“Daddy Issues” What is it actually?


Growing up, how has your relationship been with your father? You might not completely be aware of it, but this relationship between the two of you plays an important role in deciding who you are today. You are likely to have heard people saying “I have daddy issues!!”. Nowadays, it is used as a label stuck to the smallest of problems people might have with their father. It is also used as a describing quality for girls in toxic relationships. ‘Daddy Issues’ has become a term that is thrown around without addressing its true essence. This article aims to go beyond the informality that has now been attached to the phenomenon and to explore its real meaning.

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What do you mean by Daddy Issues?

Daddy Issues is a term that has come up due to pop culture. It is used to loosely describe what is called the ‘Father Complex’. While the two words are used synonymously nowadays, there are a few additional beliefs attached to the term ‘daddy issues’. Mental Health professionals refer to it as ‘father complex’ today as well. Let’s look deeper into the use of these two terms.

Primarily these terms highlight those issues that arise later in life as an impact of the relationship dynamics between a father and a child. Issues in adulthood can be observed in the form of trust issues, or a constant need for love and approval. People with a father complex can be overly possessive or clingy. While the base of both the terms remains the same, people today associate the word ‘daddy issues’ mainly with females who show toxic attitudes. It’s also used as a way to slut shame girls, which is a wrong practice. It is believed that Females who have daddy issues are likely to be more into older men.

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Additionally, they might repeatedly find themselves in abusive relationships. Remember that it is perfectly normal for men to have daddy issues as well. Recently, in the Hindi movie ‘Animal’’, Ranbir Kapoor’s character was portrayed as having daddy issues. Men with daddy issues struggle with doubts about self-worth and seek approval. A 2014 study on the topic “Effects of Father Absence on Children’s Academic Performance” states that apart from these issues, a child with an absent father can show a significant decrease in academic performance.

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The Relationship between a Child and Their Father:

The relationship between a father and a child is a complicated one. Mothers are always viewed as the primary caregivers, and fathers are often expected to provide for the family, at least during the pregnancy and the first few years of childbirth. As they get more involved with work, they might find it difficult to give enough time to their children.

You might have heard that many girls are given the label of a ‘daddy’s girl’. It is easier for fathers to connect with their daughters than their sons. Since the father is the primary male figure in girls’ lives, they tend to search for a partner with the same qualities as their father. In the case of sons, they try to mirror their father’s actions. The father becomes a role model for the male child as they aspire to be like their fathers.

As children grow up, there is difficulty in maintaining a close relationship with the father. While mothers are emotional and show their affection, fathers might find it hard to express their love as males are always expected to be strong and not emotional. It’s important to keep in mind that the relationship one has with their father is as important as that with their mother. Even if fathers are less involved in the child’s upbringing, the relationship dynamics need to be positive so that children don’t face issues later in life.

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Having an Absent Father:

When there is a child present in the household, every action has its consequences. Thus, it is important to always be mindful to avoid reinforcement of negative attitudes in the child. Also, being a positive role model is equally important for health. A father might be absent in their child’s life because they’ve prioritized work or their social life over the family.

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Let’s consider the movie ‘Animal’ that has recently hit the screens. The movie is highly focused on daddy issues. Balbir Singh (played by Anil Kapoor) is the father of Ranvijay Singh (played by Ranbir Kapoor). A little boy who deeply loved his father could not spend time with him since Balbir was always busy with his business. The movie starts by portraying Ran‘vijay Singh as a child who is excited to finally see his father on his birthday. However, Balbir is not able to make it. As Vijay grows up, his actions grow more violent and his love for his father remains to be over the top. This character whose actions started to get out of control forgets his bag in the class in his childhood, takes a gun to his sister’s college, and finally kills hundreds of people as a grown-up. To make things worse, he covers up his actions by attributing them to be a result of the love he has for his father.

Throughout his life, Vijay tries to get his father’s love and approval. Failing to get his attention, the animal in him slowly comes out till he reaches his worst possible self to protect his father. Aside from this, Vijay’s daddy issues have also affected his attitude towards his wife, Geetanjali (played by Rashmika Mandanna). He continues to be abusive, and also sleeps with another woman, again to protect his father.

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The movie creates an animal as a result of daddy issues and exaggerates its effects. It also brings attention to the seriousness of daddy issues and portrays aggressiveness as a result. A 2013 review of literature titled ‘The causal effects of father absence’ finds strong evidence that shows that father absence negatively affects social-emotional development in children. It also mentions the increase in externalizing behaviour (aggressive, violent) as a result of daddy issues.

What might be the Cause of your Daddy Issues?

Daddy Issues can be caused by many factors. It can also differ in severity. Daddy issues refer to a broad spectrum of issues that can from another broad spectrum of paternal actions. The most common behaviours exhibited by fathers that lead to father complex are being absent or abusive (whether it is directed towards the child or their mother). Controlling fathers who make every decision for their children may raise adults who look for approval after every small task. Emotionally unavailable fathers make children confused.

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It might even be as simple as the father being unable to show his love, making the child believe that they are not cared for. Now, daddy issues do not necessarily have to arise from a negative parent-child relationship. If a child observes their father to continuously be distressed, they are likely to be depressed or even rebellious as they grow up. If a father is financially dependent on his child from a young age, the child might grow up to be someone who can easily be exploited. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those dads who spoil their children excessively. This might lead them to set unhealthy expectations for their future partners.

Overcoming these Issues:

Daddy’s Issues can be dealt with by seeking professional help. These mental health care professionals can work with you to find the best coping strategies and help you develop healthy relationships. Daddy issues can lead to low self-esteem, high expectations, insecurities and many more negative traits. Therapy can help you overcome resulting anxiousness and stress.

If these issues come in between a relationship, couple therapy might prove to be useful. Ask yourself – do you have daddy issues? Even if the severity of your problems is next to nil, if you are aware of their existence, you should always try to work towards it. While therapy is the most effective way to overcome a father complex, also consider self-reflection. Talk to your father about your feelings if you’ve never tried that before. Try to forgive for your own sake. Build healthy relationships and set healthy boundaries for yourself.

References +
  • https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/daddy-issues-ranbir-kapoor-animal-psychological- problems-pop-culture-13464042.html
  • https://www.talkspace.com/blog/daddy-issues/
  • https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/295346373.pdf
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6415916/
  • https://www.perspectivesoftroy.com/2020/10/08/father-complex-the-psychology-behind-daddy issues/#:~:text=What%20Is%20a%20Father%20Complex,in%20bad%20decisions%20wi th%20relationships.
  • https://www.talkspace.com/blog/daddy-issues/
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