Girls with Daddy Issues - Debunking the Daddy Issue Myth

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Did you click on this link because you know a girl with “daddy issues” or did you open up this blog because you’ve been told you have “daddy issues?”  Our society is so fascinated with “daddy issues,” and our pop-culture talks about it all the time.

A recent publishing in an online men’s magazine listed “A girl with daddy issues” in the top five types of girls that you don’t want to marry. Daddy issues” has made its way into being a commonly used phrase.  Urban dictionary defines daddy issues as, “Whenever a female has a f*cked up relationship with her father, or absence of a father figure during her childhood, it tends to spill into any adult relationship they embark on, usually to the distress of any poor male in their life.”

According to our society, “Daddy issues” are the reason that girls are needy or clingy, overly emotional, sleep around, date older men, practice feminism...Urban dictionary even says, “if a woman asks her husband to sleep on the couch because he came home late, its because she has daddy issues.”  

This is ridiculous.

I am astounded by how fixated our society is on the effects of living in a father-less home, and I am also concerned with the amount of attention we pay to “girls with daddy issues.”

"Daddy issuesare nothing more than a stereotype. 

From a clinical perspective and professional standpoint, "Daddy Issues" are defined as the resulting trauma from losing a primary male caregiver or the subsequent negative effects of not having a male figure in your life.

Daddy issues are the symptoms caused by the stress of not having a significant male presence during childhood. Although in my clinical practice I don’t particularly hear my clients identifying this as their experience.

There are many women who are not affected.  

A lot of women in my practice didn’t have their father around when they were children, and when I explore this experience with them, these women don’t report any significant trauma resulting from the lack of a relationship with their father.

If a father leaves the home, a child can survive with only one caregiver and can still be resilient and successful. A child can thrive with the love and comfort of one caregiver if a parent decides to leave or is no longer in the picture. Our society has also begun to reclaim single-parent households and the new research suggests that it’s not that big of a problem.

I once attempted to emotionally connect with a client about the absence of her father by saying something like, “It must have been traumatic for you to have your father leave when you were 14.” The client responded with hesitation, “Uh, no. Not really.” It was actually quite embarrassing - she seemed not to even be phased.

Many of my clients are more affected by the relationship they have with their mother than the relationship they have with their father.

I find with many women who suffer from addiction, eating disorders, marital conflict, or self-confidence and self-esteem issues, it’s the relationship that they had with their mother that impacted those things.

When my clients search for a reason or a time that influenced their bad behaviors it is most often triggered by an experience with their mother.

I propose we start watching out for “Mommy Issues.”

Let’s say that your relationship with mom wasn’t that great after dad left. Your dad left or was absent in some way and your mother wasn’t a secure figure or someone you could bond with. You may have experienced some stress from losing your father figure and were able to cope because you had mom present, but if she wasn’t someone you could rely on, you become at greater risk for psychological issues. The impaired relationship with your mom has the ability to influence dysfunctional behavior or ways of thinking.

Mommy issues aren’t exclusive to girls raised in divorced families or single-parent households (and let’s be fair, mothers can leave a relationship too). If children are raised in a household with both parents but their mom is abusive, is an alcoholic, has OCD, or their mom is dismissive or neglectful in some way, this can significantly impact a child. My clients tend to be more impacted by mommy-related issues than issues from a poor father figure.

The experiences I have with my clients regarding ‘parent issues’ are quite different than what society seems to think about girls with daddy issues. I hope that as a society we can start to understand some of the what the research actually shows us, and shift old ways of thinking in order to get to the hear of the problem. The sooner we do this, the sooner we can find healing. 

If you’d like help to improve your relationship with your parent or need some extra tools to cope, contact Raquel Buchanan for your free consultation at 818-839-2032 or to learn more about ways therapy can help.