Psycho-social Effects of Paternal Absenteeism on Daughters

Self concept

Burns and Burns (2007) said that the “longing for closeness, bonding, love and security from active, devoted and caring fathers is one with which daughters were created” (p. 88). There is a void in the life of every daughter that only a father can fill. As part of this, the need for interaction with a father is very important to the development of a healthy concept of the self. Fathers who listen to their daughters help to enhance the development of their self concept (Maine, 2004, p. 197). According to Maine, listening gives the daughter the sense that her ideas and opinions are important and that they are worth noting. When her father listens to her, she derives a sense of importance and is able to assert her views even if no one else agrees with them.

Females often attribute blame for incongruence in relationships to themselves. When fathers withdraw from their daughters, girls tend to believe that the withdrawal was caused by them (Erickson, 1998. p. 118). If there is no reconciliation between the daughter and her father and if the father does not affirm that his daughter is not the reason for his absence, the daughter may develop low self-esteem. This results in the perpetuation of a variety of problems. Paternal involvement helps a daughter to feel that she is worth the time of one of the most important man in her life.


Relating to the Opposite Sex

The relationship between a daughter and her father serves as a standard, whether high or low, against which all other relationship with men are measure. The unconscious acceptance of this relationship as the standard often happens after the daughter has accepted that the relationship has failed because of her. At that point, she has accepted the situation by pushing her needs and the reality of the absence of her father aside. According to Erickson (1998), the solidifying of this perception often occurs when she is immature and cannot reason well, the implications of her decision to accept the failed relationship. As a result of her hunger for her father, when in a relationship, the daughter may seek to do everything necessary to win the approval of a special man by pleasing him (p. 119).

“Daughters need their fathers to give them a foundation that will enable them to form unproblematic relationships with regard to the opposite sex,” (Milligan & Dowie, 1998, p. 8). Milligan and Dowie also pointed out that the earlier flirtatious behaviour between a father and his daughter teaches her how to relate to men (p. 22). The interaction between a father and his daughter has the propensity to colour the way daughters view men and may affect other areas of her life if she does not resolve the hunger she experiences (Erickson, 1998, p. 122). Paternal absenteeism results in the lingering need for approval from her father.