At the young age of 2, my life changed completely. My dad suffered from surgery complications that ultimately ended his life.
As a young girl, I never actually understood that a family is supposed to have two parents, not just one. I never felt like there was a piece missing from our family because my Mom always made sure to make my sister and I feel whole.
I grew up very fortunate for everything my Mom was able to offer our family and the amount of love and support she showed me.
There is plenty of research that suggests that woman who grow up without fathers in their lives have feelings of low self-esteem and unworthiness, but the love from all of my family members has voided those feelings.
I was never given the opportunity to see my father portray for me how a man should treat a woman and respect his family. Instead, I have been able to set my own standards. While this may allow others to easily influence or control me, I have instead used this opportunity to strengthen myself mentally and emotionally.
I had the blessing of being able to attend an all-girls’ high school that helped me to prosper, immensely. At Mount De Sales Academy, I learned that women need not rely on a man, but rather rely on each other and strengthen each other.
My high school had a strong focus on faith and the Catholic religion. I was able to understand that just because I lost my father, I did not have to succumb to the statistics that evolve around ‘daddyless daughters.’
Not having my father around was one of the hardest struggles growing up, but I was lucky enough to have a strong bond with my Pop. The first relationship a little girl has with any man should be with her father, but my Pop stepped up to the plate in my dad’s place.
I have my Pop to thank for showing up to all my ‘Donuts for Dads Day’ events in elementary school, my soccer games, my dance recitals — the list goes on.
The relationships I have built, the love that I have been shown, and my faith have all shaped me into the independent and strong adult I am today. I know that even though I may have lost my father, I did not lose my worth or stability. I know that I make my dad proud every day.
The greatest lesson that can be learned is that growing up without a father or mother figure in your life does not determine your self-worth. Loved ones who take a stand and become an active role in your life can help to soften the struggle of growing up without a parent present.