Fatherless, But Thriving: How A Lack Of A Dad Forced Me To Be Strong

by Katie Wilhelm

Being fatherless has both plagued me and molded me into the person I am today.

It has shaped the essence of who I am for the better and for the worse, too.

I try to not let it define me, but missing out on such an essential aspect of life inevitably defines a part of my character, and that’s okay. If I let the absence of a father in my life define me to a certain extent in a positive way, it can be a wonderful thing.

I’m not saying that not having a dad should define anyone completely.

It is very dangerous when women allow their relationships with their fathers to control their lives and drive their reckless decisions. This is where the stereotype comes from, that women who have never come to terms with the absence of their fathers have major issues with promiscuity and abuse.

I choose to see the absence of my father as a gain rather than a loss.

There are many great characteristics I acquired from my lack of dad; I have a remarkable amount of strength built up from the love I never received from a father figure.

I am self-sufficient and happily independent. I know exactly what I want in a man and the warning signs to look for in a bad person. I have a great sense of humor about it, too. If you can laugh about an uncomfortable situation, it will make you a much stronger person.

When you’re a girl without a father, people expect you to be broken. They presume your strength to be lacking and your will to be underwhelming. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Girls without fathers are the opposite of broken. We had to repair our own hearts and replace the emptiness we felt with the love we have for ourselves, as well as the love we receive from those around us. That’s another important detail about girls without fathers: We tend to have the greatest support systems surrounding us, in spite of it all.

Girls without fathers are expected to either detest men with every fiber of their beings or so desperately seek approval from men that they become promiscuous or clingy.

There are too many theories to count on the psychology of women who grow up without fathers. And sure, there are women who use the absence of a father to destroy their own self worth and spend their lives self-sabotaging whatever dignity they have left.

However, this is rare.

The average Generation-Y female without a dad is able to have ordinary, healthy relationships with men.

What people don’t expect girls without fathers to be is normal. They don’t expect us to be fulfilled individuals who have no resentment for males in general. They don’t expect us to be levelheaded thinkers who truly comprehend that all men are not evil.

People don’t expect the girl without a father to be unscathed or fortunate. From the outside looking in, the girl without a father will always have something missing — a large part of her heart, for sure. And, we won't deny that.

But, what the outsiders fail to understand is that we are not missing anything. My heart is too full of love and appreciation for the people I do have in my life to leave an empty space for someone who was never there to begin with.

People don’t understand that we are powerful beyond measure. We have known pain, and from that, we have gained might. It wasn’t always an easy journey for us, but on the opposite side of hardship is undeniable strength and we possess it.

At the end of the day, it truly does not matter what or whom other people perceive us to be. The people in our lives know us well enough to look past this detail. They see us as powerful individuals who have overcome challenges and prevailed in the end.

Don’t let the absence of a father ever be an issue. Don’t let it control your attitude or use it an as excuse. Take a seemingly negative situation and turn it into something that propels you forward.

Use it for artistic inspiration or professional ambition. Let it fuel who you are as a person.

When you’re a girl without a father, you’re expected to be a lot of horrible things.

Now it’s time to prove them wrong.