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How has your relationship with your dad affected your life?

(67 Posts)
SneakyBlinder Sun 04-Oct-20 06:00:50

At nearly 40yrs old I’ve realised that my poor relationship with my dad has had a massive impact on my life.
He wasn’t really part of my childhood, he was always at work (CID) and when he wasn’t we were tiptoeing around the house so as not to disturb him. He left my mum when I was 8 and moved in with his new girlfriend. Every other weekend I would arrive at his house and feel like I was in the way the whole time. It was obvious, even then, that I was an inconvenience. He’d make fun of me and show very little affection.
I had a best friend who was the daughter of one of his best friends. I always remember watching how he’d fuss over her, compliment her and laugh with her. I can remember thinking that she was the daughter he would have wanted.
I moved away with my mum in my early teens and only saw him during the summer for around 5/6 years. Again, the moment I’d arrive I felt like I was in the way.

I never knew either of my Grandads, had no uncles or anyone that could have been another ‘father figure’.
I found that by 17yrs old I was so desperate for male attention, that I’d end up with just about any man that gave me the time of day.
At 18 I was pregnant. Then over the next 8/9 years I went through 3/4 horrible relationships. Always trying desperately to please, being treated like shit but being so scared of being on my own I’d put up with it.
Eventually I met a lovely guy and on my wedding day I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for that moment like in the movies when the bride walks in and her dad has tears running down his cheeks, I didn’t get it. He didn’t even comment on how I looked. Didn’t even say I looked nice. His speech was a poem he’d printed off the internet. Nothing about me, who I was or that he was proud of me. He could have been reading it to anyone.

I left my husband after a few years, he was too nice, too loyal, too forgiving.
I’m in a wonderful relationship now and I’m very happy in general but to be honest, that feeling of rejection from the one man that is supposed to love you more than anything, never goes away.
He lives 5 minutes away. I haven’t seen him for 2 years. I text him and get one word replies or just an emoji....

I don’t need him, or want anything from him...I just struggle sometimes with understanding what I did wrong.

OP’s posts: |
Whycantibetangy Sun 04-Oct-20 06:17:09

Yup. Dads are aresholes, my mum died when I was little and mine gave up, he hit the bottle and left me and my brother to raise ourselves.
He moved out to live with a variety of girlfriends and eventually left the family home when I was early teens, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Affected my schooling as I had to support myself from a really young age. When people say they had a shit childhood, I really did have the shittest.

Saying that, I am incredibly independent and have never ever needed anyone to do anything for me.

SneakyBlinder Sun 04-Oct-20 06:23:29

I’m so sorry, that really is shit.
I was and still am fortunate in that I have an amazing mum. It hurts though. I’m jealous of girls/women that have such a close bond with their dads.

OP’s posts: |
b0redb0redb0red Sun 04-Oct-20 06:49:34

I used to think that my relationship with my father had had a massively negative effect on me. He was a workaholic, not very involved as a parent, drank too much towards the end of my parents’ marriage and was generally a pretty angry person.

Without minimising the ways in which my father fucked up as a parent, I now feel (in my thirties) that my mother probably did more to damage me, just in subtle ways that I couldn’t recognise as a child or teenager. She’s very controlling (e.g. still thinking she had a right to pick all my clothes for me when I was in my mid-twenties because she supposedly knew what would look good on me better than I did), and even now has a meltdown if I make plans to live more than five minutes away from her because she thinks she has a right to have her grandchild on her doorstep. She also undermines me, treats me as though my judgement can’t be relied on, and then claims that I’m emotionally abusing her if I put down boundaries. She has always been an oversharer in a pretty toxic way - by the time I was 16, I knew what her extra-marital boyfriend shouted when he came, because she thought that was an appropriate thing to share with your teenage daughter. There’s also a bit of a “golden child” thing with my younger brother - earlier this year, he cheated on his wife when she was at home with a little baby, yet I was the one who got shit from my mother about my parenting (I’d relaxed a few minor parenting rules because DD aged 4 was struggling with lockdown) because she couldn’t accept that DB wasn’t a saintly martyr and took her anger out on me.

So having a crap dad probably didn’t do much for self-esteem or relationships with men, but to be honest it was pretty much a drop in the ocean compared to the overall toxicity of my family.

b0redb0redb0red Sun 04-Oct-20 06:50:32

Sorry, there’s a missing “my” in that last para.

Juniperandrage Sun 04-Oct-20 07:04:28

My father raped me repeatedly and often violently for years. Left me very damaged for a very long time. Pretty much affected every part of my life negatively. (I'm doing ok now though)

arinah Sun 04-Oct-20 10:16:15

Mine only believes in conditional love, and even then it's not even love, just acceptance. I was completely blind to it until I got married and saw what a normal family/ father and child relationship was like. I spent my entire childhood and teen years trying to win my father's approval.
I haven't seen him for the past year or so, very on and off relationship for the past 6 years. I'm much happier without him in my life. He likes to pretend to his extended family that we're still in contact and will try to get photos of DC from my FIL. My FIL just hangs up on him grin

Pickypolly Sun 04-Oct-20 10:28:07

Strange thing 20% nice fella, caring & supportive, 80% an absolute arsehole. Alcoholic domestic & financially abusive & violence, aggressive, angry, fighter, not really around much.

He has a new family, he is the dad and husband I wish he were for us.

Anyway I just see him as a bloke I see for a coffee every now and again. No ties no real relationship and that’s ok.
My siblings have nothing to do with him at all.

Not really affected me but my siblings absolutely hate the guy.

Whycantibetangy Sun 04-Oct-20 11:21:12

Oh @Juniperandrage I hope you are able to heal from that truly awful experience flowers

Juniperandrage Sun 04-Oct-20 12:03:36

Thank you

I really am doing ok though. I have CPTSD but it's mostly very well controlled and I've just come out of therapy with an excellent psychologist who really helped me reconfigure the inside of my head

strawberrysandpecans Sun 04-Oct-20 12:56:28

Mine left when I was a baby, saw me very rarely, then had a new family and didn't want to see me at all. I've had crap relationships with men, my husband cheated and left, and I find it hard to trust men. So I think it's affected me enormously. I do have a few male friends now though and a lovely ds, and hope for a better future.

SneakyBlinder Sun 04-Oct-20 13:05:08


I’m so sorry you had to go through so such horrible times 💐 x

OP’s posts: |
LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 04-Oct-20 13:13:19

These posts are so very sad. SneakyBlinder, your OP resonated with me a lot. Not the wedding thing because my dad wasn't there, he wasn't invited. He was an awful father, not just to me but to my brothers also. He died last year. Nobody went to his cremation and I'm glad he's gone. He did so much damage.

TheRIDs Sun 04-Oct-20 13:13:25

My dad was abusive to my mum and for years we lived in fear, even after she left him and we went with her. He stalked my mum and she had various injunctions against him, we were wards of court as he tried to snatch us and take us out of the country was a stressful childhood and has affected me greatly. I hate it when people lose their temper in any way and get a really strong fight or flight response, which has caused issues in relationships throughout my life. Any sort of confrontation feels like a threat and I either blow up in defence or (more usually) completely shut down and can’t deal with the situation. It’s taken my whole adult life to start to get a handle on this.

I’ve always gravitated towards calm, centred men - the opposite of my dad, who was/is angry and unpredictable - so I suppose I can thank him for that!

gluteustothemaximus Sun 04-Oct-20 13:20:02

I understand. I took any attention I could get from any man. I fell into very abusive relationships.

I also had an awful relationship with my mother. I don't see either now, and I do wish I had a mum and dad.

It is hard to accept not being loved by your own parents.

But I have, and now have my own family, with a very good husband and father to them all smile

TakemedowntoPotatoCity Sun 04-Oct-20 13:34:18

Oh honey, I could have written a lot of what you did. Was your dad always popular to everyone else? The life and soul of the party? Mine was - which made it hard to articulate his indifference towards me, because everyone else thought he was charming and funny!

bingoncbeebies Sun 04-Oct-20 13:40:18

Parents divorced when I was 12. No real memories of him when I was a child.

As a teen I saw him a handful of times in the year, he moved in with a woman and squandered all of his divorce settlement on redoing her house and drinking the rest. He was a chronic alcoholic who eventually took his life when I was 20. By that point I hadn't seen him for well over a year and didn't go to his funeral. We had no relationship.

Like you OP, I craved attention from men in my late teens and early 20s and it got me in to a lot of trouble (don't get me wrong, there were fun times too!).

I'd always prefer to date older men who could take care of me. Married a man 16yrs older than me and quit working (I'm still a SAHM). I clearly have "daddy issues" but I'm ok with that I guess. I should add my happily married and DH puts his DDs on a pedestal, tells them they are beautiful and smart everyday and they love him so much. I hope my DDs continue to have a loving and healthy relationship with their dad.

TwixTwixtwoo Sun 04-Oct-20 13:43:26

Mine left for OW when DM was 7 months pregnant with me, they were married and already had DB who was 3 at the time. He had contact with DB for a while til it gradually petered out but he never asked to see me.

And yes, I always felt like there must be something wrong with me that my own father didn't love me. And yes it badly affected my self esteem and basically made me throw myself at any man who'd have me as soon as (and before if I'm honest) I was old enough to realise I could get attention and 'love' from men that way.

I'm 47 now and have built my self esteem on other things than whether my father loved me, I'm ok generally. But yes it still hurts that he didn't, that he's still never attempted to get in touch (there would have been an easy route til my DGP's died in the last few years) and appears to have left without a second thought and never looked back.

He could be dead and I wouldn't know, I could have walked past him in the street and I wouldn't know (DM burned all the photos, he destroyed her) and he obviously doesn't want to know me. My DH is far from perfect but I'm grateful every day that he's in our DC's life, rejection by a parent is always going to do damage to a child.

Rhine Sun 04-Oct-20 13:43:32


Yup. Dads are aresholes, my mum died when I was little and mine gave up, he hit the bottle and left me and my brother to raise ourselves.
He moved out to live with a variety of girlfriends and eventually left the family home when I was early teens, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Affected my schooling as I had to support myself from a really young age. When people say they had a shit childhood, I really did have the shittest.

Saying that, I am incredibly independent and have never ever needed anyone to do anything for me.

Dad’s are most certainly not ‘arseholes’. My Dad is great and so was my grandad. Sorry yours wasn’t very good but don’t tar them all with the same brush because of your own poor experience.

Purplewithred Sun 04-Oct-20 13:51:57

I just wasn't that important to my dad - I had two older sisters already, I was clearly a late accident and not even a boy. He checked out pretty early; was a borderline alcoholic, managed to fail at every business venture he attempted, intellectual snob, not very happy marriage. For all that I admired him and was proud of him - active service in WWII, educated, witty, intelligent, open minded etc.

But like PP, my lack of importance to him + him being the only male in my circle (no brothers, female relatives, all-girl convent school etc etc) meant I had no idea how to form a healthy relationship with a bloke. I shagged anyone who showed the slightest interest in me, married with no expectation of happiness, and didn't expect xDH to have any interest in his children.

Sadly this means my own children have a poor relationship with their (inadequate) DF. I hope DD is better balanced - she seems to expect more from her men than I ever did, which I'm really pleased about.

Purplewithred Sun 04-Oct-20 13:53:45

@Rhine - well said. This is what I want for DD and my DGC.

Crankley Sun 04-Oct-20 13:58:47

I'm so sorry so many had such bad fathers. Mine was the reverse. He was gentle, kind, funny, had endless patience. Unlike the 1950s husbands often mentioned on here, he did his share of housework and child caring.

When I got to an age when I started dating, I set my bar at his level and quickly learned that unless I wanted to remain celibate for the rest of my life, I would have to lower it somewhat. grin

He died over thirty years ago and I still miss him.

slavetothenhs Sun 04-Oct-20 14:04:15

My parents have both damaged me in different ways, but I'm pleased that I can now say that I manage pretty well and am low contact with both of them. They divorced after a violent relationship when I was 6, my mum then went on to have a string of different relationships and marriages - we (I have 3 sisters) had a different man in our lives about every two years. This has left us all with issues around trust with men as we didn't have a stable relationship to base our own expectations on.

My dad disappeared off the face of the planet for a few years then reappeared to play happy families when I was about 11 and we would go to where he lived in Europe for summer holidays, Christmas etc which was ok I suppose. The bit that I can never, ever forgive him for is that I got into trouble in my teens and left home, when I met my elder daughters dad (I was 16 years old, he was 26), rather than recognise the situation for the developing shit show that it was and step in, my dad told me to get to fuck and left me to it. I had my DD at 17 and was really in a right old pickle. I wrote my dad a letter to tell him he had a granddaughter and he ripped it up according to my step mum I found out later. I didn't speak to him for 15 years.

I think the thing that hurt me the most was that out of my sisters I was always his favourite but he basically let me down in the time of my life when I needed him the most and I have never been able to forgive him for that. That's not what dad's do. I am married now (not to elder DD's dad thankfully) and my husband is exactly the opposite to what my dad is like - present and loving. I have a somewhat distant relationship and very little respect for my dad now.

WildRosie Sun 04-Oct-20 14:24:26

My Dad died earlier this year. He was elderly and had several nasty illnesses so it was the best thing all round. Thankfully my experiences weren't as bad as those I've read here; to sum him up, he was a good provider but a lousy parent. I'm now 49 and the youngest of his seven children. He was nudging 40 by the time I was born - that's no big deal these days - but I now recognise that he'd all but given up on parenting by then, something no one could accuse Mum of (she too is dead but was six years younger than Dad). Our relationship was cordial at best. I don't know what his feelings were towards me or my six brothers and sisters but I admit I was never his biggest fan and I was much happier when he wasn't around when I still lived in the family home. That might have something to do with his selfish streak, frequent bad moods, bullying and drinking too much. Thankfully, in his later years and to his credit, he reduced his drinking a good deal. At his funeral, I really had to bite my lip when the vicar, whom Dad had met once, wittered on in golden prose about the fine family man. If only you knew, Reverend.

I don't miss Dad one bit.

Marshmallow07 Sun 04-Oct-20 14:36:20

I haven't seen my father since I was I was 4 - I feel quite grateful for that tbh.

I don't think he'd have intentionally been a bad father but he was quite religious and from a very misogynistic culture and I know he was trying to push that on me even when I was a toddler (angry I liked playing with toy cars etc) so I'm glad to have been free of that especially as I had a lot of friends who were controlled by their fathers in a similar way (again I don't think they were particularly unusual fathers, it was just typical of their culture)

I suppose it has effected me in that I don't particularly want a commited relationship as I think it would make me feel trapped and I don't really want to share my life that way.

I don't think I crave the approval of men, I'd say I've rather gone the other way and don't really see the value of them to my life (although I know there are good ones out there)

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