“I’ve never met my father,” Sandy said with tears welling up in her eyes, as she wrestled with the void that fatherlessness left in her heart. Although she has seen him from a distance, on a few occasions, she never struck up the nerve to introduce herself to the man rumored to be her father.
It’s almost father’s day and some of us will be celebrating the men who made us into the strong, brave, confident women we grew up to be.
Other women, like Sandy, will grieve over the man who didn’t.
Sandy will not be grieving by herself. As it turns out, 1 in 3 American children are being raised in single parent homes. In his book, Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn calls the crisis of fatherless children “the most destructive trend of our generation.”
Every little girl needs her daddy to validate her and set the standard for other men that she will have a relationship with. Every little girl needs to experience what it’s like to hear a man say “I love you”, expecting nothing in return.
And when she doesn’t get that experience from the man whose DNA she shares, she will try to fill the bottomless void in her soul with counterfeit relationships that were never meant to be.
Bottomless voids can only be filled by the limitless Father.
There are several types of fathers, but for the purposes of this blog, I chose to profile 3 of them and how their behaviors may have affected your relationships with men. (Claim your free gift at the end)
The Absentee Father
If you were affected by the trauma of an absentee father, he wasn’t there for you— physically, mentally, emotionally or otherwise.
Girls who are handicapped by their father’s absence have a higher risk of becoming sexually active early in life and becoming teenage moms. They often experience abandonment and rejection issues in their relationships with men. In other words, you’re quick to get involved in relationships with people who don’t accept you for who you are and eventually end up abandoning you.
It’s not that you want to choose men who treat you the same way your father did. But in the search for love, we attract what you think you’re worth. And if your father doesn’t treat you like you’re worthy, you fall for guys who do the same.
The Irresponsible Father
If your father was irresponsible, he came around when it was convenient for him. He made promises that he knew he couldn’t keep. He forgot your birthdays and he never came to your basketball games. He had more excuses than the beach has sand.
Girls who grow up with irresponsible fathers develop trust issues. If the first example of love you experience comes from a man who consistently fails you, you enter relationships with a chip on your shoulder. You’re expecting others to disappoint you too. And to your surprise (not really), it happens, more often than not.
The Present but NOT Present Father. When my father died, I remember feeling numb, cold and tearless. Everyone was expecting me to cry, but I couldn’t force the tears. Mainly because I didn’t know how to feel about a man whom I had lived with all of my life, yet I didn’t know him.
The not present father may be physically in his daughter’s life, but he’s not emotionally in her life. He doesn’t talk to her about boys, school, or anything that interests her. She’s never heard him say “you’re beautiful.”
Girls whose fathers don’t emotionally engage with them often look for validation through others. Though we engage in relationships, we are never fully able to engage in true intimacy that requires us to bare our souls.
We build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from feeling any more hurt. We become emotionally unavailable ourselves; doing the same thing to others that our fathers did to us.
I could go on and on describing how different fathers affect our relationships, but I don’t want to focus on the problem.
Because our fathers set the standard for every other relationship that we have, it’s more important to focus on the solution.
If your soul has been left wounded by your father, I encourage you to begin expressive writing—a common form of therapy—to help you move forward.
Expressive writing is a personal essay that highlights your feelings more than the events that took place to cause the feelings. It helps you release bottled thoughts and emotions that you were once afraid to feel.
Researchers James Pennebaker and Joshua Smyth conducted studies proving that writing not only has the power to improve victims of emotional trauma. But it also improves the health in HIV patients as well. Their research has paved the way for over 300 additional studies that prove the benefits of expressive writing, including:
Boosting the immune system,
Stress reduction, and
Increased production at school and work.
If you’re at a loss for how to start expressive writing, I have a FREE GIFT for you. I’ve created guidelines and a template to help you get started.
CLICK HERE and it all yours.