Jun 18

Fatherless Daughters: Two Pertinent Books

Two relatively recent books about fatherless daughters:

I. He Never Came Home: Interviews, Stories, and Essays from Daughters on Life Without Their Fathersedited by Regina R. Robertson (2017)  

Parental estrangement, abandonment, and death. Or, as this book’s categories put it: Divorce, Distant, and Deceased. While there are various reasons for each type of circumstance, each unique situation leaves its unique scars, state 22 diverse women who’ve written essays about their fatherlessness. 

From the blurb for He Never Came Home: The book “is first and foremost an offering to young girls and women who have endured the loss of their fathers. But it also speaks to mothers who are raising girls without a father present, offering important perspective into their daughter’s feelings and struggles.”

Essayists range from the famous, such as actress Regina King and fitness pro Gabrielle Reece, to the lesser known. A sampling of situations:

  • Nisa Rashid‘s father was in prison when she was a child.
  • Bridgette Bartlett Royall pens a letter to her deceased dad.
  • Kirsten West Savali also lost her father to death.
  • Simone I. Smith‘s dad battled drug addiction.
  • Cori Murray‘s father was distant due to divorce and a military career abroad.

II. The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives, by Denna Babul, RN, and Karin Luise (2016)

The two founders of the Fatherless Daughter Project, who relate to this issue on a personal level, had yearned for something similar to the best selling and healing Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman. But they couldn’t find it. Babul and Luise, therefore, set out to fill that gap, an effort that first involved interviews with about 5000 women.

Following are some pertinent conclusions voiced in a chat with Womans Day:

The hallmark characteristic of a fatherless daughter is fear of abandonment. Because they never got the direction needed from a father figure, they learn to make up their own survival playbook. This can lead to negative coping skills such as sexual promiscuity, total avoidance of intimacy, isolation, substance abuse, anxiety and depression.

Fatherless daughters report having difficulty in relationships and in the workplace interacting with men because they were never taught how to feel comfortable with a man in their father’s absence. They can also carry into adulthood conflicting issues with their mothers from becoming her caretaker for a time or witnessing so much chaos in the home. Financial distress or poverty often follows father loss, and this can have a significant impact in every area of a girl’s upbringing.

On the flip side, daughters also reported having a great respect for their mothers as they grew up, gaining a greater realization of the difficulties she faced and being grateful for all she did to raise her.

Babul and Luise offer the following “top 5 tips for fatherless daughters” (same source):

  1. Understand that you are not alone or abnormal…
  2. All you need to move forward is the desire for growth and the openness for help…
  3. Know that it is okay for you to still experience pain, father hunger, and conflicting emotions such as anger, confusion and neediness…
  4. One of the best things you can do to promote healing is to find a purpose in your pain and a way to become involved in a mission bigger than yourself…
  5. Understand that father loss is a journey that will grow and change throughout your life just as you will…