Being a quick observer, I have come across some girls who are entirely independent and having no fear of anyone at family, whereas, on the other hand, there are some girls who were quite shy unable to speak in public. Upon a little bit investigation, I came to know some of them miss their father, some of them do not afraid of their mom as their fathers are not living with them; so the common thing was fatherlessness. The term fatherlessness includes all the fathers who are separated, divorced, imprisoned, travel for the sake of business, in the military, and are absent more than their presence. These fathers do not interact with their children and play no decisive role in their development. As Kristol (1994) found that daughters who live without their fathers usually having cognitive declines and poor academic achievement. Research also indicates that being brought up in a family where the father is absent has the negative impact on both children. When the relationship of the father is disturbed with the daughter, she will not be able to see other relationships positively and will develop the image of all the men around to be like her father.
According to Calvin (1993) states, there are many studies that have demonstrated that a girl’s initial relationship with her dad impacts the ways she will view all men—in her personal as well as profession. He further added that the girls that experience abandonment would probably encounter vocational issues higher, for example, burnout, low aspiration and efficiently be threatened by the male authority figures. Such girls also make a fantasy of their dad and invest years looking for a man to satisfy that fantasy through the close relationship. Calvin additionally talks about the idea that those females who experience fatherlessness tend to be clingy towards their beloved nearly in a suffocating way that they have a constant fear of being abandoned similar as they were fathers left them once.
Similarly, Christiani (2003) corresponds that fatherless girls tend to have a restless attachment style in the intimate relationship, which implies that they are less willing to leave a relationship regardless of any social or relational issues. She also found that fatherless women have a capacity of having the long-term relationship -might be negative-as compared to other women because the abandonment sometimes evokes something positive within a person as indicated by relational theory.
According to my observation, the father-daughter relation is of significant importance in a variety of domains. But death, abandonment, and divorce are all father’s absence, but all the three affect the development of daughters differently. A study has shown the age at which a girl loses her father is significant, as it profoundly impacts her perception related to males, her academics, and the world around her (Blankenhorn, 1996).
What are the effects of fatherlessness on girls?
The sample of the present study consisted of fatherless girls. The sample was comprised of 14 females with a wide range of age starting with 20 years. Given below is the graphical representation of our sample.
Figure 1: Pie graph showing age of fatherless females
Fig 2: Histogram showing ethnicity of fatherless females
Figure 3: Graph showing level of females’ education
The graphs showed that out of 14, 12 were Blacks whereas two did not disclose their ethnicity. All of them were educated as can be seen in the graph.
Data Collection Procedures
Data was collected using online survey software. The current study was descriptive, but as it had a focus on the fatherless girls, so the desired sample was not easy to locate. That is why snowball sampling technique was used; this is anon probability technique that is used to gather data from a sample that is rare. So in this study by using the snowball sampling technique, the female who complete the online survey form transferred the link to any known one who was also fatherless. A questionnaire was designed to explore the effect of fatherlessness on girls.
To encourage participation of females in the study, an online survey software was used, and participants were approached through snowball sampling. At the beginning of survey the purpose of the study, the reason behind contacting those participants, and the ways how the collected to date will be utilized by the researcher (Walonick, 2004). This was done to clarify different questions if aroused in the minds of participants. They were told that their participation in the study is on the voluntary basis and they are allowed to leave the survey anytime they want. They were also told that their anonymity would be maintained and collected data will only be used for research purposes only.
To determine the effect of fatherlessness on females the questionnaire was designed that contained 56 questions out of which seven questions were related to demographics of the sample including age, ethnicity, education, marital status, and presence of children. Some of them were funnel questions like ‘Are you a mother?’ then ‘if you have children, has your father loss affected you as a mother?’ The other items of the questionnaire included questions related to the effect of fatherlessness on social development, e.g. ‘If you had siblings, how did your father’s absence affect your relationship, if at all?’, emotional development, e.g., ‘Do you think you have anger issues?’, mental development, e.g., ‘Do you consider yourself aggressive or headstrong?‘ psychological development e.g. ‘Do you think that you have a fear of commitment?’, and spiritual development, e.g., ‘Please select the positive things you have gained in your life, if any, despite your loss’, financial issues, e.g. ‘How was your family’s financial situation after your father was gone?’ , and academic performance, e.g., ‘Do you believe that your father loss affected your decisions on your abilities regarding academic performance?’.’.
The use of Online Survey Software to collect data simplified the coding process significantly. The data was automatically coded upon downloading. The majority of the questions in the questionnaire were descriptive and contained a checklist. So the responses were obtained in descriptive a well as graphical form. Moreover, the collected responses were then transformed into the Excel sheet.
The purpose of a quantitative study is to quantify the effect of fatherlessness on girls. In this study, the researcher has focused on investigating the effect of fatherlessness on girls (Appendix A). The analysis resulted in a set of frequency on the checklist. The first level of analysis was to determine the frequency of each response, so the responses are given below. Findings of the present study indicated that 36% of the females experienced fatherlessness due to their fathers’ death, 14% experienced due to the parental divorce, 7% experienced as their father abandoned the family, for 14 % the father was emotionally unavailable, 14% of them had an addicted father, 7% experienced as their father gave her up for adoption, and 7% responded that she has never met to their father. Upon asking them that at which age they have gone through the phenomenon of fatherlessness; 28% of them were below the age 5, 57% of them were between 11-15 years of age, 7% of them were between the age range of 16-20 and 7% were over 30 years of age. So the responses indicated that there were the variety of respondents who participated in our study and experienced fatherlessness at the different age.
Father is a significant figure whose presence is essential in ones’ life. Both girls and boys find it difficult to spend their life without their father. In our study, 14% of the females reported that they think about their father on a daily basis and 14% on a weekly basis and this was the major reason that their life was being affected. Almost 85% of them received counseling/therapy/life-coaching to accept this great loss, and 63% of them reported that have found peace and accept what has happened. Although some of them had some a ‘stand-in’ father figure in their life. 21% reported a step-father, 21% reported an uncle, 7% reported mother and 7% reported that their mother was that ‘stand-in’ person.
Females also suffer from the psychological issues that hinder their performance on daily lives. Even being a mother, losing a father by whatever means have a significant influence as 50% responded that this loss has negatively impacted them.
As 42% experienced the fear of being abandoned, 33% were having a fear of commitment, and 16% remained the victim of violence. Some of them have undergone through relationship and commitment issues as due to having fear of commitment as 43% reported that they still have a fear of commitment and because of this reason 29% of them reported that they tested a man by leaving him to see if he will come back or not as the figure 4 indicates.
Figure 4: histogram showing what females were most afraid of.
Figure 5: Graph showing the frequency of fear of commitment
So 7% of them got married thrice, whereas 15% of them were married more than even three times.
Fatherlessness has a significant impact on the mental health of the girls as 71% of them have to struggle with Alcohol and 29% were having eating issues. Upon asking that what was the financial situation of family at the time when father was gone, 21.43% of them said that they were financially stable, 35.71% were somewhat economically stable, and 14.29% have to work at young age, 7.14% of their mom has to do multiple jobs, and 21.43% were at the level of poverty as shown in figure 6.
Figure 6: Graph showing financial situation after fatherlessness
The academics of 57% of girls were also affected by the fatherlessness.
The experience of fatherlessness is so pathetic that it becomes difficult to get adjusted to life. At that time social and family support serves an important function. In our study, the females received the support from their significant others as the majority of the girls receive support from their mother (15%), siblings (15%), and friends (15%). Moreover, another type of support received was from grand-parents (8%), step-father (8%), teacher (8%), other family members (8%), therapist, some special one (8%), and additional support. Moreover, losing father-figure sometime affect the relationship with mother and siblings as that was earlier. In our sample, 21% reported that they got closed to their mother after losing their father, 14% reported that their relationship had changed dramatically, 14% reported their relationship has changed to someway, but 14% also reported that they further apart after the loss. 235 of the females also reported that there are having the close relationship with their mothers at present, whereas 23% reported that their relationship is sometimes close and sometimes not close. And in case of siblings, 29% reported that their siblings’ relationship had changed a lot now as they see things from different perspective, 14% said that they got closed after the loss, but 14% said that their relationship got estranged, while 7% reported they started understanding each other’s struggle. Almost 36% of them have reported that they would have accomplished more if they were not fatherless as the figure indicates.
Figure 7: Graph showing frequency would have accomplished if they were not fatherless
The loss of a significant figure like the father is a great loss, but coping is a part of life. Some people go for problem-focused coping, and some go for emotion-focused coping. In our sample the girls reported that they have also coped the stress and loss with positive coping as the majority of them (46%) used music as the best coping mechanism, 23% went for self-help/inspirational reading, 15% went for physical fitness, and 15% for writing. The loss of father sometimes add something positive in us and the given study, several positive things like soul of a survivor, meaningful life, resiliency, forgiveness, peace, self-confidence, ability to be a strong friend, to be a family like friend, strong bond with mother, creative abilities, fulfillment through giving back were reported by 14%, 14%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 7%, and 7% of participants respectively. 63% of them also reported that they are now confident.
It is quite difficult to live without fathers even if you know that they have gone, and the absence made us sad on several occasions as 30% of participants reported that they miss their father on fathers-day, 20% on their wedding day, 20% on their children’ life events, 10% on fathers’ birthday, 10% on their childbirth, and 10% reported when they were hospitalized.
36% participants reported that fathers’ loss was the biggest loss of their life, whereas 55% reported that it had changed their life in some ways. 54% reported that their emotional life had suffered a lot and 15% reported mental life was suffered, 15% also faced issues related to finance, and 8% reported psychological issues as shown in fig.
Figure 8: Histogram showing the overall impact of fatherlessness.
43% of girls reported that they did not consider their father a ‘good man’ and all of them were having no guilt upon this though and confession. And 73% were in view that their mother did not make good choices regarding relationships with men.
Conclusively, conducting survey research provided me the opportunity to go through the importance of the quantitative study. I have learned many things related data collection and administrating the questionnaires along with compiling the results. Rather than using a checklist, a mental and psychological health questionnaire along with other standardized questionnaires with high alpha reliability could be used to have a better picture. I have learned a lot about planning research than how to prepare certain tools for measuring the phenomenon. During research, I also came to know that response rate is quite low and data collection is a hectic process. Although I was conducting an online survey, many respondents were not willing to participate. The length of the questionnaire also affected the responses as it consisted of 58 items and some items were sensitive. So this study has also helped me in learning the new thing that the researcher must be vigilant enough as certain topics are quite emotions. Moreover, the sample was quite small, but as my sample characteristics had some limitations, so it is recommended to approach a large amount of sample in future.
Calvin, T. (1993). Your heart belonged to daddy…and then he “abandoned” you! Cosmopolitan, 214, 161-163.
Christiani, M. (2003). Adolescent females’ strategic behavior within romantic relationships. Politics and the Life Sciences, 22(1), 36-42.
Kristol, I. (1994). Life without father. The Wall Street Journal Europe, 224(88), A18.
Walonick, D. S. (2004). Survival statistics: Designing and using questionnaires. Bloomington, MN: StatPac.