Ever heard someone say, "Oh, that woman has got real daddy issues.  Wonder why she tries to choke every man who walks into her life with her idea of love…" Sounds demeaning, yeah? Especially when said in an accusatory tone that implies she is suffering from a communicable disease. Perhaps, it wasn't quite said in this manner when you heard it the first time. Nevertheless, this statement paints a picture of how the absence of a father in a female child's developmental stages can upset her teenage and adult life. The same holds for the male child as well. Unhealthy and toxic behavior in romantic relationships is often blamed on "daddy" or "mommy" issues.  There is no arguing that they get in the way, destroying potentially healthy relationships. However, I believe that rather than ridicule anyone experiencing these issues, we can seek to understand why they act the way they do and how we can help them overcome it. That way, everyone wins - we can all enjoy healthy relationships. So, what are daddy issues? What is the psychology behind the unhealthy attachments to relationships? Can someone work through the emotions, regaining control of their mind and in turn their life? Perhaps you are reading this, and you have been accused of having "daddy" or "mommy" issues. Stay with me till the end of this blog post. I have outlined simple steps you can take to improve the quality of your relationships, especially with the opposite sex, so that those issues don't keep getting in the way. To help put things in the right perspective and get you in the know, here is an apt definition of Daddy Issues, one I stumbled upon while doing some research on the topic. Daddy issues is an informal phrase for the psychological challenges resulting from an absent or abnormal relationship with one's father, often manifesting in a distrust of, or sexual desire for, men who act as father figures.[1] It is no surprise that although the word "daddy issues" gets tossed around often, many have little insight into its meaning. For instance, most people use the term to describe any woman that is perceived as needy when it comes to relationships, especially in craving attention and sex. If she puts out “too soon,” refuses to put out, or is seeking some reassurance, some assume she’s got daddy issues. If she prefers older men, likes to get spanked and called a bad girl, or calls her partner “daddy” in bed, then she must have daddy issues. What most fail to realize is that daddy issues go beyond these instances. Rather, it deals more with the outcome of the quality of the relationship you had with your dad or mum while growing up. These issues are the psychological effects lasting into adulthood that are caused by childhood relationships with a mother or father.

How Relationships with Fathers Impact a Child’s Life

Do you know that your ability to enjoy and maintain fulfilling, committed relationships, find satisfaction in your career, become effective as a parent, be confident and assertive in situations, mostly depends on the quality of the relationship you had or have with your father? Yeah, it sure does. Your relationship with your father plays a critical role in your development, and it has a long-lasting effect on the quality of your childhood, teenage, and adult life. It affects everything in our lives, including the choice of men we date. Over the years, I have counseled so many young girls who have "daddy issues", and I have learned that some fathers are clueless about the effects of their inconsistencies and/or absence. The same can be for boys. Interestingly my daughter who is 13 has her fair share of these experiences. Although I have always encouraged positive interaction, she, however, has her own perception of her father. Somehow, the father-daughter bond is missing so she lacks that attachment and she barely trusts his judgment on anything. To describe how a father's absence can negatively impact a child’s life, Amy Rollo, the triple licensed psychotherapist, and owner of Heights Family Counseling in Houston, Texas, wrote the following on Healthline blog, "Children need a dependable adult in their lives to form secure attachments. If this isn’t formed, many people can form avoidant or anxious attachment styles. If a child doesn’t have a father figure in their life consistently, this could lead to an insecure attachment style later in adulthood.” [2] Although the parental roles in the family are changing in the 21st century, the father is still widely considered as the provider and protector who is responsible for his family’s survival. So, the primary responsibility of a father in his daughter's life, especially in her developmental stage is to build her self-esteem and confidence through words of affirmation. This responsibility is in addition to the basic provision and protection responsibility. It is a major part of protecting his daughter because that way, she already knows who she is and she knows she doesn't have to seek validation from a man to feel loved, confident, or whole. Playing this role in the life of his daughter in her developmental stages will help set the daughter on a path of wholeness and self-confidence. Unfortunately, some ladies were raped by their dads in their childhood. Some had their father compare their academic performance with a younger or older sibling, and the words affected their self-perception. Some had fathers who were absent for most of their lives. Some grew up with drunk, emotionally absent dads. Some fathers buried themselves deep into work, neglecting their daughters in the process. Some were physically and emotionally abused every time they performed below expectations. Each one of these fathers, leave behind a unique imprint on our emotions, affecting our perception of love and trust. The soreness of the relationship becomes the broken lens through which we view ourselves and define relationships. As a response to the fears we develop, women, and often men, set up the barriers in their lives. We unconsciously wreck the accomplishment of the goals we crave the most.[3]

How Daddy Issues Manifests In Adulthood

Daddy Issues can manifest in different ways, mostly because everyone is different. Different childhood experiences and parent-child relationships can cause a difference in adulthood experiences, and not everyone with a rough childhood would have daddy issues. For some women, it can manifest as trust issues or anxiety resulting from a fear of abandonment. Women whose fathers were absent, inconsistently present, or have a dysfunctional relationship with them, face a greater risk when they try to seek help or mask the problem by getting into a relationship. It can make them become validation junkies always seeking approval from men. They may even attract emotionally unavailable people. Also, women whose fathers abandoned the family or died prematurely when they were young, may have a fear of abandonment, fearful that a partner may leave in the same way that their father did. On the flip side, a woman might have heightened expectations and desires. If they felt disliked and rejected by their father, they face a risk of having unrealistic needs, too demanding for their partner to meet. They also struggle with a feeling of rejection. Have your relationships been affected by unresolved issues with your father? Unresolved daddy issues can suck the air in your life, leading to several manifestations of fear, including fear of commitment, weak boundaries, low emotional intelligence, lack of self-awareness and interpersonal intelligence, and inability to commit or trust.

Dealing with Daddy Issues

Do you find it difficult to commit to relationships? Do you find it difficult to trust people, especially the men in your life? Do you feel like you have an “unfinished business” with your father? Do you struggle with authority figures in the workplace or elsewhere? Do you crave closeness and then feel anxiety when you are away from your partner? Do you find yourself needing lots of reassurance that your relationship is OK? Do you interpret negativity as a sign that the relationship is doomed to fail? Do you have trouble letting people in and trusting them because you fear that you will get hurt? Do you shy away from experiencing and confronting difficult feelings? You can think back carefully to your past relationships. Do you recognize any similarity in your choice of partners? Were those relationships always characterized by uncertainty, anxiety, or insecurity? If you do, then you need to seek help. It is time to make a change in your life. Reflecting on your past experiences and recognizing patterns can help you know what to do next. You can change your outcome by learning from healthier relationships in your immediate environment. Take a cue from them and see how you can improve your relationships. Alternatively, you can stay away from the dating field while you seek professional help so they can help you identify and deal with unresolved daddy issues. You are not condemned to a life of grief, poor choices, and regrets because of your past. You can always choose to leave the past behind and embrace the future. [1]https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/daddy-issues/ [2]https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-daddy-issues#:~:text=It's%20become%20a%20catchall%20term,reassurance%2C%20she's%20got%20daddy%20issues [3]https://thriveglobal.com/stories/types-of-damaging-fathers-and-how-they-influence-who-we-are/