The term “daddy issues” may be on the tacky side, but they are definitely a thing—and it turns out a lot of people have them: Statistics show that roughly one-third of children live in homes without their biological father present, and many other dads are essentially absent due to issues like addiction or abuse. In plenty of cases, mothers, stepfathers, grandparents and other key adults in a child’s life often go above and beyond to fill the gap, and many children who grow up without fathers turn out perfectly fine. However, researchers have found that fatherless kids have a higher risk of negative outcomes, including poverty, behavioral problems and lower educational success.
The emotional impact of an absentee dad can be long-lasting and has the potential to interfere with healthy relationships in adulthood. Females are, of course, affected in unique ways, since many go on to have relationships with men as adults—and that can trigger unresolved issues.
Karin Luise, PhD, an integrative therapist, spiritual teacher and inspirational speaker, andDenna Babul, RN, a life coach, motivational speaker, and relationship and medical expert—two women who have dealt with these very challenges in their own lives—felt the call to help others who have struggled with the loss of a father in one way or another. The result is their transformative new book, The Fatherless Daughter Project: Understanding Our Losses and Reclaiming Our Lives (Avery, June 2016), which draws on their personal experiences and those of more than 5,000 other fatherless women. We chatted with authors, about their labor of love.
Q: What inspired you to write this book, and why is there a need for it?
K & D: In our research we found that at least one in three women see themselves as fatherless. The majority of them felt that losing the bond with their fathers deeply affected multiple areas of their lives, including their emotional and physical health. Their number one fear was being abandoned again, and their main coping mechanism was isolation. We have both been there, and we wanted to open up the conversation about the effects of fatherlessness on female development and the steps toward healing.
We define fatherless as the lack of an emotional bond between a daughter and her father due to, but not limited to: death, divorce, abuse, addiction, incarceration or abandonment. Often, the daughter experiences a combination of these, and she is not taught how to manage the trauma of her losses until later in life when she re-experiences her pain and realizes she has unresolved issues. That is where this book comes in to guide her from her dysfunctional relationship cycles and damaged self-esteem to a life filled with confidence, power and amazing resilience.
“We want women to see how their negative experiences can produce extremely positive qualities.”
Women need to know that they are not alone going down these roads of emotional struggle—in the book, we meet them where they are. The main thread throughout, and the place where we felt the most passionate, is helping women understand why they have been picking unhealthy relationships, give themselves grace and find the way back to their authentic, wise selves.
We wanted to write a book that helps fatherless women feel normal in a life where they experience isolation, pain and confusion about so many things. Mostly, we want women to see how their negative experiences can produce extremely positive qualities, like leadership abilities, resilience, empathy for others, strength in a crisis and unshakable survival skills.