fatherless woman syndrome

exclusive feature
Terrica Taylor
{Minneapolis, MN}
The Liberator Magazine 2.1 #4
(artwork: Olukemi Kamson)


“Fatherless-ness” is an issue that needs to be discussed. Many times women don’t understand why they have the issues they do, but it’s only because they haven’t been able to put a name to their struggle. My philosophy is, “if you can name it you can change it.” The name is the Fatherless Women’s Syndrome; it’s a syndrome that affects many women. Webster’s Dictionary defines syndrome as “a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality.” Within the Fatherless Women’s Syndrome, there are some very distinct symptoms that have an abnormal effect on our emotions. When a woman is left without her father, she has emptiness inside, she struggles with abandonment issues, and she may even feel unloved or unwanted. Some ladies without fathers in their lives may disagree with this diagnosis and may feel that their fathers’ absence has no affect or control over their lives but, even if it’s subconscious, it does have and affect and if we would be honest with ourselves, we would see that the syndrome shows its ugly head in all of our relationships.

I’m not just speaking from a theoretical point of view; I’m speaking as a sista who has experienced it first hand. I know what it’s like to be a five-year old child with tears running down her face, crying out to her mother saying, “I miss my daddy.” I know what it’s like to have a pain so indescribable inside of you that all you can do is go to the refrigerator and try to “numb” yourself with food or try to get sexual gratification to make the pain go away. But after trying to numb yourself with food, sex, or drugs, the emptiness and pain is still there.

Webster’s Dictionary goes on to define a syndrome as a set of "concurrent things—as emotions—or actions that form an identifiable pattern.” LADIES! We have to look at our patterns in our relationships—especially with men.

You thought Mike was the one—Mike isn’t there.
You thought Tim was the one and Tim is no longer in your life.
And you just knew that Robert was a sure thing, but Robert disappeared also.

All of these failed relationships have set a pattern, and until we are willing to recognize that there is something seriously screwed up about this, the dysfunctional cycle will continue and the syndrome will continue to control your life. The question we should ask ourselves is why these relationships failed one after the other. Usually what happens with the woman who has Fatherless Women’s Syndrome is that she becomes either too clingy or too defensive and afraid of commitment.

The woman who is too clingy holds on to a man for dear life in fear that he will reject her and leave her like the first man in her life—her dad. The man who she is clinging to perceives her as being too much of a responsibility, so he leaves.

The woman who is afraid of commitment is very defensive and guards her heart—she doesn’t let herself get too close. This woman usually calls herself the “independent woman.” The title is something she believes will shield her from dealing with a greater reality, the reality of having the “syndrome.” She may believe that being in a relationship with a man is a sign of weakness—not realizing that it can be a sign of strength, because that mate is there to compliment the person she is. Men want nothing more then to feel wanted by their woman. It makes a man feel good to be our “knights in shining armor,” so if he feels unappreciated he will eventually get tired of it, and leave.
In both instances, it leaves a woman in precisely the predicament she fears—alone.

Fatherless women have to be more conscious in their actions while in a relationship. Many times, we feel as if we are at war trying to fight off the symptoms of the syndrome in order to have a healthy relationship. Most will agree that it’s not fair the way the cards have been dealt but we have to play them the best way we know how and that’s in seeking guidance from our higher power. The question might arise in your heart; the damage has already been done, are there any possible solutions? The answer to that question is yes. Any woman that has been left without her father knows the pain that it entails. Sometimes it feels like the anguish will never end but for all the ladies out there struggling with the syndrome, I’m here to tell you to reach deep down inside yourself, accept the loss and reclaim that part of you that has been damaged. We have to determine within ourselves that, although our father’s absence has left an emptiness inside of us that cannot be filled with anything else, we will not let it affect who we are and the women we are becoming.

We will not let it affect the way we feel about ourselves. We will not let it affect our future relationships with men. We will own our own thoughts and feelings in our own relationships. We will reclaim our bodies and our femininity. We will not loose ourselves in a relationship because of fear of not feeling wanted and feeling that submission is the only way in which to keep our relationship. We will not continue to give our bodies in sexual acts just because we believe that’s the only thing we have to give or because we believe it’s the closest we can get to experiencing true femininity.

There is something about the father daughter relationship that is so special and unique; it’s where a woman recognizes her role and where she learns about a man’s role. This is why when a woman is left fatherless, something is lost; she doesn’t truly understand who she is as woman or the right things to look for when choosing a mate. Even though we may lack knowledge of ourselves as women, we must recognize that we are always women, and we are always worthy of love, even if our past experiences contradict that truth. We have to be willing to step up and be the diva’s God created us to be. And with some serious prayer and a love for ourselves, the wounds can finally be healed and the syndrome broken. I encourage women who know this struggle to let God begin a new work in you and let him be the potter in your life to remold your heart that you may be able to live in an abundance of happiness and prosperity, able to lean towards more fulfilling relationships and most importantly that you may be able to forgive.

Special Note: I give thanks to my dear lord and savior Jesus Christ, my mother (who has been a strong example of a true woman) and a book (that I suggest to all women who want to learn about the healing process of their father’s absence) called “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s little Girl” by Jonetta Rose Barras.

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