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How Dating a Dad Helped Me Deal With My Daddy Issues
by Shamiko Reid
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March 4, 2019

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How Dating a Dad Helped Me Deal With My Daddy Issues

She didn’t think her father’s incarceration affected her adult life, until she hit rock bottom and had to find her way back up.

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I was 24 years old, and I felt like my life was falling apart.

I lost my job, crashed my car, and found out I wasn’t going to get my dual master’s after all. I had worked so hard for “Three degrees by 23” — that is, three higher education degrees by the time I turned 23 years old — only to see it all fade away just months before my impending graduation date.

I spent nine months without a job. And when you spend that much time alone, you learn new and surprising things about yourself. Things you may have overlooked or buried deep beneath a sea of achievement.

Until that point in my life, I never thought I had daddy issues. My biological father had been in and out of jail my whole life. He was locked up the day I was born, out in time for my baby shower a few weeks later, then in again. That cycle continued so much so that we referred to his time out with us as “vacation.” He was never on “vacation” during any of my graduations, and so he never attended.

My biological father had been in and out of jail my whole life.

The hole his absence caused was temporarily filled by Stepdad #1, until his infidelity made it wider. Stepdad #2 and I had a rocky start because I was still attached to Stepdad #1. I shared my reservations about Stepdad #2 with my mom, but they went in one ear and out the other. After that, I leaned on my uncle to be all I needed when my mother’s relationship choices didn’t seem to factor me in.

Truth be told, it wasn’t something I did intentionally, it wasn’t even something I was aware of. So by the time I went to grad school, secured my first apartment, and booked international trips with my decent-paying salaried job, daddy issues were the last thing on my radar.

Losing what felt like everything, all within a matter of 60 days, gave me the time I needed to reevaluate ME. And facing myself head on meant facing my daddy issues, and facing the affect his absence had on the way I ran my life.

Facing myself head on meant facing my daddy issues, and facing the affect his absence had on the way I ran my life.

That’s when “Daaamn Daddy” was born.  

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Writing was my go-to coping mechanism, so I decided to share my written revelations as a blog — “Daaamn Daddy”. My blog turned into a website and social community focused on creating a safe space for discussions around daddy issues and breaking generational patterns of poor parenting. Through “Daaamn Daddy”, I’ve spent the last four years diving into healing my hurts and helping others identify theirs.

But, one of my greatest growths thus far came in a way I didn’t anticipate. I started dating a daddy.

This relationship was different than any other, not only because he had a child, but because I was different.

In my prior relationships, I hadn’t yet acknowledged my lingering resentment for my biological father or the trust issues I had. This time, I chose to be open with him about my unresolved issues with my father, the side effects of my attachment to Stepdad #1 and my tumultuous relationship with Stepdad #2.

He didn’t run as some men do, fearing the impact an absentee dad may have on “his lady’s” perspective of him. Instead, he opened up about his own distant dad. He shared with me the impact that his father’s incarceration and broken promises between stints had.  He had trust issues that stemmed from him being stood up and abandoned by his dad. He vowed to never do the same to his own children.

I kept experiencing this internal rejection for being told what to do in my previous relationships. This “You’re NOT my father” visceral reaction. I always felt previous boyfriends were trying to fix me, and I didn’t think I was broken. This relationship was different. He didn’t treat me like a broken bowl that he needed to mend and make useful. He accepted that I was still growing through some things, and I worked to show him it was safe to grow through his own things as well.

Becoming a father was the catalyst that caused him to forgive his father and rebuild their relationship.

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Becoming a father was the catalyst that caused him to forgive his father and rebuild their relationship. Because he had begun to do his own work in that area, he encouraged me to continue mine. He pushed me to be open with my biological father, to let go of grudges, and to be receptive to growth.

And he was right. I listened to him and reached out to my biological father; I’ve even gone out with him a few times.

I recently had a traumatic experience in my apartment. I felt overwhelmed and embarrassed and began to cry. My boyfriend placed his hand on my back and asked me if I was ready to count to 10. I took 10 slow deep breaths, and he counted them out for me. When I told my younger sister about it, she replied, “Aww, it’s because he’s a dad!” and proceeded to drop all her high school senior psychology class gems on me, professing that we look for what we needed as a child in our prospective mates.

I always assumed ours was more of a bond due to us both having incarcerated fathers. It was the first time I had considered him being a father the secret sauce to why he worked for me. By no means is he perfect — nor am I. But he gets me. He understands me because he is me. He’s helped me progress in ways that writing and blogging didn’t seem to reach. And he supports my dreams and encourages me to work toward my goals.

Our connection has taken my growth to a new level that may not have happened for me with a childless man.

Our connection has taken my growth to a new level that may not have happened for me with a childless man. In my experience, single women often shy away from dating men with kids. But maybe a good man, working to be a good father, is just what we need. It was for me.

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