children's questions about absent fathers

Cara - posted on 08/31/2009 ( 31 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 4 yrs. old and has started talking about daddies. his father has not been involved in his life for 2 years or more and has never had a relationship with my son. i know that the question of "where is my daddy" is coming and i am at a lost of what to say. Obviously I don't want to tell my son that his father doesn't care about him and has a new wife and son with her, but I don't want to lie and tell him that his dad lives far away (he doesn't) or anything because my son will find out the truth one day and know that I lied. What should I tell my son about his "daddy"? Any advice would be helpful.

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Kristi - posted on 09/09/2009

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My daughter asked that question about a year ago. The exact question was "You're supposed to get married before you have kids so why weren't you married when you had me" (I had her when I was 19, father never around, now in a single mother's program in college graduate in May).

I told her that God decided that I would have her before I was married to help pick out her "daddy." I have a father and a step-dad whom I considered my dad so there is a difference between a "daddy" and a "father" so I don't consider it lying to her just telling her that she will have a daddy but for now it's fine with the two of us (we don't need a man is the phrase).

Wanda - posted on 09/07/2009

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I raised three wonderful children. One of which has graduated from college and the other is working on his college degree. The youngest is still in high school... I did this all on my own. My kids father from my oldest two were never around. It's a double sided sword. I knew that it was very important for them to have a relationship with their father, as I did with my father, I also knew that I could not force their father to do something he obviously was not fit to do.."be a father". So when my children became of age to understand better, I began telling them why their father was not around, I never spole ill of their father, I made sure that they understood that it was never their fault. They grew up around their grandfather..my dad..whom I felt was the best role model as a father they would ever need.

Their papa (this is what they call him) mean the world to my kids.

Don't lie to your kids they are stronger than we think. I never lied to my kids..you can keep your feelings about his father to yourself, they do not need to know the details...but I always explained to my children that their father loves them in his own unique way..but that it doesn't mean that its the right way. I hope this helps...... : )

Amy - posted on 08/31/2009

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Wow, this is a hard one. I will be going through the same thing with my daughter when she asks and even though her father does live literally on the other side of the country, it isn't going to be any easier. The best advice I can give you is to explain to him that some people have mommies and daddies in their lives and some don't and the one's that don't have daddies get extra special love and attention from their mommies. That's the only thing I can think of and it might not be very helpful, but I wanted to put something to try to help seeing as no one else has responded. Good luck and I hope everything works out.

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Sandra - posted on 09/09/2012

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www.abovethetrees.ca

I wrote a book for my daughter as her Dad left when she was approximately two. She asked for years about her Dad and this book I felt was a healing experience for both her and I. The story is written for children between three and seven, and is about a giraffe who's Dad gets lost in the Jungle. It introduces all the different kinds of families that are out there...and seemed to do the trick for my daughter. I realize when she is a little older she will need more of an answer...but she is now seven and she just accepts the situation for what it is. I believe the terminology/explaination allows healing for all. When a parent simply walks away..they truly are lost!! Hope you check out my website. I am just a single mom hoping to help!

Jovelline - posted on 04/17/2011

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@jessica
well i would say pray..reading your post breaks my heart,thinking that your my sons father will do the same thing.as i said when she gets older and clearly can understand thing,you can tell her the truth because know matter how we want to protect our little angels it will still end up in the same situation.they will still need to know the truth from the person they trust.and pray pray pray...im sure God will do the rest of the job.

Jessica - posted on 04/12/2011

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im in the exact same position my daughter is 5 in May she has seen her father twice for maybe an hour each her whole life the last 2 times i arranged for him to see her (she was 3) he never showed up and it broke her heart it was horrible to see i swore to myself that until i was sure he would be around for good i wasnt going to let him see her. and i have stuck by that but he has never asked to see her again in fact he told me it would be better for her (more like better for him) if he wasnt in her life. she constantly asks me why her daddy isnt here and how she wishes she could have her daddy with her it breaks my heart everytime. i tell her that he works far away and cant come to see her which isnt a lie as he is a fisherman in another state hours away i dont talk him down (as my own mother talks bad about my father whom i have a great relationship with and its horrible) but i dont know how to tell her that daddy probably isnt going to come back....how do you tell your kid that their father is a giant a-hole and has better things to do like party and sleep around than be a part of his own childs life in a nice way....

Jovelline - posted on 04/10/2011

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i should remember this...so when he asked me the same thing i know what to say...

Jovelline - posted on 04/10/2011

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well i would agree with you jade,im sure 3 yrs from now my son will ask me the same question and it would be scary.seek wisdom to the LORD and pray he never failed me in my prayers. But i would rather tell him that his father lived in other country and worked their and loved him so much.Years later when he understand more i would tell him more about the real situation.Step by step because a 4 year old child would not understand the way adults do,most likely they would just take as they see it. And dont say bad words about his father in front of the kids. When they grow up let them discover the truth..right now im busy molding his character and personality so when the time come to tell him the truth he has the right attitude to handle it..just pray and give the burden to God...

Angelica - posted on 04/09/2011

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i read mostly all of them. because now that my little one is going to school she going to see both parents taking there kids to school and i know she going to say i dont got that at home only my mom and grandparents. but these advices i learned so much

[deleted account]

my daughter is 7 months her dad doesnt want to know her because the new girlfriend doesnt like it and his family havent bothered with her either but i too am dreading the day she askes why she hasnt got a daddy. its a hard one xxx

Amber - posted on 09/18/2009

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my daughter is 5 months old and i am dreading the day that she starts asking me about her dad. he told me to tell her that he is dead, but i cant lie to my little girl. not quite sure what ill tell her. her dads family is really involved with her which is awesome but means ill have to be even more careful about what i say to her. im glad hes not involved because while she may ask she wont know what shes missing.

[deleted account]

You have to be honest, and keep your answers simple at their age level. They go thru phases, you need to give them credit as they are wiser that you think. You tell him the truth, and he will figure it out. Do not add your feelings about it just give them the facts. Kids are very resilient. My son was 6 when we got divorced and he moved in with some one a couple of months after divorce. It was hard for my son to understand it, but he figured it out. He has been out of our lives 9 years and he has remarried twice, so just imagine the disaster, but none of that has affected my son. I am his anchor and his stability. I give him the facts and try to keep my comments out. He is a great kid and he is much smarter, so I know we will be ok. I hope that our experience can help you and you both will be fine.

Melissa - posted on 09/10/2009

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well all I can tell u is just like some others have said that some people have mommies and daddies in their life and some dont. My son was 3 yrs old and unfortunately was at the scene of the accident when his daddy died and so was I now he is 6 yrs old and sometimes i still struggle with questions on where his daddy is? and does he still love us? but i always tell him daddy went to heaven and yes he will always love us he has a picture of him in his room that he looks at every day and a book that has his pictures of the two of them together in it that always helps him and i try to just let him know he is loved every day!!

Karen - posted on 09/10/2009

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*My daughter asked that question about a year ago. The exact question was "You're supposed to get married before you have kids so why weren't you married when you had me"* I would have said to her that you are suppose to have dinner before dessert too but sometimes we eat the pudding first then the meat loaf lol

[deleted account]

I have been wondering the same thing! My daughter will be 4 soon...one day I asked if she wondered where her daddy was and she told me she didn't have one. Now if someone asks about her daddy she will say, "My papaw is my daddy." Her dad has been in and out of her life since she was 6 months old. His new gf is not a good woman so I am kind of glad he's stayed away (hasn't seen her in 8 months...I haven't heard from him in over 2- the only reason he called then was because his mom was in town). It's frustrating I know...let me know if you get any good advice!

Brandi - posted on 09/07/2009

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You know, the only thing you can do is let your child know and see that you love them and will be there for them. My motto with my child is to never tell him a lie and to never sugarcoat anything for him. I feel like my son needs to know the truth so that he can make his own decisions in life. I NEVER put his father down no matter how mad and discusted I get with him. I have to put myself in my son's shoes and know that I would have hated it if someone was talking about my daddy. However when he asks questions about why his daddy is not around or why he is such a lier, I simply say... you need to ask HIM when you feel ready to do so because I can not speak for him. I also let him know that I am here and I am honest so I really dont know how to answer that question. He has learned that when his dad tells him something he can not count on it. It hurts him every time but it is helping him form his own opinion of his father. When he is hurt I just wrap my arms around him and tell him that I love him and let him cry on my shoulder. He usually gets through it and is ok after a few hours. I know the hurt will always be there with him, but I think, I hope I am giving him the right tools to deal with the pain in the future. You know as adults we know that life is tough and we know that we all went through hurt in our lives but we made it through and usually we came out stronger on the other side. So just trust that your child will do the same. Just love them and let them use your shoulders, that is what God gave them to you for!

Brenda - posted on 09/07/2009

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my boys dad lives 15 min away and hardly ever sees them and only when its convient and o his time.i never talk trash about him.which is not always easy.he left my boys wen they were 3,4,and 8.and now there 8,9,14.i always told them there dad had issues and needed to work them out and that he loved them in his own way.they would pray for them and color pages for him or wite him letters usually scribbles.lol.but thats how they handled it.i never gave them more info then they needed.and as they got older i gave more info.i didnt want to bury them down with unneeded info.and thishelped them alot.

Danielle - posted on 09/06/2009

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I have to agree with Jade on this one. My father left when I was 18 months old and my mum never put him down in front of me. I am now 28 and I never think about my father at all. I think you get to a certain age where you can see them for what they really are. I have 3 boys 2 of which do not see his father by his choice and I do exactly what Jade does. With my brother and family friends help my boys never miss out on their man time.

Elise - posted on 09/06/2009

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I am in the same boat, my son is only 5 months old tho. So I have a little time to think about that. If you lie to save his feelings will he hate you for it later on??? When you decide let me know !

Nyaradzoyashe - posted on 09/06/2009

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Definirely a hard one, and when they start school it gets frequent. but i learnt the hard way not to lie to him. someone taught me to say things like " i do not know about that but what i do know is i love you and will always be there for you". it's not easy but yo can do it. and when you tell them the truth they learn to trust you and depend on you when things get tough

Sarah Jamie - posted on 09/06/2009

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I never said anything about my daughters father not loving her enough, because I know she would think it was something of her fault that that happened. We always said that "Some people have both mommy and daddy living with them, but some don't. There are lots of reasons why, but nothing to do with you honey. Your father just isn't ready to become 'daddy' yet, and when he is you will give him a huge hug and welcome him, because he helped make you. But that will be his decision if he is ready. This is not your fault, and just remember your whole family loves you and we are here for you, so if you have any more questions please keep asking them."

I do not believe in speaking in any way down about her father, because without him, I wouldn't have her. Don't get me wrong, he is a hurtful and big ol' a**hole, but she will never know that I think that of him.



Good luck, and that book is really helpful and good for both the kid AND you.

Rikki - posted on 09/06/2009

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what i say to my five yr old (who just turned 5 5 days ago) is that your daddy dosent love himslf enough to care for us the right way.

Angela - posted on 09/05/2009

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Thanks for all the opinions ladies. I'm (obviously) in the same situation. My daughter is not quite 2 yet and is already asking for her daddy. He has seen her twice in her life, when she was 6 & 9 months old. But she sees all her cousins with their parents and asks me "Emma's Daddy?" It breaks my heart when I tell her "Emma doesn't have daddy. Emma's got a mommy who loves her lots and lots though." Maybe thats the wrong way to answer. I just dont know what is the RIGHT thing to say. Maybe that book that was mentioned will help...

Leah - posted on 09/05/2009

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I was in the same kind of situation for several years. My daughter is now seven and she asked about her father all the time (he passed away last fall). My answer to her when she was young was just simple like, "your father loves you very much and it is sad for him to not be with you too". Then when she got a bit older it was more about "why don't I have a dad...not fair"...etc I answered with something like "your father has made some bad choices and it is not your fault. It's ok to feel sad or mad about it and I love you". I never told her the truth that he was a scum bag or anything. I think the most important part is to reassure them that it is not their fault as they get older. Remind him how much you love him each time he asks and try to relate to what he is actually feeling (the easiest way to answer is to try to put yourself in their place). Good luck. I hope it works out for the best. Hang in there.

Sarah Jamie - posted on 09/05/2009

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Well, my daughter finally met her father this summer at the age of 10. He had only seen pictures of her when she was a baby (not my choice to not have him involved), and was a total jerk when I moved to a different state for school (telling me how when she was older it would be okay for her to look him up- thanks for the permission buddy!). ANYWAYS>>>



"Do I have a Daddy" Written by Jeanne Warren Lindsay



This is an excellent book. Not only does it have a story for the kids to read, but there is a Special Section for Single Parents at the end that is quite comprehensive. The publisher, Morning Glory Press, has books for a lot of other situations for kids.



Hopefully this will help. Just know we are all here to help and bounce ideas off each other. Good luck. Oh and I ordered it off of Amazon.com and after you order it other books should come up as suggestions of the "If you read that, then this might also appeal to you" section. :)

Jessica - posted on 09/05/2009

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Amy, I am definitely going to have to borrow that idea from you...it is a great way to tell your child about their father...although I am in a little different situation: My sons father is in and out... he will stop by and see him for about 10 minutes once or twice a month ( and sometimes go 6 to 8 weeks without seeing him)...he is a BIG child himself and does alot of things that I do not agree with, things you do not try to teach your child, which he does...he thinks its cool when he talks like daddy or does the things daddy does, which is mainly swearing and he has a horrible attitude problem (hates the world) and he thinks he is God, litterally...I am afraid that when Brenden (3) gets old enough to make the decision to go with his father he will go cuz he will think its gonna be fun...I still will never bad mouth his father to him and I tell him all the time that his daddy loves him!! Okay...I guess I have rambled on enough, had to talk to someone about it :) Good luck with your situation! And continue to ask God for guidance..He will do whats right!!

Jo - posted on 09/02/2009

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Jade... I agree with you WHOLE heartily on the let them make a decision later in life about the "quality" of their other parent!!



Amy... you put it pretty eloquent and I think I will use that in an abreviated version with my daughter. She is two and daddy IS very much in her life just on a two year geographical separation (military) so I know that the hard why isn't Daddy here? Doesn't he love me? questions will come up over the next two years!!



Thanks to everyone for such good ideas! AND GOOD LUCK...

Jade - posted on 09/02/2009

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One day i will have to do the same with my child his father just pops up and then dissapears again and for a two year old he just doesnt understand! But i tell my son that his daddy loves him and his daddy has to work alot!! My therory on this is i will never bad mouth my sons father to my son!! Now when my son is old enough to see for himself how his father is and he wants nothing to do with him then thats my sons decision to think what he wants!! But i am not going to be the bad guy in the sittuation!! Kids are alot smarter than we give them credit for!! you can tell ur son the truth just dont do it ugly!! you can tell him daddy lives,(tell him were) with (ladys name and child if you chose) just like you live here with mommy!! i always tell my child that his daddy loves him very much even though sometimes i doubt it! i would never want my child to feel like he was unloved or un wanted by anyone!! The choice is urs but you can tell him without hurting him!!! And one day he will understand and he will love you more for letting him make up his own mind on how he feels abt his father!!

Amy - posted on 09/02/2009

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Thanks, I grew up without a dad and felt really unwanted and I am really trying to make sure my daughter doesn't feel that way. You never know how an absent father will affect a child, but I truely believe that if they have people around to love them, they wont feel like they're missing out.

Mel - posted on 09/02/2009

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Wow Amy, that's fantastic! Really. I'm in a similar situation (but my ex is on the other side of the world) and I've been struggling with what I'm supposed to say. I'm going to pinch that one from you if you don't mind. You sound like you have a great attitude to things

Heather - posted on 09/02/2009

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i always told toni that sometimes they get lucky and have one person to be mommy and daddy. i was lucky enough to have enough people to help and love her so that i don't think that she misses her dad so much. when she got old enough to spend time with him she kinda realizes that he didn't wanna really wanna be around her he was too busy spending time with his new wife and her oldest son and their two sons. she knows who they are but never asks about him at all

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