Emotionally Absent Fathers

Emotionally Absent Fathers

Emotionally absent fathers and how much of an effect can it have on a child? Both in their younger years and into adulthood many are affected by being raised in a home without a father. We are all born into this world under the false assumption that our parents are going to know how to emotionally support us and hold the space for us. Basically, they are the first people we are dependent on. We are 100% reliant on them for our well-being.

So what happens when we run into an emotionally absent father? How does it affect the child or set into motion a strong narrative that we tell ourselves negatively?

We see that an absent father can have a large impact on a child leading into adulthood and can create many challenges in their life.

Today the estimate is that 1 in 4 children live without a father. This isn’t to say that mothers are not capable of raising their children. But it has been well studied that a child can be negatively impacted in several areas of early childhood growth.

Consequences of Emotionally Absent Fathers

To be a father means more than just bringing home money to keep the lights on. It takes time, dedication, lots of patience, and time spent.

The following is a list of some areas affected by an absent father:

1. Behavioral Issues

In the absence of a father, we see many kids attempt to become aggressive and suppressed feelings of low self-worth among other peers. This can show up in behaviors that are domineering to their peers. As a result, the child has a hard time adjusting at school as well as trying to find friends because they are caught up in trying to keep an image of being tough and not feeling insecure. With a father present, a child’s self-worth in confidence increase and they have a much better chance at adjusting to new environments as well as school.

2. Attachment Issues and Trauma

Attachment theory and therapy focus on how we attach to our caregivers at a young age. How that affects our relationships and how we see the world others and ourselves. The result of an absent father early in childhood can lead to trauma and attachment and can cause many problems in the future.

The four main attachment styles developed.


The healthiest attachment style is that of the secure one. With this attachment we see a child getting the emotional love and support, affection and consistent caretaking that they need to establish a healthy sense of self. We do see children raised by only one caregiver but have a secure attachment style. It starts to become harmful when the father is constantly inconsistent, is absent or is unable to respond to the child’s needs.

Anxious style is created when the care and attention for the child is non-consistent. This can manifest in adulthood. A person becomes needy, constantly want reassurance that they are loved, and rely on others for happiness and validation. They also find it hard to trust others in relationships. Neglect at a young age leads to developing the attach style that is leads to avoidance.

As they grow into adults they find it really hard to express their emotions and except the love they deserve and any affection from someone else. They become weary of others intentions and fear that someone will leave them or abandon them in a relationship. They self sabotage and never allow others close to them.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style is is categorized as a child who has suffered or survived abuse and severe neglect. As adults they tend to gravitate towards people who are very dysfunctional and toxic. They have no sense of core self and an example of what a healthy relationship looks like.

3. Decreased Mental Health

Children without a father figure or role model or at higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and other psychological problems.

Research shows there is a correlation between absent fathers and increase in substance abuse among kids and adolescence that extends into adulthood.

It’s hard for individuals to form study relationships, get along with others, function normally society and keep a steady job.

4. Increased Promiscuity

Young women seem to be particularly vulnerable when it comes to absent fathers. There could be a sense of needing a man in their lives to feel complete and whole. Is can lead to two feelings of insecurity and often times increased promiscuity. Especially with girls it’s clear to see that without a strong male role model it could increase the chances of the young girl engaging in risky behavior that other teens would often times avoid.

5. Crime

Research also shows that due to a lack of structure in the home and discipline, teens can often fall into the wrong crowds. They desperately want to feel part of a family system and connect to others. They soon find themselves involved in acts of crime or theft. This is in no way to say that mothers are not capable of raising strong-minded and well-adjusted children.

Being a single mother raising children on her own is a full-time job. Not only does she carry the financial burden but she has to balance being the nurturer and the disciplinarian. These are hard roles to play simultaneously. Mothers are working while kids are out of school and not receiving the help of another parent kids are often left alone to raise themselves.

Seeking Help For Your Child

At High Expectations Counseling, we are trained to work with you and your child. We can work in the family setting or with them individually. It is important they feel safe and that they can open up with the therapist. Building trust and rapport is vital. We have a great team of professional therapists that can help assist single parents and give them the tools to create the stability that may be lacking. It is hard work but the payoff is that your child will feel secure within themselves. Seek to find the self-love they need from inside and not search outside for validation. Give us a call today at 407-967-1327.