1. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    Daddy issues

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by hilal, Oct 25, 2015.

    I am writing about a strong female character. One of her character faults that she has to overcome is that she has daddy issues. Now I have no idea how to portray that on paper. The area where I am struggling is what sort of behaviour to give her. How do I make her, and her character quirks believable?
     
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  2. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    First thing that comes to mind. She's strong, decisive, a natural leader among others. But as soon as she's in the presence of her father, she feels like she's a five year old again, scared to disagree let she be on the receiving end of his unpredictable anger. Letting him have his opinionated, maybe even bigoted, way. I think it would be too intrusive to continue, it's your story.
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Daddy issues" is a pretty casual shorthand. Do you know what you mean by it? If not, you need to figure that out. What was her relationship with her father like, and why did that create issues for her?

    And then once you have that figured out, just add those characteristics to her overall behaviour. Problem with authority, either by bending too quickly or not at all? Okay, put it in.

    But the first step is going to be unpacking what you mean more specifically when you say "daddy issues".
     
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  4. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    A control freak. Likes to take charge, always.

    One of those areas where I am struggling.
     
  5. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Which one, her or her dad? Was her father's controlling nature the model for her own behavior? I like your OP and think I can help.
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What kind of daddy issues? Absent dad? Abusive dad? Overprotective dad?

    I've been writing female characters with absent dad issues (she's typically estranged from her father and despite him being alive and on the surface seems to care, the relationship is distant, there's no affection, no signs of caring), and what tends to come up time and again is her search for a replacement "dad", which, as twisted as this may sound, manifests itself in her choices of lovers. There's usually a string of them and they represent her ideal dad, in this case someone who's traditionally masculine and alpha, protective, dominant, caring, takes the lead, etc. but in your story it might be something else. When she is in contact with the real father, she wavers between acting she's content with the relationship (or lack thereof) she has with him and desperate attempts to prove her worth to him. If she has a brother and he actually has a warm relationship with the father, she may overcompensate in her life to be more like the brother by e.g. choosing traditionally masculine hobbies, jobs, or modes of behavior. She might also break down in tears when she sees perfect father-daughter relationships portrayed in fiction, like in Modern Family. Or when Mulan takes his father's place in the military to save his life. You know, little things like that. She might grow bitter towards the father and rebel by becoming everything she assumes he dislikes.

    So these are just examples of what she might be like if her father was/is absent. Obviously this isn't everything there is to it, just a few that came to mind.
     
  7. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    She. I don't know what traits to give her father. But she is afraid to give someone else the reins. She is cynical, pragmatic and has a lovely, lovely sense of sarcasm(i think i just made that word up.)
     
  8. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    That's very common. No I don't think its twisted.

    Only daughter, grew around her brothers. Wants to make her dad proud of her, but he has always paid little attention to her.
     
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  9. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Was just about to say the same thing, @hilal , https://books.google.ca/books?id=Z2PqHKQWPCEC&pg=PA209&lpg=PA209&dq=de+angelis+theory+of+marrying+a+parent&source=bl&ots=HPFV1mKkL_&sig=fBBMo0vf6NkgHS4RoXypawlpVbg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAWoVChMIqZm-jN3dyAIVRjo-Ch3uPQxq#v=onepage&q=de%20angelis%20theory%20of%20marrying%20a%20parent&f=false

    It's called "going home" in relationship theory.
     
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  10. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    Thanks for the book link, guess Christmas came early this year.
     
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  11. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    So perhaps the trust that she gave her father growing up, which was never shown reciprocity, was broken and she now refuses to give up any control because of the neglect of the father? At the same time, still works for his affection and approval? Sounds okay. There's ways to make this apparent.
     
  12. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I majored in psych because of her book, Are You The One For Me? Was mind blowing.

    ETA: I probably would've majored in psych anyways for personal reasons, but it was the first book that showed me the illuminating power of psych, not that I take all her points as gospel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  13. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    Funny, i was about to ask you if you had majored in psych. But i hate being intrusive.

    Not his affection but rather his approval. To show her father that she can do all that and more what her brothers have done.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So I guess that's be the absent dad issues she's struggling with. Ok, so quirks... I can see perfectionism stem from parental neglect. Either you will forever try to make your dad proud with your accomplishments which never seem to measure up with your brothers' or at some point you just give up and let it all go to hell. She might also have elaborate fantasies of reclaiming that relationship she craves for with her father; an adventure together, or sitting down with a few beers, or starting a hobby together. None of that stuff necessarily comes to pass, but she'll keep on dreaming of them. She might even create a fantasy version of her father, a person that doesn't truly exist and isn't even him, but it's some kind of dream dad version she puts on a pedestal and even brags about to her friends, as if this way she can bring him to existence. She might even end up admiring this idea of him because she doesn't even know the real him. It's also possible she will surround herself with men or at least longs for a strong, male presence. She's been deprived of masculine attention and now that she can't get it from the father, she will seek it from other men.

    I guess in the end you just really want to be daddy's little girl; protected, looked after, precious; feel small and safe with his big, warm arms wrapped around you. When you're denied that, it can turn against you and you end up wondering what's wrong with you -> overcompensation -> perfectionism -> depression and self-harm.
    I can also see her reject masculinity out of bitterness, I suppose.

    So yeah, these elements could be prevalent in your character's life. It's really your call. I think a lot of things can work.
     
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  15. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    You have been awesome!
     
  16. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Sounds like there's an element of sexism in the father's treatment. If so, put it all out there, let us know how you characterize it. Me, I might not be the best for the portrayal in fiction, but I think I can help in the personality dynamic and its realism.
     
  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can I add a note of caution about making too tidy of a link between behaviour and childhood relationships? I'm not saying there's no connection, but too often, especially with newer writers, I think there's a temptation to tie it all up in a tight little package, and that's not really the way humans work. Some kids will grow up with a controlling dad and turn out one way, some kids will turn out another. There are many other influences in a person's life, there are genetic components, etc.

    If you want to work through all of this for your own understanding of the character, I think that's a valuable exercise. But I'd caution against including much, if any, of your findings in the work itself. Read some of your favourite books and look for cause-and-effect psychological musings. I doubt you'll find them very often.
     
  18. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Is there a reason for that? If it's so common, why has literature avoided the theme?
     
  19. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've spent many a night analyzing my past (and sometimes present) behavior choices to determine whether or not I have "daddy issues" due to my absentee father. The answer was yes. And like @KaTrian suggested, when I was younger I was pretty provocative and promiscuous, and usually dated/slept with men older than myself. I was also very headstrong and in control in relationships -- rarely "dated," not particularly affectionate (the idea of cuddling was not something I was ever interested in), etc. I was out to prove that I didn't need a man to complete me, and sex was usually no-strings-attached. But I was attracted to more dominant partners, at least for the night, and rarely wanted to continue a relationship past that.

    When it came to being in actual relationships with people, I hid my emotions and acted out in various ways (lashing out, being emotionally unavailable and sarcastic, even cheating, etc.) to try and run people off before they got too close, a characteristic I'd attribute to the fact that my father left when I was a baby and deep down, I had a sense that no one would want to stick around if I showed them the "real me."

    On the flip side, I refused to deal with any emotional issues regarding my dad, and insisted that I was perfectly fine without him, and didn't miss out on that parent-child relationship in the slightest. Of course this was untrue, but I wasn't emotionally capable of confronting those wounds, which made me act out in the above mentioned ways.
     
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  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there are definitely SOME stories that look at it, but overall, I think it's because, like I said, character traits are rarely as cleanly cause-and-effect as we'd like to think. So there aren't all that many simple answers and complex answers? Unless they're an important element of the plot, they just kind of drag things down. IMHO.
     
  21. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    A very insightful post. Thank you. As a side note, reading all your wonderful posts has reminded me of a London boy who lost the love of his father. Some of his great works explore that father-son relationship. Of course i'm talking about non other than Charles Dickens.

    Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for your time and your love.
     
  22. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Sounds like the girl...well, I wont go into that. But there is another type of daddy-issue girl. If anyone is offended by somewhat old fashioned gender roles, hit the brakes now. (I dont know how to do the spoiler thingamabob)


    So, a father that spoils the youngest of his children, the only girl of a "litter" of brothers. Even they watch out for "lil sis." She is smart, hard working and extremely loyal. She loved her father and he loved her like nothing else in the world. There doesnt have to be anything creepy or bad about it. She was always an affectionate child and her father was more than happy to shower her with that attention.

    He passes and she still is grabbing at straws, trying to figure out what to do, how to handle that void. She's not actively looking for anyone, because nobody could replace him. But, coming across a man, who may or may not be older, that is assertive, with dominant traits (not a control freak, that's a different animal) she melts. She can't control it, but fortunately, the man falls in love and finds a nurturing side to him that he never knew he had. He gives her undivided love, attention, and all the affection she could ever ask for, but also does things like impose "rules." Those are irrelevant, but she is happy to regress to a younger mindset, told how to dress etc etc. From an independent woman, she finds herself playful around him, jumping up to greet him every single time they meet. She sits in his lap while he works on the computer, content to be with him as he idly caresses her hair.

    Sometimes these types of relationships end up with the girl calling the man "daddy," but this man never asked or demanded that, because he knew it was too painful for her, and that no matter how special, and how much she loved him, there could be nothing in the world he could do to replace her father. They even talk about this. He wants her to be at ease, so she doesn't worry that it might be something he wants, that she can't deliver. But that act, of him protecting her and how she feels would make her cry and hug him.

    That is a daddy's girl.

    Hopefully this is helpful.

    AB
     
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  23. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    One thing I was surprised to see not mentioned in the above posts is a severe hesitation to put any trust in men.

    My father left when I was 7, and tried to come swooping back into my life to rescue me when I was 20.

    As @KaTrian has accurately outlined, he and I have no semblance of tenderness in our interactions at all. We are, essentially, strangers. We're very guarded around each other, and seem to only be able to talk about ourselves. We fight a lot. When he asks about what's going on in my life, it feels forced, and it is offensive. What do you care?

    This has colored my perception of all men -- they will leave. Whether it be their fault or mine (self-fulfilling prophecies), the men's entrance to my life is a revolving door.

    So I don't trust them. It doesn't matter how much I want to, or how stable he might be, putting faith in any man when the most important one in my life failed me, is impossible. The other side of the coin, though? I actually get along better with men than I do with women. By far. It may be my core personality, it may be daddy issues causing me to seek male companionship, it may be both. Whatever the reason, it is a blaring, profound preference.

    Romance for me went the other way -- instead of fuck-and-chuck, shallow, nothing-relationships, I obsess. When a romantic prospect shows up (I rarely ever search), I fall straight down to limerence. It is torture.

    Keep in mind for your novel all of this is happening at a subconscious level; women and girls with "daddy issues" do not know they have them unless they
    a) are extremely self-aware
    b) have been through a lot of therapy and uncovered the daddy issues
    c) both (me)

    Your character should not recognize the cause of her actions or emotions without digging very, very deep. One time a particularly skilled therapist point-blank asked me "So tell me about your dad." I began describing his hobbies instead of him. She redirected me and after a moment of tense silence, I burst into god damn tears. It scared me. I had no idea I was hurting that bad until that moment.

    So... now you know more than you ever wanted to know about Imaginarily. :whistle: Hope this helps your character come to life.
     
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  24. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    @Imaginarily , it's always tough opening up like this. Even though I'm not the OP, I just wanted to thank you for opening up. I just hope that I didnt come off as weird.

    We all have different life experiences that we draw upon for our characters. Not just characters, but for our own sake.

    AB
     
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  25. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Whatever I can do to help a story feel real. I'm all about that suspension of disbelief. :bigwink:
     

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