Question for people who identify with not having a father


First father-biological -sperm donor-never knew the owner. Second father-adopted, he wished he had had his own kids, he was cold and distant and spent much of his time drunk and unhappy.
grandfather-cold and distant-just like my father,
other grandfather-first job-bootlegging and he went stone deaf so conversation with him was very little. So, nope.
Got zero father figures-I figure I'm not missing much given what I had.


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No. Though I have met many fathers that clearly love and care for their children. So, the relationship isn't off putting.
I found that I didn't like movies that focus on daughter and dad relationships in my youth. Now when I see those themes, I think of my husband being our children's father and it get an, "Aww! Cute!" reaction.
I hate "daddy issues" jokes that imply promiscuity.
If you don't mind, why do you ask? Was there another question in mind?


Thanks for your responses @TruthSeeker and @HannaD .

If you don't mind, why do you ask? Was there another question in mind?

I ask because I am struggling to integrate with the concept of not having a dad.

But it’s more like realizing that the person called my dad wasn’t doing his job. I’m no contact for over two years and deciding that I need to let go completely. I’m going through grief and it is confusing. I wanted to know if it helps anyone to find a replacement. Like the replacement could help with the need for closure with my grief maybe?

Not sure if it’s fantasy or cognitive distortion or hope. I guess I wasn’t clear on my intentions, maybe was trying to follow a new idea and not quite worked it out yet.


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Honestly, I don't think a replacement will help with grief. Grieving is a natural part of life's experience.
I've dealt with grief by talking about it with loved ones. Relating to others that have been through similar grief. Finding ways to express the loss by writing, drawing, listening to music from artists about loss.
Grief is that the pain never really goes away. You just sort of learn how to live with loss. My condolences.


Honestly, I don't think a replacement will help with grief. Grieving is a natural part of life's experience.

I see this more clearly. Maybe if I feel done with the grief, I could have a dad-like person present in my life? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the grief and abandonment talking and I have to remind myself, no shortcuts, got to go into it.


do you have a substitute father?.. a man or even a woman in your life who represents a father-figure to you?
Just speaking for myself, never have, never will, wouldn't want to. People I have admired, mentors, what-have-you, but for better or worse I don't think anyone would fill that roll for anyone but a child or young person. I care for other peoples' parents all day, and if there's ever a similarity to my own, I may feel a wisp of grief etc, but only over what was there and is gone; they each one stand alone as their own unique person, and unique relationship.

There is also a difference between not having a father, & not having one who was very good or was deleterious at being one, I thiink. And some are still good people, but lousy spouses +/ or fathers.
Like the replacement could help with the need for closure with my grief maybe?

Well, I avoid re-enactments. And if I had a father at my age/ an adult, I wouldn't expect him to be 'fathering' me. I would likely be providing him with assistance, or would be in the future.

As @HannaD said, grief refers to what is/ was, and that has contributed to who you are. I personally don't think you can re-write that through replacement, as you are a grown adult yourself.
Not sure if it’s fantasy or cognitive distortion or hope.
Ironically, I think some form of hope exists when people are still living, even if it be subconscious, since what 'life' infers is possibility. Short of sadists, but even then there may be hope for acknowledgment. Closure comes from grieving what is no longer possible. Death is the assurance of that. And for some, that brings relief. Others not.

Idk, not the same, but I've dated older men. I even questioned was that why I did, if the age difference was large. I'd say no; I felt like an equal. I did want/ appreciate the fact they were more mature; had gone through more losses; often were stable; were protective. The latter may be because of that (having no father leaves you open bait and something better hidden, IMHE growing up), or just because I find it an attractive quality. Regardless it is attractive to me, and I can't change my history.

But even like now, my body is like 80; my energy greater than most 20 year olds; my fears or hopefulness/ hopelessness greater than most 6 year olds. But that doesn't make me 80, or 20, or 6, and neither do I want to be, nor want someone else to treat me. At my age, I would be physically parenting others, or taking care of an aging parent. No one needs a middle aged dependent of sound (enough) mind & body, IMHO. But in my case, I just want to be 'me', and no re-enactments when it comes to any relationships. I couldn't do it even if I tried. For you, it may be something you want. Though I would say, I think it very possible that if you were done with the grief (and grieving can be life long, it morphs more than disappears), you probably wouldn't want such a figure in your life.

Best wishes to you. :hug:
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My father was there in body, but that was it. He worked, kept a roof over our heads (most of the time), and put food on the table (again, most of the time). That was it, literally. I'm a girl, so he tapped out of actual parenting or basic human contact and dumped all the responsibility on my mom. From a really young age, like by the time I entered school, I knew that I didn't actually have a ''dad'', and he was never a male role model. I had contact with him maybe twice from 2003-2006, and only because he got cancer and almost died and needed help in the hospital. I cut all contact in 2006. I had lived without a dad for my whole life, so there were no hard feelings or grief attached, he was just an acquaintance who shared DNA.

As an adult I did meet a man that became my ''dad''. He was a co-worker, and an amazing person, and everything I could have ever wished for as a dad. He was a role model, and proved that family is about more than DNA.

My father died of cancer in 2015, I did not grieve when I found out, and his death had no effect on my life. My ''dad'' died in 2010 in the line of duty, and I grieve for him every day. His life and death have had a profound effect on my life.


I am sorry for your loss @gealach . But glad for what you had. :hug:

Maybe that has a lot to do with it, the context: is it something that was never there; trying to overlook what was there, in the hopes of replacing it with what you think would be better or avoid facing it; or adding on to what was good; or never having any connotation or experience, good or poor?

Warrior Chicken

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Tracking along cuz it resonates.
My dad was not around. I love him unconditionally and am always keen for a relationship. It’s tough for him. And I. We both know but don’t go past that.
My dad has dementia. People react and I have nada.....but maybe that’s a stage.

I always wanted a relationship with dad, but that’s it. It’s done.
Mom did say he didn’t want to be around us, but I’m ok with that. Not ok with how she treated him.

I don’t know if this meets criteria of “not having relationship with father”.


Thanks for your responses @TruthSeeker and @HannaD .

@Self.In.Progress I think that in my partner relationships, I sought a "hero" replacement for my father who hadn't been there in my life for me emotionally-he spent his time at work and the bar or home drunk.....I dreamed of marrying someone who'd rescue me, sweep me off my feet, and be there always to love me and never betray me......... I ended up with a physically abusive husband the first time and a narcissistic gaslighter the second go round. All of my "male" relationships turned out to be emotionally empty, or abusive/narcissistic-they were there as the "hero" initially...... and that turned sour once I said "I do." I believe I didn't get a good role, I ended up with shit for husbands. I think I took that father need.....and twisted it around in my partner relationships.....and in doing so, the relationship was unequal in authority-man was right, had more say and control, I was needy and vulnerable, and there were no clear boundaries-I I ended up with unhealthy partners.....cause I didn't know what a healthy one was.

When I dealt with the grief, I was really very angry with him.... I first wrote down things on paper and burned them in a backyard fire. He was not the only one I addressed at the bonfire.....there was plenty of shxt I wanted to say to a number of people who had betrayed me or hadn't done their job properly-and I had one friend who attended....a wittness....and she had her own shxt that she addressed, too so I was her witness. I was angry...she was angry.....two angry women burning and bitching. But after I acknowledged the crap my father had-and hadn't done...and should have done.....I had loads of overwhelming feelings of loss. We finished the bonfire bitching session with smores and hot chocolate.

At the time, I had gone no low/contact with my family, to get away from the dysfunction, and to hopefully get in a better place without drama. I was feeling so very alone. So, a couple of months later, still feeling so much loss, I felt like I had to take some kind of action to move these feelings into a better place, so I had a funeral for him (he was still alive). With the unusual circumstances he found himself in, I knew that I would not be contacted when he died.

So, I came to a point that I had to say "good-bye" because I was having terrible grief issues, not functioning well at all because of it, and the struggle of letting go of the relationship and realizing what the relationship was to begin with-empty father-daughter bond, and I really needed to resolve it within. So, I made a funeral pamphlet with the most recent pic of him on the front, I wrote a couple of poems which summed up my feelings, dressed in a dress for the moment, and had a funeral with my T.
Had I not had a T, I would have had a funeral with a friend of mine who knew him.....but having it with T....was more predictable.
I gave an oral recant of the father I wish I could have had, the father I really had, and the few things that I remembered that he taught me that I appreciated (fishing and baiting a hook-not the drunk part, telling me always to have medical insurance and retirement-I do, pancakes, popcorn, and teaching me to ride the John Deer tractor-cutting the grass-a life skill). I tried to find a few good memories, or things my father taught me, and hold onto those and something positive to end the funeral with....that has helped-though there were few and little....I have to helped to make everything not find something good (little things), no matter how little, is something good to remember and I ended the funeral with the things I learned from him. To end the funeral, I played The Parting Song, an Irish drinking/parting song....often played and sung at funerals these days-that song speaks to me and the need to "part." I used to cry when I'd listen to I sing when I hear it. I could not sing then....I had lost my voice but it is back now and I can sing again.

A week or so after the prefuneral, I drew a picture of him, of me letting a red balloon go just out of my reach.....and his face, in the wind.....fading away. This too, was helpful. Art for me is very therapeutic.

I hadn't anticipated seeing him again before he died (because I was emotionally abused by his keeper, my bro, when I went to see him) I did get to see him one last time. That experience, a pre-funeral so to speak, gave me the words in a 3 min. time span , to let him go in person recognizing him as really lost, empty, emotionless, lonely, and afraid. Instead of seeing my father as someone who wasn't-or who didn't-or who should have, I was able to see him as a very human and very sad soul-but that took the prefuneral, a change of perception on my part, and albeit a bit of time. My father's biggest fear, as mine, is being alone. He, like I, didn't like crowds of people either-I can't imagine the fear of dying....and feeling alone-and the dreaded-what happens after death? Will I be alone?.....but I knew that was his. I just told him that he wouldn't make the journey alone, and someone would come for him when it was time and they would help him find Mom. She'd be waiting for him. He died 6 weeks after I saw him. I had no idea he was terminal. I'm glad I was kind about it. I'm glad to this day that I took care of those feelings of grief, loss, and dealt with my anger, and said my goodbyes without the anger & rage. And I believe at 99 years old, it was time for him to find his peace. However, it took a lot of acknowledging my anger, and dealing with the grief, the loss, the hurt, and realizing how human and imperfect we are as people, and it took years to get to this point. I think, in letting go .....there is growth.....a different perception.....and that paves the way for a healthier way of living. Holding onto the past, wishing for what should have been.....kept me locked in the past and unable to move forward-and kept me bitter. Letting it go.....changes that anger and bitterness to acceptance.....but it really takes action....and sometimes multiple actions.........and time. You will get there......and it will get better .....if that's what you want.

Good luck....
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Closure comes from grieving what is no longer possible.

This is helpful. I do think I am in grief and I do think I want closure. I think part of my grief is going to be accepting that my dad was not who I wanted him to be and he never will be and if I look for evidence that he has changed I will be hurting myself.

he tapped out of actual parenting or basic human contact and dumped all the responsibility on my mom.

This is kind of what happened although I didn’t realize it. I now think my dad was like a psychopath. Never showed vulnerability, only anger and sarcasm. Cold and calculating. False self, especially outside the home. Violent rages. No empathy or compassion. No sadness. He had narcissistic tendencies too, extreme focus on his self and own needs. But I kept thinking as a teen and adult that I could forgive him and be okay inside myself. I didn’t see the abuse. I didn’t have words for the manipulation and coercive control. What made me go no contact two years ago was remembering csa and he admitting it. I have to accept that he did not behave like a father and he did not have anyone’s best interests at heart. Neither my sibling in another country nor my mother have contact with him either. My sibling tried but ended up having so much anger toward our dad that he stopped.

is it something that was never there; trying to overlook what was there, in the hopes of replacing it with what you think would be better or avoid facing it; or adding on to what was good; or never having any connotation or experience, good or poor?

Is it something that was never there? Yes. Protection. Care. Morals. Safety. I can now develop all of those inside me, however I would like to know what it’s like to trust a person, especially a man, to have those qualities.

Is it trying to overlook what was there? I don’t want to overlook it any more. I want to recognize the truth and be done.

Do you hope to replace it with what you think would be better? Yes and no. I know that the relationship with my dad happened and it’s over. I can’t go back and replace him. But if I were in a place where I could allow someone in my life, not a partner, rather a friend, to have father-like qualities around me, I think would like to try it.

Are you trying to avoid facing the relationship with your dad? Hmmm... tricky question. Facing the relationship with my dad doesn’t necessarily mean having contact with him, it means dealing with the emotions associated with that relationship. I have established that I’m grieving the loss of the relationship. I have established that I am in an anger phase and the anger feels like a runaway train so I’m afraid to face it. There are resources for anger. I have not attempted to look at them yet. So perhaps some of my fantasizing about “dad figure” is trying to avoid facing the relationship with my dad.

Are you trying to add on to what was good? The good was when he wasn’t attacking or manipulating us, and it was a false self. His desires were clear, to have his needs met at all times. I am aware now that he was not trying to be a dad or even a caring person, just trying to entertain himself through manipulation or silence us through abuse and shame.

Did you never have any connotation or experience of a father, good or poor? I guess it’s important to note that I had a person called dad in my life and it was a very poor experience. That is absolutely different from no person present called dad. The reason I identify with not having a dad is that I was so brainwashed to think that he was right and good and normal (I chose to live with him and raise my kids in the same house with him until I recovered the memory of csa which he admit to) that it’s important for me to disassociate and disengage from what I thought he was in order to have a more accurate understanding of his personality and his role in my life.

If I hadn’t recovered the memory of csa I would have still believed that as long as I forgave him in my heart everything would be fine. Maybe a therapist could have helped me realize that he hurt me, but the csa with his admission turned me on my head and made me realize how I didn’t want that kind of person in my life or my children’s lives and that I had been wrong about trying to validate his humanity. That was benefitting him and hurting me and my kids. This is why I began considering identifying with having no father. I didn’t have anyone in my life who acted like a true father. I did have a person who was called
dad. His behavior was abusive and perverted, so I separated. I guess I can’t say I have no dad. I can say I had person in my life called dad and it was a poor experience and I choose to not associate with him anymore. That is more accurate.

I always wanted a relationship with dad, but that’s it. It’s done.

This feels helpful and accurate, except I would say “good relationship.” I guess if he was present in the home, even if he tapped out or was raging or was manipulating, there was a relationship, a poor one, but it was there. And it’s done. That’s it. It’s over.

So if the relationship is over then I do identify with not having a father. If someone has a good relationship with their father, even when he dies the relationship continues, through thoughts and dreams and visions and memories, and he can still assist and comfort and protect.

My relationship with my dad is over. I am grieving something. The loss of the idea of dad? The loss of who I thought he was? There is no dad currently present. And the dad I wanted or thought he was, never really existed.

The relationship is over and done. What’s left is grief. My work is on washing him away, through positive coping and living my life with gratitude and kindness.

@TruthSeeker, I was just about to post when your message came through. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing all that. Very helpful and I could feel myself pulled in to the ideas and feeling hopeful to have some agency in the grieving process.