When a girl doesn’t have her father in her daily life, she really misses something. It’s simply not enough to have a loving mother and good female role model in the family. Part of a girls psyche is created by what her father reflect back to her. A girl needs to know that a man loves her, values her, will protect her, and will be dependable for her. It takes years for this influence to sink in and develop inside a girl. And this can’t happen if her dad’s not there much.
Sometimes divorce is unavoidable. Drug or alcohol addiction, an affair, physical or mental abuse, or a high level of family chaos could make a divorce inevitable. And whenever a father has a history of being a danger to his daughter and other family members, contact and communication should definitely be limited at most. Yet even when the benefits of divorce outweigh the costs, girls often still lose a piece of themselves when they lose their dad.
As long as a girl has dependable daily influence from a caring father figure, she can be protected from some common problems associated with girls from a divorced family. If her divorcing dad lives nearby and can stay strongly involved with her daily life, that’s a best case scenario.
If her dad moves an hour or two away or if dad lives in town but doesn’t visit often, interaction becomes very difficult. Dad becomes more like an extended relative instead of a primary family member. This is when the gap of influence becomes detrimental to the girl.
A girls commonly interprets divorce as personal rejection from her father. Without this clear daily influence of a father figure, she will look for other males to fill in the emptiness. She will seek the love, strength, sense of value, and protection from a sexual relationship. She sees a boy or man wants her and isn’t rejecting her, and he sees a sexual partner. Because she is seeking a sexual relationship out of emptiness, she is likely to make poor choices.
Even if she has a good man as a father, if he doesn’t directly influence her on a frequent and regular basis, his relative absence will outweigh his goodness as a person. She has a misguided notion that finding comfort in a sexual relationship will fill the hole left by her father and his missing influence.
Girls will naively believe that if her father isn’t around, it is because she isn’t engaging, smart, pretty, or valuable enough. A girl will emotional cling to her boyfriend and avoid breaking off abusive relationships for fear of losing a man all over again. Unfortunately, many girls and young women go on this fruitless search for male approval many years before they understand what they’ve been doing.
I’m not trying to shame who have been or may be going through a divorce. I’m just saying this is a part of the reality of divorce for girls. I know there are many girls and women who have gone through this heartbreak. It’s even hard to know how to wrap up this blog post, because this issue has such deep emotional roots.
If anyone is willing to share their experiences with this, please do. You can’t fix everything, especially when it comes to family. But maybe your comment will help someone else today.
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (December 10, 2009)
Last reviewed: 7 Feb 2013