The Unavailable Father

The Unavailable Father

The Bottom Line

For many girls and women, the scars created by poor relationships with their fathers who were "unavailable" are long lasting and painful. Whether a father was abusive, absent, or unreliable, or whether he was mentally ill or a substance abuser, the daughter suffers because of those behaviors and conditions. The Unavailable Father helps explore the reasons for this emotional distance and offers perspective, healing and hope for daughters deprived of a healthy father-daughter relationship.


  • Offers insightful perspectives on failed father daughter relationships
  • Shares real-life stories on daughters who dealt with various kinds of emotionally absent dads
  • Brings specific resources to assist in the assessment and recovery process


  • May be a bit painful to any father who was not present for his daughter


  • A direct yet sensitive approach to the challenges of girls and women dealing with emotional scars from absent fathers
  • Specific stories about various daughters of typically absent fathers bring the real impacts to light
  • The book offers hope to girls and women who have had poor relationships with their fathers as they move about daily life
  • A must read for any father or father-to-be of a daughter to avoid pitfalls that will cause emotional scars

Guide Review - The Unavailable Father

There are few relationships more precious in a healthy family than the bond between a father and a daughter.

While I love all my children, my daughters and I have always shared individual and special relationships. But I know well from watching other fathers and daughters I know that there are few things as emotionally painful as a daughter's failed relationship with a father who can't or doesn't develop close and healthy bonds with his girls.

Daughters in such unhealthy situations can experience poor self-image, sabotaged adult relationships and challenges with substance abuse and depression. And that can carry that emotional baggage into their own families if they can't find healing and peace.

Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal's book The Unavailable Father goes in depth into the challenges posed to girls and women resulting from unhealthy fathers. Whether the father was abusive, alcoholic, mentally ill or self-absorbed, many of the toxic results are the same. Detailed case studies about father-daughter relationships for each of the archetypal unhealthy fathers will help girls and women see what has happened and then with this greater knowledge, they can find ways to greater healing and understanding.

While the book is clearly geared to women injured by these childhood experiences, I found it to be revelatory for fathers as well. I saw more of myself than I was comfortable with in the stories, and while I think my daughters and I have done well, that result may have been in spite of some of my behaviors over time. Every father or father-to-be should read this book and be on the lookout for attitudes and behaviors that may cause emotional scars.

Finally, the book offers specific ideas for addressing the impacts of unavailable fathers. I always appreciate authors that bring not only perspective but also practical application to the reader. Dr. Rosenthal does that well in this book.

I recommend The Unavailable Father to girls and women who suffer from an emotionally absent or abusive father and to any father who wants to improve his relationship with his daughters and better understand the complexities of those very personal relationships.


Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.