“Daddy issues” are not just for cis-gender women.
The following is contributed by Dr. Daphne Pozo.
“Daddy issues” is a term that generally makes me cringe as a cis-gender woman. Don’t get me wrong - I don’t cringe at the notion that we have family of origin dynamics that arise in our own interpersonal relationships. In fact, I believe most people can relate to this. Instead, I cringe at the thought of how that person, usually a cis-gender woman, is portrayed by the media and by society. Yet, there is another aspect to “daddy issues” that is often overlooked and rarely spoken about. Can all individuals, including cis-gender males, have “daddy issues”? For the purpose of this blog, I will utilize the phrase “attachment issues”, rather than “daddy issues”, as a term to describe the unresolved conflicts or feelings people have towards a parental figure. Usually, these unresolved feelings generalize to romantic and non-romantic relationships in that person’s life.
Attachment issues can manifest in different ways. It can mean seeking outside validation from others in order to feel comfort. It can mean being fearful that the important figures in your life might leave. It can also look like needing constant reassurance from a romantic partner. There is no one size fits all list of behaviors or characteristics for this term but there is one commonality - the source of the behaviors and feelings stem from a strained relationship with one’s parental figures, which can include one’s paternal figure.
I was watching a movie last night - “The Judge” - and I thought “Wow, what are the odds that a movie I randomly picked could be so useful for the blog I’m writing?” Unbeknownst to me before I chose the movie, the story line followed a main character who struggled in his relationship with his dad. Due to various mistakes he made as a teenager, his father blamed him and withdrew from the relationship. The main character became a lawyer as an adult (I can only assume this career path was influenced by his dad who was a judge), graduated at the top of his class, and became successful in his career. The main character spent most of his adult life angry with his father and cut off the relationship, until a tragedy reconnected them. During a very emotional moment between the two of them, the main character disclosed that all he ever wanted from his dad was to hear that his dad was proud of him. I won’t ruin the movie for you all, but I couldn’t help but think about how this father-son relationship influenced the main character so profoundly. From my perspective, he was seeking his father’s approval his entire life and, despite being angry with his father, all he wanted to hear was that he was seen and loved. Fundamentally, isn’t that what we all crave - a safe space to be recognized, validated, and supported? Whether you’re a cis-gender male, a cis-gender female, non-binary or any other gender identity, attachment issues don’t discriminate.
One of the main reasons people come to therapy is because of their relationships with their parents. Therapy is a safe space to discuss one’s worries, heartaches, and hardships. Your parents might never change, but you can change the way it affects you and how you react to it.