Even if you have a father, you might have suffered the pain of having an absent father. As girls and women, we need our fathers to give us a sense of identity, confidence; a sense of belonging. When we are unable to experience the loving presence of a father in our everyday lives, we can feel like we lack the anchor we need to ground us to succeed in life. In fact, research suggests that fatherless daughters can be at dramatically more risk of drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy (Nowak, 2001), emotional problems, suicide, poor educational performance (Krohn and Bogan, 2001) and poverty (Haywood, 1995). Nearly 80% of mental health patients come from fatherless homes (Block et al, 1988). Not having a presence of a loving father in the home is increasingly common and the damage is showing up in our society, in our schools, in the lives of people around us, and if we’re not careful, the damage will show up in our own children too. Having said that, I’ve always been a strong believer that in amongst the grit of life there is always a hidden gift, if we are prepared to dig deep enough.
This time last year I had the privilege of going on a great adventure to see my Dad on the other side of the World, which was amazing. Due to no one’s fault, I grew up without the presence of my father. I remember once when he came to visit me when I was about 7 and we played rough and tumble with my friends, and I just felt so proud to have such a fun and cool Dad; it was a special feeling, which I will never forget. I saw him very occasionally as a child and I missed him. But what really changed things for me was when I had a faith encounter at age 11. I went to a youth camp and there was a man there talking about Jesus – about how He is real and wants to have a relationship with each one of us. That night, I made a decision and something changed within me; I came alive. I believe that this faith encounter protected me from many of the negative implications of not having a present father because I realised that living without the presence of a father was not my identity, it was the situation of my life. Without my faith, I believe that I might have struggled even more and it may have been harder for me to step out and take some of the risks that I have taken to achieve my dreams. But everyday is a journey and we are all on it!
If you are reading this and you realise that you need to make peace with the relationship you had (or didn’t have) with your father, the best thing you can do is to firstly acknowledge your pain and secondly invest your time in people who you can truly trust, who will be consistent in your life. If your father is still alive, you may like to get in touch, but each person’s story is different and one answer can certainly not fit all. In fact, no one can really fill the gap of an absent father, but time and forgiveness are great healers. If you know someone who has suffered from an absent father, the best thing you can do to support them is to be a loyal friend and show them that you love them unconditionally. But whatever your story is, my message to all those who have had an absent father is to dig deep and find the hidden treasure because whatever the destination is, the beauty happens on the journey!
P.S If this blog post has brought up anything for you that you would like to explore further, please do not hesitate to get in touch.