Men with daddy issues — can this even happen?
I once heard a story about a professor of a popular seminary. “Some of you guys are going to get in the pulpit and yell,” he said to his students. “But it’s not because you’re passionate about God’s Word; it’s because you’re still angry at your dad.”
“She must have daddy issues.”
The culture says this about women who have had a poor relationship with their dad, and when that childhood hurt affects other relationships. Specifically, “daddy issues” with women affects the way they view themselves, and how they relate to men.
This may look like:
- Promiscuous behavior
- Immodest attire
- Body issues
And so on and so forth. You get the picture.
But what about men?
Men with Daddy Issues
Whenever we talk about “daddy issues” we almost always talk about women, but the truth is — men with daddy issues is also a reality. And the ironic thing is that men who make fun of women for having daddy issues are usually the exact same men who also have daddy issues. It just shows up differently.
Little boys need their moms, yes. But they also need their dads. I can speak from experience that young boys watch every move their dad makes. “Kids are good at observing things; but they’re not good at processing things,” a parent once told me. Young boys are always observing what happens in the household. And if they see their fathers acting up — abusive behavior, apathetic behavior, confusing behavior — they’ll pick up on some of those traits. It will be worse if no one helps the young boy process what he observes.
It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of a father in the family household. - @DavidQaoud Click To Tweet
It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of a father in the family household. Without him, many of us men eventually crumble without ever realizing why. We want to blame the world for something our dads should have done.
What does this look like with men? It may look like:
- Chauvinistic behavior which often leads to sexually and verbally abusing women.
- Severe feelings of competition with other men, mostly due to anger and pride.
- A sense of over-dependence, unable to trust anyone since your dad never came through.
- A difficult time being vulnerable, which may reveal feeling exposed or “found out.”
- Highly argumentative – always ready to pick a fight, and never willing to lose one for the right reasons.
And the list goes on and on.
I see some things in my own life. I wonder, “Why am I like this?” Sure, the world, the flesh, and the devil play a part. But if I look deep down into my own weaknesses, if I honestly assess my own soul, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my issues spring from various things I experienced as a child.
Do you want to get to know someone? Here’s the best way: learn their story.
Or better yet, get to know their “family of origin.” We all have genetic dispositions that are passed down from generation to generation. This is no excuse for unrepentant, ungodly living. But self-awareness, and awareness of your family history is a crucial component to who you are today. Childhood is challenging. In particular, insecurities that aren’t dealt with as a child can often grow bigger and bigger as you age and can eventually create more damage.
To my surprise, I see this with guys heading into ministry. The reason why you should go into ministry is because you have an internal call (a desire and sense within from God that you should go into ministry) and an external call (affirmation from your elders that you should go into ministry), among other reasons. Yet, it seems that some men have decided to head into ministry to seek validation and affirmation — two things they never got from their dad.
Jesus did not sin, yet he took responsibility for our sin at the cross. At some point, men with daddy issues have to look in the mirror and say, “You know, I wish my life was different. I wish I didn’t have some of the experiences that I did when was I was child. I wish my dad would have been there for me. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. By God’s grace, I’m going to make the most of my life for His glory and stop blaming everyone else.”
I’m no counseling expert. And after the rebellion of Genesis three, things are not the way they’re supposed to be. Sin is highly relational and it affects all that we do. Ultimately, men with daddy issues have to first recognize and admit that they have issues. Remaining in ignorance of one’s own faults will only worsen the pain. A good church community is essential. And a counseling expert can help in ways that escapes easy description.
Yet, there are no quick remedies for lifelong issues. Nobody changes overnight. The presence of other Christians works wonders as we look to Jesus Christ — the God man who perfectly lived the life we could not live, died the death we deserved to die, and rose victoriously from the grave. He was the perfect combination of toughness and tenderness. Jesus Christ embodies perfect masculinity. We look to him not merely as our example, but the King of the world who can help any guy with daddy issues until the day he “wipes away every tear, and death shall be no more” (Revelation 21:4).
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