Celebrating Fathers Day Without a Father



dysfunctional father daughter relationship

Since it is father’s day, and not all of us have a great relationship with a father, I thought I would write something about difficult father daughter relationships. I have a father who is still alive and sometimes I wish I could write more about him, but there just isn’t much to say. To put it bluntly, he can’t be bothered with me. This relationship that I had with my father is equally as dysfunctional and devaluing as the relationship I had with my mother, it was just “different.” I spent years as a child trying to get his attention, but I failed to capture his interest. I used to think that perhaps if I were a boy like my brother who was gifted in sports he would have noticed me, or perhaps that was only about the sports and not really about my brother.

My father is really into himself. He has this sort of happy go lucky personality and I always thought he was great with people but the truth is that he is really terrible at relationships. He is really only interested in talking about himself and in telling his stories. I didn’t notice that about him for a very long time. The way I saw it when I was younger was that my dad liked everyone EXCEPT ME. That he talked to everyone and he was interested in everyone but me.  I see it differently today. Today I realize that my Dad is pretty much an emotionally unavailable father.

My father isn’t connected to himself or to anyone else. Some people might think that he is narcissistic, or that he has some sort of attention deficit disorder, but I think that if you looked up the word “dissociated” there would surely be a photo of my father. None the less, the truth is that my father and I have a very dysfunctional father daughter relationship.

It took me a long time to realize that his disinterest in me wasn’t about me. It was about him. He isn’t interested in me. He never was. Why is that my fault? It was hard to realize my father’s part in the destruction of my self esteem and where he contributed to the malfunction in my life.  I didn’t connect that his emotional unavailability and lack of interest in me was in itself the problem. He just didn’t care. That is pretty devaluing. It communicates a lot. I didn’t have a father by ANY definition of the word other than it was his seed that helped to produce me and I suppose his money that paid the financial responsibilities. That isn’t exactly the definition of a great relationship with my dad.  It isn’t a very good or truth based definition of love. He wasn’t “there for me” he didn’t spend any “energy” on me, he wasn’t emotionally invested in me; this is the definition of a dysfunctional father daughter relationship and as I have said, an emotionally unavailable father.

It has been hard to face the truth about my father. There was so much glaring dysfunction when it came to my mother, that with my father, I just wasn’t sure where to start looking at our relationship. One day I found myself trying to remember good memories that had to do with my father. I remembered this one Christmas when I was too sick to go to the church Christmas party. My father stayed home with me. I was so sick that I was just lying on the couch watching him put tinsel on the Christmas tree. That is my best memory. That is the only really great childhood memory I have. Isn’t that a sad story? He never noticed me. He never talked to me. He never listened to me.

The truth was that I grew tired of always having to chase after his attention years ago. I didn’t even know that I had given up. I kept in touch with him because I thought my children needed to have a grandfather. That they “should” have a grandfather and that I OWED him that much. Where do these thoughts even come from?? My children “should” have a grandfather? I thought “I OWE my father that much” and “my father has a right to be a grandfather” But WHY??

Turns out he wasn’t interested in them as individuals exactly the same as he wasn’t interested in me and they are painfully aware of it. He used to act interested, but when they wanted to tell him something he cut them off and talked about his own stuff.  (He is still emotionally unavailable) So the cycle of being devalued, un-noticed and unappreciated as an individual, just continued.

Today I wonder what the heck I was thinking. I look back over my life and I realize that my father never “bothered himself” with me. This wasn’t something new at all. I was used to carrying the FULL burden of relationship with him. I was used to trying harder and harder for his attention. That WAS the extent of the relationship that I had with him.

Not having a father who is interested in me doesn’t define me as being “not good enough as a daughter” anymore. For years I thought that his disinterest was about me, that it was my defect and my fault. But now I know that it is about him, it defines HIM and really had nothing to do with me.

Today I know that I was a great daughter. My heart was always good; I just got ripped off in the parent department.

Please share your thoughts, your pain or your inspiration.

Happy Fathers Day, especially to all those who have to “Father” themselves!

Darlene Ouimet

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Related Posts: Passive Abuse and Emotionally Dysfunctional Relationship

Parent Child Relationship ~ what a confusing mess

Withholding Emotional Involvement ~ Passive Abuse



173 response to "Celebrating Fathers Day Without a Father"

  1. By: Deb Posted: 17th June

    To my dad I was just a little girl to have sex with. He may have told me he loved me but it was his lying manipulation to seduce me. My mother never told me she loved me so neither one of them were there for me. And they still aren’t. Not that I would want or trust that now.
    Going to church on Father’s Day is so difficult hearing others speak about how great their father was.

  2. By: Sammy Lenski Posted: 24th January

    So good to find any person with some authentic thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this website is something that is needed on the net, somebody with a bit of originality. useful job for bringing one thing new to the internet!

  3. By: Jules Posted: 5th July

    I can’t even begin to believe finding this blog, at this time, it was meant to be. My “father” is a narcissist to the core. My entire life I was NEVER good enough, never smart enough, never pretty enough. As a younger child in a very large family, all I ever was, just another girl. He only values men, and even then the only brother I had became just like him. There has never been a kind word from either of them my entire life. And all of my other sisters are either in denial or don’t speak to him as I don’t. He called me names, said I was fat, dumb and that I would never amount to anything in my life. I needed to be smart like the older siblings…and some such bs like that. My mother did nothing, she did what she could I guess. Just laid low until another one of his temper tantrums blew over. He never gave me a birthday gift much less a card. There was no relationship at all. He would barge into the bathroom when I was in taking a bath, then laugh at me. He left my mother when she got sick, and when she filed for separation, he went back to her and was conveniently back in love with her. He cheated on her for years and bragged about it to my (ex) father in law. He is such a horrible excuse for a human and an even worse excuse for a father. I have not spoken to him for 9 months…should have been 9 years. I am living a much more peaceful life, but having a hard time figuring out how to move forward in a healthy way, in loving myself so that maybe someday I will be able to have a healthy relationship with a man. How do I trust?

  4. By: Carlos Posted: 19th February

    Haha my father has always been into himself so much (I remember one time when he was all high and almighty when he managed to convince my cousin to change his career direction because of his “words of pure gold”. *Gives his old man an award, along with a round of applause*). I was never allowed to be my own person when I am around my “loving” father. Growing up, I was always hailed as “his junior” which I guess, meant that I was expected to follow his footsteps. Throughout my early years, my father did everything to see to it that I would live by this “junior tag” by pressuring me in doing the following things being:

    (I) Attending karate classes (Because he’s a martial arts enthusiast)
    *If I decide to say anything, he’ll try to get me to fall back in line by asking questions like, do you want to be confident? do you want to look good?
    (II) Doing I.T. related stuff (My sister is into that stuff, but he tried to push me to be into it to. Matter of fact, he complained when I never told that I was studying graphic design in high school).
    (III) Only doing “guy” related things
    *So basically, every time that I listen to a song from any female artist or girl group, I would be given the death stare along with names like girly-girl. (Funny enough, he listens to songs from (of course he has a right!) female artists as well)
    *If I decided to enact a dialogue by a female actress in a movie just for fun, I would also be called out for that (I am guilty of laughing when he does the imitations *gives self the biggest face palm*)
    *I couldn’t cry whenever I was abused (Oh I meant cared for sorry typo right there)
    >Don’t worry pops, next time you “care for me” I’ll hold a grand party with a sign encased in gold saying THANKS FOR ALL THE “GREAT THINGS” YOU DID DAD 😀
    (IV) That I couldn’t consider the bad things that could happen in anything I am venturing into (But when he’s feeling down, I am the shoulder to cry on).
    (V) That my mindset should be the same as his
    *Anti-homosexuality, anti-this, anti-that etc…
    (VI) That I should always understand my elders (Because when I make a mistake, it’s actually my fault as to why I got myself in that situation).

    I am just so glad that I finally woke up, because from the age of 22 and onwards, I am no longer living by the “junior tag.” Don’t worry my old man, I am not going to get involved in drugs or murder, though don’t expect me to embrace what has been preserved in our family for several generations now. I am not you so stop living through me in order to carry out the dreams that you failed to pursue.

  5. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th June

    Hi Everyone! A new post related to this subject of ‘Fathers Day’

    I just published a new post on the home page! This one is called “When Dad enables Mom in Emotionally Abusive Family Relationships” and it’s kind of a joint message this time! I write a bit and then Carrie H. shares about her relationship with her father as he defends her mother. I am looking forward to this! link ~ https://emergingfrombroken.com/when-dad-enables-mom-in-emotionally-abusive-family-relationships/

    hugs, Darlene

  6. By: marquis (female) Posted: 24th February

    Love the blog.

    ” I didn’t connect that his emotional unavailability and lack of interest in me was in itself the problem. He just didn’t care. That is pretty devaluing. It communicates a lot. I didn’t have a father by ANY definition of the word other than it was his seed that helped to produce me and I suppose his money that paid the financial responsibilities. That isn’t exactly the definition of a great relationship with my dad. It isn’t a very good or truth based definition of love. He wasn’t “there for me” he didn’t spend any “energy” on me, he wasn’t emotionally invested in me; this is the definition of a dysfunctional father daughter relationship and as I have said, an emotionally unavailable father.”

    Agreed thank you for saying that! I have been saying that for years about my “father” being extremely emotionally unavailable and was “never there for us” like a real loving dad should be. My ex therapist said ‘he pays the bills,’ I said ‘a lot of people pay bills, since when do you deserve respect because you pay the bills?’ Ooh, she didn’t like that! I asked her ‘since when is that the definition of real love?’ I never got an answer like always.

    It is devaluing to a child or anybody for that matter. Like I said a lot, my dad is all about himself. My brother seem to have somewhat better treatment because he is a male yet was also mistreated by him while he was growing up. Brother wants nothing to do with him at all. I told people and therapist ‘what does being there for your children mean? I am not talking just sitting there physically in front of the tv – that is not putting energy towards your children.’ The part where you said a father is just his seed producing you – that’s exactly what my sister says our parents are just related to us by DNA, nothing physically, spiritually, and emotionally about them.

    It’s true, my “father” never invested any time for us all about his whore mistress or any other whore out there and screwing people over. My sister has 2 teen daughters and doesn’t invest time in them anymore, he did for a short while when they were little – even when they were little, they didn’t like his aura. They sent him something from Japan and he just tossed the gifts like a POS!

    We knew growing up how our “parents” never invested any real time emotionally, physically, and spiritually with us. Why is that hard for people to understand is beyond me. I told ex therapist ‘just because you made kids, pay the bills, put a roof over their head(s), etc is not the real definition of love – like you said not a real truth based definition of love. I told her and people ‘please explain/provide a definitive argumentative answer on a truth based answer of what love really means and guess what? They couldn’t!!! lol I asked ‘cat got your tongue? Is this a very hard question? Wait a minute, you are suppose to be a parent and should already have those answers for your own children since you and other parents share a lot about parenting!’

    Yep, therapist and other people didn’t like that at all. I have asked every hard question out there and nobody has the brains to use critical thinking out there! When I was a kid, I cried because I didn’t have a dad that didn’t spend time with me. Guess what? I was told to “suck it up and deal with it,” yet my mom did absolutely nothing about it nor did she bother to invest her time with me! Yes, I had such absentee “parents” it isn’t funny! Oh but wait! I have a dad and mom according to people but I am not “an orphan,” or have “absentee parents.” Actually, I have always felt like an orphan being raised in a foster care household where the “parents” are unfortunately related to me (sounds strange I know).

    There has never been any real physical intimacy towards them and us growing up. We don’t have any real feelings for our parents and they don’t have any for us like my sister said ‘two complete strangers raising us as there is no empathy, physical, emotional, spiritual, unconditional love, etc from them.’ We never had a real parent/child relationship, again, we were treated like slaves, servants, and were produced to keep dad around! So, why do people get irate when I tell them I have no father or parents? He never wanted to do anything for us, we have sat at home with no food or electricity in the house. People say ‘he couldn’t afford it,’ I said ‘yes he could! He was (retired now) a software engineer at a semiconductor plant and you’re telling me he couldn’t afford it?!?’ He made a lot of money to afford it!’ God, people don’t know when to open or close their mouths before they look stupid!

    I never had any real feelings for them and still don’t now at almost 30! My ex therapist asked me about any “good memories” with my dad and told her ‘we went to Disneyland every Saturday which always turned out to be a disaster because he never wanted to spend any money on me. Do you know how many times I’ve watched parents especially dads buy their kids food, drinks, and sometimes souvenirs while I had nothing? I did get a Goofy hat but lost it on the ride and never got another one. It was humiliating to go somewhere with him and I had to pay my own way (I was just a kid back then).

    I hated when my mom made me go with my dad here in AZ to places and it was the same BS routine, nothing but arguments in the car over something he should have been specific about, threats, blah blah blah. Who wants to spend time with someone who does that all the time!? Oh wait, my mom does that it’s her daily dose of drama medication!!

    Not having a father defined me as “a lousy daughter who wasn’t good enough to measure up to a man,” I had someone who said this to me long ago (person I met offline, but was chatting with him one day before I stopped talking to him) made a stereotypical comment about certain races of kids always growing up with no dads and I told him ‘the color of a person’s skin has nothing to do with why their own dad (or mom or any relative) wants nothing to do with the child. It’s basically poor upbringing on the child’s parents for choosing a dead beat and the child will always suffer in the end.’ My god, this guy had no kids claimed he wanted to be a dad in the future but made a stereotypical comment. I told him ‘what control does a child have when their own relatives/parents want nothing to do with him/her?’ He said ‘they must have done something….’ It’s always the “they must have done something which is why their parents want nothing to do with them,” wow if that isn’t hateful I don’t know what is!

    I hate father’s day and mother’s day don’t care for them at all not all “parents” deserve to be recognized – don’t care how many kids they popped out. Father’s day was bad long ago, gave my dad something and he didn’t appreciate it – that was the last time I gave him something. Same thing happen with my nieces they gave him a grandfather’s present and he treated it like shit that was it for them too. My dad knows nothing about them and they (nieces) don’t care to know him or my mom at all.

    I know some things that happen to my dad but we don’t know everything again more family lies/secrets! He talks about how he “loved his mom” but my mom and sister said he treated her like garbage, but near the end, she tried to make things right and he refused. I told my sister ‘his mother should have done a lot better when him and aunt Debra were kids,’ but she didn’t. His mom was an alcoholic and when she died in the early 90s, he cried like a big baby and “protects” his enrage alcoholic mom when you speak ill of her.

    Yea, it was nothing but an emotionally, unavailable, narcissistic, sociopathic, professional lying lack of a “father” we have…..

  7. By: DXSMac Posted: 17th June

    Just read comment 129 from 2011. Wow. I didn’t grieve at my Dad’s funeral, either. My sisters got mad at me and said, “you don’t have to be strong.” I wasn’t being strong. I just felt nothing. So, to appease them, I thought of the saddest thing I could (losing a pet) and managed to cry for that. No one was the wiser.

    I’m sure you are familiar with the Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson (and all this time I thought it was a Grimms Fairy Tale). Well, I’m the little kid that says, “mommy mommy, the emperor isn’t wearing clothes.” Discovering my truth was about the “emperor not wearing clothes.”

  8. By: Josée Posted: 17th June

    This resonates so deeply with me. My parents got married because my Mom was pregnant with me. Divorced 10 years later after a very chaotic and violent marriage. My father was military and he would sign up for every and any mission there was. Gone for 6 months at a time and when he was home, he wasn’t there. After the divorce my father would get us during a month in the summer. He would work while were there and then come home and spend time with his new wife and her kids. We were an afterthought. I too went through the strain of trying to keep up a relationship because my children ”needed” a grandfather. I have since left that notion behind. My children joke that there should be a section at the Hallmark store for Dad’s that just weren’t there. Thank you for writing this and sharing and making us all feel like we’re not alone.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th June

      Hi Josee
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken
      I had so much difficulty around the whole “my kids need grandparents” and I was in such a deep fog about it. When I look back for me it was part of the same fantasy; that I could do something (produce grandchildren) that would finally make them love me! I never thought that they might discount the kids as much as they did me! (and my inlaws were the same way) Yay for letting that notion go that my kids might need these dysfunctional and unloving people in their lives!!
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  9. By: DXSMac Posted: 17th June

    Wow. I read this and your other post about emotionally absent fathers. wow. My sisters had a better relationship with dad because they had animals at the fair. I did not participate in this, thus, had ZERO relationship with my dad. Not good not bad, just ZERO. I wanted my dad to talk to me so bad, so I went up to him and asked, “why do guys just want to get in your pants?” Dad just gave me this “look” of “why aren’t you asking your mom?” I don’t even remember what he said. All I remember is how uncomfortable he was at this. I didn’t have any brothers. Mom keeps saying that Dad “really wanted kids.” But yet he wanted MOM to do the “parenting.” Dad did NOT want to “parent.” My whole childhood was a lie……

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th June

      Hi Amy
      Yay to enjoying freedom and healing! There really is LIFE after all that horror. Yesterday we celebrated fathers day here. We celebrated family, connection, love, acceptance and freedom. We celebrated US. We celebrated Jim (my husband and father of our children) and his commitment and success as a father. We are so blessed!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi DXM
      Yes, all the fantasy I had was all a lie. And breaking out of that lie and into the sunlight of the truth, as hard as that was, has been the best thing that I have ever done! I don’t live in that lie anymore and that is amazing! It feels great and I feel great! I know finding out this stuff sucks but there is freedom on the other side!
      Thanks for sharing,
      Hugs, Darlene

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