baby start asking where dad is

Marie - posted on 10/12/2010 ( 25 moms have responded )

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my son is now three years old and has started school.I know soon he's going to start asking where his dad is and I really dont know what to say:
1.the truth that he's a man who never cared about you from the day you were born + many other things to make him look bad
2.lie that he will come one day + many other lies to make him think his dad is a gud guy
i really dont know what to do and could do with some help.

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Amy - posted on 10/25/2010

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Linda, forgive me, but why do you feel the need to burden a young boy with the fact that his father chooses not to be a part of his life? Why do you need to say it like that? Do you really think your son will hear anything past, "chooses not to be in your life" How do you think that will make your son feel about himself? Why would you punish him like that? Why not simply say, "Your father and I are not married, so he lives somewhere else"? The way you explain it from the very beginning, will provide the framework for future questions. There is no need to answer for his father's motivation. It is unfair of you to do that. It's not your job to answer for his father. And to relate your ex's choice to your son, is quite simply willfully traumatizing him unnecessarily. There is no reason to relate it to him AT ALL. It is about your relationship with your ex - that is the framework to keep it in, so that your son never has to ask "Why does my Daddy not love me?" The way you are phrasing it, opens the door for that question. And that is so unfair of you. I'm sorry to sound so harsh, but I'm trying to spare your son needless hurt.

Bryndís - posted on 10/25/2010

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I used to tell my son that his father lived far far away, when he was little but when he was about 6 yrs old i told him the truth. He is 10 now and has never asked about his dad again.

Rana - posted on 10/21/2010

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Never lie...you don't have to make him sound bad just say he did not want a family or that he wasn't ready. Telling the truth to your child is the best thing you could ever do. The only time I lied to my now 11 year old daughter was about santa and the easter bunny and such. She always knows that I will tell her the truth!! I love that she can trust me!!!

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Elizabeth - posted on 10/26/2010

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Lying is not necessary and will likely have negative consequences, which is why choice of words is so significant.
You can be honest, with a positive tone. For example: "God makes every family different and He knows we're strong enough to do it together. Just you and me."
Kids are fragile. It's great that you are trying to do this right because that is what your son needs.

Solmarie (NaNi) - posted on 10/26/2010

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Because he is so young I would start with daddy's away at work. When he gets older he will realize that your his father. ;) Just never down talk his father to him. I think that that is the worst thing you could do and in a way might make you look like the bad guy. No matter what your feelings are to his father the child should never be involved in that.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/26/2010

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I agree: the truth is the only option. But, I would be careful in the words you choose. Psychologically, this will have a huge impact on your child's life and it's important that you have the right words, demeanor, etc. Definitely get a book and/or do some searching for advice from a psychologist or other credible source.

Linda - posted on 10/25/2010

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I have a 2 year old that will one day want to know the same thing. I think you can tell him the truth without telling all the bad stuff. Tell him that his father chooses not to be a part of his life. Tell him that his father doesn't know what a special gift he is and that its not his fault. Try to leave the other details out that he is too young to understand.

Amy - posted on 10/25/2010

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One of the best pieces of advice I've received was from my Dad who is a retired guidance counselor (yet not a perfect father himself), was this: "Be very careful not to pass on your own feelings to your child" I know what it's like to anticipate those tricky questions and wonder how to answer them... you want to be prepared, and that is good. However, don't create problems that are not there, yet. Just because you have all these strong feelings about your child's father doesn't mean your son will. Not if you're careful about how much you tell him. Yes there will be questions, but your biggest priority is to make sure your son has YOUR unconditional love. The answers do not need to be complicated. It is not lying to simply explain that you and your son are all the family you need. It's not lying to simply say that you're not married to his Dad and so he doesn't live with you. That's all he will need to know for a long time. Don't get all caught up in the details, just focus on being the best, most LOVING mother you can be, providing as many other loving friendships and family as you can, and you may be surprised at how little your son will need to know about his father. I'm not saying that fathers aren't important or that he will never want to know... I'm just saying that by creating a full and loving home with many other people who love him, the question of who is father is does not have to be such a big source of pain for either of you. Please remember that there are many other options for a fufilling family. Grandpas, uncles, cousins, aunts, grandmas, friends, neighbours - all of these can help make up for a missing father. You can create a happy family without a father. Remember the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a family" Create that village for your son and he won't miss his father so much.
Please, please don't tell him his father didn't care about him! That is a cruel truth that he does NOT need to know. In my opinion that is child abuse. No one needs to know that. It is not lying to omit hurtful truths. All he needs to know is that you weren't a couple - end of story. He also doesn't need empty promises or lies - don't tell him his father will come - he doesn't need to hear that. All he needs to know is about the people who DO love him. Focus on your LOVE, not the truth or lies.

Arlene - posted on 10/25/2010

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Thanks for posting this question! The answers are great, as I am going to be going through something similar in the next few years!!

I am a single mom to a 3yr old and as of yet, she hasn't started asking about her dad, but I know she will one day. In my case though, the decisions I make and what I tell her are going to be very difficult. Her father left me when I was almost 5 months pregnant. I was given an ultimatum - I could have the baby or I could have him. He couln't give me a commitment, so I couldn't give him the ultimate sacrifice.

That being said, he has a son from when he was married. The son is 10yrs older than my daughter, and is an integral part of his dad's life, and his dad shares joint custody with his his ex-wife.

His ex-wife and I have remained friends (long story) and because of it, our children have a very close relationship. This is why my answers are going to be more difficult. She will not only be asking about why she doesn't have a daddy, but why her brother does,and why their daddy only sees him.

I have no intention about bad mouthing him, but it doesn't make the answers any easier either.

Carly - posted on 10/25/2010

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I asked this question several times of therapists. I have always been told to tell the truth appropriate for his age. For example, my son's father has never seen him and I haven't seen his father since the day before he was born. The first question your son is going to ask (most likely) is where is my daddy as he realizes that not everyone is just with their mommy. Don't tell him more than he will understand at his age. Simply saying there are all different types of families. Everyone has a mother and father but some children live just with their mommy and some live just with their daddy. The most important thing is that the child lives where they are loved and cared for the best. As he gets older and starts asking more specific questions. In my case, my son's father was not a good man. So I told my son, I had to make the best choice for us to be happy and healthy and the best choice for us was to leave. It's definitely a hard thing to talk about but the truth is key. Most therapists agree that it is important that they know the full truth when they are old enough to hear it but determining how much they can handle or understand at what age is difficult. My son will never know some of the specifics that occurred as there is no good that could come from that. Good luck.

Julie - posted on 10/25/2010

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i myself are dreading when that day comes, my son is 2 and his dad as neva wanted to know. but i know when that day comes i will tell my son the truth, as i wud want him to hear it from me. as he gets older i will answer his questions truthfully and honestly bout is dad. i will neva paint a picture of this great dad cos hes neva bothered with my son and i dont expect that to change in the future.

Crissy - posted on 10/24/2010

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Im in the place with my son. I just told him that his dad couldn't be with us because he had to do other things but maybe one day he can come see us.

Jennifer - posted on 10/24/2010

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It's a tough situation that I've been dealing with for quite some time now. My son (who's now 4 & 1/2 years old) has been asking about his "daddy" for about 2 years now. Please, don't take this the wrong way but, neither one of the options you listed are a healthy, honest way to deal with the situation. I'm not gona pretend that I have all the answer, cause I most certainly don't! Being a single parent, is a daily learning experience, & none of us are going to do it perfectly. All I can do is share with you how I've dealt with the situation, & you can take from it what you will. I was like a deer caught in headlights when my son started asking about his "dad." Because I had no clue what to tell him, I started doing some serious sole searching, talking with people I trust, and was fortunate to get some awesome feed-back from friends of mine that grew up with out a father. It all helped me a great deal, and continues to help me on a daily basis. One majorly important lesson I've learned in all of this, is no matter how much I try to prepair myself, or my son for certain things happening, or not happening in the future, there simply is no way to prepair myself for ANYTHING & EVERYTHING! There are way too many things in life that I have zero control over, and accepting that has certainly made a huge difference in our lives. I had decided before my son even started talking that I would not bad mouth his "dad" in front of him under any circumstances. I felt that by bad mouthing his "dad" I was bad mouthing a part of my own son...by insulting his "dad" I would be insulting him on some level, and that just was never acceptable to me. I'm better than that, and so is my lil angel! I even went as far as thinking about how my ex would handle the situation if the shoe was on the other foot, and no I don't believe he's do the same for me but I'm ok with that. It just goes to show why God chose me to raise our son alone without him in the picture at all. When my son asks questions, I do my best to give him honest answers, but only the facts that I'm 100% sure of. If the honest answer is too complicated, then I simplify it & give him a short to the point answer...& when he asks me about things I'm unsure of, I simply tell him that I don't know. So far handling it this way has actually worked out better than even I expected! My son is comfortable with talking to me & asking me things, & I'm not on an emotional rollcoaster when talking about it with him. My conscience is clean, and my heart is full. Everyone always tells me that one day either my ex will seek out our son, or our son may seek out his "dad"...& although I don't foresee that happening anytime soon, I still recognize that it's a real possibilty. How or what I'll do when, & if that day comes is beyond me...all I can do now is be the best mom I can be, and always make sure that my son knows exactly how fabulous he is, and how incredibly loved he is by all that know him. Wish you & your lil angel the best!

Ursula - posted on 10/22/2010

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Lying never works because when they find out the truth you will lose your child's trust in what you say and you don't want that. Tell him the truth at a three year old level or what ever age he ask. I did this with my son and he seemed comforted until age 12 when he ask to see his dad so we looked for him and went from there. relationships even to this day. Worst thing to do is downgrade or dog the father even if it is true let your child find out when they develop or not develop their own relationship with him. Just be fair to him (your son) and yourself it will work out in your favor. Good luck hon it does get better for your son & you .Hope this helps because it worked for me by the way I have three children with three different daddies and it worked in all cases for the better of our relationships even to this day.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/22/2010

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Tell him that some families have a mom and dad, some families just have a mom or dad.

Jessica - posted on 10/22/2010

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My daughter is three and she has asked about her father plenty of times! The thing you must remember is that kids will discuss their mom and dads amongst each other as my THREE year has already done in daycare! I told my daughter that YES SHE HAS A DAD and that he simply does not live by us. You have to remember that children take things to heart and whatever you tell them will be imprinted in their little minds. You do not want to tell them that their daddy does not want to see them or anything negative, the less information the better and when they are older to deal with the feelings of their missing parent, then you can elaborate!

Gloria - posted on 10/21/2010

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Once he is older you can tell him the truth about his father. I had to do the samething with my now 17 year old son.I now have to do the same with my 3yr old, It hurts but why lie to make someone else look good...I'm just saying...They do not all come back my sons father walked out on us when he was 2yrs old we haven't heard or seen him since. i get check only because the courts told him to pay or go to jail which 1 do you think he picked.

Kim - posted on 10/20/2010

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My daughter is almost 6 years old and she has not asked yet. I have always told her that I am her Mom and her Dad. If you speak about God at all in your home you may also add in that God is also his Father. It is important to not speak bad at all about the father. It is very hard for me to answer this cause I too am going to struggle with the answer when she "REALLY" asks and understands a lot more. I pray that I will know the right answers for her at that time and that she will find comfort in my answers. She simply is not old enough for the truth. I wongt lie to her about it but I wont tell her all about it until much much later. I too have tried my best to keep tabs on her father so that when she is older she can find a way too track him down if she needs to ( for medical) or for her own soul searching purposes.
good luck

Marie - posted on 10/20/2010

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thanx all for ur advice.I realise its going to be a tough one for me but hopefully I will make the right decision.

Jennifer - posted on 10/16/2010

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No one can give you the right answer on that. But for me... I told my little girl that her real dad has not come yet. I told her that she has a father and a dad. Her father left and is busy in his life... so for right now.. I am your mom and dad. But I told her that one day there will be a man that will come into mommy's life and be a dad to her.

Abigael - posted on 10/15/2010

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Thanks you all the the advise because in in the same situation ,my son is 6yrs and he has never asked about his dad coz i think that's a vocabulary to him he has never know one.Soon he will also pop the question and all i keep on telling myself is i will show him the dad and let him do he damage himself.But i will not trash the guy or anything since we don't even communicate but i follow up on his moves so that the day my son asks i know where to find him.A friend of mine lied to the son since he was a baby and when he became a teenager he discovered his dad was this rick guy and they had struggled to make ends meet with the mum,he trashed the mum for there suffering and he decided to go pronounce himself to the dad.He was thrown out by the Dad and his other son's and by the time he went back to the Mum he was in tears and glad the mum never ended up with such a guy.Absent Dad's always mess up eventually.

[deleted account]

Tell yoru son an AGE APPROPRIATE TRUTH!
At this stage it would be appropriate to say, "Your daddy is so far away he can't visit" - be it he really is physically far away, he is locked away, or even just "emotionally" far away (and really lives two blocks away).
As he grows older he ill ask harder quesitons. I urge you to work with his pediatrician or a child psychologist to determine how to best answer those questions at that time.
I do not believe in lieing to a child, nor in bad mouthing the other parent.

Kitt - posted on 10/14/2010

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That is the best advise. I have been there twice and it is never a good idea to put down the other parent. Eventually, your child will be a teenager and if you have set a precedent of trash talking it will be bad. Gina said it very well "Remember you are raising a man and you want your son to be a better man than his father" God Bless you.

Gina - posted on 10/12/2010

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Tell your son the truth as he needs to know it. Bashing his dad is not going to help him. I told my daughter that adults sometime make decisions we don't understand and he decided he wasn't good enough to be her dad. Just remember whatever you say is going to paint a image to your son and at some point his father will come back. They all come back. You want your child to be open when if this happens. Allow your child to form his own opinion, no matter how you feel. My daughter's father came back earlier this year and she was open enough to talk to him because I never put him down. She was able to form her own opinion and she decided she didn't want a relationship with him. He respected her wishes and backed off. Remember you are raising a man and you want your son to be a better man than his father was ever and will ever be.

Kayla - posted on 10/12/2010

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I would tell him the truth. He might not understand but in due time he will. If you lie and he find out the truth through someone else he might be hurt. I will be going through that soon too because my son is two and daddy just doesn't care so I'll have to think about what I will say. Good luck! Tell me how it goes.

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