His decision, your outcome: dealing with father alienation

Thursday, March 31st, 2011, Written by Peonita

Today, I would like to talk about women who have never had a relationship with their fathers or any father figure while growing up.  In the field of psychology, we call this ‘father alienation.’  Even adult women who were raised with their fathers can still experience father alienation if their father was not available to them emotionally.  Whether the reason is that a father was not around or available to his little girl, for some adult women it has left a social and relational deficit when dealing with the opposite sex.

The adult woman from a family where she experienced father alienation can go without answers to some of the most difficult questions such as:  why did my father leave, and why did he not try to make any contact with me; why was he emotionally distant; and  how am I like my father?

She might also struggle with questions that can change the landscape of her relationships.  Those questions might be:  who will walk me down the aisle;  how do I relate to a man if I have never had a man in my life; and, where does he fit in my life?  For many women the answers to these questions have set them on a journey of unhealthy relationships, self-doubt, low self-worth and body image challenges.  The internalized pain of being abandoned and never being affirmed by the first man in a female’s life can take on the appearance of  biological and psychological disorders.

In addition, the unconditional positive regard that a little girl did not get from her father sets in motion a social, relational and psychological development trajectory that can result in that daughter growing up to be a woman who lives a co-dependant, unhealthy lifestyle.  Most women would like to believe that the impact (or lack of impact) of a father has nothing to do with the type of woman they have become, but most researchers and psychologists believe otherwise.  As a father shows unconditional positive regard to their daughter, that daughter observes her father on a deeper level with expectations of the future.  These futuristic expectations are grounded in four fundamental principals.

  • Positive Self-concept
  • Feeling confident in male-female relationships
  • Comfortable with showing affection
  • Healthy interpersonal skills

Each one of these principals are essential for raising healthy daughters who then turn out to be healthy women.

Have you experienced father alienation?  Let’s talk about it.  You might be surprised to find that you are not alone in living with the residue that father alienation has left like fears and self-doubt in your current heterosexual relationship.

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