We all know how complex it can be to define the term family. Do we integrate in this dimension those who share our same blood? Or those people we have freely chosen and with whom we build positive and meaningful bonds ? What happens when there is an absent parent?
Talking about family sometimes awakens certain hurts, disappointments and small grudges. In fact, we could say without mistake that one of the most complex figures that occurs most frequently is that of the “absent father.” It is very possible that this situation is familiar to you. That you have lived it on your own or that you have observed it in your closest social circle.
The absent father is not only the physical emptiness of a figure that we did not have, at times, he is also someone who “even being” did not know or did not want to exercise his role. It is a psychological absence capable of originating various emotional wounds in the child.
Sometimes, when we ask someone to tell us about their family, they do not hesitate to tell us a thousand stories of their mothers, grandparents, uncles, however, when it comes to talking about the father, the smile becomes stronger and silence appears. They shrug and hesitate a… “Well I don’t know, my father was… it was just him. I was just there ”.
We do not want to say that this type of emotional void is exclusively characteristic of the father figure, it can also occur in the mother, however, it is very common that when it comes to talking about this type of harmful education, capable of leaving maturational traces, the figure of the absent father is very common. We invite you to delve a little deeper into it.
The father emotionally absent, but present in the family
Growing up without a father, without a mother or without a relevant figure in our childhood due to a traumatic event, is something that we will always drag, and that leaves internal scars that we try to cope with.
However, the fact of growing up with a father figure who despite being, is unable to provide fullness, affection or recognition, leaves currents of emptiness in the heart of a child who is learning to build his world.
Some say that the burden of upbringing, care and education falls on the mother figure. We will not deny its importance when it comes to creating that healthy attachment with which, to have security in each of our steps. Now, the father is also important, and that is something that no one can deny; but… What happens when there is an absent father in the family who does not establish any bond with his children?
A child’s brain is an avid processor of stimuli, and in its day-to-day life, it needs first and foremost positive reinforcements in order to grow mature and safely. An absent parent creates incongruities, gaps and difficulties in dealing with them. The child expects affection, communication, and a daily interaction with which to open up to the world also through his father. However, it only finds walls.
An empty and elusive treatment generates anxiety in children, they do not know “what to expect”, they develop expectations that are not met, and they also tend to compare “foreign parents” to those they have at home. They know that their friends’ parents act differently than they do.
What consequences does the figure of the absent father generate in adulthood?
The figure of an absent father generates an affective detachment in adulthood that makes us more insecure when establishing certain relationships. We can become somewhat suspicious. The idea of projecting a high emotional load on someone makes us fearful, we fear being betrayed, or not recognized. Or worse, ignored.
As we get older, it is very possible that we will realize many more things. We acknowledge the effort our mother made to make up for our father’s shortcomings, and how, more than once, she excused him with phrases such as … “You know what your father is like,” father does not go “,” You do not understand … “
As we mature, our eyes open to the world and already know how to read between the lines. The giants become dwarves because we already know their secrets. Yet a part of us remains vulnerable to that past.
How to overcome the wounds of the absent father
You have grown up, you maintain your life, you wear your impregnable armor with pride, and you are very clear about what you must do today to avoid making the same mistakes that your parents made with you.
However, the void of the absent father is still there, and it does not matter if you are still dealing with him in the present, or if you have already lost him, or if you keep quiet at family gatherings and pretend as if the past never existed.
- The first thing we should do is “understand”. He understands that the absent father is a man who did not know how to exercise his role as a father, because he never really understood his role as a person.
- It is very possible that an absent father did not have adequate personal skills, good self-esteem, an internal balance that allowed him to see his mistakes, his fears and his own shortcomings.
Now, does this justify what he did to us? The emotional void that he left us? Not at all, but understanding sometimes helps us adjust reality, to avoid storing more negative emotions.
You know that you have grown and matured with many gaps because of that type of education, and those emotional deficiencies. However, there always comes a time when we should cut the link with the suffering of yesterday, to heal the wounds in this present.
If you didn’t have your father, your healthiest and most significant attachment figure was most likely others: your mother, your grandparents, or even your friends or partners as you grew up. They who stood up as your pillars on a daily basis.
A father is not only the one who gives his life, a father is one who is present, who welcomes, attends and guides in safety, building every day a path of significant moments in the life of a child.
Narcissistic families: the emptiness of healthy affectivity
Narcissistic families say that you are what you are thanks to them, they manipulate by accusing us of their emptiness, seeing our needs as secondary.
Images Courtesy: Claudia Tremblay