Absent Father

Whether you grew up without your father in your life, lost him to an illness or accident, or are isolated from him after a divorce, having an absent father can feel overwhelming – and it may put you at risk for harmful behavior. 

TheHopeLine helps many people face this issue and regain a sense of connection to people important to them.
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What Is "Father Hunger"

Father hunger refers to the emotional distress people experience throughout their lives due to their father abandoning them or emotional father absence (also called father deficit).  According to the Kentucky School of Alcohol and Drug Studies, father hunger is, "A lack of sufficient fathering due to death, emotional unavailability or desertion and the child's yearning for this fathering, often throughout their life span."

It's important to know that father hunger can affect children of any age, at any time.  It can happen between biological fathers and children, or you could yearn for a connection with your stepfather or adopted father.  No matter your situation, you should not feel ashamed that you yearn for the presence of your father, or for someone who can give you the affection and quality time your father was unwilling or unable to give you.

Physical

In many cases, if your father has been absent from your life, you run the risk of choosing harmful physical behaviors to fill a void left in your life. Behaviors such as eating disorders, self-harm, codependency, and addiction. Any of these behaviors negatively affect your physical health.

Emotional

Father abandonment inflicts emotional trauma. Even if your father didn't intentionally abandon you, as in cases of military deployment, death, incarceration, etc., not having a dad in your life can affect your emotional health. The void from having an absent father can lead to many emotional responses such as low self-worth, anger, trust issues and identity crisis. This can create emotional dysfunction in various relationships.

Spiritual

You may feel a sense of emptiness caused by the absence of a father. This can inflict a deep and painful wound on your soul, leaving your spirit craving attention. If you’re not mindful of this you may seek attention in unhealthy ways leading to co-dependency, attachment disorders and love addiction. It's important for you to seek healthy spiritual guidance toward wholeness and healing.

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Check out these stories of hope from others who have struggled with this issue.

Who Experiences Father Hunger?

Sometimes people ask, “Why do I experience father hunger, even though my dad is a toxic person to be around?” 

Father hunger is not about whether or not your dad is a good person and has made good choices. It’s rooted in a longing for relationship and connection with your father. It’s a natural desire to want to have a relationship with your father.

People experience father hunger for different reasons.

• You are fatherless and grieve the loss of your father.
• You feel abandoned (either by your father’s choice or by court-ordered terms of a divorce and separation).
• You live with an abusive father.
• Your father has an addiction that isolates him from relationships.

If your father is still living, and if he is legally permitted to see or contact you, it may be possible to repair, rebuild, or restore a relationship with him. If that’s not possible, you can still develop healthy relationships with people who can give you guidance and support.
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Caring For Your Deeper Needs

It’s important not to let issues that come with having an absent father go unaddressed because it can lead to choices and behaviors that put your safety and well-being at risk.  If you have an absent father, you are more likely to struggle with some of the following behaviors.

Addictive behaviors such as cutting/self harm, substance abuse, or eating disorders.

Surrounding yourself with toxic or abusive friends and/or romantic relationships.

Having sex before you want to, when you don’t feel ready, or being at increased risk for sexual assault.

Low self-esteem and hating yourself.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

You may find it hard to place your trust in God as your Heavenly Father because your experience with your earthly father has tainted your view. But God never wanted you to feel the pain of abandonment. God is a good and perfect Father. His love for you is secure and unconditional. God never changes. He remains true to His promises because He never waivers. As it says in the Bible, Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  James 1:17 (NLT)

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