But it’s never too late to start – or continue – the healing process. But there is nothing we have been through, or seen, or done, that cannot be used to make our lives more valuable now.I’ll end this with some words from one of my all-time favourite books – grow up in a dysfunctional home? Here’s a little-known fact: for both boys and girls, the relationship with the opposite-sex parent has the profoundest of bearings on whether or not we grow up to be happy, serene, healthy, fulfilled individuals.The way in which her father interacted with her as she was growing up is a major factor in how a woman’s nervous system is wired, which in turn impacts her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, her self-image, her view of the world, and the ease – or otherwise – with which she loves and trusts as a woman.Just one of several painful memories she’s recounted during our sessions: she was back on a short Easter break from university when a trivial argument broke out with her mother at the lunch table.As usual, her father took her mother’s side and showed no interest in N’s feelings.Research has also shown that such girls are likely to enter puberty later.Likewise, when a father is absent, distant or the relationship is unsupportive, a daughter is much more likely to experience an early onset of menstruation. Because when a girl is not getting the attention and affirmation she so desperately needs from her father, puberty is triggered prematurely in an unconscious – and heartbreaking – attempt to attract the attention of other men, instead.
This is why girls will mistake their fathers’ issues for their own – if their father doesn’t relate to them with love, they’ll assume they must therefore not be loveable.
He provided for the family and was always there for his children when needed, but his manner of relating to N alternated, for the most part, between emotionally distant, and harshly judgmental and disapproving.
For a highly sensitive child this was devastating, and the pattern continued through her teens, twenties and thirties.
The father-son relationship is universally seen as important – the world is aware that a boy needs a positive male role model as he grows into a man.
But many see a girl’s relationship with her father as secondary to her bond with her mother.