Emotional Wellness

The Effects of an Absent Father

This series of articles on absent fathers is not designed to bash dads or moms. It’s meant to be a learning tool to offer awareness for parents. We will take a close look at the effects of an absent father. And for moms, we will look at the challenges and frustrations to put differences aside, so that the needs of the child can be met. In the end, both parents need to come together to solve the disappointments.

Some of the most damaging affects of neglect in a child’s life come from a detached father. The lack of interest, involvement and the reality of not being available is a major problem with children today. This form of detachment can move from a problem level to a crisis level.

There can be many reasons given for the inactiveness. Marriage break-ups, lifestyles, financial hardship, more than one child, mental health issues, selfishness, parenting skills are lacking, behaviours etc. All are common excuses and may be accurate in some way but will not hold much weight because the affects on the child are still pronounced.

Let’s look at the effects of a detached, inactive and uninvolved Dad.

The effects of detachment
When a father is not present, the child can respond with frustration, hurt, blame, anger, loneliness, resentment, bitterness and even rage.

A decrease in self-esteem can form indifference and may develop a sense of low self-worth that may create a need for false masks.

Academic achieve will most likely suffer, they make poor choices for friends and become isolated. At a basic level the parent (dad) is responsible for the child’s isolation because he is not there to affirm. Dads are the glue that keep everything together.

There may be deeper problems with the child, like not being able to bond well with others. This can actually add to further detachments from the parent. They may begin to resent both parents now (not just Dad) because their sense of security has been compromised.

Later on there may be alcohol and drug issues and acting out sexually. At this point they are often attempting to punish their parents by sabotaging themselves.

They will wall off from outside pressures and build their own fortress. The amazing thing about walls, once you build it nothing can get in, but the nothing can get out either.

Finally all these emotional symptoms that the child often lead to an increased risk of physical health problems.

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About the author

Pete is a certified pastoral counselor who works with both men and women around the issues of relationships, family, understanding emotions, depression and anxiety, stress, addictions (including sexual addiction and same gender attraction), overcoming past hurts and early childhood trauma. He also has experience in being a leader at Living Waters in Toronto. The program supports and gives assistance to people struggling through sexual and relational brokenness. He has over 6 years of experience as a participant, co-leader, leader, teacher and instructor. His desire is to see others achieve balance and healing in their lives by understanding their root issues to create a clearer picture of their personal and relational problems. Pete believes that as you become consciously aware of yourself, you become more consciously aware of others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Education Counselling and specializes in Compulsions and Addictions, Anger Management and Grief. Pete is currently pursuing a Masters in Religious Education Counselling. Pete Needham is also a member of EOCPCA - the Evangelical Order of Certified Pastoral Counselors of America.

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