THE EFFECTS OF ABSENT FATHERS ON THEIR
The Effects of Absent Fathers on their Daughters
Introduction: Reviewof Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
We live in a sin filled world. Most Christian’s will not contest this. If we take but
a moment to open our eyes and look around, we are inundated by this pervading
depravity. We cannot run from it. Though we may try to ignore it, it does not go away.
How does this wickedness affect us as Christian’s? Does it ignite our souls, so that our
hearts overflow with passion for the unprivileged, lost and broken? Do our hearts shatter
because of the pain others endure, or do we turn a blind eye to atrocities and hurt because
it is easier? Do we allow “someone else” to enter into the pits and aid the lost? These
questions should be essential to the Christ follower.
Once these questions are asked, one can then begin to dig deeper. As Carolyn
Custis James has done in her book Half the Church. In this book, James calls not only on
Christians, but specifically Christian women. She encourages them to take up the mantle
of being kingdom-ezers. In response to her reading of Half the Sky, James calls women to
be aware of God’s vision for women worldwide. This means we must identify several
truths. First, we must identify God’s call on women worldwide regardless of time, socio-
economic conditions and extenuating circumstance. Secondly, we must identify the
plights of women everywhere. Thirdly, we must steer away from thinking of Biblical
messages to women pertaining only to motherhood and wifely duties. It is through this
process that I have decided to focus this paper on the issue of absent fathers in the
development and well-being of girls/women.
Identifying the absent father issue
The issue of absent fathers is rampant throughout our American culture. While
most of the research and facts in this paper come from American research, it is important
to note that the conclusions can be drawn across cultural boundaries. Assuming that the
results of research on absent fathers only apply to American’s would be arrogant. A
question to ask then would be: If the evidence found in this paper is so severe, then how
much more serious are the effects when a father curses the girls born to him, or sells them
into trafficking, or kills them simply for being a girl?
It is important to begin the discussion of absent father’s with a definition of what
is meant by the term. “Absent fathers are defined as those who do not interact with their
children on a regular basis and consequently do not play a significant role in their
development. Divorce, death and abandonment are all forms of absence”1 Though the
research examined in this paper is specifically geared toward this definition of absent
father’s it is relative to ask about fathers who are absent due to being a workaholic or
alcoholic? What of the fathers who simply detach because they don’t know how to relate
to their daughters? Absent fathers, as a term, defines much more than the above statement
Discuss the issue at large
Often times, the Church emphasizes same gender parental and mentoring roles. It
is easy to say that a girl needs her mother and women should mentor women. Research
shows however, that a Dad is just as important to shaping his daughters life and her
1Franklin B. Krohn, Zoe Bogan, "The Effects Absent Fathers have on Female Developemnt and College
Attendance," College Student Journal (2001).
understanding of herself as her mom. There are many disastrous effects on young girls
related to absent fathers.
It has been found that girls whose fathers are absent begin puberty earlier. The
gene for androgen sensitivity is increased in these girls. This is linked to an early
menarche and precocious sexual activity. Girls who were raised in a home with a father
present experienced puberty and their first sexual encounter later than those whose
fathers were absent. Girls who were raised in homes without their fathers were twice as
likely to start their periods by seventh grade and seven times more likely to experience
pregnancy in adolescence.2
A present father undergirds a girl with a feeling of protection and security.
Without this assurance, a girl/woman is left feeling insecure and unprotected. The result
of this is teenage pregnancy, dropping out of college or never attempting to attend college
and low self-esteem. Fathers provide a secure foundation for their daughters, giving them
a confidence to succeed and accomplish tasks they set out to do.3
A father’s presence or lack thereof, affects the way a girl/woman relates to and
interacts with men. When a father leaves his daughter at an early age, her perception of
males is altered.4 It is difficult for girls to form lasting relationships with men when they
have been raised with little contact from their fathers. This is especially true of father’s
absent during adolescence. These girls tend to avoid men or become sexually aggressive.
Girls/women who have had a loving interaction with their father throughout their life
2 Mari Macloed,."Her fathers daughter," New Scientist (2007).
3 Franklin B. Krohn, Zoe Bogan, "The Effects Absent Fathers have on Female Developemnt and College
Attendance," College Student Journal (2001).
4 Mari Macloed,."Her fathers daughter," New Scientist (2007).
tend to interact with males using the father-daughter relationship as a model. Knowing
they are loved by at least one male, their father, these girls/women have a genuine feeling
of acceptance. Conversely, girls with absent fathers grow up feeling desperate for male-
attention. The lack of day-to-day interaction with a loving, caring male figure makes it
more likely for fatherless girls to become unwed mothers, promiscuous, have an abortion,
and/or cohabitate. “Without this continuous sense of being valued and loved, a young girl
does not thrive, but rather is stunted in her emotional development.”5
How does the issue impact a girl’s and woman’s view of herself
It is obvious from these studies that a woman raised in a home without a father or
in a relationship that lacked day-to-day caring attention from her father, will lack
assurance as a woman. A father’s role is vital to forming a woman’s view of herself.
Without his voice, she is left wondering if she is unlovable. If her father, who should
automatically love her, can’t, then she develops a sense of something being wrong with
her. This insecurity can lead to seeking validation from other males. It is this seeking of
validation that leads to sexual compromise.
A woman, who grows up without a father giving her confidence, can be left
feeling insecure. Unrelated to her value as desirable woman, she may lack the confidence
to pursue her dreams. She may go many years without truly pursuing her heart or her
passions. It is difficult for one who never had a strong male voice of affirmation, to see
herself as capable and confident.
It is also difficult for a woman who grew up without a father to understand her
relationship with God the father. The insecurities she has related to abandonment and un-
5 Franklin B. Krohn, Zoe Bogan, "The Effects Absent Fathers have on Female Developemnt and College
Attendance," College Student Journal (2001).
lovability will most likely spill over into her relationship with God. It will be difficult to
trust God’s goodness, faithfulness, steadfastness, and unconditional love due to the
absence of their earthly father.
Lies that come out of this issue
There are three main lies that a woman who grew up with an absent father will
have to deal with. First, the lie that she is unlovable, secondly, the lie that God is like her
earthly father, and lastly that she has to have a man/husband to be happy. These lies have
all been discussed earlier but it may be useful to piece them out more fully in the next
In her book Lie’s Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, Nancy Leigh
Demoss designates an entire chapter to each of these lies. She identifies a woman
“Victoria” and tells her story. It includes a “difficult and distant family, in which love
was always conditional.” While it does not specifically identify her father, it is apparent
that Victoria’s family life directly affected the way she is able to see truths about God.
The end result of not being able to trust that God loves you is all encompassing. It spills
over into all areas of life and “the implications are enormous and affect every other area
of our lives and relationships.”6
Demoss continues on in her identification of lies by stating that “as women, our
view of God is often greatly influenced by the men we have known—particularly our
fathers.” It is clear that a woman with a good, loving earthly father has an easier time
trusting God and pursing an intimate relationship with Him than girls/women who have
had a poor experience or no experience with an earthly father. Nancy ends her section on
6 Nancy Leigh Demoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
the lie that “God is like my father” with this thought: “The wisest, kindest earthly father
is but a pale reflection of our heavenly Father.”7
The final lie “I need a man or husband to make me happy” is clearly perpetuated
by the lack of father in a young girl’s life. Due to the fact that she has no security from
the first male figure in her life, she may begin to pursue that security in other male
relationships. Even as a Christian, a young women who has grown up without a father
may have a hard time realizing and living out of the truth that Christ is enough and His
sufficiency should satisfy any longings for validation and value that she may feel.8
The Truth to Rebuttal these Lies:
The amazing reality of these lies is that God has provided many reassuring truths
to counter them. John 15:13, Romans 5:8, 8:32, 38-39, Ephesians 3:14-19, 1 John 4:7-10
all speak to that fact that God’s love is unconditional. A woman who feels unlovable,
especially by God, can lean on these scriptures to help build her up and keep her going
when the lie becomes too much to handle. Proverbs 3:12, Psalm 68:5,Psalm 146:9
Hebrews 12:9-10, Isaiah9:6 and 1 John 3:1 are all scriptures that a woman struggling
with the lie that God is like her father, can lean on. When a woman struggles with the
idea that she needs a man to be happy she can rest in God’s sufficiency to meet her needs.
Psalm 23:1, 73:23-26, Colossians 3:9-10 are all filled with truths that will help fight off
this particular lie.
Recommendations for those working with Women with absent Fathers
7 Nancy Leigh Demoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
8 Nancy Leigh Demoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
It is important for anyone working with women to know the backgrounds of these
women. If it is not possible to know the exact backgrounds such as a woman working
with crowds or masses of women, it is important that she know that women come from
many different backgrounds. One of these specific backgrounds can be growing up with
an absent father. This reality plays out widely in the lives of females. It affects how they
view themselves, how they view God, and how they interact with others, namely men.
The best way to address these issues is to be aware of them. To know that women
who are dealing with the lies and feelings are based in the insecurities caused by their
father’s absence. Looking for any opening to reinforce God’s unconditional love, His
perfect goodness, and His sufficiency will aid in the redemption and healing process.
Understanding that the issues caused by an absent father are deeply rooted and last well
into adulthood will allow anyone working with these women to remain sensitive to their
Based on the above research it is evident that the absence of fathers in the lives of
females is detrimental. Carolyn Custis James calls all women to be aware of the plight of
women worldwide. This issue is prevalent in the US but the results and effects on young
girls are most likely similar worldwide. It is important in identifying this issue, to
remember James’ call to women to be kingdom-ezers. Maybe it is best to be urged to
action with the words “God is shaking his daughters awake and summoning us to
engage.” This is but one issue facing women today, many others affect women daily and
it is up to kingdom-ezers to act on behalf of these issues.9
9 Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women. (Grand Rapids:
Demoss, Nancy Leigh. Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.
Franklin B. Krohn, Zoe Bogan. "The Effects Absent Fathers have on Female
Developemnt and College Attendance." College Student Journal, 2001.
James, Carolyn Custis. Half the Church Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women.
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.
Kavanagh, C. Kate. "The Father-Daughter Relationship." Annals of the American
Psychotherapy Association, 2002.
Macloed, Mari. "Her fathers daughter." New Scientist, 2007.
Syri. "Maybe This Time I'm Ready To Share." Experience Project. Jan 5, 2010.
Father/855557> (accessed August 26, 2010).