Children being raised without fathers is an epidemic in the United States that is on the rise. When speaking of absentee fathers, I am referring to to fathers who are uninvolved or who appear every so often in a child’s life. These fathers do not seem to realize that their absence negatively effects their children. Most research focuses only on the children and not how the absence of a father continues to affect these children into adulthood.
My research paper delves into the topic of fatherless women and how their romantic relationships are affected. My favorite part of the paper is when I intertwine the fatherless woman syndrome with the adult attachment theory. This is where the reader can see a clear connection and realize why some fatherless women have a string of bad relationships. Creating this research paper did prove to be a little difficult.
I originally wanted to investigate the effects of fatherlessness on both men and women . However, finding information pertaining to adult males was challenging. Almost all the information I found about fatherless adults were on women. So the worst part of putting this research paper together was finding the information I needed. The lack of information relates to the worst part of my paper. My paper only reveals the effects on fatherless women and not the effects on men. Hopefully in the future research will start to emerge about men and how they too are affected.
Absentee Fathers and How They Effect Women’s Relationships
Envision a child who can not remember how his or her fathers looks. That child constantly wonders if the men he or she passes by could in fact be daddy. This child has no memories of any special time spent with the father. The little girl or boy has no idea of the fathers personality. All he or she knows is that the stranger on the telephone who calls a few times a year, calls himself dad. Unfortunately, this scenario happens often to over twenty one million children across the United States (Linzy, 2011). These children have many negative outcomes from being raised without a father in their lives. But, the side effects do not just stop once that child turns eighteen. Often overlooked are the effects that an absentee father has on his adult children, particularly women.
Women who have been raised without a father in their lives can be effected in various ways. Of particular importance is the way women’s romantic relationships are effected. John Bowlby developed the attachment theory which helps in understanding the intimate relationships between human beings. It is believed that if infants have an insecure relationship with their caregiver that normal social and emotional development will not occur (Fraley, 2010). In reference to fatherless women Blankenhorn (1996) states, “because they are deprived of a stable relationship with a non exploitative adult male who loves them, these girls, can remain developmentally ‘stuck,’ struggling with issues of security and trust that well fathered girls have already successfully resolved” (10).
Looking at past research, it is possible to state that the attachment style of an adult in a relationship, may be a partial reflection on that adults experiences with his or her caregiver. Women who have been raised without fathers tend to experience insecurity within their relationships. The attachment styles that relate to these insecurities are preoccupied attachment, dismissing – avoidant attachment and fearful – avoidant attachment (Becker-Phelps, 2011) .
Barras (2000) states, “There is a direct link between being fatherless and the likelihood of being in a dysfunctional relationship”. Women who have been raised without a father often possess the fatherless woman syndrome (67). This syndrome consists of five primary categories that deal directly with a woman’s romantic relationships. The first category in the fatherless woman syndrome is the un – factor.
This occurs when the woman suffers from low self esteem and feels that no one could ever want or love her. This correlates to the woman’s relationship as a child with her dad. According to Blankenhorn (1996), “A father plays a distinctive role in shaping a daughter’s sexual style and her understanding of the male – female bond.
A father’s love and involvement builds a daughters confidence in her own femininity and contributes to her sense that she is worth loving” (11). The woman who fits into this category may believe that because her father was not in her life, that she is not worthy enough to have anyone romantically involved in her life. Why would anyone want her if her own father did not? A woman who felt these feelings of unworthiness would possess the fearful – avoidant attachment style.
Women who are characterized with this attachment style tend to be distrusting of their partners and often have expectations of getting hurt by their partner (Becker-Phelps, 2011) . Unfortunately for the woman, she tends to act in a way that causes her significant other to end the relationship. So her prophecy becomes true, however she is unaware of her part in it (Barras, 2000, p. 67).