Happy Father’s Day. Today is a day to celebrate and honor fathers and father figures and all they have done for us. However, in many cases, fathers have left the family, and their children do not feel like celebrating or honoring them.
I work with women everyday who were abandonment by their fathers during childhood. Their fathers abandonment set the stage for the way they see themselves and others. Their father leaving during childhood caused them to feel unlovable, not good enough, and disposable. Since they fill unlovable, they try to find love and self-worth in all the wrong places. Many come to me feeling angry, resentful, and hurt by their father’s actions.
I decided to write this letter to all the dads who left their children behind. This letter is not about dad-bashing. It is the story I have heard from so many daughters over the years. The heartache and pain they endured wishing their father was in their lives. All the things they’ve wanted to say but can’t due to circumstances. This is their voice. Their opportunity for healing.
How are you? It's been awhile. Or for some of us, it's never been. We are women now. You've missed a lot. You missed so many important moments in our lives. Where do we start? Our birth? When you found out mom was pregnant, you couldn’t handle it. You didn't know what to do. You may have been too young. You may not have had a father figure, so you didn't know how to be a father. Who knows. Some of you stayed in the picture a little longer. You stayed a few years after I was born. At first, things were great. You and mom got a long. Maybe you thought having me would help. Maybe you thought sticking it out would help. Things got tough. You began to fight with mom. You lost your job. You may have had a great job, perhaps the stressors of home got to you. We will never know. What we do know is what you missed when you walked out that door. You missed the numerous firsts day of school. You missed Back to School nights and Open houses. You missed Girl Scouts, sports, holidays, summers, vacations, first dates, graduations and college acceptance letters. The fun and exciting stuff.
You also missed the not so exciting stuff. When you left and didn't pay child support, We had to move out of our home and collect financial assistance. We had to shop at Goodwill because mom could not afford clothing. We had to grow up fast. We had to take care of our younger siblings. We had to be emotional support for our mothers. Whatever childhood we had, was gone. We had to listen to mom cry herself to sleep. We saw her date men who were not good to her, or good to us. We needed to start working at 16 because money was a little tight. Sometimes we missed out on parties and school events to work because we needed to make sure the lights stayed on and food was on the table. We started looking for attention outside the home. We wanted love and affection that we did not get from you, so we started looking in other places. Friends, partners, drugs, alcohol, crime, teen pregnancy or food. Many times we found it in men. To be honest, the men did not treat us well at all. However, we didn’t care. It was a man. It was someone that held us (sometimes), was by your side (sometimes), called us (sometimes), told us they loved us (sometimes) married us, or had a child with us. We didn’t care, we just wanted someone to be there and tell us they loved us because you weren’t there. Although their love was sporadic and contingent, at least it was there.
We can honestly say your leaving really affected our self-esteem and self-worth. We don’t feel good about ourselves at all. We don’t feel that we are good enough for any man, partner, friends, or career. We don’t feel lovable. We feel like a disappointment. We feel we don’t belong.
When you left we felt so many negative feelings. We realize those feelings are still there. Anger, resentment, sadness, grief, shame, fear, guilt, doubt, and betrayal. We are trying to work through these feelings through therapy. Holding on to these feelings is no longer serves us. They are causing us to hate ourselves. We love everyone else more than we love ourselves. We are ready to love ourselves. We are ready to look deep inside ourselves to see how our life has been affected by you leaving. We are not here to blame. We are women now. We cannot blame you because we stayed with partners that don’t treat us right. We cannot blame you for our lack of confidence in going for the job we want. Our childhood circumstances were not our fault. We were thrown into a situation that affected the way we looked at life and interacted with the world. We are ready to take responsibility for our choices in adulthood. We made the choices that reflected how we felt about ourselves. Our past does not have to define our future. We are beginning to realize:
WE ARE ENOUGH!
WE ARE LOVEABLE!
WE ARE SUCCESSFUL!
We get to feel joy, peace, happiness, courage, confidence, acceptance, hopeful, love and trust.
At this point, We no longer care why you left. We can no longer hold on to that story. We are ready to write a new story. If you would like to be in it, and if you would like to rewrite your own story, contact us. You had your own story and that is why you left. We get that now. We have learned it was never about us. You left not because there was something wrong with us, but it was something up with you. We see that now.
Happy Father’s Day!
Feel free to share this letter with a father you know who is no longer in touch with this daughter, however, he would like to be in contact with one day. Perhaps this letter will give him hope and motivate him to rewrite his story. Also share this letter with a woman who still has negative feelings towards her dad and she is ready to address her abandonment issues and low self-worth. Feel free to call me at (510) 250 - 3091 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
7/5/2020 09:23:41 pm
This letter has inspired me to start my own letter to my father who abandoned me at 12.
9/21/2020 08:48:39 am
I'm glad it inspired you Sharon. Letters can be so healing. It gives you a chance to say everything you have wanted ever wanted to say to him. Remember, the letter and healing is for you, not for him. Let me know if you need inspiration. Good Luck!!
8/7/2022 11:37:34 am
i wish my dad didnt leave me why do they do that is it life that depends on it?
8/12/2022 06:19:28 pm
Hello Tiffany. So sorry your dad left you. I am not sure why dads leave. Each dad has a different story. I'm in the early stages of developing a course about healing from abandonment by father. Hopefully it can helpful for women like you. What do you feel you are missing out on with your dad not around? What do you need?
3/9/2023 05:05:20 pm
So sorry to hear
3/9/2023 05:01:35 pm
Very touching 🙏
9/16/2020 01:00:25 pm
My son's dad left a month before I gave birth to my son, he his 15 years now, am kind of confused because my son want to kno have s father.
9/21/2020 09:03:22 am
Hi Phina. This doesn't surprise me and I can see why you are confused. Over the years, I've found that no matter what happens, children want to know their parents. I've worked with abused and abandoned children and they always have a desire to be with their parents. Maybe get curious about how he is feeling and why he wants to meet his father. From personal experience, there is a strong desire to know that part of you. It's a piece of the puzzle that is missing. Try to remember that your son trying to seek out his father is not a reflection of you or your relationship with him. He is teenager who will soon be a man. See where the journey takes the both of you. Let me know if you need support. Best of luck!!
4/28/2021 10:51:09 pm
Hi , I have sent an email to the embassy up till now no reply from them, my boy is 16 yesterday, we still don't kno how to go about it, I don't know if I should use a lawyer.
12/5/2020 03:30:30 am
Thank Mpho ,
4/25/2021 04:48:22 pm
Hi Phina. How did it go after contacting the embassy?
12/11/2020 06:59:54 am
dear dad I hope to see you because I want to feel the feelings of other children with their parents
2/7/2021 11:34:55 am
My dad left me when i was 8 now am 20 i dont know where to start
4/25/2021 05:06:29 pm
Hi Clevince. Remember, you don't have to write the letter in one sitting. You can start by just writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal/notebook. Why not start with these questions. What part of my letter spoke to you? When you think of your dad, what feelings come up for you? What do you miss about him? How did his absence affect you? These prompts should get your started. This is the beginning of the journey of healing for you. Let me know if you need support. Best of luck!
4/25/2021 04:53:48 pm
Angel that is a great start. Like you, I remember the feeling of seeing others kids with their fathers. There were many feelings. Anger, disappointment, jealousy, and sadness to name a few. I encourage to finish the letter, even if you don't get to send it. Expressing the feelings that you are missing out on may be very healing.
3/21/2021 12:12:41 am
Wow this letter was just what I needed to hear especially for my sons who are affected by my exs disappearances.
4/25/2021 05:12:38 pm
Hi Jane! I'm glad my letter spoke to you. I wrote this blog a year ago and it is still being seen by people. It's a shame your exes disappeared on you and your sons. I pray this letter is the beginning of healing for you. Let me know if you need support. Best of Luck!
4/16/2021 10:29:43 pm
Great letter. My heart is broken for all the daughters and sons who have and are abandoned each day by their dad. My 3 boys had just recently starting last year, started to have their Dad in theirs lives. He said he changed and realized how much he screwed up by not
4/25/2021 05:22:56 pm
Oh Nicole. My heart breaks for you and your sons. First, realize that Dad leaving had nothing to do with you or your sons. Letting your sons know there is nothing wrong with them and it is not their fault is key. Do you have any support. Family, friends, church? Therapy could be beneficial. If you need help finding someone, email me through my contact page.
4/23/2021 09:12:31 pm
This letter is what I needed considering I go to the one and only mom that I have that has always been there and always will be there for me and ask her " Why did he hurt us so bad then leave?" and just cry a river knowing I'm not gonna ever get the answer's to all the questions I have. I just wish there was something I could do to get him off my mind besides writing it out and just running into mom arms and asking questions and crying a river....
12/6/2021 12:50:05 am
My father left before I was born, I’m 55 and I found him through ancesrty dna, met him on his Birthday Jan 9, 2021 for the first time. While getting to know him for the past 11 months, he died Dec 3rd 2021. He never said why he abandoned me, and I’ll never know;(
8/7/2022 08:28:44 pm
Wow Robin! I’m so sorry you lost your father. I’m glad you were able to find him through Ancestry.com and were able to get to know him for the short amount of time. Yes, you will never know why he left. Would it change anything if you knew why he left?
2/13/2022 12:46:01 pm
My father left my two sisters and me when we were two years old (we're triplets). My mother resented having to raise us so she was physically and emotionally abusive. She constantly told us our father didn't want us. She said she wished she never had kids and that having kids had ruined her life. My father said he left because she was so abusive to him and I asked him why he left us behind with her when he knew she was abusive and mentally unstable. He apologized and realized how selfish he had been. I have forgiven him now as an adult.
8/7/2022 08:33:33 pm
Mary, thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad your dad was able to apologize and you were able to forgive him.
11/27/2022 02:42:03 pm
Many daughters may not realize that fathers do not desire to leave children behind , and that doing so is not always selfish. In many cases, fathers face the facts that they will be unsuccessful in a custody battle, that the cards are stacked against them in the family law system, and fighting for a child often results in pain for the child, when the mother is abusive and willing to use the child or children as a weapon. Most don’t want to be honest about the family law system and it’s effect on fathers; it is much easier to use words like abandonment and selfishness, which are easier to understand. The truth is more complex, and often hard for some to stomach as it contradicts common storylines. If you are a daughter without a father, try to hear his side of the story before casting judgment , and realize that in most places and in most ways, the legal system is not in your fathers favor — even if he wanted to rescue you and be a dad to you as you deserved.
11/30/2022 03:57:18 pm
Zach, thank you for comment. I agree that the family law system can be tough to navigate, especially as a father. I know some fathers just give up because they feel the chips are stacked against them. There are many reasons why fathers feel they need to leave their family. At this point, the adult daughters I work with really don't care why their father left. They just want to start to build a relationship with them now. Sometimes the fathers don't feel the same way for their own reasons. Best case scenario, my clients have reunited with their fathers and the healing has begun.
Leave a Reply.
I am a therapist who helps loves motivating women to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk, self-trust and self-love. I help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.