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  • Writer's pictureDeniss Pleiner, M.A.

How Our Dad’s Affect our Mental Health

by Deniss Pleiner, M.A.


Whether you grew up with your biological father (and whether or not you like them), our fathers have a profound effect on our mental health: from shaping our own biological responses, to our self-esteem and way of relating to others. Here are just a few ways in which our fathers influence our mental health.

  • Biological, physical well-being:

    • In the same way that our mother’s reproductive well being affects our physical health– so does our father’s. Studies show that the health of our father’s sperm will affect our biological development.

    • During our mother’s pregnancy, our father's relationship with them will also affect the development of our nervous system. Remember that at that time everything our mom lives through, we feel it too and if our father is abusive, loving, or absent that will affect our mother and therefore also our biological development.

  • Future Relationships

    • Our biological father's are one of the two connections to other humans that we have. In movies (and sometimes even in our own lives) people want to “marry their fathers” or a man like their father or maybe even know that you definitely don't want to marry a man like your father.

  • Self identity:

    • When we go through individuation aka teen-hood, we define who we are by pushing away from our parents: comparing our only example to what and who WE want to be. Whoever your father has been probably shaped the type of person you want to be.

  • Self love/Self esteem:

    • When we grow up without our biological father, this instantly shapes our sense of self and can trigger thoughts and questions about our love-ability.

    • Growing up with a father (biological or otherwise) that is unable to be present because of drug use, poverty, community violence, mental illness, etc. We grow up with a lack of trust towards the world.

Relationship with Men and Gender Norms

  • Our paternal figure can also shape our expectations of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman in relation to that.

  • It sets a base and expectations for what to expect of men.

Our fathers (biological and otherwise) have the power to share our expectations of ourselves and the world around us. Most father's are neither all good nor all bad- dad's are human, and they make mistakes. Part of healing parental wounds is understanding that.

For more help, feel free to check out our other blogs on parental wound healing. And if you'd like get started in healing parent wounds, schedule a free consultation today.


Deniss Pleiner, M.A TOC Therapy Clinical Director

Deniss Pleiner, M.A. is the founder and Clinical Director of TOC Therapy-- a group

practice in California tailored to meet the mental

health needs of BIPOC adults through

online individual and couple's therapy. As Clinical Director, Deniss guides the clinical development of TOC Therapy Associates and oversees clinical services and offerings. Deniss also works as a Mental Health Advocate, hosting workshops for organizations interested in supporting their

member's mental health and developing emotionally intelligent leadership.


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