Daddy Issues: How Can They Affect A Child?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

The relationship a child has with their father is extremely important to their early development. An abnormal or nonexistent relationship with their dad can have detrimental effects on how they end up developing relationships with others. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss the family dynamics that tend to cause daddy issues.

Read Full Transcript

Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like Brain SPECT imaging, to personalized treatment, to your brain. For more information visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by brainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more go to
Hi, everyone. Welcome back. So this week we are talking about daddy issues. So thank god it's not me this week, we already talked about my dad, I'm done. So we're gonna talk about just something so common to so many people, daddy issues. I guess we'll talk about mommy issues another time.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, so we were sitting around Easter and, virtually, everybody who was there had daddy issues.
Tana Amen: How many people don't? I mean, it's crazy, right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, fathers are very important to your development, they're very important to your self-esteem. I once heard it said, you just sort of expect that your mother will love you. So the real test is whether or not your dad does, on how you end up feeling about yourself. And the same is true for ... Whether you're a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, your primary relationship with your father really does matter.
And we spent a whole week talking about your dad, and some people were probably wondering about my dad, who's a character to say the least, he's the embodiment of the American dream.
Tana Amen: Right, he's tough though.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Grew up from very poor immigrant parents, grew up in Flint, Michigan. I'm glad he's not there now, because of the water crisis that was there. But they were very poor, although, when you're poor ... He said he never knew he was poor because he was like everybody else in the neighborhood. He had a very high work ethic, he actually went to work when he was 12 years old in a grocery store, also delivered papers- [crosstalk 00:02:40]
Tana Amen: Isn't that interesting, my grandparents were Lebanese immigrants and so my mom grew up very poor, and same thing, that same work ethic. Just very interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, huge. And then he met my mom when, I guess, he was 20, she was 18, they were married in two months, or something like that, and he went to work. And when he wasn't working he was having seven children, and so I asked my mom, I said, didn't you know how that happened?
Tana Amen: She wanted all of you guys though, and that's huge. She said she wanted a whole bunch of playmates. She got them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And she was a great mom.
Tana Amen: She's still a great mom.
Dr. Daniel Amen: She's still a great mom.
Tana Amen: She's a great mother-in-law.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And, as much as I love my dad, and he's gonna be 90 soon, he's one of my best friends, besides you, but he didn't get an A for being a dad. He was gone, and when he wasn't gone he was just, sort of, not that nice, is what I remember. And critical, I remember telling him I wanted to be a psychiatrist and he asked me why I didn't want to be a real doctor. And, when I was 18, Vietnam was still going on and I had a very low draft number and I said, I think I'm gonna join, and he said "Oh, you can't do that." And so, of course, I then did it, because I wasn't that smart. And so, I know what it's like to have daddy issues, as many of the people who are here.
Tana Amen: So let's give them a question to start with and then something practical to do at the end. So the question that came to my mind, maybe you can say what's on your mind, is how do you see the way that your relationship was with your father? How do you see that it has affected your life? So however it is that you visualize it, how do you believe that it has affected your life? And how would you rather it be?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Is that question for me?
Tana Amen: No, it's for the audience, I already know yours.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Okay, well, let me answer it. Well, maybe not, 'cause I think it helped me ... I work really hard and I don't see that as a down thing, I've always seen it as a positive thing, 'cause I'm doing something purposeful. But it's like, well, I'm not gonna be like my dad, who never went to a baseball game or basketball game or anything like that. So I was way more present, but more lenient with my children than, perhaps, I should have been, looking back on that.
Tana Amen: 'Cause you wanted to be the opposite.
Dr. Daniel Amen: 'Cause I was reacting against how he was and sometimes people go too far-
Tana Amen: Extremes, like I did with my mom.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... with that. So you want to ask yourself what impact did your relationship with your father have on you?
Tana Amen: Okay, So I like that. And my relationship with my dad, the way I saw it, I didn't believe that it was going to affect my relationships going forward, 'cause I was too young to really understand. So I cut my dad off, hard, when I was 18. Didn't talk to him again for many, many, years, not knowing how that was going to affect my relationships. And so, my vision of men, was sort of unknowingly, affected by that, my connections, my ability to connect and commit.
So, just like I walked away from my dad, it became easy for me to then, if somethings not going right, or I believe that something's headed the wrong direction, bye, bye. Close the door.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, that explains the first 18 months of our relationship.
Tana Amen: But when I healed that relationship with my dad, when I got therapy for that, when I healed it, I went, oh ... I used to think it was just a bunch of psychobabble nonsense, like, oh, your relationship to your dad [inaudible 00:06:40]
Dr. Daniel Amen: That primary relationship probably had nothing to do with the person you became.
Tana Amen: But it was true, it did.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So reflecting on it, and then asking yourself, was it helpful? Did it serve you? Was it in your best interest? Along with that is also birth order issues, because that really plays into your relationship with your father. So you're an only child-
Tana Amen: Well, I have two half sisters, but they're 10 years younger.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right, but that's a very special place to be. So the special parts of the family is you're the oldest, the oldest girl, or the oldest boy, and the youngest. And when you're one of seven, and you're third, you're sort of screwed, if you have an older brother and a sister.
Tana Amen: He was in the middle.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah. And so, wanting attention. But what's interesting about middle children, that a lot of people don't know, is that most of the revolutionaries in the world, people who can push against authority, they're not only or oldest children, they tend to be middle children.
Tana Amen: That's so interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because they're pushing against the status quo as a way to get meaning and independence, and so on. So I will hold on to that, for me. But I think birth order matters-
Tana Amen: I remember struggling for attention, trying to get attention, trying to get attention, because I was a loner, a lot. I'm mean, not kidding, alone a lot. I was a latchkey kid with a single working mother who worked three jobs. So I was alone a lot. So, always trying to get attention and trying to achieve and trying to be good and trying to get straight As and trying to do the good girl thing to get attention. And when it didn't work, so to speak ... My mom adored me, but she was just busy. When it didn't work, I just remember ... Like, okay, fine, bye, I'm gonna do my own thing, and just sort of disconnecting from all of it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Another interesting part of daddy issues is how old was your dad when they had you? Because-
Tana Amen: See that's what I was gonna say about your dad. Your parents were both very young, and your dad was working hard to make something of himself and feed his family. So that had to effect how he interacted with you guys.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes. No, he's a great grandfather. And often, I would tell me children-
Tana Amen: That's my mom too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'd be like, this is not who he really is.
Tana Amen: That's how ... With my mom too.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's like, don't believe this.
Tana Amen: Right?
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, in fact, you should believe it, because as he got settled, as he became successful [crosstalk 00:09:18]
Tana Amen: More successful.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... He had more time to reflect on what was really important in his life- [crosstalk 00:09:26]
Tana Amen: Well, and he was able to act on it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and was I different at 25 ... I was still in medical school, than I was at ... For, Chloe, for example,[crosstalk 00:09:40] the answer's yes.
Tana Amen: So, there are times I wish I had had Chloe when I was younger, 'cause of the energy, right? Being able to be a young mom and being kinda crazy. But then, I look at my mom, who had me very young, and I'm actually glad, overall, that I didn't have Chloe too young. It's one of the reasons that I value health so much, why I work so hard at staying healthy, 'cause I'm an older mom, I had her when I was 35. So, because of that, it's important for me to stay healthy. But me at 25 versus me at 35, no, I wouldn't have been a good mother at 25.
I mean, maybe I would've. Maybe it would've made me change.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You would've been a great mother, 'cause you have a very good soul.
Tana Amen: Yeah, but I wasn't ready, and I knew I wasn't ready.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We would love for you to write down the one thing you learned from this podcast and share it on whatever your social media platform is. #brainwarriorsway. And also at Feel free to leave a question and Tana and I will get to as many as we can. Stay tuned.
Tana Amen: If you are enjoying the Brain Warriors Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.