Why Do People Always Blame Girls For Daddy Issues?

It’s a sad truth in today’s society that women often find themselves the brunt of “daddy issues” jokes that mock their behaviors in relationships instead of receiving support to heal.

By Melody Rose4 min read
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I myself feel very fortunate to have grown up with a stable, present, and loving father, which makes me empathize even more with those who didn’t have this blessing (an astonishing half of U.S. daughters self-identify as having no father in their lives for various reasons). 

The term “daddy issues” gets used so casually with demeaning undertones, rather unfairly pointing fingers at the mistreatment young girls suffered due to the actions of grown men. What seems to be misunderstood is what this indicates for young girls, masculinity as a whole, and the holistic root of healing this pattern which is encouraging more stable homes with present fathers.

What Are the Symptoms of Daddy Issues?

While “daddy issues” isn’t a diagnosable ailment with textbook symptoms, there are correlated behaviors that evince the impact of emotional and physical neglect – all of which aren’t laughable by any means and shouldn’t be taken lightly as the now mainstream joke may try to impose and normalize.

Unstable Relationships

Probably the most obvious wound, women who grew up without fathers tend to have a harder time in romantic relationships. With the ingrained self-defense mechanism to “keep a distance,” women will push partners away through a variety of insecure attachments. This could look like intense trust issues, constantly testing their partner’s love, the inability to receive that love, and seeking attention through unhealthy mediums. These all crack the foundation healthy relationships are built upon and typically attract emotionally unattached or abusive partners who prey on these insecurities.

Eating Disorders

This can manifest through two extremes of the eating disorder spectrum. In a desperate attempt to feel control, anorexia and bulimia become the outlets of relief. The leading cause of these illnesses is the desire to control something when life feels out of control and the most accessible way to do that is by hyper-monitoring what’s consumed. The pendulum can swing in the other direction too with binge-eating and obesity. Emotionally broken women tend to fill voids and seek comfort through a consistent source, which again circles back to the convenience of food. Author Margo Maine elaborates more on this emotional attachment to food in her book Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and Food. 

Half of U.S. daughters self-identify as having no father in their lives for various reasons

Sexual Promiscuity

The search for love continues with risky sexual behaviors and early sexual engagements. Young girls who suffer from low self-worth, trust issues, and the desire for love (even if fleeting) bring sex to the forefront. Studies show that 70% of unplanned teenage pregnancies occur in homes where there is no father.

Addiction and Depression 

These two often go hand-in-hand as a way to numb the pain of emotional neglect and also the absence of firm and loving boundaries set as a child. An inability to form healthy attachments or be in stable relationships, as well as struggling with an eating disorder, can lead to feeling depressed. In fact, children without fathers are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, reporting that they’re 69% more likely to use drugs and 76% more likely to commit crimes. 

So, Who’s To Blame for Daddy Issues?

It’s no surprise that women are heavily carrying the burden as they walk into womanhood with the wounds of their early childhood looming either in their conscious or subconscious mind. But are they to blame?

“Daddy issues” is only benefiting and bypassing the responsibility of two generations of unrelated men, the unstable father and the weak boyfriend, by making their daughter and girlfriend seem like the issue instead of themselves (a powerful statement made in this Medium article).

While we aren’t in control of what happens to us, only how we choose to heal it, there is a way to stop this destructive cycle of victimization from repeating in generations to come and that’s by getting to the holistic root of a stable household. 

Simply put, we NEED fathers!

Unfortunately, today’s feminist messaging has us disempowering men and masculinity as “toxic” when it’s clear the presence of masculinity actually provides more good than harm.

Masculine fathers show their daughters what they should expect of men. They model what it means to be a man who provides and protects. The father is inevitably a girl’s first love, and he exemplifies what love should look like. He has the ability to build his daughter’s confidence and self-esteem or shatter it. He has the power to show her the harmony that can be found in empowered femininity and masculinity, by honoring both in their true identities, or silencing them. 

“A father must choose to love you! He decides for you, he picks you out, he notices you among the many.”

Why does the father have such an impact? Richard Rohr, in his book From Wild Man to Wise Man: Reflections on Male Spirituality, argues that the father’s unique relationship to his children (whether boy or girl) makes his love, approval, and involvement uniquely valued. Rohr writes, “Our father, and his response to us, is the first response of an ‘outsider.’ Mom’s love is body-based from the womb and the breast. It is assumed, taken for granted, relied upon instinctively…But Dad is that other in the house, at a greater distance. He does not ‘have’ to love you. His love is not inherently felt and drawn upon, like Mother love. He must choose to love you! He decides for you, he picks you out, he notices you among the many. It redeems, liberates, and delights, therefore, in a totally different way…That is the uniquely transformative experience of male love. It validates us and affirms us deeply, precisely because it is not necessary.”

Because the father must, in a sense, choose to love his child, when that love is not bestowed, the child experiences “a deep hurt, a deprivation that leads to a poor sense of one’s own center and boundaries, a mind that is disconnected from one’s body and emotions, a life often with the passivity of a unlit fire.”

Daughters need the masculine energy their father’s love and involvement nurtures in them, or else “They will lack self-confidence and the ability to do, to carry through, to trust themselves – because they were never trusted by him.”

The father-daughter bond, when thriving, is truly one of the most magnetic relationships, but when it is broken, it is deeply painful and damaging.

How To Heal Your Father Wound

If you find yourself in this position or nodding along to these characteristics of “daddy issues” presented above, then you’re already taking the first step towards healing, which is recognizing the problem. 

As mentioned, most of our childhood experiences shape the way we view ourselves and the world around us, and subsequently they condition our mindset and behaviors accordingly. This could mean that you may have never even considered that you had “daddy issues” before, since it seemed normal to you from a young age. This makes acknowledging and identifying a vital step in seeking the support you deserve.

Having an absent father can feel as emotionally heavy as a physical death, and it should be mourned.

Next, mourn the loss. Having an absent father can feel as emotionally heavy as a physical death. The little girl in you craves to honor and validate this absence and needs to feel safe in the knowing. The guidance of a therapist in this processing is always encouraged, as they have access to professional resources and recommendations that can help you manage these suppressed feelings in ways that nourish your journey.

And the last step is to learn from your experience and reprogram your mind to what’s true. By taking this time to reframe your limiting beliefs and self-worth instilled from your father’s absence, not only will you set yourself up for a more empowering reality, but you’ll also avoid perpetuating the pattern by imparting these negative behaviors onto your own children or future partners. The more you affirm that you do deserve healthy love, the more you’ll find it and have the capacity to give it too.

Closing Thoughts

Putting an end to the “daddy issues” joke and empowering masculinity again are the two targeted factors for finding peace in this pattern. The running joke does nothing more than victimize, shame, and throw cover over real issues.

Young girls deserve to have loving fathers. Grown women deserve to have stable husbands. Grown men deserve to be empowered in their masculinity. And good fathers deserve to be acknowledged for their important role in the household.

Clearly, it’s all connected and it takes the beautiful, natural balance of femininity and masculinity to come together in unison and stand strong in love amidst a world trying so desperately to severe it.

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