17 Signs and Symptoms of Father Wounds

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17 Signs and Symptoms of Father Wounds | Healing from Father Wounds free inner healing article series | by Jamie Rohrbaugh | FromHisPresence.com

Have you been wounded by your father, or even by a stepfather, or by a male pastor, your grandfather, your uncle, a male supervisor at work, or any other type of father figure? If so, you have a “father wound,” and father wounds have a tremendous impact on your life. The good news is that God can and will heal you from father wounds. Read on for more!

In this series, we will walk through the process of healing from father wounds.

But first, we need to lay the groundwork by talking about several extremely important questions:

  1. Why do fathers even matter?
  2. If someone has a father wound, can’t they just “get over it” and move on with your life? (Answer: No, you must heal in order to be truly free. Read on for more.)
  3. How can you tell if you have a father wound or not?

Let’s explore these questions in order.

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    First, why do fathers and father wounds even matter?

    Fathers matter because it is the father’s role to impart into their child an innate sense that the child is unconditionally loved. This is true for our Heavenly Father, and it works the same way for earthly fathers, who are supposed to emulate our Heavenly Father.

    As it says in 1 John 3:

    “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1 NKJV).

    Additionally, fathers are responsible for protection, provision, and promotion. (When I say “promotion,” in this case, I mean raising someone up and helping them grow.) Our fathers also, to some degree, influence our identity–which is not only our sense of who we are, but also our sense that we ARE loved, and unconditionally so.

    When we have earthly fathers who are perfect in every way (which no one does, since all our earthly father figures are fallen human beings), then we will never ever struggle with anything related to protection, provision, promotion, or identity.

    However, when we have unhealed father wounds, we may struggle in various areas in all four of those areas.

    The world is full of people who have been hurt by their fathers and father figures. And since hurting people hurt people, those with unhealed father wounds tend to perpetuate the cycle.

    Unhealed father wounds produce all manner of toxic traits. Many of these toxic traits aren’t even identifiable on the surface as being related to father wounds. However, when you dig deeper into a person’s fears, pain, insecurity, or worries–or even more toxic traits like narcissism, hatred, anger, and abusive tendencies …

    … Then father wounds will often come to light, and we find that these painful heart conditions are only symptoms of a deeper problem.

    So what can be done about it? And that brings us to question 2:

    Question 2 is: Can’t a person just “move on” or “get over” their father wounds, especially if they have cut the people who hurt them out of your life?

    Answer: No. You must be healed in order to have these things stop impacting you forever. Why? Because father wounds produce symptoms with roots in the very core of who you are; your identity. And everything else in life flows out of your understanding of who you are.

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    But the good news is …

    You can self-diagnose father wounds—and you can receive healing from God for all of them.

    I’m all for Christian counseling and mentoring. I think those are wonderful things–and a mentor will save you YEARS of time, hassle, and agony.

    However, those things are not absolutely required in order for you to heal and grow. God the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to teach you right now about everything going on in your life. And He is ready, willing, and able to heal you right now from everything that ails you.

    He promises us so in 1 John 2:27:

    But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1 John 2:27 NKJV).

    Also, look at Acts 10:38:

    “… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38 NKJV).

    And Matthew 9:35:

    Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9:35 NKJV).

    Jesus heals every sickness and every disease. He healed ALL who were oppressed by the devil when He was here for His earthly ministry.

    And you know what? He hasn’t changed. He’ll still heal every sickness and every disease. He’ll still deliver and heal all who are oppressed by the devil, because He is still the same:

    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

    So Jesus is ready to touch you, teach you, and heal you right now. He heals you by the love of God that He shed His blood for you to receive. God’s love can heal any heart, no matter how badly you hurt or how your hurt is manifesting.

    Note: If you’re in a crisis situation—e.g. your pain is overwhelming, or your spouse is leaving you because of your toxic behavior—then I do recommend that you run, not walk to get into Christian counseling even while you’re letting Holy Spirit heal you. However, my point is that God is the one who ultimately does the healing, even if you’re working with a counselor to be able to receive that healing.

    So how can you self-diagnose father wounds? How can you tell if you have a father wound or not?

    The first way you can tell whether or not you have unhealed father wounds is extremely simple. You can tell whether or not you have unhealed father wounds by asking yourself this simple question:

    Do you have any pain of any kind from what a father-type figure has done to you?

    If any father figure (biological father, stepfather, mentor, pastor, grandfather, uncle, boss, et cetera) has hurt you and it still hurts, then you have an unhealed father wound.

    (When you are fully healed, all the pain will go away. I know this from personal experience, and also from leading hundreds if not thousands of people around the world through this healing process over the years.)

    The second way you can tell if you have a father wound is to examine the symptoms of father wounds and see if you carry any of the symptoms. So let’s look together at some of the symptoms of father wounds. As you read the list below, ask Holy Spirit to show you if you have any of these signs and symptoms.

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    Here are 17 symptoms of father wounds:

    In no particular order:

    1. You feel alone, like an orphan.

    If you have father wounds, you generally feel like no one loves you. You don’t feel like a son or daughter of anyone, and certainly you don’t feel like a beloved son or daughter. You feel all alone in the world.

    2. You are not sure how to act like a beloved child of God, or even like a beloved child of human parents or mentors.

    Even if people try to pour into you and love you, you won’t know how to receive it–or how to operate under the flow of such love. You might not feel like you know how to receive God’s love in the first place, either.

    3. You feel perpetually under-appreciated.

    If you have father wounds, you can work and work and work, but it feels like nobody notices your efforts and nobody cares about what you do.

    4. You long for affirmation.

    Unhealed father wounds hurt really badly, and kindness and affirmation feel like temporary healing balms. So you’ll long for people to notice you, affirm you, love you, be kind to you, and give you opportunity.

    These are all things that your father figures should have done. But, if they didn’t, you’ll long for those needs to be met by anybody at all. This will often lead to your looking for love in all the wrong places.

    5. You feel rejected; like you don’t belong anywhere or with anyone.

    If you have father wounds, you’ll feel rejected everywhere you go. You can be with the most loving people on the planet, and those people can move heaven and earth to be kind to you, take care of you, and show you how much they love you.

    But, you’ll still feel rejected, no matter what–because the rejection is in you. You actually carry it with you, and you see the world through that lens of rejection. In every situation, YOU convince YOURSELF that you are rejected. And nothing that people do or say can ever convince you that you are not rejected, at least until those father wounds are healed.

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    6. Your heart cries out for a place to belong, and for people who will take you under their wing.

    God made people to have a father. He made us to have HIM for our Father. And if you haven’t been raised by people who planted in you an unconditional knowledge that you are unconditionally loved, you will crave and yearn for a place to belong and someone to belong to.

    You’ll yearn to be raised up by somebody, anybody–for that is what fathers are supposed to do. And the yearning will remain in you until the father wound is healed.

    7. You probably feel very distant from God, or at least from God the Father.*

    Our relationships and experiences with people on this earth impact our perceptions of God. And when we have father figures who hurt us, we tend to think that all “fatherhood,” or people coming to you in the position of “father” of any kind, are also going to hurt us.

    This is obviously a problem when we think of Father God, our Heavenly Father, and try to get close to Him. When our human experience with sinful, fallen fathers has taught us that “fathering” is a painful thing, you can’t exactly let yet another Father get close to you. So when we have unhealed father wounds, we tend to keep Father God at a distance.

    This is generally done quite unconsciously. We even wonder or cry about why we don’t feel close to God. But the reason is that we are holding Him at a distance in our own minds, because our unhealed minds tell us that this Father, too, will hurt us.

    *You might feel closer to Jesus and Holy Spirit than you do to God the Father.

    8. You might not know what your spiritual gifts and natural talents are.

    If no one has raised you up to help you learn who God made you to be, you might struggle with finding and walking in your talents, gifts, and spiritual identity. You might not have any idea at all what you are good at, and you might even feel like you aren’t good at anything. This goes back to a lack of affirmation and mentoring that you should have received when growing up.

    9. You’re not sure where you fit in, or what you are called to do.

    One of the principal roles of fathering is to train up a child in the way he should go. When no one has trained you or raised you up, you may have a difficult time identifying what your calling is, and what your eternal purpose on this earth is. Never fear, however; you will be much more easily able to identify those things when you receive healing from the Lord from father wounds!

    10. You may not be familiar with (or able to defend) basic Christian doctrine.

    If no one has taught you spiritual truths from God’s Word from the cradle, such that you feel unequipped now, that is a definite father wound.

    11. You might have a continual need to be spoon-fed spiritually—even after you should be mature enough to feed and strengthen yourself in the Lord.

    People with father wounds yearn to be raised up, but their pain gives them what feels like a bottomless and empty love-tank. So, they want to be spoon-fed spiritually–all because they’re trying to make up for their pain, find relief from their pain, and heal a wound … with spoon-feeding instead of with actual healing. (They don’t generally know how to be healed.)

    12. Your marriage or family may be falling apart.

    If you have a father wound, it is a life-controlling issue–and people will generally find it hard to be in relationship with you. You will also generally find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with other people. This naturally impacts your marriage and family, and you may be having significant struggles in the area of family.

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    13. You may have natural children who feel afraid and act fatherless.

    If you feel like an orphan because of your own unhealed father wounds, you probably won’t know how to rear your children in an environment of unconditional love. So your children may exhibit the same symptoms of fatherlessness as you do, even if you’re physically present in your space. (This applies to mothers too.)

    14. You feel that you have to work for love and acceptance.

    When godly love is withheld from children, they develop a thought construct that teaches them that they have to perform or work in order to be loved. So people will try to work for love all of their lives, until they are healed of those father wounds.

    15. You feel that God and people—even those people closest to you—will not love or accept you if you do not perform adequately.

    When you have an unhealed father wound, what you do never feels good enough. Your love-tank is empty until that father wound is healed; but if you aren’t healed yet, you’ll keep trying to fill that love-tank with perpetual performance. And it never feels good enough, or like you can do enough.

    16. You spend a lot of time gazing at your inner self instead of gazing at God.

    People who have unhealed father wounds often try to figure out what is “wrong” with them. They go down into a lot of introspection, criticizing their own DNA and who they are–and generally deciding that they are insignificant, not good enough, et cetera.

    This is because culture has taught us that if we hurt or feel rejected, it must be our fault. So we try to figure out how we can change in order to be accepted and (in our own minds) not hurt anymore.

    17. Your actions demonstrate a need to keep others’ attention on yourself.

    This is a huge symptom of father wounds, and it can be devastating for the people around you. This particular symptom also breeds and leads to narcissism, control, manipulation, and is an open door to operating in the Jezebel spirit. And it can destroy any church or organization if the leader has unhealed father wounds.

    Here’s what this symptom looks like:

    When people have unhealed father wounds, they work for love. And they often mistake “love” for “attention.”

    In other words, they interpret people’s attention as love, even though the two things are completely unrelated. But since they feel that “having someone pay attention to them” equals having that person love them, they develop a habit in which they MUST keep all the attention upon themselves. They must be adored by people.

    So, if you take someone’s attention away from them, they interpret that as taking that person’s love away from them. So they must keep the attention upon themselves at all times.

    People will act badly in all kinds of ways in order to keep attention on themselves.

    This becomes particularly apparent if a person who has unhealed father wounds rises to leadership. In that case, the person with unhealed father wounds generally becomes a controlling leader who requires unconditional loyalty and even worship of themselves. It’s ALL about them. They cannot raise anyone else up in most situations, because they depend on being the object of your attention as balm for their hurting love-tank.

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    The only exception to an unhealed leader not being able to raise someone else up (that I have seen, anyway) is in the case where they get all the credit for raising that person up. For example:

    Let’s say a church pastor “discovers,” and subsequently promotes, a great singer.

    In that case, the pastor may let that great singer take the stage and sing often–but only as long as that pastor gets the “credit” for having raised that person up.

    If, however, God is also breathing on an equally-good singer, but the pastor didn’t have anything to do with discovering them or raising them up, (like maybe they were already singing long before they started attending that church, and they already had an existing singing ministry, and they aren’t dependent on the pastor for opportunity) …

    … Then that second singer generally won’t see much stage time under a pastor with unhealed father wounds.

    It has nothing to do with the anointing or talent on the singer’s life. But it has everything to do with who gets the credit, also known as the attention, also known as the LOVE, when that singer performs.

    If GOD has raised someone up all by Himself, then GOD gets the credit … and the pastor gets no attention/”love.” But if the pastor has discovered and/or given someone opportunity and raised them up, then they feel they get the credit, so they are willing to flaunt what they have helped do to the world.

    So to summarize, we just covered the answers to three questions:

    1. Why do fathers even matter?
    2. If you have a father wound, can’t you just “get over it” and move on with your life? (Answer: No, you must heal in order to be truly free.)
    3. How can you tell if you have a father wound or not?

    As you read through the list of signs and symptoms of father wounds, did you notice anything familiar? If so, you are not alone. Remember, all our earthly dads and father figures of any type are fallen human beings. We live in a sinful world. So truly, everyone probably has father wounds of some type.

    But you can be free. You can be healed from father wounds.

    And in the rest of the series, we’ll explore the path to spiritual healing–and to receiving the unconditional love of Father God that Jesus lived, died, and rose again for you to experience.

    Stay tuned!

    Did you recognize any of your own struggles in the list of signs and symptoms of father wounds? Do you believe that Jesus can heal you of these things, and are you ready to receive His healing touch? If so, leave a comment below!


    1. Tracy Cottrell says:

      When I surrendered my life to Christ 30 years ago, God gave me supernatural, instantaneous forgiveness for my father, but upon reading this, I recognize a deeper level of healing is still needed.
      Thank you, Holy Spirit, for revealing this to me through the wisdom and revelation Jamie has obediently shared. I look forward with great anticipation to what You are going to do in me through her teaching and my application. To God be all glory and praise!

    2. This message is so rich and deep and connects a lot of dots concerning the relationships that I subsequently found myself in with seeking validation and approval to “fix” my father wounds. The Lord is helping me to forgive and release all the damage and pain my biological father caused me and exacted on my family of origin due to his own father unhealed wounds. As I heal and stop feeding the pride and narcissism in others by submitting myself to The Father God in giving Him the place He deserves in my life, I am strengthened in my identity in Christ and no longer need to “work/perform” to get validation and approval from other humans who are broken. I can only get that void filled by My Father Who abides in me. I can generously forgive my biological father and still not accept the “role” I was forced to play as a child in order to get the love of a father. As the scriptures says, “whom Christ sets free is free indeed!”

    3. I never had a father, not even a step dad. And I feel all of this!

    4. Yes, I feel all of the above. Thank you so much for this article, it helped me immensely. Please, Father God, heal my father wounds now in the mighty name of Jesus Christ !!!!!

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