“She must have daddy issues,” she said after learning Joanna had a new boyfriend.
We continued walking–talking about our latest ‘author crushes’, jobs, and newfound ways to add spinach into our diets. But my mind stayed on Joanna and her ‘daddy issues’. Unfortunately, her new guy was just as terrible as the five before. I hated that our friend was clearly hurting, but didn’t know it.
The guys she picked for boyfriends were almost nonsensical. As a bystander, I could see that she had a major lack of discernment–but it was hard to pinpoint just why she was attracted to such jerks.
I remember a pastor saying once that mother’s words to a child weighed about 20 pounds; a father’s closer to 500. Strong father-daughter relationships are critical to a girl’s development of self-esteem. With the abundance of single parent households, abusive and emotionally absent fathers, there are a lot of women walking around with ‘daddy issues’.
Women with ‘daddy issues’ are usually seen to have an unhealthy need for male attention. Sometimes that plays out as being clingy, sexually aggressive, or promiscuous; other times as using men and then abandoning them (often just like fathers have done). Women let themselves be mistreated by men because they so desperately ache for male attention.
Even worse? As women, we get our primary view of God from our dads. So if your father abandoned you, it’s hard to believe that God won’t follow suit. If your father manipulated you, it’s hard to accept God has ‘wonderful plan for your life’, when it’s easy to think He’ll just manipulate you, too. Was your dad cruel and overbearing? Ready to punish you with the slightest of faults? Chances are you see God a cruel punisher, poised to strike you when you mess up.
Did you have a father in your life growing up? Without a safe male role model, women can have a difficult time developing a healthy view of self and sexuality. Think about it. Without a father, you don’t have anyone to show you love that has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with who you are. If your only experience with men is distant or sexual, it’s easy to see yourself as a sexual object versus a complete person with much to offer a relationship.
There is a reason I cling to the phrase “God is a good Dad”. Michael was the first person to recognize my unhealthy fear of God’s punishment. I was often paralyzed with ‘what if’ scenarios and lived my spiritual life with God as if I was on a treadmill. Perform, perform, perform. Mess up. Make promises. Perform, perform, perform.
You can’t do much about your childhood experience of a father. But you can start to recognize how your relationship with your dad is affecting not just your relationships with men–but more importantly with God. Spend some time alone, praying, asking God to give you wisdom into how this relationship plays out in your life. And then, we need to answer the question, “Is God like the men who have hurt me?” Your ‘daddy issues’ don’t have to dictate your life.
We’ll be discussing this question on Wednesday. In the meantime, what is your relationship with your dad like? How has that influenced your relationship with men? With God?
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