HOW DOES THE FATHER WOUND AFFECT WOMEN IN LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS?
WHAT IS THE FATHER WOUND?
The term the father wound is used to describe the negative impact or damage that a difficult or complicated relationship or a lack of emotional support from father to child can have on them, both during childhood and adulthood. Issues can arise when a father was absent (physically or emotionally) or was over controlling, critical or abusive towards you when growing up.
The early connections with our parents or care givers shape the way we view ourselves and relationships. Healthy attachment with these first and all-important relationships are essential for our emotional wellbeing and development. The connection, love and support from a father tends to affect our self-esteem, confidence and sense of safety and security in ourselves and the world.
The human brain is wired to need loving connection and avoid rejection and this is the most important thing to a baby or young child as we rely on our parents or care givers to survive. This is why it can be so distressing for a child to experience a lack of proper connection or not getting their needs met in their early years. A lack of healthy attachment in the forms of attention, love, encouragement, understanding and empathy can cause a traumatic wound that continues to affect us as we grow up.
The father wound can be damaging to both daughters and sons but here we will look at the impact that a father wound can have on women.
SOME SYMPTOMS OF THE FATHER WOUND IN WOMEN
Here are some of the affects of a father wound in women:
SENSE OF SELF: A deep lack of self-esteem, self-worth and value. A lack of unconditional love and acceptance from a father who is either absent, neglectful, critical or abusive can cause us to feel less than, that we’re not important or that we don’t matter. We may internalize our father’s lack of care and love as being our own fault, believing we’re simply not loveable or worthy enough. This can knock our sense of security in who we are and our place in the world.
BOUNDARIES: A lack of boundaries allowing others to take advantage or treat you badly, not feeling confident to speak up for yourself, because you’ve never been taught to do so or shown that you are totally worthy of being respected. Or boundaries that are too rigid meaning that you don’t trust or let others get close to you and you don’t feel safe being vulnerable with a partner, in case you get hurt or disappointed.
FEAR OF ABANDONMENT AND REJECTION: Because of the experience of rejection or not being fully accepted by your own father, the subconscious mind develops a limiting belief that this will play out in your adult relationships and life in general. We may feel insecure, clingy or fearful in relationships and take rejection very personally.
LACK OF TRUST: if you’ve been let down by your father you can develop a mistrust in others and in your own ability to achieve what you want and desire in life.
POOR MENTAL HEALTH: The father wound is linked to adult mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
ANGER: You may feel triggered in relationships and interactions with others and find yourself snapping or exploding easily. Underneath anger is nearly always hurt which has been unresolved, acknowledged and released.
PERFECTIONISM: If your father was overly critical of you or lacked interest in you, you may strive hard to achieve perfection in order to get approval from others or to feel more worthy of good things yourself
EXCESSIVE INDEPENDENCE: Because there wasn’t the love and support that you needed/wanted as a child from one of the most important people in your life, you simply don’t believe that you will get that from other people and relationships. It’s completely alien for you to ask for help or support and believe you will get it, so you tend to try and do everything yourself.
OVER ACHIEVEMENT: Being excessively driven to achieve, whether it’s in studies, career, sports or other activities. This can have positive results when you do achieve success, pass those exams, build a fantastic career &/or business or excel in sports etc, but it rarely feels enough. As soon as you achieve a goal, you’re onto the next challenge without really celebrating yourself for what you’ve achieved. This type of drive is caused by a feeling of not being enough and can cause anxiety, impostor syndrome, burnout, depression and a feeling of emptiness that you never seem to fill.
UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS: On a deep emotional and unconscious level humans tend to choose partners who remind them of their parents. If you have an emotionally absent father, you are more likely to choose an emotionally unavailable partner because this personality is familiar to you. If you had an abusive or critical father you may be drawn to these types of personalities in adult relationships. Being attracted to unfulfilling or unhealthy relationships coupled with a lack of self-esteem and confidence can result in toxic, abusive, one-sided or just unfulfilling relationships.
ADDICTIONS: Tendency to addictive behaviour such as overeating, drinking, drugs and other unhealthy habits to numb or avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings and to fill an internal sense of something missing.
EXTERNAL VALIDATION: Looking for love and approval from the wrong places, rather than from within. Seeking validation and approval from external factors like success, career advancement, appearance. Needing constant reassurance from your relationships rather than strengthening your own self-concept from self-love and self-acceptance.
HEALING FROM THE FATHER WOUND
It can be painful to acknowledge the truth about your own father wound, but the good news is you can absolutely heal and release this trauma in order to feel freer, happier and fulfilled in life. It takes a bit of courage and patience, but healing from your past in this way is totally possible and I’ve seen the life changing effects of this time and time again!
To heal from your father wound the following steps are needed:
AWARENESS: This is the first step in healing from childhood wounds. Become aware and acknowledge your father’s absence (emotionally or physically or both), or what you experienced in your childhood that you shouldn’t have had to such as; abuse, criticism or neglect. Acknowledge how this has impacted you in your life and relationships and what unhelpful patterns you developed as a result of your father wound. Gaining awareness of the limiting beliefs that you may have picked up because of your experiences and acknowledging that they are false and unhelpful will allow you to develop healthier beliefs about yourself and relationships.
MOURNING OR GRIEVING: Acknowledging and feeling the emotional pain of not having your needs met as a child will allow you to process these feelings, which may include anger, sadness and grief. Remember that emotions are not permanent and they can be processed and released, which will lead to healing and acceptance.
UNDERSTANDING IT WAS NEVER YOUR FAULT: Recognizing that none of your father’s actions were a reflection on you and weren’t your fault. The fact that you didn’t get your needs met doesn’t affect the fact that you are completely loveable and enough, exactly as you are.
LEARNING ABOUT YOUR FATHER: It can help to understand how your father may have been brought up. Did he have a difficult relationship with his parents? Was he bullied or mistreated at all in his early life or teenage years? Do you have any knowledge of generational trauma that may have been passed down from previous generations to your Dad? Do you know if he was going through difficulties such as relationship problems, mental health issues, excessive stress or addictions when you were a child? How might his own wound, being unhealed, be part of his interactions with you? Whilst these factors don’t make his actions ‘right’, knowledge of hardships your father was facing does help you to understand him and his own wounds more and why he possibly lacked the skills to parent you in a better way.
FORGIVENESS &/OR ACCEPTANCE: Letting go of past hurt and forgiving is incredibly healing and liberating and this is a process (it doesn’t happen over-night!) Sometimes forgiveness is not possible or is harder to do, especially where abuse has been involved. In these cases accepting that what happened was not good, but it is in your past was never your fault and knowing that you are so much more than your childhood wounds can be empowering and healing.
AdSELF-LOVE AND REPARENTING YOUR INNER CHILD: Adults can't return to their childhoods and begin again. So, basically, reparenting means giving yourself what you missed out on as a child, from your parents. Reparenting means learning to give your wounded inner child all the love, respect and dignity they deserved when you were young.
THE 5 P’S: According to Otto Kelly, former executive director of the Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Reno, USA, what we look to our fathers for are praise, provision, patience, presence and protection. Think about the ways that you can or already do provide these 5 p’s for yourself and your own inner child.
YOU CAN HEAL YOUR OWN FATHER WOUND
If you’ve identified with aspects of the above, please feel assured that you can heal your own wounds and feel better. There are some great books that can guide you through a process of healing (do reach out to me if you want some recommendations) and you may also seek support from a therapist.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY NEED SOME HELP AND SUPPORT ON HEALING THE FATHER WOUND, SO THAT YOU CAN THRIVE IN YOUR LOVE LIFE, DO READ ON:
We work through a step-by-step process in my Healthy Relationship Roadmap Program to heal the father wound. The Healthy Relationship Roadmap is an 8 week live online program empowering and supporting single women to fully heal, love and value themselves, so that they can confidently and happily attract and thrive in a mutually respectful, loving and happy romantic relationship!
During the time together you will be supported to heal childhood wounds, gain a real sense of self-awareness, as well as experiencing freedom from old patterns and limiting beliefs about relationships and self-worth.
You will learn how to fully embrace self-love and compassion so that you can have a future healthy, happy and loving relationship with a partner and feel peaceful, totally enough and worthy of love, just as you are.
Read more about the program and how to apply here.