When a father is absent, both physically and emotionally, in his daughter’s upbringing, she faces psychological, social and emotional challenges.
This is known as fatherless-daughter syndrome.
A father can be absent from his daughter’s life by being physically or emotionally distant. It could be as a result of divorce, abandonment, work or other circumstances. Whatever it may be, a strained relationship between a father and his daughter can lead to challenges like low self-worth and self-esteem in adulthood.
In this article, we will be looking into some of the effects of an absent father on the girl child. Before delving into the issues that arise from this kind of childhood trauma, let us look at the importance of a father’s presence in his daughter’s upbringing.
Importance of a Father Figure in a Girl’s Life
A child’s sense of self, self-esteem and confidence are shaped by the presence of their parents. The presence of a father aids secure connection and emotional growth. Fathers play a significant role in their daughters’ lives. They provide love, guidance, support, healthy emotional development and the formation of secure attachments. They also foster;
- Emotional bonding
- Role modelling
- Better communication skills
- Gender identity and equality
Effects of an Absent Father on a Female Child
The father is the first male a female child encounters. Her view of the opposite sex is created by her relationship with him. A positive father is a key figure in his daughter’s upbringing. An absent father can cause the following psychological and emotional issues in the female child.
Low Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
A girl’s self-worth and self-esteem are negatively affected if she grows up without her father’s loving presence or a father figure in her life. Feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and a diminished sense of worth can come from the lack of a father’s affirmation and support. Without her father’s presence, she becomes insecure and blames herself, and this opens up a whole world of destructive behaviours.
Impact on Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are a constant struggle with a girl whose father was absent. The emotional distress caused by the absence of a father will manifest in various ways which will affect their overall well-being.
Rejection and Abandonment Issues
The nuclear family is important to a child’s sense of belonging, sense of self, understanding of love and connection. Emotional distance or a distant father-daughter relationship makes a daughter feel unloved and unwanted. A deep-rooted fear of abandonment is developed and trusting others, especially men, becomes a challenge and this may lead to a guarded and cautious approach to intimacy.
Challenges with Decision-Making and Lack of confidence
Girls without a father figure will often lack confidence and struggle with decision-making. They often miss out on career opportunities and will be uncertain about their abilities. They will be hesitant to trust their judgement, thereby hindering their personal and professional growth. Fathers offer encouragement, guidance and support to their daughters from a young age which positively affects their future careers, financial security and their confidence.
Girls whose fathers are distant and absent have been shown to face more difficulties in their academics, the reason being that their fathers are unavailable to assist and guide them with homework or spur them to excel in their academics.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanism and Social Behaviours
The absence of a father or father figure in the life of the girl child can affect her psychologically and emotionally, which can cause a serious case of depression and anxiety, leading to unhealthy coping habits such as eating disorders or substance abuse.
Alongside this, there are daddy-issues behaviours like attention-seeking, promiscuity, rebellion and aggressiveness that come from the lack of love of an absent father.
Difficulty in Forming and Maintaining Relationships
Fatherless daughters struggle with trust issues. They may find it difficult to open up, express vulnerability and establish meaningful connections with others. When it comes to relationships, they may enter into unhealthy romantic relationships, actively seeking out men who will reject them emotionally or avoid men.
The active presence of a father or father figure in the development of a child can not be dismissed. The presence of a father in the upbringing of a girl child is particularly important and essential to the mental stability of the female child. An emotionally close father-daughter relationship results in greater confidence and self-esteem for the daughter, who will grow up to care more about their education and have safer and more secure relationships.