Advice for the Single Mom Whose Daughter’s Father is Absent

During the last few weeks of my Let's Talk Teens with Dr. Tartt blog post series, we've talked a lot about the importance of engaged fathers in a girl's life.

The benefits daughters reap when Dads are present and involved are undeniable.

The disadvantages daughters face when Dads are emotionally or physically absent, are equally undeniable, as Dr. Tartt shares here and here.

It would be wonderful if all teen girls fell into the first category.

Unfortunately, many fall into the latter—daughters whose dads aren't present in their lives.

The result?

I have hundreds of letters from teen girls, who've told me they turned to their boyfriends to fill the void.

I grew up raised by a single mother and absent father. I’ve never had sex, but it’s gotten close. And it’s true that I think it’s just a way to fill a void and I struggle with it daily.

Even guys write me about girls expecting them to fill the void of their absent fathers.

When you talk about girls and daddy issues and issues in general, I thought about my ex-girlfriend. Her father abandoned her at a young age and she hates her stepfather. I really liked her, but she was really jealous and had really high expectations about me, like marriage. Like I said before, I liked her but I’m young. How can I support a family when I can’t even support myself? After we broke up, I realized she wanted me to fill a position I couldn’t fill, the love of a father. You confirmed it when you came to speak to us.

The void many girls experience from fatherlessness is deep and often depressing.   

So, what's a single mom to do?

You can't take the place of your daughter's father in her life.

But, you can address the void she may be experiencing from his absence.

Filling in the Gaps

Before you can help your daughter fill in the gaps, you may have to help her understand that a void even exists.

I've found that many girls don't recognize their pattern of looking for their fathers' love in all the wrong places.

If you see this as an issue for your daughter, start there.

Then click on the video below for Dr. Tartt's advice to single moms.

If it feels like the void your daughter is facing is too big for you to fill as a single mom, be encouraged by the letter below:

I am a fifteen-year-old girl in her sophomore year. Personally, I wanted to say thank you for allowing me to realize the purpose I have. I myself am considered to have 'daddy issues.' I’ve never really had a stable relationship with my father since he walked out and divorced my mom when I was 10. Anyways, with that at hand, I’ve always felt like I needed someone to approve of me. I’ve felt unwanted and just needed someone to tell me I’m better than the stuff I’ve been thinking of doing. Basically, I just wanted to say thank you so much for helping me realize again that my morals and life mean something.

As you can see from the bolded part of the young lady's letter, what resonated with her was being reminded that she has a purpose and that her life matters.

If I can empower a girl I barely know, imagine how much life you can speak into your daughter!!

Help her realize her purpose. Remind her that she has value with or without her father's involvement in her life.

And if that's not enough?

Be open to the possibility that your daughter may require professional help to begin filling in her gaps.

Which is why next week's Let's Talk Teen with Dr. Tartt post is all about the importance of seeking therapy for your daughter when needed.

So, be sure to come back for that discussion. 

In the meantime, if you're a single mom, we want to hear from you!

How have you helped your daughter fill in the gaps?

Leave your comments and/or questions in the box below.  Or, feel free to email your thoughts to

See you next week!

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