Museum of Motherhood

The Unavailable Father – Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal, Ph.D.

“Some fathers seem to be incapable of giving their daughters the affection and unconditional approval they must have to develop healthy, positive self-concepts.” from The Unavailable Father by Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal.

It is a fortunate woman who has a father that is available, a great deal of women deal with the complete opposite.  In one way or another they deal with an unavailable father.  This could be their own father, step-father, other father figure or the father of their children.  These fathers may be abusive physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, be a substance abuser, have disappeared from their daughters lives completely or simply ignore their daughters entirely.  Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal explores the six archetypes of unavailable fathers, along with a path towards recovery for the daughters in her book, The Unavailable Father: Seven ways women can understand, heal, and cope with a broken father-daughter relationship.

I had the pleasure of not only reading the book, but also interviewing Dr. Simms Rosenthal as well.  Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal is a private practice therapist who resides in New York City.  She holds her degree in clinical social work and has worked with many women who have dealt with an unavailable father.  According to Dr. Simms Rosenthal, “Unavailable fathers come in many forms, but they all have a common characteristic: they fail to provide their daughters with the unconditional love and the feelings of security fulfillment.”  She aids these women in their journey.  According to Dr. Simms Rosenthal, “as a girl becomes an adult, she can recreate the relationship so that it is on her terms.  She couldn’t do this as a child, but she can do this as an adult.”

The Unavailable Father is divided into two parts, the first describing the categories of unavailable fathers and the second, beginning the path of recovery.  The categories of unavailable fathers are: Disapproving Father, Mentally Ill, Substance Abusing, Abusive, Unreliable and Absent Archetypes were identified after a series of interviews.  These categories make it easy for the reader to identify if their father is one of these types.  The book also contains an excellent series of questions, that when answered, can also aid in identifying if you have an unavailable father.  This gives one a good starting place on the path towards recovery, which is also outlined in the book.  The Unavailable Father is a wonderful tool, extremely easy to follow and one can easily identify with the stories that exemplify the situations. The second part describes the seven steps towards recovery.  According to Dr. Simms Rosenthal “there is much that you can do to ameliorate the impact of an unavailable father, and taking an active role in striving to overcome the past will certainly improve your mood and outlook on life”  Some of these steps include: determine the attitudes and behaviors that you developed back then in order to explain his failures and protect yourself, figure out which of these attitudes and behaviors you have carried into adulthood and recognize how these attitudes and behaviors have limited you in the past and may still be limiting your happiness.

Dr. Simms Rosenthal was moved to write this book because of her own personal experience, and of the experiences that many women shared with her.  The Unavailable Father has been well received, and many have commented on how it has positively influenced their life.

For More Information, please visit Dr. Sarah Simms Rosenthal’s site.




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