Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Rochelle Louw

Daddy Issues: Growing up without a father…


 “The Fatherless Generation”.

It is what they are calling this generation, another box society has created for us to fit in. According to some studies conducted, there is a possibility that 64% of children grow up without a present father figure in their life. Fatherless households have been shown to lead to higher suicidal rates, increase in depression, anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem as well as an increase in divorce rates and social and behavioural problems.

Fathers are an imperative component in the wellbeing and development of their daughters. Girls who grow up with involved and respectful fathers have a better example of how women should be treated and are less likely to get involved in toxic relationships. According to a study that involved 700 girls, it was discovered that females that came from homes where fathers were absent, displayed significantly higher rates of sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy and abortion. It also leads to earlier sexual intercourse compared with those with “intact families”. According to research females that come from a fatherless background are also significantly more likely to endure, tolerate and suffer from abuse. David Mech (a pornographic producer) stated that many women in pornography have been sexually abused.

The Sugar Daddy Dilemma

Another controversial topic that is becoming more and more popular is “sugar daddies”. A sugar daddy, a blesser, ‘oga’ – whichever definition you know- is defined as a rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favours. Although many young women have various reasons for getting involved in these type of relationships, it has been suggested by psychologists that many young girls who start these relationships have a foundation in father issues. Due to the lack of a father figure, girls can subconsciously choose older men, an attraction they may not even realise. The problem is not with the age gap necessarily but many of these vulnerable and broken girls get taken advantage of by older men. Due to the socio-economic challenges many communities or households face, girls are left vulnerable and in very desperate situations. When an older man comes around and promises to lavish them in gifts, money and care many of these girls are so ready to escape their circumstances that they are not even aware of the situations they get themselves caught up in. Human trafficking, pornography, sexual abuse, manipulation and control. Before they know they are stuck and have no way out.

Choose your tunnel wisely

Steven Furtick says it so well: “when the enemy can catch you desperate, he will try to get you to change something into something it is not supposed to be”. You can start off as just finding ways to meet your inner needs. Maybe it is the inner need and desire for love that you try to meet through sex and it will work for a while. Sex can feel just like love and give release for a while. But if you escape your loneliness through sex, you will eventually be a slave to what you used as an escape. But don’t let the tunnel that you used to try and get out, become the trap that keeps you underground. And that is the challenge that many young women face: being so desperate to escape a situation that you go to all kinds of measures that end up getting you trapped in worse situations.

 When you look at the consequences of the lack of a father figure in the lives of females, it is evident that it can be the cause of a destructive pattern of behaviour and decision making. Although it is possible to avoid these patterns, it surely does put these individuals at a disadvantage navigating a patriarchal society without any predetermined set of values.

The way, way back…

Being a by-product of an absent father, 4 failed marriages and the inconsistency of male role models throughout my childhood, I can see the traces of heartache, blemishes and cognitive distortions that still to this day infiltrate the very core of my being. I can see how the absence of a father, a safe place, a daughter’s first hero impacted my self-esteem, my understanding of love, a husband, a father and most of all; my understanding of God. It influenced my decision-making when it came to substance abuse, my sexuality, my self-worth, my value, my ability to succeed in life and what treatment I deserved. I am so grateful to have discovered that after all the failed male relationships I have encountered, it was my relationship with Jesus that never failed or disappointed me.

I realized that if you allow him; he will atone for the lack of love and support in your early years. He can reset the past and heal the hurt. He offers a new and fresh perspective and builds every part of your life that has been stripped and broken down. He is the perfect father and the escape that we all desire. He will provide a way out that is better than any solution you could come up with on your own. If my story triggered anything within you or you simply wish to talk to someone about understanding and accepting Jesus into your life, please reach out to us below.

Hey mama, you’re not alone: Dealing with the pain behind pregnancy loss

In a perfect world

Growing up I always just assumed I would get married and fall pregnant easily and that I would carry full term, perfect babies. I never once feared infertility, loss or complications, because that was something that happened to others but not to me. And this was all true for my first pregnancy. Pregnancy was even better than what I had dreamed of, feeling the kicks, seeing the fetal scans and witnessing my baby grow. It is so much more than words can explain and I loved my child in utero with the same love that I have for her today.

A Dark Reality

We planned our second pregnancy and fell pregnant almost immediately. The first scan was perfect, showing an 8 week old little baby with a strong heartbeat but 3 weeks later my beautiful baby left my body. A 6 month faith journey finally led to another pregnancy and I felt overwhelmed with joy. Once again the first scan was perfect but with our second scan we found out that our baby boy suffered from severe Cystic Hygroma and although we fought so hard for a miracle, at 20 weeks into my pregnancy our precious boy Elijah left us.

Nothing can prepare you for the physical, mental and emotional trauma you go through when miscarrying your child. It is something that stains your soul and changes a part of who you are. The grief is immense and the pain isolating. The days rolled into weeks but still the loss echoed through my being. The weight of different emotions was all-consuming, guilt, extreme anger, confusion, heartbreak, loneliness. I was also not prepared for the amount of friendships and community we lost. My faith crumbled and a gap slowly crept into our marriage. I was stuck in this dark reality and didn’t think I would ever recover. To be honest although a good amount of time has passed and I have grown immensely, I came to realise a part of me will always hurt and long for my unborn children.

Water in the wilderness

I can’t tell you how to heal the hurt and fix what has been broken but I can share with you what I have learned through my two losses and what helped, because I would like to believe for everything I’ve lost I gained a lot as well

  1. It is okay not being okay

I think too many women and men out there feel that losing a child in utero should be less painful but let me tell you it is not. Because not only are you grieving the loss of your child but you grieve all the lost future memories that you will never have. You need to hear that you are allowed to feel and mourn deeply. Embrace all the feelings, let them roll over you and allow yourself to be in that moment.

  • Grieve your own way

Every person grieves differently and you cannot compare that to the person next to you. I found that out the hard way when I felt stuck and my husband seemed to have made peace with it. However long the process takes just allow it. Some days might be better that others and that is okay as well

  • Keep Speaking

The hardest but best thing to do is to communicate about it with people, a friend, your partner, counsellor, as long as you keep talking. Talk about what happened, how you felt, how you are currently feeling. A loss like this can become very isolating and it can be a dark slippery slope if you don’t watch out.

  • Say Good Bye

This takes time and should not be rushed but when you get to that place and you will know. It might look different for you but for us we named our babies, imagined what they would have looked like and what personalities they would have had, I pretended to hold them and then we decided to let the bad memories go. I wish I could tell you it was easy but it was heart breaking but beyond freeing at the same time

  • Hope for tomorrow

This takes courage but you can do it. When you are ready allow yourself to hope again, to smile again, to feel joy and laugh out loud. It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten your child it means that in the midst of unspeakable pain you can let something beautiful emerge.

I cannot take any credit for the growth or healing that has taken place, it truly is al God. I mentioned losing my faith after our first loss but I am so thankful that even in a season that I gave up on God He didn’t give up on me, not for one second. He is so gracious, loving and patient. One of the best pieces of advice someone gave me was “you can be angry at God, his shoulders are broad enough to handle it” and that’s when I realized that God understands better than we ever will, He understands that at times all we can see is our hurt and we can’t see him in the midst of it reaching out towards us. Even if he is not the author of our pain, he is the atonement we need, the strength we need, the courage we need and the only hope that can keep us to going.

1Africa would like to extend their support and help to any individual in need. If you or someone close to you has experienced the loss of a loved one or child please take the courageous step of reaching out to one of their team members.

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