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Understanding a Fatherless Daughter

Updated on June 20, 2015

Fatherless Girls Miss Their Daddy

A girl's father is an important figure in her life. His loss or absence will affect the rest of her life. This fact is often lost on the caretakers of fatherless girls. If he was never there, or it has been a long time since he's been gone, people may think the girl has forgotten about him. Those people are wrong.

My Dad in 1954
My Dad in 1954

I Remember My Dad

I was a fatherless child, but I remember my dad. He was a smiling man who threw me up in the air and never failed to catch me. I never questioned his love for me. Having him disappear from my life was like having the earth crumble from beneath my feet.

My dad died when I was only six years old. Many people think that kids at that age cannot comprehend death. In my case that was not so.

A Child's Understanding of Death

Only a few months before my dad's death, the family dog had been killed by a car. It was a very upsetting thing for me, but I learned what it means to die. It meant that her little body was still and she was gone, she was never coming back.

My dad drowned in a scuba diving accident. The last time I saw him he was in his scuba gear, waving to me through an underwater window. I was unaware of the events taking place that day, I only knew that I was sent home with family friends, and later my mom came back, but my dad did not.

Caroline Kennedy lost her father nine months after I lost mine.
Caroline Kennedy lost her father nine months after I lost mine. | Source

A Child's Grief

It was not until a few days later that the minister came to our house and broke the news to us kids. I was the oldest of four. Maybe the others didn't really get it, but I did. The grown ups could talk about heaven, but the cold fact hit me like a brick, I would never see my dad again. Not in this life anyway.

I did not attend the funeral. My mom thought it best that we children remembered him alive. I guess she meant well, but I'm not sure it was the best thing for me.

Accepting That He's Never Coming Back

My family were devout Baptists. I was encouraged to pray, which I did. I am not sure that it was really the healthiest thing for me though. In Sunday school we were taught that God can do anything, even raise the dead.

I think in a situation like that a parent should make sure the kid understands, even though they have been taught that God raised Lazarus from the dead, and Christ also rose from his grave, that will not happen to their parent no matter how hard they pray. It's not just unlikely, there is no chance that it will happen.

Kids go through the same stages of grief as adults do, and often the adults around them are busy dealing with their own grief. I think that I really fell into the bargaining stage with my prayers. If I prayed hard enough maybe God would change his mind. I did not really think it would happen, but I tried. Of course, eventually I had to accept that this was my new life. My dad was gone, and he was never coming back.

All of this happened in 1963. At that time, I was really in the minority, being a kid with no dad. Even though it has been over fifty years since his death, I have missed my father every day of my life. How different my life would have been if not for that fateful day.

Baby girl and her dad
Baby girl and her dad

Father's Day Without a Dad

In those years, when father's day came, there was no alternative for kids who didn't have a dad. I was the odd girl out. The few other fatherless kids I knew were children of divorce, and that wasn't nearly as common as it is now. Now, most schools are sensitive to the fact that there are fatherless children in the class.

Today, plenty of kids grow up without their dad, most lose them through divorce or estrangement. For many of those kids, their dad was never really around at all. I guarantee you that every one of those kids has some kind of fantasy about their dad. At least I have some memories, and I know that I once had a dad that loved me.

Care-Taking a Fatherless Child

If you are a caretaker of a fatherless child, do not denigrate their father, and be aware that the kid hears things you say to others. If the father is a person you knew, try to find something positive to say about him. If you are the child's mother, there must have been something good about the man who fathered your child.

I'm not saying that you should lie, or make up some fantasy figure. Every human has some redeeming qualities. Maybe he loved music, and the child does too. Maybe he was a skilled mechanic, or had a great head for figures. Maybe he just had a magnetic smile, or a certain twinkle in his eye. He gave your child life, and half of her genes. Even if he is unknown to her, you should recognize the fact that her father is an important person in your child's life.

© 2015 Sherry Hewins


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 22 months ago from the short journey

      Thank you for sharing some of what you've learned through your journey. Parents may be so grief-stricken over such a loss that they cannot comprehend their children's' needs and what you offer here could be very helpful. Though I am sorry you lost your father so young, I am glad that you have good memories of him being a loving dad.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 22 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks RTalloni - I do treasure those memories, and Father's Day seems to make me stop and reflect on them.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Father's Day must be especially hard for fatherless children. This was a great hub Sherry and thank you for sharing these very personal memories and advice. It is sad that you lost your dad so early. Voted up.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 22 months ago from Central Florida

      Sherry, I can relate to this post. When my son was 14 he lost his dad to cancer. We were divorced at the time, but they had a close relationship. In fact, his dad only lived a few blocks from us, so they saw each other all the time. I know today will be hard for my son, as is his dad's birthday and the anniversary of his death.

      My heart goes out to all children who have lost a parent. The love never dies but the pain of loss is brought back to the surface on commemorative days such as Father's Day.

      Hang on to those memories until you are once again reunited.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 22 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jodah - Even though Father's Day is painful when your father is gone, it does make you stop and think about him. So, I think that is good.

      bravewarrior - That's a double whammy for your son. I think that, like me, your son is lucky to have had that connection. Sure it hurt to lose it, but as they say, it's better to have loved and lost...

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 22 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sherry, I can relate having lost my dad when I was 2 years old. I really do not remember him, but I've written several articles about him based on what family members have told me. I still love him with all my heart, and I know that the insights you have shared here are very helpful. Best to you going forward!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 22 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      MsDora - My little sister was only 2 when our dad died. She is frustrated because she can't remember him. She still misses him just as much as I do. Thanks for responding to my hub, I know there are lots of us walking around with this wound in our hearts.

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 22 months ago from Europe

      Beautiful written article. My father disappeared gradually from my life when I was about six years old. After ten years this contact was restored, but it appeared he was more or less a narcissist. Thanks for the beautiful Hub, and sharing the beautiful picture of your dad.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 22 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Buildreps, That must have been a very difficult experience. At least with a death, there is that finality. Now that you are an adult, I hope you are able to appreciate whatever positive attributes your father has, and forgive those weaknesses that made him unable to be the father you needed.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 21 months ago

      Thank you for sharing from your personal experience. I can't imagine how it was for you celebrating Father's Day over the years. I pray you continue to heal as you write and move forward.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      very sad indeed, at that age, I doubt anyone could have clear memory of anything but you did

    • profile image

      Rachel 21 months ago

      Hi there! Stumbled across your page while googling something else you have posted about and found this article instead. Interestingly enough, today marks three years of my dad passing at the age of 52. You are right on. It does not matter how much, or how little time we have with them, they are irreplaceable. I still can hear his voice ear as day in my mind and see him in my little guy who will never get to know him or have the a amazing gifts and wisdom he did passed down to my son. I think that hurts more, for me anyway. At least I learned and experienced those things. My little guy looks like his grandoa so it is a daily reminder. Thank you for sharing:)

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 21 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      teaches12345 - I always felt odd as a kid, but now I am thankful that it makes me take time to stop and reflect.

      peachpurple - I guess it made quite an impression, because the memory is clear as day.

      Rachel - Thanks for caring enough about my posts to search for them! I'm so sorry for the loss of your dad. I too have felt sad that my kids missed having my dad as a grandpa, and he missed that experience of being the grandpa.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 18 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      It took me some time to get through this, dear Sherry. I had to keep blinking away the tears. My heart feels so heavy, reading of this terrible loss you experienced at such a tender age. There's a merciless lump in my throat.

      Yet I see the light that you hold tightly for your loving father and know that you feel such warmth, remembering him.

      Your Dad is so very proud of you, Sherry. Bless you & your family.

      Peace, Paula

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 18 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thank you for pushing through it Paula I shed a few tears writing it too. Losing my dad as as a young child was a pivotal event in my life.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 18 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sherry....My 47 and 45 year old sons lost their Dad at (nearly) 3yrs & 6mos.of age...Yes, making me a 23 year old widow. I've been to that pain station, honey. I felt deeply for your Mom too. We ALL share in these dark times and cruel moments. How else can we lean on one another?

    • profile image

      teegee 16 months ago

      I am so sorry for your loss Sherry. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I cried through the whole article. This is such helpful information for anyone that has a child in their life with a deceased parent. I lost my dad as a young adult and it has been so excruciatingly painful since he's gone. I didn't have a wedding because I couldn't walk down the aisle without my dad. I know your dad is so proud of the woman you are. Maybe our dads are friends in heaven

    • Sharlee01 profile image

      Sharon Stajda 12 months ago from Shelby Township Michigan

      Thank you for sharing ... It touched my heart

    • EZ Swim Fitness profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 12 months ago from Southern Wisconsin

      I don't have many regrets in my life - thankfully but not sharing how much my father meant to me is a regret. He left me decades too soon - not as soon as yours so I am thankful but oh, if I could go back and share with him. Sometimes, I find it comforting to "talk" to him in heaven and hope he can hear the words I left out when he was here on earth with me.

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