Why Growing Up Fatherless Does Not Define Me
“How many of you never heard your earthly father say, I love you growing up?” asked the minister. I was a little apprehensive to answer such a personal and private question publicly. But as I watched several hands go up all around me I decided to raise my hand too, only to look to my immediate right and see the hand of my mother raised as well.
My grandfather was the previous pastor of the church I grew up in, so as you can imagine, I was shocked. Although, my grandfather was a great and honorable man, he was not an affectionate father. It was sobering to discover my mother and I both shared this experience. In 34 years the subject never came up between her and I.
Why would it? The absence of your father’s affection is not an everyday topic of conversation. And before this blog I often remained quiet when the subject of fathers and daughters came up. I did not want people to know my father daughter relationship wasn’t etched in a storybook. So my silence became the security blanket I wrapped up in while secretly hoping someone could relate to me. And when I found a woman with a similar background I felt an instant sense of comradery.
Jonetta Rose Barras, author of “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women, succinctly describes this sorority of women. “We are legions, a multicolored choir of wounded. Nearly four out of every ten children in the United States live without their fathers in their homes (the statistic is now 2 out of 3); 50 percent of them are girls according to The National Fatherhood Initiative.” Barras’ quote reminds me that this reality is not uncommon.
Iyanla Vanzant expounded on the wound that links us on Oprah Winfrey’s Daddyless Daughters Lifeclass.
“When daddy leaves he takes a piece of the daughters soul with him…” She goes on to say, “There are three ways you can be daddyless. . . It’s the daddyless daughter ache.. . Daddy is there but he’s not present, so you are aching to be seen, you’re aching to be acknowledged, you’re aching to be accepted, you’re aching to be approved. We’re trying to catch somebody’s eye. Very often, when we have gotten it from daddy and he let’s us know that you are beautiful, and that you’re pretty we don’t have as much of a craving for the external validation. Then there is the daddylessness where daddy was never there, so we fantasize about what it would have been like had daddy been there. We fantasize about who daddy was, and usually he’s not a scoundrel or a weasel he’s this thing, this great big hero thing that we missed. . . Then you have the daddy who was there and is now gone through divorce or death or whatever and that creates this yearning, this hole that nothing ever seems to fill.”
Her description of a fatherless daughter resonated with me as it did so many women in the audience, on Skype, Facebook, and Twitter. I found it encouraging to see other women expose the ache I tried so long to conceal. And though I could relate with the ache she described I did not want that ache to define me.
The ache for a father’s love is a temporary description and not a permanent definition of our souls. “
He says we are:
Romans 8: 29 – 30
1 Peter 2:9
Psalms 139: 14
Taken Care Of
So what about you? Are you allowing yourself to be defined by what you did not experience with your earthly dad? If so come out from behind the shadows. Join the sisterhood of women who are owning their past and embracing a bright future with a God who loves them immensely.