I've never accepted the term "daddy issues". It has always rubbed me the wrong way because it automatically puts a permanent stain on a woman's forehead. It seems to provide a convenient excuse for any failed relationship where there's no apparent wrong-doing on the man's part, whether it's really the woman's fault or not.
In the past, I also wasn't into applauding men who were present for their children, either. It seemed weird to clap for fathers who did what they were supposed to do, after all, we don't do this for mothers. But I realize that part of my thinking could come from a place of mild resentment considering I didn't have the most ideal relationship with my father.
I must say that I'm now in awe of those same fathers. It's that fascination that made me tune into the OWN special They Call Me Dad earlier this month. The show put a spotlight on male celebrities who play an active role in their children's lives. Men like author and filmmaker, Bishop T.D. Jakes, gospel artist Kirk Franklin and musical entertainer and renowned DJ, Derrick "D-Nice" Jones, talked about their journeys from youth to fatherhood and demonstrated how they show up for their kids.
The men also made the distinction between father and dad––the latter being more than biological.
And their children, particularly their daughters, explained how they viewed their dads in their lives. Third-year law student Ashli Jones sees D-Nice as her advocate and real-life superhero while Woman Evolve founder Sarah Jakes Roberts sees Bishop Jakes as Liam Neeson's character in the movie Taken, traveling across the world battling bad men to save his baby if he had to. Both the dads and their children describe the paternal role as protector, guide, and provider.
I grew up in a single-family home with my mom and I saw my father usually on Friday nights. He was my board game partner, popping the plastic bubble on hours of Trouble, and my card game teacher, showing me strategy on everything but Spades.
It took a few years to learn that this wasn't exactly normal and I'm not just referring to youth who live in two-parent households as normalcy. In fact, this was complicated. My father was actually married and lived a few miles from the home where I lived with my mom. Truthfully, I didn't really know him, know him because there was a huge part of his life that I was excluded from. This fact became more evident after my mom passed away and I moved to my grandparents' home two backyards, a road, and a front yard away from my father's house.
It's when I had to acknowledge that that's not a world I was part of. I wasn't exactly welcomed in his house, at least in the beginning. I didn't get to meet paternal family members when they came to town. I attended the same school as my cousins and we knew each other but the kinship was unspoken.
While I was born out of a less than ideal union, I don't accept fault but I still can't help but feel that some parts of me are incomplete and not accepted.
I'd never use the words "superhero", "protector", "guide" or "advocate" as the young ladies in the OWN special did. And while "provider" would be a fair descriptor, what does that really mean? As Bishop Jakes said, it's about the presence, not the presents. I couldn't even say I felt defended. That was another thing that became quite clear and turned an amicable relationship into a deteriorating one near and at his death. Many times I question why I even bothered to show up at all.
I'm not trying to judge, express guilt, or point any blame, though. I get that parents do the best they can at the moment. But the actions or inactions of absent parents do inadvertently put us in precarious positions and get used against us daughters in a demeaning way during adulthood, particularly in intimate relationships.
I repeatedly made poor decisions in men, specifically choosing those who were emotionally unavailable, which I talk about in a separate article. And I also had the habit of staying in those "situationships" long beyond their expiration dates. It's like I was determined to make them choose me back.
Hearing Kirk Franklin say that dads are the first men to teach women love and self-worth last week prompted me to just Google "daddy issues". It wasn't that I was owning the label or anything. But I was owning my failure in relationships. I'm at a place where I can write all day about them. I'm just leery of blanket diagnoses.
I already knew society would say, "Yep, sis, you have classic 'daddy issues'." Society would also assume that I'm attracted to older men, I call my partner 'daddy,' I'm clingy and jealous, I crave attention from men and I need reassurance of love and affection. It's the standard answer, more so than "mama's boy", which doesn't carry the same stigma. A quick Google search of "mama's boy" required me to scroll and click around before I found articles.
However, for my search, it really wasn't about the men. Ultimately, I still attracted and tolerated the wrong ones. Now I only wanted to dissect the term for my own benefit because I was curious and I want to open myself up to a healthy relationship.
I knew my intuition was on point––when I chose to listen to it, that is. What I found is that this so-called "daddy issues" rhetoric is stereotypical and sexist and it doesn't only apply to women.
Here's what I learned about it specifically:
1. The Term "Daddy Issues" Isn't A Disorder, It's Disrespectful
"Daddy issues" isn't even a condition or disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In fact, Houston-based psychotherapist Amy Rollo told Healthline that she and many other experts don't even believe in daddy issues and that they see the phrase as a way to minimize women's attachment needs. An article in MindBodyGreen goes a step further to say that it belittles a woman's relationship struggles. Quite frankly, it's lowkey disrespectful and the more appropriate way to tackle it is to recognize and understand one's attachment style, which is explained here and discussed here.
2. Daddy Issues Aren't Gender-Specific
The first "daddy issue" originated between father and son. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud came up with the "father complex", which described "someone who has unconscious associations and impulses resulting from an individual's poor relationship with their father." Freud initially believed this father complex only affected men. The term didn't apply to women until later and then it stuck. And while modern-day attachment issues are almost always directed to father and daughter, they could actually be son and mother issues and grandparents can be added to the mix as well.
I can admit that I needed to do some internal work before I even considered entering a relationship. I would've repeated a toxic cycle indefinitely. I also can't argue that my relationship with my father didn't play a significant part in who I was attracted to. I gravitated towards whatever was familiar or whatever was wounded. That's also our way of changing the plots or endings to our ongoing narratives.
But misused and misunderstood labels like "daddy issues" are harmful. Women aren't the only gender trying to reconcile what we didn't get from absent parents to what we can't give or don't receive from our partners. Men do, too, all the time. A more helpful approach is to drop the "daddy issues" label and call it what it is.
Many of us, men and women alike, have difficulty forming healthy bonds with potential significant others. But with a little reflection and a whole lot of healing, we can all learn to form secure attachment styles, and perhaps then we'll finally find a true protector, defender, and real-life superhero in our partners.
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'Queen Charlotte' Star Arsema Thomas Worked At The United Nations Before Landing Her Breakout Role
Actress Arsema Thomas (Arséma Adeoluwayemi Hamera) may be new to the acting scene, but the star's standout performance in Netflix's limited series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is already leaving a lasting impression among many.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, a prequel to Bridgerton, follows the young queen's life as her marriage to King George of England sparks an epic love affair and a societal shift.
In the drama, Thomas portrays the role of a young Lady Agatha Danbury, a close friend and confidant of Queen Charlotte, and it also depicts Lady Danbury's journey.
The series showcases the struggles Lady Agatha Danbury experienced in her lifetime. The list includes being forced to partake in a loveless marriage to a former African king Herman Danbury, becoming a widow, and possibly losing her estate and title following her husband's death.
Since Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story debuted on Netflix earlier this month, it has dominated the streaming service's top ten charts and piqued fans' interest in the show's stars, including Thomas.
Although many may not know a lot about the Atlanta native, who goes by she/they pronouns, and how she became one of the breakout stars in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, still, with the recent promotional tour Thomas has been doing for the show, she has shared some shocking details about her life.
Thomas' revelations within the past several months include details about her educational pursuits, previous work experience, her African culture, the steps she took to prepare for her role as Lady Agatha Danbury, and many more.
Arsema On Her African Heritage
Thomas, who is Nigerian and Ethiopian, is the daughter of diplomats.
The 28-year-old's parents, consisting of an Ethiopian mother and a Nigerian father, worked in the government to improve Africa's economic development.
Due to her parents' professions, the actress moved around a lot and lived in various countries like Kenya, Benin, Comoros, Uganda, and India, which exposed her to social issues. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Thomas opened up about having conversations about politics and government at a young age.
"Dinner table conversations were about politics, about African governance. I realized that in a lot of the countries I lived in, the effects of colonialism and imperialism were so blatantly obvious. That became the driving force for what I thought I should be doing as an adult," she said.
Later Thomas would ultimately reveal that her parents' work had inspired her to become a "doctor or something" because she wanted to make them proud.
Arsema Attended Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University
Prior to pursuing acting, Thomas revealed to Shondaland that she was a college graduate.
In 2016, she received her bachelor's degree in biophysics from Carnegie Mellon University. Following her graduation, Thomas interned at a mobile health clinic and a refugee camp in Kenya for over a year.
Around the same time, the star would continue her education by getting her master's in epidemiology and health policy at Yale University. Thomas disclosed that despite the educational success that she has achieved, acting became her main priority when she realized that this is something she could envision herself doing "100 percent of the time." This decision led Thomas to relocate to Paris, South Africa, and then to London to study drama.
"I packed up everything and moved to Paris because I wanted to do acting 100 percent of the time," she stated. "It was always something I had wanted to do, [but] I didn't think I would be able to. I thought it was going to be a hobby or a thing that I'd have to suppress in myself for the rest of my life."
Thomas would land her first role in 2021 as a guest star on the television series One Touch. Shortly after, she would participate in the 2022 film Redeeming Love as the character Rebecca. The rest would be history because, around that time, Thomas would receive the life-changing role of Lady Agatha Danbury in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
Arsema On How She Prepared for Her Role In Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
When the opportunity for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story came along, Thomas took various steps to transform into Lady Agatha Danbury.
The actress, who has admitted to never seeing Bridgerton in the past, told Cosmopolitan UK's Up Close series that because she wasn't familiar with the fictionalized character, she decided to find things that she thought Lady Agatha Danbury would resonate with.
It includes reading books about women by well-known female authors who have made history in their own right, creating a Spotify playlist with music that Lady Agatha Danbury could listen to, and having waist beads made for her character.
"There was a lot of stuff I needed to get into this role because the character is fictional. So I read a ton of books about women or by women, that I thought that Agatha Danbury would resonate. So I read 'Ain't I A Woman' by Bell Hooks. I read Angela Davis' autobiography. I read Assata Shakur's autobiography, 'Tar Baby' by Toni Morrison, 'Eyes Are Watching God,' and 'Vaga Bonds' by Eloghosha Osunde. I made an extensive Spotify playlist, and I got waist beads made for Agatha," she explained.
Further in the interview, Thomas mentioned that she had waist beads made for Lady Danbury and wore them throughout the filming process because it helped ground her as she portrayed the character whom she described as entirely different from who she is as a person.
"It was a Nigerian woman threading these beads, and I asked her to thread beads specifically for this character, and I wore it throughout the entirety of filming," she said. "Because it was just kind of was a physical grounding point to this woman that is really, really actually far from who I am as an individual."
Thomas shared that talking to her grandmother, who had a similar background to Lady Danbury, such as having an arranged marriage at a young age, also helped her prepped for the role.
"I also talked to my grandmother a lot. I didn't realize how similar she was to this character. Because she was also married off when she was quite young," she revealed. "It was really interesting to kind of talk to someone in my life who I've known, who’s gone through something that is essentially the stripping away of their freedom, and someone who doesn't have any resentment or harbored anger towards the situation."
Arsema Worked At The United Nations
Thomas' work experience is an interesting one. Despite interning at three different health organizations, she previously worked at United Nations Population Fund, according to her Linkedin profile.
United Nations Population Fund's site states that the organization is part of the United Nation's "sexual and reproductive health agency." The gathered information on Thomas' profile says that she was an associate for the company from 2017 to 2018.
Some of Thomas' responsibilities included conducting "policy analyses" for United Nations Population Fund's sustainability and "supporting the regional desk specialist" in the program's division.
Arsema Speaks Five Languages
On top of Thomas' overwhelmingly impressive resume, the actress also speaks five languages.
According to the African publication Bella Naija, Thomas speaks English, Amharic, Yoruba, French, and Spanish. Although Thomas hasn't publicly talked about what inspired her to become multilingual, many can assume it is because of the various locations she has lived in throughout her life and her interest in learning.
Thomas may be a rising star now, but with the facts provided above, the actress has displayed through her work ethic and drive that she can soon become a household name.
Thomas' latest work Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, is now streaming on Netflix.
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