Unfathered: a memoir of a woman who grew up without her dad

Author and life coach Dr Disa Mogashana shares how her absent father affected her life, the inspiration behind her book Unfathered (Evera) and how she found healing

Mogashana says she felt the urge to write the book after having two dreams about her father, who she had not spoken to in three months.

She explains that the reason they hadn’t been communicating was a result of her dad being cold after she had shared an extract from a book she was reading at the time. The book was about a young lady who was going through hardships as a result of an absent father and “daddy issues”.

“When I shared that with my father, he just went cold. Maybe it’s because I touched a nerve and what I said resonated with him,” she says.

In writing about the absence of her dad, Mogashana says it ended up like her writing him a letter and sharing what’s happened in her life.

“My dad and I have had an on again, off again relationship. At some point, he was there and sometimes he wasn’t. The book is about me showing him how my life was, is and what it’s meant for me for him not to be there,” she says.

The 34-year-old says not having her father present resulted in her struggling with self rejection issues. She admits that growing up, she was a child who thrived on positive reinforcement. “I grew up thinking I’m not good enough, because I was clearly not worth it because my father left me,” she says.

READ MORE: Are you an ‘absent’ father?

Even in adulthood, Mogashana felt like she wasn’t good enough – despite having obtained a PhD, having a functional family life and doing well for herself – at the back of her mind that lack of approval and engagement of a father figure still left her feeling unworthy.

In addition, she had to deal with a lot of guilt. “I used to think that I was the reason my parents had to break up. Even as an adult, I’ve had to work hard to sort out those issues,” she says.

Healing doesn’t happen overnight

Through her own life, Mogashana has learnt that the father-relationship daughter is important because the first male figure a girl falls in love with is her father. “Through having a relationship with your father, you learn what it means to have a relationship with a person of the opposite sex,” she says.

She adds that your father shows you how it feels to be loved and appreciated by a man. “By the time you get into a relationship with a person of the opposite sex, you have been affirmed that you’re beautiful, smart and worth it,” she says.

Through her book, Mogashana aims to alert parents to the consequences of physical and emotional absence and their effects on children – particularly the absence of a father on a girl child. She adds that she would also like the mothers who have complex relationships with the father of their child to realise that it’s not all about them.

In addition, she’d like fathers to be aware that their children need both financial and emotional support.

Unfathered challenges those who grew up without their fathers to realise they aren’t alone and acknowledge the pain of having an absent father, but most importantly, heal and move forward.  

“You can only change that which you acknowledge. I believe that one needs to acknowledge that they have daddy or parent issues and find a way to take charge of their life and move on,” she says. 

“Healing doesn’t happen overnight. Through writing this book, I found healing in some areas of my life and I hope that through reading my story, you are encouraged to also find healing in your own life,” she says. 

Published through Evera Publishing, the self-publishing arm of Black Bird Books, the book launch will take place on Saturday, 10 June 2017, at Midstream Community Hall in Centurion and Thursday, 22 June 2017, at University of Cape Town Upper Campus.