Fatherless Daughter Syndrome At It's Core



“Fatherless Daughter Syndrome" (colloquially known as "daddy issues") is an emotional disorder that stems from issues with trust and lack of self-esteem that leads to a cycle of repeated dysfunctional decisions in relationships with men.”

- Wehavekids

When the term fatherless comes up, our minds jump straight to the idea of not knowing who our fathers may be or not seeing them since a young child. Being fatherless is deeper than that. It not only shapes the dynamics of our family homes, relationships with men in particular but the entirety of a females make up is altered by identifying as fatherless. It is also not know that being a Daddyless Daughter doesn't necessarily mean that you do not know your father.


You are considered a Daddyless Daughter if :

  • You're father was there and is now gone through divorce, death, prison or any other reason.

  • He was at home but not present. (He may have been an alcoholic, emotionally unavailable, abusive etc)

  • He was never around. (Inconsistent relationship with hime or you never met him before)

We think of daddyless daughters and connect it with “daddy issues” but often only in line with relationships. Where this may make sense, that only scratches the surface of the impact of fatherlessness within females. No race or age is exempt from the impacts of being Daddyless. We know very well that many women will attract partners that mimic the behaviours of parents or perpetrators based off of the knowledge that this has become normal for them but what about the lack of male example?


“Just because you sit in the classroom doesn’t mean you are learning.”


Now for the clinical stuff. Where there aren’t as many statistics specifically for daddyless daughters, the NHS declared that females who did not have healthy consistent relationships with their biological fathers where highly likely to suffer with depression. What we can say based off of ons.gov’s statistics “In the UK: There are around 1.8 million single parents and around 90 per cent of single parents are women.” An estimated figure of 33million females in the UK was presented around the same time the single parent study was carried out.

Shockingly enough there isn’t much research on fatherlessness within females and how this can impact our social and emotional development but, thanks to sources such as Sigmund Freud who had the curiosity around the 1900’s to peel back the layers and look just that little bit closer into what it really means to be a daddyless daughter, as well as the NHS and other psychologists internationally.

What we know from childhood development studies is children require love and care from their parents in order to be as balanced and well-rounded as possible. Our very foundation is built off of not the words spoken to us by our parents, It is the actions of them and our observation that determines how our paths take shape. When there is an absent parent inevitably and on surface value this causes difficulties for the child but what is the deeper affect on the child? Specifically, how does the absence of a father change the course of a little girl’s life forever?

“How does a child learn to walk if they aren’t shown?”

Let’s go a little deeper, psychology globally recognises the evolution of the rewiring of one’s physical brain based on nature and nurture. Meaning that your environment and experiences play a significant role on how your mind and body function. It was found in the Journal of Adolescent Health, that the absence of a biological father in the household predicted earlier onset of breast, pubic hair development and even their periods starting earlier. This tied in with an earlier observation confirming how exactly one’s genetics evolve based on the environment around them.


This observation was carried out by Sigmund Freud in 1905, the founder of psychoanalysis, who to summarise believed that children go through 5 levels of psycho-sexual stages of development. Whilst physically there being changes to a child’s body and thought processes from birth right up until early adulthood, it is the child and parent relationships and experiences around this that shape our foundation.


These 5 stages as follows:

Oral (birth-18 months) – the closeness of the mother when being fed. When being fed or held at this stage it is not just for survival it is for the comfort and closeness

Anal (18 months- 3 years) – sounds bizarre but it is at this point we start to realise we can hold in a poop but more importantly that we can make decisions too! So, this will be the time that tantrums and the word no is more prominent.

Phallic stage 3years- 8 years – this process will be vastly different for boys and girls but in short, girls become very aware of the differences between men and women especially mother and father. Sigmund Freud believed that little girls become almost too intrigued by the fact boys have something they don’t. A penis. Now, how true the penis obsession is can’t be identified as of yet. What we do know that for girls, the Electra complex is formed where little girls do discover they don’t have a penis and a competitive streak is built in between daughter to mother. Based on her attachment to her father. Crucially It is here where the attachment between father and daughter in both quality and quantity is imperative to a little girl. If a father is absent, emotionally unavailable or abusive, it is here they believe Daddyless Daughter syndrome begins to take effect.

Latency stage (8 years – puberty)- this stage should be where desires to compete and aggressive desires start to fade. It is at this point children start to see that yes they love their parents, but they form relationships outside of home and their care provider should no longer be the centre of the world.

Genital stage (puberty onwards) – This is where the sexual desires and interests in the opposite sex come back from stage 3 (phallic stage) just in a different light. This is simply based on maturity. An emotional milestone is we would have learnt to care for other people especially when there is an interest for another individual at this point.

So, you can imagine that if a daughter has no real presence of a healthy father figure what we expect to see from our girls are now skewed. Once the influence of a male figure has been imprinted on a girl she subconsciously finds herself attracting the father she had or if no father an emotionally or physically unavailable partner. Not only this but how a little girl’s perception of herself and the world can be tainted, how the care and love she should have received may push her subconsciously into a world of chaos, danger and destruction.

Do you have questions around how fatherlessness has played its role to creating who you are today?

Do you want to share your story?

We all have a story to tell, what’s yours?



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