Facing Your Daddy Issues
We’ve all heard the term. People make cracks and references about it all the time. It’s become part of our pop culture and people throw the phrase around like it’s a joke. The term is even used to excuse behaviour and patterns like it’s no big deal. Daddy Issues…
I wanted to take a closer look at this topic because: A) I believe it’s actually a serious issue that’s messy and convoluted to figure out and B) I don’t think most people really understand what ‘daddy issues’ are, why we have them, or what to do about them.
I’d also like to throw the term ‘Mommy Issues’ into the ring here, as I believe the same type of things that cause Daddy Issues, cause Mommy Issues.
Further, I’ll suggest that although the majority of the time these terms refer to the relationship between the child and their opposite-gender-parent – girls and their dads or boys and their moms – I think you can develop a version of these ‘issues’ with the parent of the same gender quite easily.
In other words it’s actually possible that you have both mommy and daddy issues regardless of your gender…
Ok. Here goes… follow me down the rabbit hole.
What are Daddy Issues?
Daddy Issues or Mommy Issues are a breakdown in your self-esteem caused by a perceived lacking in your relationship with your opposite gendered parent. Essentially, you didn’t feel loved and accepted enough by your parent.
This self-esteem breakdown is developed at a young age and then as you get older, you seek to heal the wounds and scars from the parent-child relationship in other relationships. Basically this self-esteem breakdown causes you to do some weird shit as an adult and it interferes with relationships and your life in general.
So why do we develop these issues in the first place?
Parents set the stage and create the foundation for your self-esteem. If you received a solid dose of “You’re an awesome kid! I believe in you and I love you!” when you were young, you have less ‘stuff’ as an adult to unravel or in other words, you do less weird shit.
The more your parents paid genuine attention to you: what you were interested in, what you were learning and achieving, the praise you received for doing your best (even if it you really missed the mark) the more you experienced love and approval; and in turn the more you learned to love and believe in yourself.
If you were missing that validation or received very little of it, you have more ‘stuff’ to deal with and heal as an adult.
Some examples of the missing validation might include:
- Dad/ Mom was always too busy. This can happen for varying reasons, and sometimes it’s completely unavoidable – especially in the case of single parent families – sometimes it’s impossible for parents to provide the kind of love and attention they truly want to because they’re too busy trying to keep a roof over the family and food on the table.
- Your marks or performance or whatever were never good enough (think Tiger Mom or Crazy Hockey Parent); even if your Dad/ Mom only had the genuine and positive intention of showing you ‘there’s always room for improvement’ a child experiences that as ‘I’m not good enough the way I am.’
- Dad/ Mom never took a real interest in you or your passions or interests (dance, hockey, ballet, football, reading, crafting, etc.) Even if they took you to the lessons or events, if they didn’t stay or they stayed but did other things instead of paying attention to you, as a young child that will feel like ‘I’m not good enough for my Dad/ Mom to be interested in.’
How do Daddy Issues show up in later life?
There are some general behaviours adults demonstrate that stem from compromised self-esteem. I’m not suggesting that anytime these behaviours show up there is a direct link to a broken parent-child relationship… I am saying these can be indicators of some areas that need some love and attention from you…
- Striving for perfection
- Seeking approval
- Extreme self-doubt or self-criticism
- Disregarding or diminishing your own feelings
- Hyper-sensitivity to criticism from others
- Commitment issues
- Tolerating shitty behaviour from others (like lying, cheating, stealing, etc.)
What do you do about it?
All of this happens at an unconscious level when we’re kids. As a child you don’t have the cognitive capacity (brain power) to rationalize any of these experiences – that ability doesn’t start to develop until your early teens. Instead, you end up with emotional scars that you’re possibly not even aware of. These scars turn up later in life as some version of “I’m not good enough” and you’ll naturally seek to heal those ‘internal lacerations’ through your other relationships.
Before I get any further, let me say: this article isn’t about trashing parents or blaming them for the stuff we have to deal with as a result of our childhoods. This article is intended to help you see where your stuff comes from so you can take an active role in dealing with it and putting it to rest.
The world we live in today has tons of reasons why parents aren’t or can’t get involved with their kids at the level they actually want to:
- Too busy working to keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and pay for the activity/ interest/ passion in the first place
- Messy divorce and they don’t want to make things worse by being in the same place as their ex by attending the same event, recital, practice, etc.
- Too wrapped up in their own emotional stuff to be responsible for the impact they’re having on their kids
- Unaware of how their behaviour is impacting their kids; they’re just following the model they lived as children
As an adult, I’m sure you can understand that your parents are human and at the time they were parenting you, they were dealing with their own stuff. What they did or didn’t do wasn’t personal to you, it was about them doing the best they could with what they had available at the time: life-skills, time, money, etc.
What I’m trying to get at here, is to show you how you developed the level of self-esteem you have and then give you places to look to start healing that part of yourself. Once you see how you got here, it’s way easier to start unraveling the stuff – the limiting beliefs and patterns – that keep you stuck and getting the results in your life you’re currently getting.
This is a little overwhelming…
So what’s your job here?
Well since this is such a heavy and complex topic, I decided to break it up into two posts. This first one is to acquaint you with the real concept of Daddy Issues (parent child issues and the relationship to your self-esteem) and give you a chance to see if and how they show up in your life.
You might consider your own personal relationships – anywhere you’re looking for some version of approval or validation, anytime your actions are driven by the need for someone else to tell you what a great job you did or how great you are, there’s likely some unhealed parent-child stuff at play.
If you’re a parent, if you haven’t already started, you can look at how you might be impacting your kids and look to see if there are any tough conversations you might need to have or any cleanup that might need to get handled.
If you have friends or loved ones that exhibit any of this type of stuff, you can be compassionate with them about why they are that way and maybe from there you can open the door to a conversation to help them heal.
We all deserve to feel valuable, loveable, and worthwhile!! And that’s a gift that we can only give ourselves as we age.
Next week we’ll get a little further into this topic with a clear example and then we’ll come out the other end of this rabbit-hole-topic with some specific action steps for you to take to start the healing process.
Until next time ,
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