Why “Fatherless Daughter Syndrome” insults me

According to the world wide web:

Fatherless Daughter Syndrome is a disorder of the emotional system that leads to repeated dysfunctional relationship decisions, especially in the areas of trust and self-worth. … It can be a lifelong syndrome if the symptoms go unrecognized and unacknowledged.

I stumbled upon this “disorder” when I was looking for blogs concerning the topic of absentee parents. I stopped dead in my tracks when I first discovered this terminology and then googled it and found loads of articles about it.

Sure, I am a fatherless daughter, but I don’t think that labeling this is a disorder/syndrome is the right way to go about it. Everyone says that fatherless daughters are bound for trouble: drug use, promiscuity, low academic achievement, crippling self-esteem, etc..

Some background:

My parents took years to divorce but I believe it began around the time I was 7. It was terrible, confusing, and put me into a dark depression when I was just a child. My dad cheated on my mom, got married to her without even telling me, and belittled me each step of the way. He even went as far to threaten our lives and forced us to go into hiding.

He called the police on me when I would misbehave (I was like, 8 years and would steal the remote from him…), brainwashed me, and made me question my own sanity.

I had 0 friends in elementary as I wasn’t cool, I was awful at each subject (I previously went to a private school before entering public school in 4th grade), and I was pretty much super weird because my home life was a wreck. I had no idea what was ever going on and it was truly the worst time of my life.

I ended up living full-time with my mom after a few years of that non-sense. Fast forward to when I was 18 and we, regretfully, went to court because he was refusing to pay my college tuition even though it was in the divorce decree. He, in court, told the judge how awful I am, how I am a low-achiever, a trouble maker, a loser, and an all-around sad excuse for a human being. Granted, he hadn’t seen me since I was 10 years old, but man, he really thinks I am trash (lol, literally makes me laugh now that I got over it).

Hearing all of that really put me back a few steps. I am happy to say that I have worked on it and am feeling better than ever about the situation as it confirmed my sometimes wobbly disinterest in ever speaking to him again.


The list goes on and on of what I should be. But what if we re-wrote that list. Watch any episode of Intervention or Beyond Scared Straight and you will see that the absence of a father is often the source of this kind of behavior. But, what if we changed our expectations for these fatherless daughters?

What if fatherless daughters were thought to be:

  • Strong, loving, and beautiful women who have grew up in a non-traditional way which made them that much more mature
  • High academic achievers…constantly striving to do better because the absent father cannot and will not control their future
  • Engage in healthy and loving relationships with the opposite sex because they see how NOT to be and wish better for themselves

I know that this list is extremely peachy and optimistic. There is true, deep psychological damage that is done by growing up without a father—no matter how loving other family members are to you. However, I have been told straight to my face that I will statistically be a drug addict on the streets. That I am very susceptible to teen pregnancy. That I won’t finish college. That I will find someone just like my father and marry him.

Setting these women up for these low expectations is a mistake.  I think that telling women that this will probably happen to you or you are at RISK of happening to you is a giant issue.  I believe that empowering them with strength and high expectations to be leaders, scientists, atheletes, etc.… is the right way to approach it. I’ve found that what is expected of people is often what they do. Promoting counseling to learn how to engage with the opposite gender is crucial but so is letting them know that they are worthy and at RISK of super-duper succeeding in life.

I’ve heard all of those low expectations and decided to be none of that. Sure, it deeply hurts that I have been rejected by my own father, but why would I let HIM destroy my life FOREVER? Why would I blame the decision to inject drugs or be jobless on HIM? No. That is on me. Someone can only control you for so long before it’s on you. That might sound harsh but someone who has abandoned you/abused you/brainwashed you wants to win. They want that lifelong control over your brain so that you always feel worthless and rejected. The best thing you can do for yourself is to show them that that won’t work on you. That your abuser and abandoner isn’t THAT powerful, and he is sorely mistaken of his imaginary grandiose powers.

The pain is real, and it will never leave me. The lifelong grip is optional. He doesn’t decide my life—I do.




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