Women who grow up without fathers often struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and unworthiness. Iyanla Vanzant calls these women "daddyless daughters" and, in a special two-part show for "Oprah's Lifeclass," Iyanla helps examine what really happens when girls are raised without their fathers.
In the episode, Iyanla says that the role of father is to teach his daughter how to be in a nonsexual, intimate relationship with a man. In fact, it's the first relationship a daughter has with a man and therefore teaches her how a woman should be treated. However, if Dad leaves, Iyanla explains that the daughter lacks that healthy model and often seeks to fill that void in a variety of ways.
One way many daddyless daughters try to fill the void is through their willingness to settle when it comes to finding a partner. "If you want so much to be with the wrong one, imagine how good it will feel when the right one shows up," Iyanla says in the video above. "Be willing to be with you until he or she or it -- whatever it is -- shows up. If you don't want to be with you, why do you think someone else [would] want to be with you?"
Dr. Steve Perry, an important voice in the "Lifeclass" discussion on fatherless sons, agrees about the importance of daughters having a strong father figure. "What a father or a very important father figure does for the young ladies with whom I work is it sets the standards," he explains in another clip from the show.
Without a father or father figure, daddyless daughters set their own standards and, as Dr. Perry says, they often make the huge mistake of allowing others to define them.
"Since you allow others to define you, others will define you," Dr. Perry says. "The thing that they find most 'attractive' about you -- the thing that you get the most attention for -- is the thing that you so often put out there."
To explain what he means, Dr. Perry shares a few examples. "If someone tells you you're halfway cute, your clothes get smaller, things get tighter and you start to put yourself out there more," he says. "If they say your chest is big, you get attention for that... as opposed to, what do you think it is about you that you like and you want people to see."
Without your definition of your true self, you give up control and allow others to dictate or influence your attitude and behavior. "So much of what you accept is based upon what other people will define you as," Dr. Perry says.