Much of the literature in mental health and psychology has focused on the mother and the mother’s attachment. But what about our fathers?
As children, we need a healthy father figure. It doesn’t have to be a biological father, it could be an uncle, an older brother, or even a neighbour. We need a father figure to learn what it feels like to be loved in a healthy way by a man.
Boys need it to learn how to be loving, compassionate men, and girls need it to know what it feels like to be genuinely, unconditionally loved by a man.
So many people experienced fathers who lived with them but were completely unavailable emotionally. Maybe they worked all the time and left the children to be raised by the mother, freeing themselves of all familial responsibility. Perhaps they were too busy womanising and drinking. Maybe they had mental health issues they were dealing with. There can be many reasons why they were unavailable.
Having an unavailable father usually provokes one of two reactions.
1)𝐏𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲, “I don’t need his love”. Here we punish him, withdraw and close down. We stop expecting anything from him to protect ourselves from being hurt. Maybe we become rebellious and act out in different ways.
2)𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐦; “If I do this or that, I will be good enough, and he will love me”. This results in the performing child, in the overachieving child, the good girl. Here there is a tendency to lose the self to what we imagine dad wants us to be. We abandon ourselves.
As adults, we can continue this behaviour with men. Either pushing them away when our needs are not met or chasing them and doing anything for approval and affection. Whichever you choose, there is a cause and effect, and a cycle is repeated.
If you are aware you are still playing out any of these childhood patterns, please be gentle with yourself. Know you are not alone, and these only developed in response to what you were experiencing.
You CAN break the cycle.
Please let me know how the father wound shows up for you in the comments.
P.s. If you resonate with the father wound, this is a topic we will be exploring in more depth in my upcoming ‘Relationship Cycle Breaker’ course.
Love on your healing journey, Jen