We all love and adore our fathers. They play a huge role in shaping the people we become as adults.
Apart from being providers, fathers protect their children and offer moral support.
An absent father is often overlooked compared to an absent mother.
However, that doesn’t mean that his presence is not felt.
Some individuals have been fortunate enough to have father figures to look up to in situations where their biological dad was absent, such as an uncle, adoptive father, or stepfather.
Does that make it easier? In some way, yes. Such a man takes over the role of a father in a child’s life, which makes it easier to cope.
Growing up without your biological father might seem irrelevant, but the absence affects your life somehow.
Some kids only have scratchy memories of their biological dads. Other dads left probably before the baby was born, maybe even denying the pregnancy.
Whichever the case, we are talking about an unknown birth father, meaning you can barely recognize him if you were to meet him.
In such a case, most people will say, “I can’t miss that which I never had,” especially since they do not know how it feels to have a biological dad around.
Read on to learn more about the effects of growing up with an unknown biological father.
(Some of these effects may go unnoticed, and some people may react differently to how not knowing their dad impacts their lives).
Your identity entails family background, heritage, genes, personal values, self-esteem, and belief system.
For instance, I get my personality, looks, and interests from my paternal family.
Despite not growing up with my father around, I had a relationship with him, so I didn’t have to wonder much about who I was.
Most people who don’t know their biological fathers find it hard to answer such a question as, “Who are you?”, especially if they are nothing like their mom.
Understanding your family’s genetic makeup and their strengths helps you gain insight into your own identity and the person you aspire to be.
Each family has ideals and values that govern their way of doing things.
An absent biological father hinders you from knowledge of that.
Also, not understanding where you came from, why you behave in a certain way, your personality, and your family heritage can lower your self-esteem, making you doubt your abilities.
2. Societal Stigma
Society plays a huge role in making kids without a biological father feel like they don’t belong.
During their early age, such children often experience bullying at school, with their peers using harsh words like, “Your dad left because he didn’t want you.”
The result is feeling unloved and lonely.
Such a child becomes a ‘loner’ at school and home, keeping to himself whatever troubles him.
Performance at school is significantly affected because they cannot participate in group discussions or focus on studies.
The society also expects the father to educate a young man and train him on the ways of a man.
His absence, therefore, leaves the young boy inexperienced as he gets into manhood and, eventually, fatherhood.
This young man grows up not knowing how a biological father is supposed to act once his young ones come into the world.
3. Psychological Effect
The psychological impact of not knowing your biological father can be pretty massive. It affects how one deals with emotional strain.
Most children who grew up not knowing their fathers harbor resentment in their hearts, which makes them temperamental.
They have a hard time coping with hardships, which is why we see some of them dealing with bipolar mood disorders.
Their overall well-being is compromised because of the constant thoughts of why their biological father had to leave.
Some blame themselves, feeling they are not good enough and don’t deserve paternal love.
Other than mental health, the psychological effects can be seen in the following ways:
I. Life Choices
Most young people who don’t know their biological fathers feel empty inside.
To fill that void, some get into drugs and lead immoral lives.
Drug addiction results from loneliness, anxiety, depression, and stress.
Girls who don’t know their birth fathers are sometimes drawn to older men who promise to support them financially in exchange for intimacy.
Others grow to detest the male gender, even refusing to get married, afraid that the man will leave eventually.
II. Career Decision
Most kids who grew up with psychological issues get into certain careers since they had no biological father to look up to as a role model.
For example, when a girl gets into acting, it’s normal to hear people asking her, “What did your father do?”
Since a biological father plays a huge role in disciplining his children and shaping them into responsible adults, his absence might push them into a life of crime to make ends meet.
4. Attachment Issues
Though an absent birth father is thought only to affect girls, it can also impact boys.
A biological father is supposed to love and protect his children. That means he should be the person closest to you.
Kids who have had to grow up without knowing their father develop attachment issues, unable to trust anyone, fearing they will eventually leave. That makes it hard for them to establish long-term relationships.
Also, growing up with the thought that their father rejected them builds up the fear of rejection within such kids even as they become adults.
The inability to love goes deep into affecting their mental health. No matter what the people in their lives say or do, they will always fear being abandoned.
Earlier, we mentioned the poor life choices made by some individuals who grew up without a biological father.
While not all girls seek to establish relationships with older men, some do so because they yearn to experience what it feels like to have a father figure in their lives, viewing the man as a paternal figure.
That might hinder a girl from getting intimate with the man she loves since she seeks a father-daughter relationship, even if the guy is a young man.
5. Overall Life Satisfaction
Known or unknown, your biological father is a part of who you are.
You carry his DNA, personality, looks, and so much more.
Even for those who have managed to live their lives not knowing their biological fathers and turn out perfect, something will always be amiss.
Such an individual often feels frustrated at life, even when everything is going all right.
Unlike the case with a deadbeat father, a man who grows up without knowing his father and feels okay about it is more likely to abandon his children or play a minor role in their lives, citing that he turned out fine, so they should be okay as well.
Can The Effects Of Not Knowing Your Biological Father Change Over Time?
As you get older, you might slowly get used to not knowing your biological father.
Those who had the opportunity to grow up with a father figure around hardly experience the majority of the effects of not knowing their biological father.
For those who had to grow up with only one parent, the impact depends on the individual. Some realize at an early age how their dad’s absence affects them and choose to take appropriate steps to address it.
For others, it only worsens as time passes, mainly because of the feeling of worthlessness resulting from the challenges they experienced growing up.
Are there any significant differences in impact during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood?
Yes. At a tender age, a child only realizes her biological dad is not around from seeing their playmates with their dads.
Reasoning with them at such an age is easy since many parents quickly make up stories to convince their kids.
And if there is a stepdad around, then the child will hardly tell that he’s not the biological father.
It is during pre-adolescence and adolescent years that the impact is at its peak.
At this age, they know whoever is around is not their father and might even ignore his discipline and advice.
That makes them reckless and hard-headed, resulting in most kids making mistakes.
Many teenagers nag their mothers about meeting their biological father with the mindset that he will accept them and make up for lost time, blaming their mother for his absence.
By the time one reaches adulthood, the effects diminish to some extent, and for some individuals, they disappear entirely.
They might start their own family determined to be better than their biological fathers.
With a fully developed brain and being mature, it is easy for an adult to get over the fact that their father was not present in their life and even lose interest in meeting with him.
We all choose the person we want to be despite our background and the things we go through in life.
Many people have grown up without knowing their biological fathers and turned out okay.
Others realize the negative impact of not knowing their father has on them and act, saving themselves from a lifetime of pain and regret.
Others take the step to search for their fathers and risk it all; and whether they are accepted or not, they feel they have done their part.
Regardless, growing up with an absent birth father does not make you any less of a human being, and it is possible to have a perfect life despite the fact.
What’s important is to recognize the negative effect it has on you and work on it, and embrace the positive impact.