Father-Daughter Attachments © Martyn Carruthers
Online Relationship Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
Are you entangled with a parent? Were you abused?
Are you ready to manage your fixations and enjoy emotional freedom?
Continued from: Daddy’s Princess – Part 1
Solutions for Father-Daughter Fixation
I wrote this to describe and clarify some common family habits and solutions.
Many people avoid talking about these fixations and their consequences.
If you feel strong emotions as you read this … consider contacting us.
Patterns of Love or Patterns of Need
If lonely parents mold or groom children into substitutes for partners – confusion and suffering will surely follow. Consider a family of a father, mother and daughter. If a father loves a daughter as a substitute for a partner, few daughters can resist such love. If a daughter feels that her mother does not appreciate her father enough, a daughter may try to give her father the love that her mother seems to withhold.
I felt abandoned by my husband and betrayed by my daughter … at first I was depressed.
Then I felt really angry, but the more I tried to win back my daughter’s love,
the closer she and my husband became. Chicago
Such a mother may confront her husband and/or reject her daughter. If she tries to hide her emotions and ignore it, she may become depressed or sick. She may consider leaving. Although covert incest is common, she may be unable to recognize it.
My teenage daughter clings to my husband … until age 12 she was a tomboy,
but now she sort of hovers around him … and he enjoys this too much.
He says there’s nothing wrong, but what can I do? Sydney
If the mother leaves or dies, an entangled father may seek another partner. However, if a man is preoccupied with his daughter, a later partner will notice and respond. The pattern will likely repeat, especially if the new partner prefers immature men.
Later, the enmeshed daughter may only attract, and be attracted to, immature men. The family may be unable to notice this unless the daughter becomes pregnant, depressed, addicted or suicidal – and often not even then. See Teenage Girl in Trouble.
Hidden in Plain Sight
‘Daddy’s Girls’ often prefer relationships with immature men. But immature men will likely prefer their daughters to their wives … while immature mothers often fixate on their own sons. These twin habits of codependence continue across generations.
Occasionally, emotional incest escalates to sexual incest. Father-daughter sexual incest accounts for about one third of all cases of child sexual abuse. We find that emotional incest is much more common, although rarely reported. Many men show more love to their daughters more than to their wives.
Daughters lacking authentic fathers may construct imaginary fantasy fathers, and bond to their fantasies. Later in life they may forever seek substitutes for their fantasies, searching for a perfect man, with rather sad but predictable consequences.
A daughter may be her Daddy’s Princess … but sooner or later …
every princess wants to be a queen.
My parents never took me seriously … at 29 I was still their little girl! … After a few sessions with you my family started treating me as an adult. Since then I began a relationship with a man who treats me like a real woman – for the first time ever. The last seven months have been wonderful and we plan to get married. Toronto
Princess in a Dark Tower
Entangled adult daughters may suffer conflict. They may want to show Father: “YES – I’ll be the special child-woman that you need!” and at the same time: “NO – I will not do this. I withdraw or rebel until you accept me as I am!”
As these daughters age, they often become moody and depressed. They cannot enjoy healthy partnership. By their 30’s they may unconsciously sabotage their appearance (e.g. obesity, smell or skin conditions) to keep men away. They may distract themselves, or immerse themselves in work. They may leave home to live far away.
Children enmeshed by their parents often feel special.
Love is not enough – they want devotion. They may be angry
or depressed if people fail to appreciate how special they are.
When parents separate, a mother may convince her daughter to be angry with her father, and alienate him. The daughter may avoid contact with her father until adolescence, and later avoid partnership or seek a partner who is like her father.
She may seek immature older men (substitutes for her father). She may withdraw into a career, a religion or into a string of shallow romances. She may only be attracted to married men or she may decide that she must be lesbian. Her risk of depression may increase as she approaches her mid-thirties. Her life doesn’t make sense.
If father-daughter bonding is sanctioned by her family and culture, a daughter who attempts to escape may incur family and community wrath. A combination of parental, family, community and religious pressures can be extreme. Many women leave home forever – some by suicide – rather than conform to such unhealthy conditions.
If a daughter rebels against an immature father, we see three common possibilities. The daughter may take a passive helpless-child role, an aggressive dominant-mother role, or a conflicted passive-aggressive role.
Such daughters may rebel against their fathers, or rebel against all men. They may avoid intimate relationships or only attract immature men. They rarely understand why their relationships fail. Are they adult-girls? Child-women? Mother’s rivals? Father’s princesses? Who are they?
Mother-son codependence is normal in southern Europe. My mother wished so much to be with my older brother, and my father was angry and dissatisfied. I was sent each day to ‘humor father’ after work – Mom told me what to do to please him. I said Yes and No to Father, as you describe and followed the patterns that you describe. I’m not sure that I’m not doing it still. My mother wanted
to be with my brother, so, there was no betrayal, I think. Macedonia
Some of Daughter’s Emotions
Women who have received their father’s inappropriate love often express:
- A deep need to feel special
- Sadness about her lost childhood
- Anger about emotional pressure from men
- Fear of being rejected by men (can’t say “No!”)
- Fear of being controlled by men (can’t say “Yes!”)
Daughter’s Relationship Cycle
Following covert emotional incest, many women follow similar patterns:
- She meets a man who has some qualities of her father
- She finds herself acting overly compliant or overly controlling
- The man becomes increasingly demanding and moody
- She may feel trapped and seek distractions or affairs
- She may sabotage and end their partnership, and/or
- She may create an addict-helper codependent relationship, and/or
- She may create a baby in an attempt to re-create intimacy
- She may tell her children “I only stay with your father for you!“
My wife kept saying I was like her father. When I suggested that we meet
you, she exploded … but since our couple counseling, we have changed …
She rarely acts like a little girl now – nor does she try to mother me.
Instead she is the woman of my dreams.
We can help you manage emotions and dissolve family entanglements
Daddy’s Princess – Part 1 . Teenage Girl in Trouble
Online Relationship Coaching, Counseling & Systemic Therapy
|Email from a Teenage Girl (USA, age 18 – verbatim)girls can love their fathers even if they reject their mothers.. it doesnt matter . most parents love their children more than their spouses , thats a very obvious good thing. there is no such thing as incest. .. incest existed many years ago. but thats differnt.
girls who have deep loving relationships with their fathers and not with their mothers are in no danger . a father and daughter who love eachother like crazy .. is what saves a child!!!
a girl has one parent. a father. the mother at the most grows to be a friend.
emotional incest has no defination . its upto the child. i know children who are madly inlvoe with their parents!! daughters who simple lvoe their fathers and thse are the happiest children. every family should be like that. it shouldnt be boring. it should be exciting , it should have passion!!! why not!
some daughters kiss their fathers passionately on their lips!! a friend kisses her dad like. she lieks scaring people. hehe. but if a child doenst consider it to be emotional incest , then it is not.
a partner is just a legal way of having sex.. than getting invloved with hookers and porno. but most parents are sooo inlvoe with their children.. sex is boring. true love is more than god. thats why parnents and childrne want to be inlove and be happy together. if that is emotinal incet,. thank god for it!! iam for it!! hhaha.