She said ‘you didn’t fight for me as a father’ I listened as Common talks about how it felt when his daughter said those words to him.
And I knew this was the experience of many women trying to understand why dad was absent.
Common is one example of a father who listened to their daughters and acted on what was said.
However, many daughters do not have the opportunity to have honest conversations because some dads are too defensive to listen.
They can’t see the need to do the work necessary to learn how to be a father to their daughters.
Last year I was interviewed on the BBC about the father-daughter relationship. I was happy that the discussion was happening around this critical relationship.
A girl’s connection with her father will pretty much serve as a model of what male love looks like throughout her life. If this is a positive experience, then she will have a better compass; however, if her mirror relationship is fractured, then this could affect the way she views or interacts with males throughout her life.
The father/daughter relationship can also make or break her self esteem.
If you are a daughter trying to figure out life as a result of an absent father, here are four essential things that you need to consider on your journey.
Women are often amazed when they learn that the patterns that exist in the relationships with their fathers can repeat in other relationships throughout their lives. Those who were able to spot how the effects of the breakdown can tackle the subject quickly and see good results. Others, who were at the beginning stages of finding a life partner, appreciated the lessons and the opportunity to address hurts caused by the separation and lack of connection.
Conversations at one of my retreats highlight the importance of this discussion. Many women know that anger is not a safe place to hide.
Fostering hatred and resentment ensure that the lack they suffered from their fathers will have more chances of reappearing in other their significant relationships.
The pattern with dad is often reflected when women enter into relationships with men who are unable to connect emotionally.
Processing emotions is the safest way to stop the cycle repeating.
Your father’s inability to keep his promises could teach you to distrust people and sometimes men in particular.
The father’s absence and sporadic approach to obligations might also teach stories about worth and worthiness.
It could impact her ability to experience and accept love. And it has the potential of shaping how she sees herself.
The trust might be, but it’s not irreparable.
Lack of trust involves fear. At its root is the fear of needing someone or depending on someone.
What if I totally rely on you and you later leave. Or what will happen if I believe what you said, but you fail to make good on your promises?
Steps to repair broken trust
• Find the root of distrust.
• If the root sprouts from father/daughter interaction, it will be imperative to get support in processing the hurt so that you can move on.
Sometimes this need might be embarrassing and therefore generate shame. However, we need connection, and your desire to have a secure relationship with your father is not abnormal. It is a reasonable innate need that we have.
A lot of men struggle to meet the need for connection. Some either grew up in households with less than positive male role models, and therefore, the ability to connect doesn’t come naturally.
Of course, men can heal this wound and learn how to provide the love and support that daughter’s need. However, it is perhaps sometimes easier to default to what they’ve seen. Or more natural to meet the less emotionally demanding role of providers.
Some men are great providers; this is a role they know well. But many lack the resources to be the kind of men that can connect emotionally with their children. For the men who had their fathers around, they might have learnt specific life skills from them, but often they do not how to have close connected relationships with their children.
A man will learn how to show emotions or how to treat the women in his life based on how the males around him manage those tasks.
Often in cases where daughters are struggling with the hurt of disconnection, it can usually be traced back through generations. The fact that you are reading this means that you are taking steps to ensure that the people after you have a different template.
Healing raises awareness. It helps us discover who we are and aids us to make decisions about who we would like to be moving forward. Healing gives one control over what happens next as opposed to blindly following a current family pattern.
There are many opportunities to heal this need for connection and find other sources of bonding that are present. Without healing, disconnection could become a long-standing issue for you that will inhibit your ability to connect with males or even your sons.
You become what you focus on
I know many people who don’t want to see the story behind their parents’ behaviour. I suspect that it’s a self-protecting strategy. It is the way of avoiding the pain that this knowledge might evoke. When in pain, we often can’t consider any other reality other than their own.
Another perspective might be useful, but it often feels like too much.
If you are reading this as a parent and you don’t know how to connect with your child, you must find out how.
Search for answers.
Do whatever you have to do to be able to show up for your child in a way that will be valuable to them.
Many times parents attend my workshops, and it is during those sessions that several uncomfortable realisations will be acknowledged. You can almost feel the pain when that happens. It is never too late to apologise and tries to make amends.
Fear of rejection
As a result of the father’s leaving, you may fear rejection. This fear plays into negative thoughts that we have about ourselves, and the subconscious may cherish the following feelings.
● People will always leave me – If we feel people will go, we will not commit our all to the relationship because of fear that we might end up alone. Self-protective strategies will automatically kick in and keep us from fully committing to anyone. You might be familiar with people telling you that you are cold or distant. You are there but not fully present.
You might feel that there is a distance between you and others, but you don’t quite know how to fix the problem. The issue could have its origin in those early feelings of fear that was triggered as a result of dad leaving.
● No one will love me -Dad’s going may initiate feelings of unworthiness. Your 5-year-old self or whatever age you were might have thought that if he loved you, he wouldn’t have left. As an adult, you may know differently, but this still needs addressing and healing.