Fathers may withhold love from their children due to substance abuse, depression, anger, emotional immaturity, trauma, or narcissistic tendencies. Regardless of the reason, fathers need to resolve their issues on their own to better care for their children.
Children are heavily affected by their parent’s actions and behaviors. And when these behaviors are primarily negative, it’s difficult for them to form an emotional connection with their parents. While fathers can be warm and affectionate, it’s not uncommon for children to wonder if their fathers genuinely love them.
There are several reasons why fathers may withhold affection and love from their children. However, it’s in everyone’s best interests that fathers work on their relationships with their children to create a loving environment where they feel safe and cared for. If you feel unloved by your dad, there may be an explanation behind his emotionally detached behavior.
Related Reading: Why Does My Father Hate Me (Is It My Fault?)
Substance Abuse Issues
Often, a distant parent is a direct result of substance abuse issues. When fathers are involved in substance abuse like alcoholism or drug abuse, they generally engage in self-destructive behaviors.
These behaviors may be an attempt at coping with trauma or stress. But fathers are typically not focused on dealing with their issues when they fall victim to substance abuse.
Similarly, fathers that struggle with substance abuse engage in selfish behaviors. Addicts that are reliant on drugs or alcohol are often self-involved. Their priorities are to feed their addiction. As a result, they will often ignore the needs of their children.
Suppose your father struggles with illicit drug use or alcoholism. In that case, it’s likely that he has severely impaired his paternal instincts. Unless your parent seeks help for their addiction, it may become difficult for them to show affection or maintain a relationship with you. It’s important to remember that this is beyond your control, and his responsibility is to undergo treatment and repair the relationship.
Depression and other psychological disorders can impair a father’s ability to care for his child. Often, mental illness manifests in specific characteristics and behaviors that make it difficult for a father to connect with his child.
Fathers that struggle with depression are typically distant and detached from others, including their children. They may even feel detached from reality. And, like many people who suffer from depression, fathers may begin to feel overwhelmed by their emotions. As a result, they tend to shut down emotionally. When fathers are emotionally numb, they will rarely show happiness, sadness, or even love.
Depression can also cause behavioral changes in parents. They may find it difficult to get out of bed or care for themselves. When they’re struggling with emotional stress, they may also find it difficult to eat, sleep, or engage in everyday activities. This struggle also extends to their children, and depressed fathers may often begin to neglect their children’s physical and emotional needs.
Depression and other mental illnesses can often be the result of trauma, substance abuse, stress, and genetics. Parents that struggle with depression have a responsibility to seek help so that they can still care for their children. While it’s not always your father’s fault that he is struggling with depression, they should treat severe emotional or mental strain with medication and therapy.
Anger is a difficult and destructive emotion. It can cause strife between people and is particularly detrimental to the relationship between a father and his child.
Fathers with anger issues often lose their temper, yell, and can even become violent toward their children. This makes it difficult for fathers to express love and affection, and they may sometimes become consumed with rage to the point of ignoring the emotions of others.
When a parent spends most of their time criticizing their children, it becomes common for their children to avoid them altogether. This puts an extreme strain on the relationship between a father and child and can cause intense fear in children.
When you’re focused on trying to put out emotional fires and avoiding confrontation with an angry father, it can be challenging to form a meaningful connection with your parent. However, anger issues are largely personal, and your father is responsible for controlling his negative emotions.
Irrational and angry outbursts are a sign of poor emotional intelligence. They have nothing to do with how a child behaves. As a child, emotional regulation is learned. But, as adults, parents should know how to respond to their children calmly and rationally.
Related Reading: Examples of Toxic Dads That Hurt Their Kids
Modern society has taught men how to “behave”. It has become an ingrained practice for males to remain stoic and unfeeling. An emotional man can often be regarded as inferior, or “less than”. This inferiority complex can cause men to shut down their emotions so they are no longer vulnerable or perceived as weak.
It can be difficult to foster a connection or relationship with an emotionally detached parent. However, it should never be regarded as a fault within the child. Rather, emotionally unavailable parents need to work on their emotional regulation and practice expressing their emotions toward their children.
Fathers should be able to show affection toward their children. While it may be difficult for them to challenge societal norms and their upbringing, fathers need to connect with their children on an emotional level to show affection.
As a child, it’s important to remember that your parent’s life experiences have shaped who they are as individuals. However, that doesn’t mean the child is responsible for picking up the emotional slack within a relationship with their parent!
Fathers with unresolved trauma may find it hard to express their emotions or let their guard down around others – particularly their children. Similarly, as caregivers, fathers may not want to be perceived as weak by their children.
But when past traumas affect present relationships, fathers should seek counseling or attempt to resolve these issues to foster a more loving and caring family unit. Without healing their trauma, they won’t be able to focus on what matters: their children.
Narcissists are typically self-involved and care very little about others. When a narcissist becomes a parent, they often see their children as an extension of themselves rather than as unique individuals. This can make it difficult to show love and affection to their children.
Narcissists are blinded by their hubris. Fathers with narcissistic personalities will often criticize and belittle their children as a way to inflate their egos. They also hold their children to unrealistic standards and expectations. So, no matter what their children do, it will never be good enough.
Similarly, narcissistic fathers tend to be selfish. They rarely care about the needs and wants of others and chase self-gratification over everything else. These fathers may also use their parental control against their children as a way to control their behavior.
Children of narcissistic parents often hear expressions like ‘I’m the parent’ or ‘You need to respect me.’ This is a form of control, and narcissists will often use fear to keep control over their children.
Whether your father withholds love as a form of punishment or is unable to show love due to past trauma, substance abuse, or mental illness, it’s important to remember that it is never your fault! Part of a parent’s job is to love their children unconditionally.
So, if your father is unemotional and uncaring, it is usually because he is battling his own internal struggles. Regardless, your father is responsible for resolving these issues and fostering a relationship with you, not the other way around!