Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Daddy Issues

I think daddy issues can be likened to an original sin. That is, wherever or whenever it first began, a vicious cycle has since spiraled unavoidably from it.

The anecdotal evidence is often astonishing. It's almost as if it's possible to trace every unexplainable esteem-related quirk to one's father's involvement in his or her developmental years.

The issues often appear to weigh heavier on the female side of the story. John Mayer even wrote the song Daughters to lament about the problem. There are enough implications in both folklore and psychology academia to suggest that any wayward upbringing on the father's part has considerable repercussions on the developmental state of his little girl, many of which are irreversible.

Some other sources suggest too that sons aren't spared. In The Game, Mystery's esteem problems are linked to his father's violent role as head of the family. Recent psychology research, particularly inclined towards the evolutionary side, has found more support for parenting problems linked to the father than the mother.

But whatever it is, and whichever gender daddy issues afflict more, the quality of a man's role as a father undoubtedly plays a significant part in the building of a child's personality, character and esteem. And given the dismal track record of men for being responsible, it doesn't come as a surprise that so many people face daddy issues, who will later go on to perpetuate their own daddy issues on their children.

Evolutionary psychology would assert that paternity uncertainty is a reason for a male's tendency to be less interested in child-rearing. Men are also not equipped with maternal instinct, which is such a strong mechanism that motivates women to care for their children, regardless of their own conditions, states of mind or even age. Maternal instinct has probably served to ensure that women will rise above the occasion no matter what to meet the needs of their children.

And on the whole, men tend to be more anti-social and avoidant. To date, I know of very few fathers who demonstrate love, even if they really love their kids very much. Males simply find it tough to put aside their prides and egos. Many a family has been destroyed by a man's inability to accept that he is wrong. A common consequence is the man's avoidance of the issue, a refusal to share the burdens of the problem or even admit his incompetence, which often leads to alcoholism and domestic violence. As one author put it quite succinctly, men would rather be respected than loved.

Girls with daddy issues have problems dealing with relationship issues that range from sex and commitment to insecurity. Boys with daddy issues often find it difficult to remove the negative parts of their fathers when dealing with their own future families, or the world at large, eventually becoming the men they resented when growing up. A theme is apparently consistent - the father figure is possibly a significant model that aids the child in nurturing his or her understanding of the world so that he or she may better navigate it. It could be akin to the developmental psychological process of imprinting. At a tender age where the world is a blur, it comes as no surprise that children desperately seek to replicate the behaviours of worthy role models. We could be evolutionarily adapted to turn particularly to our fathers to program our understanding of the world, or it could be some other reason.

Regardless, daddy issues thus get perpetuated. By seeking the same kind of men their fathers were, women will resume the cycle by giving their kids the same 'bad' dads. By turning into their fathers, men will resume the cycle by being 'bad' dads.

Here's an excerpt from The Game that drives home the point lucidly for women:

"For most of their childhood, females are conditioned to act subservient to male authority figures. Once they grow up, a certain subset of them ... move through the world psychologically stunted, constantly dumbing themselves down in the presence of the opposite sex. They believe that the techniques they used to manipulate their fathers will work just as well on the rest of the world, and often they're right."

As for the male side of the story, how Mystery resented his dad so much but eventually became him was also well plotted out. His father was an aggressive man who often resorted to violence to get his way. Mystery built his worldview around that, whether he knew it or not.

So guys, think carefully about whether you're ready before you start that family - more likely than not, the family you start will be a world of your own doing where the fate of its inhabitants is at mercy.


wei said...

i believe that our societal trends e.g. increasing feminism, decreasing chauvinism, snag may be changing things around in a few decades time. so females have to think twice too :D

Jose said...

perhaps, perhaps. although a part of me still suspects that core problems don't ever change, regardless of how the periphery does.

for instance, despite 'feminism' (whatever that really means), or perhaps more properly defined, female empowerment, women who earn more than the average man does still seek mates who earn more than them. it's not like earning more money will allow the roles to be switched.

food for more thought! :]