUAL ABUSE/EXPLOITATION. I got sexually abused many times and my mom only knows about some of the instances. She found out about an insident that happened when I was 12 and she said to me “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME!?” Don’t EVER say that to a child if it turns out they got abused. Unfortunately it seems like it is our natrual reaction, right? The kids don’t tell because of embarassment, shame, fear, etc. The answer is built right into the question, so don’t ever say that!
    She reacted like that when I was 12, and of course I couldn’t possibly tell her about what went on just a couple of years later. An older, married man in the neighborhood took advantage of me. As Oprah would say he “groomed me” and my mother too. He was providing me things that my mother was not able to. My mom thought nothing of it. She even once made the comment “Maybe you can walk her down the isle as her father when she gets married”. He built me up to a level of trust and then got to sexually exploit me and did it in such a way that I thought it was ALL MY FAULT. I never told because I cared so much about his wife and kids and never wanted them to suffer. It took me a very long time to realize that it was never my fault, and if the family in turn had to suffer because he went to jail – then it was HIS fauilt for being a sick molester not mine.
    So be aware of situations like that for the girl. It’s hard because it’s not healthy to be too much of a “helicopter parent” but in some cases it may be necessary to a point. In my opinion, teaching her that she has value and worth in the world, that her opinion matters, that she’s smart and has a future, that men need to earn her love, how to maintain healthy friendships and relationships in general, and making sure she can participate in the sports and activities she likes and positively encouraging her to do so will hopefully prevent her from even being a target of those men who exploit those “young, lost, fatherless girls”.
    I’m 27 years old now. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship with a man. I have done really well for myself and I know that I will never need to be financially dependent on a man. I have a lot of trust issues in relationships though. I get scared of relationships. Before I got with my current boyfriend I was completely convinced that I was going to be single for the rest of my life and had accepted it because every guy I attractred/was attracted to was “screwed up” or he did something to “break the deal” really fast. Another thing that happened is that I found myself attracted to men much older than me without really wanting to be. I read this same comentary by another poster and completely undersand where she’s coming from. I just don’t feel any attraction at all to men my age. They are invisible to me. Every time I tried to make something work with them in the past I couldn’t- I realized that I had no real feelings for him and that I was only doing it because he “looked good on paper”. When I feel attractions to much older men I feel “fucked up and wrong” and I don’t think all the therapy in the world will ever be able to change this. I obviously know that I can’t replace my father with a relationship, it’s impossible but I still find myself in these situations and I try to run away from them because they embarass me so much.
    I’ve really been needing to talk to someone about this for a long time. I hope my post was helpful for someone.

  114. Hey Paul I was looking for an article just like this and thank you! I, as a fatherless daughter know how hard it is going to a friends house and seeing her and her dad hug and have inside jokes. I die a little inside, sometimes with pain and other times with happiness. By happiness i mean its nice to see sone girls get to enjoy some of the things I crave. My dad and mom got separated when i was 4. The only contact i have with my dad are 4 minute phone calls because he lives in New York and i in Florida. If i ever go yo NYC i stay with my maternal grandmother, and usually see him for a couple of days out of my entire 2 month stay there! I believe having no male influence around has made me a little stronger but a lot weaker. When i see my older sisters with their husbands and children i smile because i know they chose the correct man that wont leave their child. Thank you! Daphne_haven@yahoo.com

    XOXO

  115. I’ve spent this morning reading this blog and I am thankful to find it. You are a special man Paul for starting this topic. I have a sore and tender part of my life growing up without a father. He committed suicide when I was 4 years old after a battle with mental illness. I always dreamed what my life could have been like had he lived. Of course, it was with rose colored glasses. The truth is, life would have been extremely difficult because of his illness. I believe he checked out because he was essentially a good person but could not provide or live up to his responsibilities and he knew it. I am a mature and rational person that has come to believe this now but deep inside I am still this little girl who is missing ‘something’. I’ve had very few romantic relationships with men because something inside of me twists and distorts and I find myself acting out like a child, acting out of fear that the guy I’m with is not really in love with me, he’s just using me, etc…refer to every other story above. I avoided relationships mostly because I do not like the person I become in them due to these fears and insecurities. I long for a healthy relationship. I have many male friends, amazing friends but I treasure them too much to let any of these friendships turn romantic because of who I become. So here I am, still trying to figure it out. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time locked inside this scared little girl who is paralyzed with abandonment issues. Every other area of my life is successful except this one with personal relationships and I’m obsessed with it. The best advice I received was from a therapist years ago and I’d like to share it with all the fatherless children. He said, “that fact that you have one parent not in your life gave you the opportunity to develop and decide who you wanted to be. You made your own decisions and your own path. And that is the definition of being ‘self-made’.” I hope I find my way into a healthy relationship someday. For now, I think I still have some work and healing to do. Cheers!

  116. Great post,
    do you happen to have any information about girls who not only grew up without a father, but were also abused/ molested by other male figures in their lives (other than the father)? Could you lead me somewhere where they might have some input about it? Thank!

  117. I’m a fatherless teenage girl, and I never knew my father but I don’t know what kid of guy I look up to you know?
    I tend to like guys that make me laugh & hard working by I don’t know what really gets my attention to love a man or boy.

    It’s weird because I’m disciplined at the same time but here and their i made wrong choices. I feel myself getting older and more insecure about everything about me, I tend to be attracted to older guys like 20yrs. But would never be with one because I tend to have feelings for boys my age. But those feelings don’t feel real when I’m with my partner but when I am not with them anymore my feelings are strong.
    I worry about my life too much, and I always wonder where I’ll be in my future. Probably because I’m First Nation and everyone knows we don’t go far.

    But please give me advise on what’s up with me. Thanks :]

  118. I’m a fatherless woman now(23 yr old). I remember a time where I loved my father more than anything and I remember him loving me. I was 5 years old. My mother and father broke up shortly after he went to prision, and we moved far far away. I never knew my father at all. The next time i saw him again i was 16 years old. The best week ever. I felt like I had the hole in myself filled. of course I went back home. we used to talk on the phone. but he became incredibly distant and the only advice he would give me was to ask god. He never spoke to me from his heart….I stopped answering his calls. Its a very lonely way to end the relationship with my father. i remember talking to him several years after that, i asked him if he remembered my birthday. and he said yes. That hurt me because he never ever called or wrote a letter to wish my happy birthday ever. He shows me how much he truly loves me(bitter sarcasm).

    This….this made me feel worthless, unloved, unwanted. So much hurt. He doesn’t even want to be involved in my life. he doesnt try.

    my advice to girls who do not have a father figure in their lives is that you have to be strong and you have to know what you are worth. You have to know you are beautiful, smart and all those wonderful things you may not think you are. that you shouldnt date the first boy who is nice to you. you shouldnt spread your legs for a man because you think nothing else about you will keep him around. if he doesnt stay around he wasnt worth it. my advice would be to find something that you love, discover your passion. Find yourself and dont let her go. you will be loved for who you are.

  119. Im a fatherless child. He was abusive to my mom when he found out she was pregnet and wouldnt give me up. Not only that but my mom had an abusive dad ( which her mom left and made her fatherless )and her mom was a fatherless child. My aunts first man was abusive so she left him and so my cousin is also fatherless. So basicly it runs in my family. :(

  120. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing these stories, and I’m moved by many personal experiences. I’m encouraged by your resilience and compassion for others, and hope to share a bit of encouragement here as well.

    As the second chapter of my story above, from last Christmas, I just wanted to share a few HAPPY changes for which I had prayed.

    As a child I was home-schooled by a disciplinarian but adventurous father and a kind and talented mother who were enthusiastic about educating their children to be the best they could be in order to serve others in this world. From early on my siblings and I learned advanced-level mathematics, science, humanities, languages. For this gift of education and love of learning I am ever thankful to both of my parents.

    In our family culture, educating young children with discipline is normal and expected, but when things became more difficult at home, my siblings and I were separated from our father when I was scarcely in my teens. Unfortunately, the separation also tested some excellent family values, and with a sensitive nature I became depressed and withdrawn. Soon after, my sister and I were taken back to my parents’ homeland, where again I was delighted to learn, and studied many languages and culture. One can say that, for me, learning has been a sanctuary amidst chaos, a kindergarten for the mind in a harsh and stifling reality.

    For many years my siblings had forsaken all contact with my father. Being in the middle I can understand the perspectives of both an orthodox yet loving parent and a talented yet hurting child, and often I struggled to find my own place and perspective. But now I sense that, against the odds, I have even become my own person, with my own character, perspective, and philosophy, and even a unique sense of humor :)

    Right now in my third year of graduate school, I was honored to have my mother and my father visit and stay with me this month. The father-daughter relationship is very special, and I am glad to have had faith in our coming together again. After I graduated from college, my father in a fit of anger had struck me again on the head, and from others he slowly learned afterwards of my depression, state of health, and plans to take my life. Things can be difficult when your sense of self is beaten out of you, and you learn to hate yourself. It’s dark and can be very painful. Perhaps some readers are familiar with this, and I need not share more here.

    In one week’s time, my father and I did have a few disagreements, but I feel the need for patience and respect with one’s elders, so I tried to be both gentle and firm. Somehow we were able to make great amends with deep understanding and renewed affirmation of each other. In my father’s unprecedented cheerful words now, for he is aware of my poor health, I find all the encouragement I had ever missed. It is quite a blessing, an answer to my prayers, that my father is able to be present in my life again.

    To tell the truth, my father did many great things, and was actually quite revolutionary, considering his traditional background, in his advocacy for education, justice, equal rights, and freedom. But I can see that my father is also like a mere child, in that he simply does not know of any other means to raise a child than the way in which he was raised. He says in his parenting methods he is perfect, although in this case it would seem the opposite is shown, and so for the sake of harmony I learn to hear his words respectfully but also selectively, while keeping my own perspective to myself for the sake of peace. Here my thought is, let people think as they will, let us respect each other’s differences, let us genuinely appreciate one another, but for the least bit of harmony and understanding, I am thankful and hopeful. In this way, I find it difficult to harbor the unresolved sentiments that might arise from a troubled childhood. Now I’m just thankful, filled with new joy, and able to live again.

    As a daughter, I know my father has always tried his best. I know that he is a good man. What I love about my father is not his imperfect character and his words and ways that hurt us, but rather his godly ideals and his good and genuine heart. Ever since attending church in college, where I learned we all have imperfections, I feel that I can share this grace with my own father while being made aware, little by little, of my God-given self-worth and dignity as a daughter, a woman, an individual.

    Love never gives up and is the cure for many ills. In college and in graduate school, there were a few men who approached me with romantic interest,, but soon I recognized my intellectual-emotional imbalance. In light of a family culture that guards me as a woman from relationships, I realized I need to be my own person before I can let myself be another’s. And I want to be able to love, too, so that I not only receive but also can give. So it is with love that I want to help my father and others. Soon I may even have to take on duties that my father is not able to fulfill, so I’d better be strong, smart, and true, and rise up to the challenge.

    Honestly, I love my family and my culture with rich traditions, and see myself not so much as a rebel against the status quo but as a gentle reformer of a beautiful but misinterpreted way of thinking. While being prideful and full of oneself is not good and healthful, and humility is indeed a virtue, I also believe that, when one lacks a basic sense of self, of dignity, often more ill can come about than good. If we are all created different but equal, why do some of us perceive ourselves as inherently lesser? This must be a facade or foolish notion that hinders people from being themselves and loving themselves and one another. In many ways, I hope to use my experiences and perspective as a catalyst for good change.

    One could say I have the gentleness and perseverance of my mother, who is a kind, talented, and true woman, as well as the passion and spirit of my father, only not his kind of strength and talent for scaring people away :)

    Even if many of our troubles originate from a difficult childhood, I think we as women do have it in us to make the best of the circumstances, not that I have quite done so yet. There is a tendency to blame ourselves for many things, and while it is good and reasonable to be accountable and responsible for our words and deeds, I think that being overly self-critical can hinder us and even others around us. So maybe I would never have it as good as the person who thrives in a warm and united family, who can achieve their dreams with few obstacles, who can enjoy healthy relations with others, who can smile with confidence at each new day, who can lead more than a fragile, wounded, and frightened existence with little sense of self – but, then again, who knows? Personally I like to keep an open mind to dreams and miracles.

    Even as dreams for my future beckon to me, I hope that my parents can share with me the rewards of their work and of mine, so that we can seek our dreams and really make this world a better and more beautiful place. There is simply too much work to do for me to dwell in sadness, although solemn reflection can nurture a serious and responsible character. No matter what happens, no matter how dark things get, no matter how difficult and impossible things seem, no matter how damaged and broken we feel, I feel there is reason to hope, to have faith, to love, always.

    Even with challenges, I’m thankful to be able to pursue my dreams and really hope to contribute to this world. It would be nice if I could get well and be strong enough to help people like my father to get well. It would be a dream to establish my career, to fall in love with and get married to a good and godly man, to be part of great work to help others. Hopefully I’ve made the world a tiny bit better by sharing today. Or else, now it’s your turn to encourage us all, too :)

    Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend,

    Jojo

    • I really hope you make space in your life for you. Easier, said than done; try not to justify your feelings, thoughts and actions. Trust the love within you. I am making my journey, so I can understand.

      All the best:)

  121. I’ve posted to this board a few other times, talking about my story and how I feel being fatherless has affected me and perhaps in some ways has been problematic for me.
    I found what other posters said to be very interesting. It feels good to see that other people can relate and to see that we have some similar experiences with this, good and bad.
    I came here because I needed to work out some issues because I am engaged and I was feeling tempted to “run away”, just as I had all the other relationships I had before my fiancee. Before now, I almost always was the one who ended relationships, who didn’t return the phone calls, etc for reaons that I thought were good reaons. It never occured to me before that being fatherless may be a factor that influenced this pattern.
    So I think of other women my age who I am friends with now or remember from college who did/do have a realtionship with their father that seemed alright to me and they still have some of the same problems reported by many of us in relationships. Actually I feel like some of them may be worse off than I am. I had my bad/unhealthy relationships when I was younger but I still can’t say I’ve ever been with someone who was abusive to me (as an adult.)
    I feel like if you are here reading this message board, you have the capability of having a healthy relationship and doing what needs to be done in order to feel a sense of self- worth. All of us here have recognized a least part of what gives us difficulty and are working to understand it better.
    For those who like to read more on the subject of how to have healthy relationships as an adult I’ve heard that “How to be an adult in relationships” by David Richo is really good. I want to read it eventually.
    Anyway, I wish everyone well. Take care and good luck on your journey!

  122. I think mother’s also play an important role as well. I did not have my biological father growing up but I had a strong mother who showed me the way. If I brought a boy home that my mom didn’t approve of, she would tell me and she was always right. We have a very close relationship. I have def gone through the stages in life where I wanted to date the “bad boy” but I’ve never been in an abusive relationship nor did I end up pregnant in my teens. I have had four serious relationships and have never cheated on any of them nor have I slept around.

    I went to college, have a career, and I’m married in a nine year relationship and about to have my first baby in eight weeks!

    Not having a father did affect me in my teens because I had to learn how to be confident with boys along the way. My advice..BE FRIENDS FIRST! BE STRONG! Learn to love yourself first before you start thinking you love someone else. You will be with yourself for the rest of your life and if you don’t approve of yourself don’t expect someone else to. BE PATIENT.

  123. As a mother of a 6 year old daughter who has a father who has left her for his new family, I am just struggling on what to tell her is why he won’t talk to her and why she doesn’t get to see him. Is there anything that could possibly help a child not take it as something they did? Are there any words that could convey this? It is comforting to find blogs and sites where there are discussions on how to help guide and raise children despite healthy – so thank you all!

  124. I am having the same issue with my 8 yr old little girl. What do I tell her or do I just keep saying, “I’m sure your father loves you very much. I don’t know what he is thinking?” That is what I tell her for now

  125. I think we trust faster and harder and then later in life is where trust issues set in

    If only we had had a real example of.what human relationships.are supposed to look like wr would be as confused as the rest! “What are these girls missing? ” a whole parent! Its like a sub culture .
    .every time I fuck things up.w a friend that’s a boy I get this adrenaline kick..that I feel in the upper chest which is what ultimate failure feels like. Adrenaline in the bottom of.stomach is.what I aim for w myself because no man ever is going to re condition my Psyche

  126. Reading these posts, I’m thankful to learn of other people’s situations. It’s humbling to know that what I go through is not much compared to what others have already overcome.

    Right now I’m finishing a master’s degree in the physical sciences while applying to a doctorate program in the social sciences to enlighten myself, keep learning, and hopefully make this world a better place with the skills and talents I am given.

    I hope to look beyond difficult experiences and individual circumstances. Hopefully we can see the overarching goodness, hope, and love we have, and continue to have faith.

    Little more than a month ago, I visited my father in the hospital. He had acquired a terminal illness while I was beginning my third year of graduate school and soon became unable to walk or talk. So I quickly flew abroad, sat by him as he lay ill, and took his hand – the same rough and weathered hand that a few years had struck me hard as I was driving at night – and bravely looked him in the eye as I encouraged him with a warm smile. On my own, at home I cried a lot and prayed.

    Having immigrated here to seek higher education and raise a family in home-school, my father acquired a deep fear and distrust of people due to political persecution, symptoms of trauma which were manifested in his physical and verbal actions towards my mother and siblings. Unfortunately, many years ago, this led to my siblings not wanting anything to do with him, a rarity in our family-oriented East Asian culture. They still refused to speak with him after learning of his end-stage condition, even though my father had invested herculean efforts into home-schooling all of us from an early age. At first I struggled to understand but I could empathize with them, and I felt heartbroken for each person in the situation.

    As I held his hand and saw the pain in his face, I wanted to cry inside. Who would ask for things to be so sad? Even if I disliked someone, I would never want them to suffer like this, suddenly ill, afraid, and bereft of those he genuinely loved but ended up hurting unintentionally. In these visits, I saw he was like a child, helpless to fight off the darkness that was threatening him – both his end-stage illness and the trauma we had for so long experienced only secondhand. In a way, we are all like that, helpless to fend off what we cannot overcome on our own.

    Fortunately, last week, I learned that he had made significant improvements, as radiotherapy and rehabilitation helped him walk and talk again. I was so happy to hear him talk again! Even if it was just to scold me again, my relatives encouraged me to be thankful. Truly, I am thankful. And. I can say that I love my father.

    Love is often expressed in such a way that we may not feel warm and cozy inside. Certainly, I’ve always yearned for the father, the uncle, the grandfather, or the mentor who could make me smile, be my friend, and not make me feel afraid and unable to share. Several times I have met guys who taken more than a friendly interest in me. And as I work in my studies, I do dream of meeting Prince Charming and try to envision what kind of guy my best friend will be. Does he have noble character? Is he a good spiritual and intellectual match? Can he make me fall in love with him? But I am learning that love goes deeper than thoughts and feelings and that, perhaps, there is a lot more to love that I have to learn before I can truly be said to love another.

    When I think of those parents who have experienced so much themselves – whether oppression of free speech, stark poverty and despair, child abuse at the hands of their own parents, broken relationships, drug and substance abuse, or seeming failures and disappointments whose redemption they believe to be possible in us, their own children – I can only share my love, empathy, and appreciation for nevertheless trying, perhaps in the only way they knew how, to raise good children. Many of us are hurting, both parents and children. Yet, what good is there in merely finding fault in others, as if we have none ourselves, or in falling prey to the very darkness from which our parents often try to liberate us, often, surely not with such intention, through neglectful, abusive, or stifling parenting?

    One thing I can sense amidst the chaos is love. This love I experience in my parents’ hopes for a better life for me, the provision of a world-class education they never had, unprecedented opportunities for a traditional yet modern-day woman, high expectations but also big and worthwhile dreams. I can sense the solemn weight of literal and metaphorical blood, sweat, and tears of sacrifice. Understandably, my father may have troubles from his past, and these in turn deeply affect me even now, but I know that he has always tried to give me more than he had, and he tries from his heart. Could I do the same for any other person? To be honest I am not certain.

    Indeed, things can seem difficult when we feel traumatized, broken, and messed-up in certain ways. Often I cannot fathom how such brokenness can be a part of my life – how? why? how come? I ask in part anger and part wonder – and I falter and feel I cannot go on. Honestly, some things I have to accept without yet understanding. But that is why, I think, we need to learn to have faith, the kind of belief that is not simply rooted in what we know but in what we have yet to learn. For some, this consists of trust in the divine. For some, this may mean holding onto hope and not letting the present rule out a bright future. For still others, this may mean not surrendering to ills and living for when things are good again, because certainly they will be better. Maybe this means to stop and smell the roses, to realize the abundance of blessing we have, and to look forward to more blessings to come. Maybe to have faith is to have a simple trust in goodness and in love itself, against the odds.

  127. I am 26 years old and could be considered the true definition of a fatherless daughter. My mother and father divorced when I was only one years old, and he was never present in my life thereafter. My mother had good reasons for leaving, and perhaps he had good reasons for never trying to contact me. I have only seen him a handful of times in my life, never for more than a day or two. Maybe I am one of those rare cases where my mother did not instill hatred in me as a young child about the perspective of my missing father. She never publicly bashed him or really gave him much of a reputation at all. For the most part I thought it was a pretty normal life I had, except that my mother was dating throughout the course of my childhood and teens, the longest of which was about 8 years (in which I had a step father and a step brother, never really felt close to them, step-father was a prick). As I grew, I eventually understood that my mother and father were both just people who are growing and learning like everyone else and honestly maybe my life was more fortunate that it would have been with a father who couldnt get it together. Long story short, I never hated my father. Today I refer to him as a gypsy, he’s the kind of person who floats with the wind, couch surfing and drinking to whatever location he may. My mother was a strong enough woman to practically fill in, she became educated and successful and I was along for the ride as she went from job to job, and as men came and went.

    I felt that the three statements that you used to generalize fatherless women are generally true, in fact, more true than the lame conclusions I have read all over the internet, ie. more likely to become pregnant teenagers, more likely to date older, father-type men, etc… These are so textbook and really are void of the true experience of never having a father and really trying to assess how it has effected my personality.

    1) The fatherless women were less self-confident around men than the women with fathers.
    I have to say that if you did not know that my father wasnt ever around, you probably wouldnt be able to tell from an apparent lack of confidence. However, when it comes to dealing with men one-on-one, I definitely find it easier to approach men, confide in men, and look to men for some kind of validation, whether its friendship or romantic. As a young girl, I was a tomboy and always played with boys, I became sexually attracted to boys at a younger age than other girls, and I had to define for myself the difference between friends and lovers in men. I am sad to say that I have hurt a few young men in my developing years because I would often develop an attraction to a guy if I felt he was attracted to me or if our friendship stood out better than the others. I literally had to teach myself to leave my guy friends in a separate category if I ever intended to remain friends with them. I also had to develop my own criteria for what was acceptable behavior in romantic partners.. however, this is not possible if the young lady is not self-aware or intent on devoting lots of time to analyzing one’s behaviors and interactions with others. So although I have been less confident (but I would perhaps go with “more catering”) to men, this has actually gotten a lot better if lots of time is spent thinking about interactions with men, what kinds of qualities are learned as unacceptable or abusive, and investing time into other forms of confidence-building skills, ie. the things that make you YOU. For me, those things were learning what I enjoyed doing, science, drawing, exploring the outdoors, self-reflecting..

    2) The fatherless women were less likely to assert themselves. They were less likely to let men know what their boundaries were. They were less likely to be strong individuals around men.
    Hard to be assertive, yes. Less likely to let men know the boundaries, yes. This is a hard one… The reason for the boundaries thing is bluntly, because there are none, until we LEARN what they are. This sounds bad and one could easily stem that these girls are loose and cheap, but again, this is an extremely sensitive topic of what society deems as morally acceptable in a time where the perfect family structure is rare. I think the biggest difference between me and a girl with a strong mother and father is that I am extremely free-flowing when it comes to what these morally appropriate behaviors are… not free-flowing as in acting on them, I just have a hard time making judgments as to what’s definitely right or wrong. I have no sense of a timeline for first, second, and third base.. to me, what’s most important, is that the boyfriend and I have personalities that create fun, devoted, passionate, and drama-free time together. If the relationship seems functional, I don’t care to have all these timelines as to when is it “appropriate” to have a first kiss, to be dating before its official, when to have sex. As I was saying before, I did have to define my own boundaries when it came to guy friends that should remain friends or should cross over into the romantic realm, and this was due to feeling immense guilt over hurting a few of these people that I cared for so much. I had to realize how awful and unfair it is to lead people on, to be confused about my intentions, to be unrealistic in my promises, etc… But obviously a girl has to WANT to learn these things, she has to be sensitive to other’s feelings and actually care how she is affecting people by her actions and learn to slowly separate what part of this is due to needing validation from men, fear of being alone, and fear of being abandoned. The only way I have learned how to be more assertive and let men know what my boundaries were, is to have gone through a number of scenarios where I dealt with suffering due to the lack thereof, and then contemplated on how to behave differently the next time around… slowly defining by experience WHAT the boundaries ARE, and then learning how to be vocal about them. I have had a number of relationships lasting from a few months to a few years, and I feel that there is a general succession if each relationship has a man that doesn’t have the qualities that you learned were unacceptable in a past relationship, and if you are able to express to a trusted person (preferably an older female family member) what those qualities are (as well as the positive ones). The first challenge is defining boundaries from nothing (may require a few mended hearts), the second challenge is the willingness to communicate about what you are learning with a trusted person, which will strengthen your ability to not only analyze your/their behaviors but also communicate these ideas with your future partners.

    3) On the other hand, the fatherless women were more likely to be relatively obsessed with their boyfriends. They were more likely to be emotionally dependent on them. And they were more likely to cling to relationships in which they were being abused.
    Absolutely true. From the time that I was 15 to now, there has rarely been a few months where I was able to remain single. Plainly stated, this is the personality flaw that I have the most troublesome time admitting to myself. I am absolutely afraid of not having a lover and friend, who is male, by my side. Make whatever judgments you may, but I did not choose this for myself. This is simply the result of the fatherless situation playing out in my life and I am dealing with it the best way I know how. What I can say is that, by being in a number of relationships now, I have developed a very experienced perspective of romantic psychology and have been through enough arguments and breakups that I know I can survive anything, whereas before, I thought that a breakup was truly, and I mean TRULY, the end of the world. Actually, this third point is excessive for what I know now, but was absolutely true for my teen years. It took a lot longer then to recognize that this guy had this major flaw and that I would be fine eventually if I cut it off, and that even HE would be fine! Yes, sometimes I would feel more guilty for leaving them than I was trying to look out for myself. I dealt with issues thinking that the guy would eventually mature or change, I would think that maybe I could change… The years between 16-21 were the hardest. My style was to get into these on-and-off relationships where I kept thinking that I could do something differently each time that would salvage the relationship, being unable to tell that unless we BOTH did that, there would be no change. Or sometimes, it wasn’t my fault at all… but it took many years of heartache to be able to distinguish permanent character issues from those that are petty, and to really define what I wanted in a romantic partner. Nonetheless, it didnt make it less likely to be IN a relationship, its just that over the years, my relationships have gotten healthier and healthier, and the guys that I choose are more likely to be healthy and happy and treat me with respect than in my early years. It’s almost as if with each relationship, if you have the strength to stay broken up, you can walk away with a new set of values that you add to your repertoire of what is acceptable/unacceptable to a healthy functioning relationship, but you have to be willing to think about this, just like I have iterated. The issues and the need to be with someone have never gone away, and I do invest heavily on the importance of the relationship in my life. I actually pour my heart into it (which some people have said is unhealthy). However, I think that, like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to this life. One disadvantage is relying on the existence of romanticism to feel whole and valid, which is something I continue to work on. But an advantage to being addicted to love is that, if you can learn from them, over time, you will choose better partners with each experience and will no longer put up with abusive partners you once did, you have the capacity to become psychologically keen to your partner’s intentions as well as your own, you will learn what you are attracted to and how to fulfill desires if and when they are due, and you will eventually gain confidence in other areas of life as well if you can decipher who is a healthy influence on your life (they deliver both positive energy/fun and can talk real with you).

    I have written a novel, lol… Anyway I hope this helps other girls going through a similar thing or help parents understand what their children might be going through. Some things are hard to deal with when there are underlying personality issues that need to be resolved, but thats just it, they still need to be resolved. Patience and not being afraid to enter into experiences that change and shape who you are, as well as the strength to leave experiences that healthy-minded people are telling you are bad for you, are all key in helping you develop and no part of that should bring shame. I would say that the most important thing is do not keep these feelings to yourself, always have a close and trusted mentor (in my case, it was my grandmother) who you naturally click with and who has been through a few things themselves to talk with you and help you realize the lessons that dad never taught you. Furthermore, we have to be careful to not believe judgments coming from people who grew up with different parent models. The only way for us to understand one another is to allow those who did not have healthy role-models to grow in their own time and reflect on their own experiences.

    • Riley,

      I am a male in a relationship with a girl who has not grown up with her father. I love her and I want to help and support her in anyway possible.

      She is a single child and her mom is hardly ever home.She is in an emotionally abusive relationship with her boyfriend but clings to him. She tells me she doesn’t have the strength to leave. She does everything to please him and unfortunately I don’t think he is worthy. She is a “A” student, stunning, but claims he tore down her confidence and she struggles with her worth. I see so much potential and purpose for her life that she may not realize. Please feel free to email me at derrick24brown@yahoo.com

  128. Reading these posts humbles me and makes me wonder how I can better myself as a person and help other people.

    While I am not a fatherless daughter, since I was homeschooled by a loving but increasingly troubled father, at the same time I can relate to much of what is being written here. The sense of being unloved, not liking oneself, being depressed and wanting to take one’s life, feeling afraid when around men, and lacking the essential self-confidence and self-worth that seem to emanate from other people are familiar to me.

    There are a few things I have learned that I hope are helpful, though. One thing I did was to seek mature counsel and/or counseling, from both men and women. For more sensitive personal or relational issues, sharing with the same gender is often encouraged. I think it is also healthy to interact with good men at a safe distance and seek good father figures and uncles who understand both the importance and complexities of the father-daughter relationship.

    Interacting with healthy families and friends from stable families brings out the health, steadiness, and happiness in me. Such experiences nurture me. Also, I take quiet time to be humble and open, to honestly reflect on where I need to learn and grow, in particular if I have made a mistake or been complicit in any wrongdoing towards myself or others, and to be persistent in trying to heal and better myself. Some people do this in faith, therapy, meditation, or simply talks with good friends. While what works for me may not work for others, this is what I have done based on what mature friends and families encouraged me to do and what I have sought to do on my own.

    As well, I think that all is not lost. Please do not give up! Since I am aware of my limitations in dealing with troubled people and weaknesses in the face of difficult circumstances, I have tried to better myself and seek higher education and training. Since I am not mature and ready for life, in many ways, as other people from relatively healthier families, I try to be more educated and become a healthier person who can then help others.

    For many years, I admit I have been depressed and serious about taking my life. Doing so would preclude the possibility of giving back and doing my part, albeit challenging at first, to make the world a better and more beautiful place. Even as I struggle, I learn to hold on with hope.

    In two months, I am finishing a master’s degree in the physical sciences, and for next year I have been accepted to a nationally-ranked law school with a considerable scholarship to pay for most of my tuition for all three years :)

    I think these blessings are made possible by a certain amount of self-discipline and diligence amidst the chaos, a love of learning that directed me away from unhealthy distractions, a personal time of honest reflection, a healthy dose of humor and moderate self-compassion, and of course the love and understanding, support and encouragement, and confidence and cheers of family, friends, mentors, and others.

    This story could happen to anyone else, and I have no doubt that others could do far better than I have done.

    Do not lose faith, my friends!

    Jojo

  129. Am 19, mum said dad left her after my birth, so for the past 18 yrs I’ve lived without a father. Would ve loved it if he was still alive, i am still ever ready to forgive him bt he’s dead. Growing up without a father is something i wouldn’t wish my worst enemy. I cnt even focus on anything, some i wouldnt sleep wishing i had a father. Where ever i go i feel rejected, always different. I pray God comforts me nd be my father its really a terrible experience.

  130. I am a fatherless daughter my father died when I was five. It is true, I am one of the many who fell in love at 13 and rushed into things. We stayed together four years and then I realized I was relying on him to make my life be what it was going to be.
    I met another man about twice my age who made me realize there’s a world out there and my life needs to be what I make it, not what a guy makes it. I find myself getting attached to men very easily and trying to please them because I am insecure and have a hard time being assertive and marching to my own drummer. I’m slowly learning as I grow older and starting to find myself.
    I noticed some of these comments have to do with trust issues, and I have to say I have never had trust issues I am very forgiving and very trusting I just long to find someone I can call a father figure. Because when I do have a close male relative in my life, I find that I no longer have an urge to meet a boyfriend or feel like I need to live up to any mans expectations. But when that father figure goes away out of my life for a while, I find myself again searching for a man to please.

  131. I disagree with the assertion that girls who grew up without a close attachment to a male automatically turn to sex to please a man, I was brought up single-handedly by a Christian mother (with my grandparents helping) and I have more male friends than female ones (note I am still a virgin, I just share similar interests and though patterns to males than most girls, I think) Despite the fact my mother had several boyfriends and husbands I do not drink, smoke, have only experimented with illegal drugs a few times and am still a virgin. Despite having Asperger’s Syndrome I have gotten 10 GCSE’s A*-B going to a shitty local high school and am now at Uni studying a Chemistry degree whilst holding down a part time job. It is true I am less confident around certain men but nerdy types or gay men I can relate to with ease. I do not exhibit anti-social behaviours, (to my knowledge) although I am not good socially due to my AS my flatmates usually find me funny. I am offended when people say girls who grew up in single-parent household are much more likely to be deviant.

    In my experience many girls in my school year went on to have babies at stupid ages with a father figure in the household! My Uni flatmates (all who except me have come from households with fathers) get drunk excessively, two do illegal drugs on a regular basis and all have participated in sex before marriage. I don’t think a household is important so much as the moral values held and taught. Granted my mother didn’t exactly exhibit traditional Christian values as she had multiple partners but she taught me about God and Jesus and I believe strongly. Most of my flatmates come from irreligious or atheistic backgrounds and I think this plays a part. (I am not saying all this to seem self-righteous but I’m merely pointing out an observed correlation)

  132. My Ex-Husband dumped me two weeks ago after because i accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refused to have any contact with me, i was so confused and i didn’t know what to do, so i had to go to the internet for help and i saw a testimony of how a spell caster helped people to get their ex back so i contacted the spell caster and explained my problem to him and he did a love spell for me and assured me that after 3days, my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my ex came knocking at my door begging for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Esango Priest, You are truly a great man. He can be of great help and I will not stop publishing him on the internet because he is a wonderful man, you can reach him via email:esangopriest@gmail.com

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