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  • To say that someone has 'daddy issues' is a somewhat rude and humiliating way of

  • alluding to a very understandable longing: for a father who is strong and wise, who is

  • judicious, kind, perhaps at points tough, but always fairand ultimately, always

  • on our side. It would be so understandable if we were to feel we wanted someone like

  • this in our lives, especially at moments of confusion and chaos. The longing for a strong

  • father has been a recurring theme in history. Most religions have conceived of their central

  • divinities as male parents. In ancient Greece, Zeus was described as the 'father of men

  • and Gods'; in Christianity, God was the heavenly father; in Germanic mythology, Odin

  • was the Allfather, the father of all other gods. The longing has been no less present

  • in secular culture. In the US, the individuals who led the war of independence and drew up

  • the constitution came to be known as the Founding Fathers; Garibaldi, the dignified and authoritative

  • man who fought for the unification of Italy in the 19th century, earned himself the title

  • of the 'father of the fatherland'. In early childhood, we are all immensely weak

  • and in need of protection. We can't understand the world, we are so fragile, we could be

  • killed by a moderately sized dog; so much feels mysterious and outside of our control.

  • A hunger for a 'daddy' isin the circumstanceswholly natural. A grown man inevitably

  • and rightly seems immensely impressive to a small child. They appear to know everything:

  • the capital of New Zealand, how to drive a car, how to say a few words in a foreign language,

  • how to peel an avocado. They go to bed mysteriously late. They're up before you. In the swimming

  • pool, you can put your arms around their neck and rest on their back; they once kicked a

  • football so high, you nearly couldn't see it; they take you on their shoulders and help

  • you touch the ceiling. It's beyond astonishingwhen one is four.. The paradox of daddy

  • issues is that those who have them arealmost alwayspeople who didn't have very good

  • fathers when they were small. Perhaps one's father was strong but ultimately cruel, bullying

  • or disinterested. Perhaps he was more interested in another sibling or in his work. Perhaps

  • he wasn't around much, left the house after a divorce or died young. The adult longing

  • for a father is not the result of having had a good father in childhood: it's a consequence

  • of abandonment. The longing can incline to us some tricky patterns of behaviour. However

  • mature and sceptical we may be in most areas, in relation to the idea of male protection,

  • we remain a little like the young child we once were and haven't been allowed to mature

  • away from. We secretly yearn for a man to step in and fulfill an unquenched fantasy

  • role. They'll take charge; they'll make the big decisions, they'll be tough and

  • certain and make our problems go away. They'll make sure the money side of things is sorted,

  • they'll get angry and aggressive with anyone who hurts us; they will be proud of us and

  • love us as we are. We'll be looking out for daddies in friendships, at work and, not

  • least, in politics. The danger is that these 'daddies' may in the end hugely damage

  • our trust, for it isn't in anyone's power to assuage the sort of longings we bring to

  • bear on them. They may know very well what we want, and naively or cynically promise

  • to provide it for us, but graduallytoo latewe stand to realise that they had

  • a thousand flaws, as we all do. We may realise that they are bullying rather than noble;

  • that our enemies haven't gone away; that they couldn't help us; that there isn't

  • in fact enough money in the world to do what they promised; and thatin factthey

  • didn't really love us at all. The fantasy 'Daddy' figure of adulthood isn't in

  • fact a good father for one big reason: truly good humans know they aren't that powerful

  • and are happy to admit to the fact cleanly and honestly, just as soon as we are ready

  • to take the news, which is normally when we are around twelve years old and conscious

  • of new powers and capacities. A good father doesn't – beyond that agepretend

  • to be all powerful, they confess they can't solve all our problems and can't magically

  • save us from a myriad of dangers, no matter how much they wish they could. The good daddy

  • disappoints us just as soon as we are strong enough to bear reality. Out of love they deflate

  • the idea that there could ever be a perfect, ideal daddy. They try as best they can to

  • help us grow up. If we encounter someone who has daddy issues, the temptation is to get

  • frustrated, tell them to mature, mock them andin particularpoke fun at the

  • particular daddy figure they might have identified. This isn't either a very wise or ultimately

  • a very kind strategy. It simply tends to entrench their devotionbecause, whenever we are

  • attacked, we of course feel ever more intensely than ever the need for the protection of an

  • idealised father. What we really need to help us out of our daddy issues is something more

  • like the actions of a genuinely good father: someone who truly acknowledges our suffering

  • and our fears, who deeply wants what is best for us and isn't reluctant to say so; but

  • who, at the same timeout of lovewants to help us come to terms with a messy and

  • essentially disappointing world; a man whoout of lovewill encourage us to be

  • independent and, specifically, not to fantasise that anyone, however outwardly imposing, can

  • ever do the impossible. Good daddies allow us to bear the truth that there are, in the

  • end, no 'daddies'. .

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To say that someone has 'daddy issues' is a somewhat rude and humiliating way of

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B1 US father daddy longing mature protection bear

Daddy Issues

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    jeremy.wang posted on 2020/05/06
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