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The Effects of the Father Daughter Relationship on Self Esteem – From First Love to Self Love
Can you remember the first boy that you fell in love with? Close your eyes and think about him, for just a minute. What was his name? How old were you? Where were you when you first looked into each others eyes and held each other’s hand? Remember how it felt to be with him. When you were together, time stood still. Even when you were amongst a group of friends, you felt special because he was there. The very thought of him was exhilarating. You felt alive.
What a wonderful feeling! I’ll never forget the first boy that I fell in love with. It was the summer that I turned thirteen. I was coasting along on my skateboard with my friend close by on hers. That’s when I saw him. He was on his bicycle when our paths literally crossed. I don’t know what made us all stop, but we did. It turned out that David didn’t live very far away and he soon developed the habit of cycling down my street, hoping to find me hanging outside my house or skateboarding around our neighborhood. David was turning sixteen at the end of that summer. It didn’t bother me that he was more mature than any boy I ever liked. I was more concerned with how my older brother would handle it, since they were the same age.
Throughout that summer, David and I spent many days together. We talked for hours. He was different from most boys I knew. He was confident and knew how to handle himself around a girl. What stands out most in my mind was the way he made me feel when put he arms around me. I remember that feeling as if it happened yesterday. I was so young and yet, so very much in love. Although David might have been the first boy that I ever loved, he was not the first man.
Think back to the first man that you fell in love with. Remember the first time he held you in his big, strong arms? His kisses were so tender and his touch was so gentle. The warmth of his body against yours was very comforting. Sleep came easier when you felt so secure, so loved. Can you remember? It was so long ago…
Let me help you here…you can’t possibly remember how you felt because – you were just a baby. The first man you loved was none other than your father. Imagine yourself as an infant. You came into this world needing warmth, nutrition and human contact. Unless your father was absent the moment before you exited the womb, his arms were the first male arms that were wrapped around your little body. This was your first tactile experience with the opposite sex and though you were just an infant, the bond between you and your father began to develop.
According to the theory of attachment, studied extensively by Konrad Lorenz, bonding is a natural and biological certainty. We know for sure that baby ducks, baby monkeys and human babies are all genetically programmed for bonding immediately following their birth and within the first few days of their life. And their nurturers (mothers, fathers, caregivers) become attached to theses babies, as well.
Unfortunately, not all babies are given the same opportunity to become attached to their fathers, simply because they were physically absent. Born into the world, never bonding with your father may feel as if there is a void in your life which you have been trying to fill ever since.
For a young girl, can the absence of her biological father subconsciously drive her to find that missing link in other men? When her innate need to bond with him is unmet, can she still develop healthy relationships? Wouldn’t the powerful love from her mother be enough? Daunting questions which no one knows the answers to for sure.
Yet, the evidence supported by the research and real life stories in the 1st edition of “Father Effects: How Your Father Influenced Who You Are and Who You Love,” indicates that without a father’s presence in these early years, young girls feel abandoned, hurt and rejected. As a result, their self esteem is low, their self-worth is doubtful and their relationship choices are all connected to finding men just like their father (to heal the wounds) or extremely opposite (to avoid repetition at all costs).
Even with the strongest mother figure(s) there seems to be a deep longing for the love of a man, a father figure that they never had as a young child. Further examination reveals that when the presence of a father is a negative one, it is highly likely for a young woman to seek “love” in the arms of a man, whether he is good for her or not.
The father daughter experience tells us that the desire to be loved by our dads is a deep, emotional need that is rooted in our biological and psychological make up. We feel connected to our fathers because they co-created us. Shouldn’t they love us and want to be a part of our life just because of that? And if they don’t, if they hurt us or leave us, doesn’t it make sense that we personalize it? I know that I felt unloved and insecure when my father left. It took me years to realize that it wasn’t about me.
For many women, their father’s love was their first love. For others, it was their first disappointment. If your father was unable or unwilling to provide you with unconditional love, even if he was abusive, all is not lost. You need not feel that your low self esteem will never improve and you will never attract a loving partner because of your father’s inadequate parenting skills, poor judgment and hurtful acts. You have the power to separate your self from that experience and know that you deserve to be loved.
Your happiness and the success of your relationships depend solely upon one element; You – You and the power of your mind; You and the inner strength that you possess to rise above your darkest moments and saddest heartache.
From this day onward, turn that need for your father’s love and approval inward and nurture your Self. Focus on your positive qualities. Embrace your loving heart. Let go of the past, you’ve been burdened, saddened and affected long enough. And once you’re in this process of self healing and self loving, extend those feelings outward to those who would greatly appreciate it: your children, your friends and even your favorite charity.
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