A moving, elegantly written, and exhaustively researched account of what it means for a girl to lose a father to death or divorce—with advice for fatherless daughters on how to cope.
“People who lose their parents early in life are like fellow war veterans. As soon as they discover that they are talking to someone else who has lost a parent, they know they are speaking the same language without uttering a word.”
Pamela Thomas gives voice to this unspoken pain in Fatherless Daughters. Still haunted by her own father’s death when she was ten, Thomas decided to explore its effects. Though her journey began as a personal one, she soon felt the need to hear from other women and ended up interviewing more than one hundred fatherless women. They ranged in age from nineteen to ninety-four; they came from all areas of the country as well as Europe and Asia; some had lost their fathers to death, others to divorce or abandonment. Each account was unique, but the impact of a father’s loss was profound in every woman’s life.
Thomas begins by defining what it means to be a father in our world. She discusses the initial shock of his loss, exploring the aspects that color how a young girl experiences it: her age at the time of her father’s death or abandonment, her mother’s behavior and attitudes, her place in the family vis-à-vis siblings, and the influence of a stepfather or father-surrogates.
Thomas shows how a father’s early death or abandonment affects a woman’s emotional health and self-esteem, her body image, her sexual experiences, her marriage, her family life, and her career. Perhaps most important, Thomas offers compassionate advice for coming to terms with father loss, even late in life, from actively mourning, to healing, to starting fresh.