, , , , , , ,

I earned the nick name PMS in high school because my attitude stunk so bad. I admit, I was angry, and I didn’t even know why. I saw how some people looked at me and even heard what they thought of me, but i didn’t care. In fact, it worked for me. It kept me safe. No one messes with you when you look like you’re gonna go ape-sh*t at any second.
Anyone who meets me now might have a hard time believing that I could have been that person, but from time to time, I find myself thinking like that girl again, the one who rejects hugs and anything touchy-feely or mushy. The girl who feels insecure about her looks, abilities and even her worth. Such a girl can only be born in a home where the words I love you are never spoken, where any form of physical affection is shunned, and criticism is part of the everyday vernacular. I went through several bouts of depression and often had negative run-ins with those that felt threatened by me. You can imagine how a 15 year old me could end up finding love in all the wrong places. I ended up in relationships I had no business being in which only perpetuated my self hatred. (I think I’ll delve deeper into those experiences in the book).
For a long time, I blamed my mother, though now, I could understand her plight. She was married at 17 at the bidding of her mother to a man who turned out to be the complete opposite of what he presented himself to be. She herself was still growing up, and although she had the title of wife, she was, at least for half the time a single parent which meant tough financial situations. Though my dad made a good living, evidenced by large sums of cash found hidden in his jacket pockets hidden in the back of the closet, he hardly contributed to the bills and made he made it difficult for her to even want change that, although she tried. Long hours at work and school at night left my brother and I all the space we needed to get into all sorts of trouble. I blamed her for not being more present, for leaving me the heavy responsibility of raising my youngest brother, for not having “the conversation” about the birds and the bees, about never telling me how beautiful I was or that I was loved.

The reality is, people talk about the importance mothers play in the lives of their children, but a growing number of studies show that Fathers have just as much of an impact in the psychological and emotional well being of a child and play an even more pivotal role when it comes to girls-daughters.

My father was in my life, but he was absent. Parentinghelpme.com describes Absent Fathers as fathers that usually do not reside with their children or are away for long peroids of time which for me was the latter. At some point he was usually gone up to six months out of the year for his “job”, as captain of an import/export ship. When he was home, I waited anxiously until the moment he’d leave again.

He was never involved in anything I did. In all of my school years, he never once stepped foot on the premises. To the outside world, he was a giving, big hearted man who would take the shirt off his back for you. That was the image he worked on for the outside world. To me, he was a tyrant.

Most of my memories involve him doling out critiscms on just about everything I did or didn’t do. He was short tempered and constantly belted us for percieved slights, most of the time leaving welts all over our bodies. I was constantly compared to other girls he thought were good daughters and he didnt shy away from letting me know how much of a dissapointment I was. Worst yet, I’d even be accused of being too careless around boys and even the male friends he allowed to room in our house for indefinite periods of time. I suffered from bouts of depression and grew angrier over time. I hated him, and relished in the times he was away at sea. When he was gone, I was free, free to be myself, free from his discouraging words.

I often wondered why my mother didn’t leave him sooner, perhaps she stayed out of fear of being alone. I envied my fatherless friends more than my friends with what I perceived had good fathers. He made me hate myself and I hated him for it. So you can imagine how easy it would be for me to allow myself to be loved by men who shouldn’t have even been on my radar. I didnt know what love looked like, I didn’t even see it between my father and mother, never an embrace, a kiss, an endearing word. As a result all of my subsequent relationships were dysfunctional in some aspect. In retrospect, each one resembled some aspect of the relationship I had with my father.

According to Rachel Nowak‟s “A team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis followed more than 700 girls [in New Zealand and the U.S.] from preschool to age 17 or 18, monitoring 10 different aspects of their lives including family income, behavioral problems, exposure to violence and parenting styles. The study confirmed that teenage girls raised without fathers are more likely to suffer from depression, drop out of school, and have other behavioral problems”. These traits suggest that a girl may be prone to sexually promiscuous behavior, which contributes to the spike in teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. The study also suggested that the age the father became absent weighs heavily on the way it affected the daughter.

What I found most interesting in Ellis’s research was one particular speculation as to why a girl with an absent father is likely to be promiscuous and experience teenage pregnancy. Ellis’s study suggests that the significant psychological effects a father’s absence has on a girl may jumpstart her experiences with males and girls may undergo personality changes at an early age that make them more likely to interact with males. Other studies show that girls raised in the absence in the absence of their fathers tend to sit closer to and interact more readily with men”. This coincides with the common knowledge that girls without fathers seek male attention to fill the void in their life, although mothers may play a role in influencing sexual behavior….story of my life!

More importantly, there’s a type of woman Absent Father produces, as well as all the other types of fathers. A Research study by Rose Merilino Perkins titled The father-daughter relationship: Familial Interactions that Impact A Daughter’s Style of Life explored the specific roles a father may play in shaping a daughter’s self-appraisal and style of life. Ninety-six college women who attended a small private liberal arts college responded to this study which measured Assertiveness, Relational Needs, Cognitive Ego States and Negative Self-Image. In addition the women responded to the father-daughter questionnaire, a questionnaire designed by the author to identify specific father-daughter relationships. Results showed that the women’s responses to the Father-Daughter questionnaire identified six distinct father-daughter relationships which are:

The Doting father
The Distant father
The Demanding/supportive father
The Domineering father; a seductive father
The Absent father.

Though many factors may play a role, each of these different kinds of fathers tend to produce different kinds of women. So what kind of woman does an Absent father produce? I call her, The Tigress. I’ve fleshed out the profile for this type of girl as well as the others. For now, I’ll be going through the different types of fathers through the experiences of my friends and what I learned from their relationships with their fathers and their experiences with men.

Perhaps this isn’t all best for the intro? Next, I think I’ll talk about Doting Father and the kind of daughter he creates.