Updated: Sep 21, 2020
What if I told you that most of the challenges faced in interpersonal relationships can be traced back to childhood? Parental dynamics, parenting styles and people's relationships with their fathers are integral to their emotional and relational development.
Many people look at sex workers, criminals and misfits and conclude that they have "daddy issues." To some extent, that term is used as an insult for those that make poor choices. For example, a woman stuck in an abusive relationship is said to have serious "daddy issues" because she allows her man to beat her and she doesn't leave him.
We often use this term without deeply thinking about what it actually means to have so-called "daddy issues." In this brief analysis, we will explore the psychological effects that fathers have on their children. We will see how fathers greatly affect the lives of their children even unto adulthood.
The Urban Dictionary is a great resource when looking for slang terms that new generations value. The term "daddy issues" is described as,
"The result of a messed up relationship with one's father, or having an absent father. Results in younger women chasing older men and even seeking mistreatment in some cases."
Though this is a simple definition, psychologists take it even further. In Psychology, the term "daddy issues" is classified as a Father Complex. This relates to both genders and is not limited to women's dating preferences and self degradation. The Father Complex relates to both genders and exhibits the positive and negative impulses they have towards their fathers.
One main element of someone with a Father Complex is their ever-present trust issues. When a person grows up distrusting the words and actions of his father, his ability to form strong relationships could dissipate. A father who pathologically lies to his child and manipulates the truth will emotionally damage him. When the child grows up and finds a significant other, forming trust will be exceedingly difficult because of unresolved trust issues. Note that this often stems from having a Father Complex.
Think about this for a moment. If you lie and manipulate your child long enough, he may grow up to be emotionally scarred, repressed and distrustful. With this combination, he may never truly form a strong relationship with anyone. He may constantly hold people at arms length because, if he couldn't trust his own father, why should he trust anyone else?
Don't forget that even people taking marriage and relationship counseling often have to deal with their Father Complexes before truly building healthy relationships. Many people never truly recover. Those who have access to therapy and develop healthy coping mechanisms are the ones who can turn their lives around. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to do so.
Let's get started on the difficult discussion of absent fathers. Keep in mind that an absent father is not just someone who deliberately abandons his children. Absent fathers are also those who are emotionally unavailable to love and nurture their children. This is the most common form of abandonment that can be found in stable families worldwide.
Emotionally Unavailable Fathers
Emotionally unavailable fathers raise "emotionally orphaned" children. When children have never felt love or affection from fathers, they grow up to believe that affection is unnecessary. This can be seen in husbands that are unable to be affectionate towards their wives. This is also seen with mothers who can't tell their children how much they love them because it's "too awkward."
When you grow up with an absence of love and affection, you miss something fundamental. This causes issues in future friendships and relationships because you are unable to express emotion in a healthy way. If you find yourself unable to even say "I love you" to a close friend or family member, then you may need to re-evaluate your emotional health. When emotionless relationships become normalized, that's when you know there is a problem.
Physically Absent Fathers
The anger, bitterness and resentment that one has towards a physically absent father is profound. It's difficult to believe that you are worthy of love when your own father walked out on you and chose not to raise you. That sense of rejection leads to an inferiority complex that may follow you for the rest of your life.
People in this category often have issues with their self confidence and self-love. They seek validation from others in an unhealthy way. This need for external approval is important to them because they feel rejected from the person who gave them life.
It is a ripple effect.
The decision of one father, can affect all his children for the rest of their lives.
Staying in a physically/emotionally abusive relationship is common for people with abandonment issues. They do not feel worthy of love and respect. Many of them never truly get out of this mindset because they don't know it is even a problem. This is evident in relationships that have toxic power dynamics where people are terrified of being alone and single.
It is important to identify the roots of daddy issues.
Because you might have them yourself.
Worse yet, you may be the father that is emotionally scarring his children. Remember that whatever the case, there are countless resources out there to help you sift through your emotional issues. Take the time to read, learn and even seek therapy if necessary.
Everyone deserves to live a full, free life. All this emotional baggage holds people back from being the best they can be. Imagine not sabotaging relationships with great people and actually having healthy interpersonal relationships!
Imagine actually loving yourself and letting your confidence come from within.
If you're a father, please remember that your words, actions and attitudes towards your children will affect them forever. Raise a generation of emotionally healthy adults who love themselves and others. Intentionality is important. My own father was intentional, affectionate and loving. My life would not be the same if he didn't hold me by the hand and guide me through life. As a daughter, I can attest that my father's love for me changed my life and I am forever grateful.
I hope your children can say the same about you.
Author: Pearl M. Kasirye Founder of Indelible Consultancy Franklin University Switzerland