How to explain to my 3.5 year old daughter why daddy isn't in her life?

Meg - posted on 10/23/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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I am a single mother of a 3.5 year old girl, and her father has seen her once in almost 4 years and that was thanks to me for taking her to see him. he only lives 4 hours away. the issue i have right now is that she always is asking me why doesn't daddy come and see me and why doesn't daddy love me .. it is heart wrenching when she says that. i try to explain that daddy lives far away. i just don't know how to calm her down when she gets so upset about him. i have never and will never speak badly about him. he is more concerned about having a girlfriend then spending quality time with his daughter and get to know her more. he needs to step up and be a father and the father she deserves.



any advice would be greatly appreciated.

thank you

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Anne - posted on 10/31/2009

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Hi i had the some situation with my girl. Her father has chosen not to see her at all. When Ebony stated asking I would tell her the truth "Im sorry your daddy doesn't want to see you, But we are a very special family. Every family is different" I would try to point out all the best things about being a single parent neg then a pos response. It does really hurt when the father doesn't want to catch up maybe send him a letter and if that doesn't work focus on you and your little girl Good LUCK

Stacey - posted on 11/01/2009

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My son is 8, and he has never met his father or had any contact with him. His father left town while I was in the hospital giving birth. I've seen him twice at court dates, but that was 7 years ago... he hasn't shown to any other since. When my son was younger, I just told him his dad lived far away. I did keep 1 photo of him out in the living room (and I still do), so that he could see him and know that he does have a dad. He rarely mentions him anymore. Lately when he asks, I just say I really don't know why his dad doesn't visit him, but he's lucky to have a mom who loves him twice as much. Then I continue listing all of the people who love him. Good for you for not speaking badly of your daughter's father... that's very important. I've made sure to never say a bad word about my son's father, and I've told all my family members that they can also not say anything bad. All you can do is love your daughter and remind her how much you love her. Let others be a manly influence in her life (male church members, uncles, grandpa, even just a friend of yours). If you have his address, let your daughter make him a card and help her mail it to him. If you're on speaking terms (although it doesn't sound like it), ask if you can send him updates (even twice a year) about her. Let her help you decide what to say. Mention to him that if he doesn't want to see her, it would mean the world to your daughter if he could at least send a Christmas and birthday card to her.



If he never comes around... you just get to love her double, and remind her of that every chance you get. Good luck to you.

Sinatria - posted on 10/30/2009

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Tell her the truth but never in a negative way. Example daaddy is really busy right now but mommy has all the time in the world for you. This usually puts a smile on my daughters face and she is happy with that answer for a while.....

My daughter turned 3 earlier this month and one day on the ride home she pointed to random houses and asked if that was her daddys house (something they learned in daycare).I started to cry. She did again when a man walked up to me and asked me to tell him how to get back to the interstate while in walmart. As he was walking away she said daddy come back. I left evrything I had in my cart and walked out of the store. i was glad the man did not hear her and if he did he did not respond. My dad has been there from day one and so have my friends. they give her the male presence that she needs but sometimes its not enough for her. When she asks I really dont know how to respond but i tell her that her daddy is really busy and one day he'll have time for her. I have never said anything bad about him in front of her. Shes smart shell figure it out on her own. Her father has seen her three times since she was born. Once at two months old, 6 month ago,, and once a month ago.

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Vanessa - posted on 11/02/2009

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I have 2 children and yes both have different dads. My daughter is 7 and she has never seen her dad, she does have my sister's hubby around and we go to church, both help help out help a bunch. I also am still seeing my son's dad and she loves him so much. He also loves her, too. I did tell my daughter's dad about her when she was 2 mths old and he called once and never heard back from him again. A male figure, church and just don't make a big deal out of the missing dad and she won't ask too many questions til she is older. Actually, I am more worried about the sex talk then I am about telling her about her real dad.

Angela - posted on 11/02/2009

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My daughter is the exact same way her dad left the state and did not speak to us for three yrs. she was 21/2 then she would ask EVERY night where was daddy I told her he wass working.... she had finally stopped asking and I screwed up and spoke to him when he finally called at Thanksgiving. I let him come home, he did'nt work 4 mo.'s and stayed home w her while i did and he took her to her school.... We have seperated again this time she saw him being mean to me and says that daddy loves her but not me.I agree w her and say that daddy loves you very much....But kids are very smart and she knows that her daddy hurtss mommy and that scares her. So she has recently after the last time she saw him knock a bowel of chili out of my hands she doesn'nt want to see him until he stops drinking....... We never talk bad about him... She can see for herself, she's even asked him 2 stop drinking. we see him all the time passing each other on the rd. and it does'nt bother her. I wonder all the time if she's ok,but she says that she likes it just me and her. Because its peaceful, no fighting.......

Julia - posted on 11/02/2009

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My son is five and i tell him the truth so he will respect me later. Knowing that his father does not want to be in his life may hurt him now, but it's better i tell him the truth now then him finding out later that I lied to him. If his dad says he don't want to pick him up because he wants to party, I tell my son that. If he says he has to work- i tell him that. It has actually made his father come around more regularly because he knows I'm going to tell him the truth and not do him the favor of lying for him.

Rebecca - posted on 10/31/2009

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omg i swear dat i thought it was me writing ur post im in excactly the same situation except my son has jst trned 2 i dread the day he asks whr his daddy is it is goin 2 b heart wrenching. it is so sad 2 think how many of us are in da same boat & how many loosa fathers out there are breaking there own flesh&bloods hearts!!

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I have practiced the phrase "I'm sorry that daddy can't do this, or be here (fill in the activity here) with us, however we are going to still do it. You can join in and have fun with me or pout, cry and be left out." It sounds funny at first but it teaches attitude and aptitude choices. They can practice undesirable behaviours and recieve negative attention or join in positive and often fun activities. Making these choices early on helps strenthen little ones resolve to make positive behavoir choices when they become teens. It also shows them how to focus on people who do care rather than those who are negative influences.

Natalie - posted on 10/29/2009

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Oh god at 3 yrs old she said this? Now im worried, my lil girl is going to be 3 in April. Oh lord! I know I will have to explain this to her one day and I am so clueless on how too!! You and everyone else is right, never talk down on the parent who is absent. I know someone who tells his child that mommy doesnt care, she a bad girl and all sorts of awful things! I couldnt believe my ears! Talking bad about the parent who is absent is just going to cause a lot of major problems when the kid(s) grows up. Children are not stupid. They do see whos the real parent and who did the job!!

Meg - posted on 10/28/2009

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Thank you everyone! I would never speak ill of him ever. I will never stoop down to his level. He knows he can see her whenever he wants but right now his new relationship is more important.

D'Etta - posted on 10/27/2009

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I know it's heartbreaking to hear her ask those questions.... but children have a way of seeing through half truths. So when you tell her the reason daddy doesn't come is because he lives far away, she can probably tell you don't believe it. I wouldn't recommend bashing him either, it can cause the child to blame you (if you hate him, that's why he doesn't come around). All you can do is explain to her that you don't know why daddy doesn't come, but you're here, and you love her.



When I couldn't take the questions anymore, my oldest was 4 and I finally said, you know what? Let's call him. I called him, in front of my son, and told him that his son wanted to talk to him (calmly, not accusingly), then I passed my little boy the phone. If you think this might help forge a bond between them, you could try it. If it's a lost cause... just keep being there for her. You may still have to try it when she's older so she can understand better... but for now, I think you're doing a great job. Stay strong mama! :)

Carly - posted on 10/27/2009

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I am in the same situation, and my son is 5 years old. You never want to speak badly about your child's father to them. A.) They are a child, and can not comprehend and B.) It only puts you on the absentee father's level. It's low to speak negatively about your child's father to them, whether they know them, or not. My sons dad lived less than a half of a mile away for nearly 2 years, and only saw him twice before we moved. So while I have anger towards him, I would never let my son know that. When he asks about daddy, or why he isn't around, I tell him that daddy is far away, and that he just wasn't ready to be a daddy full time yet. I tell him that he still loves him very much (even if you don't believe it), he just needs to focus on getting his life right before he can be a great daddy. Hope this helps. Also, if you have any male family members around, it greatly helps to let them bond.

Lmf64 - posted on 10/27/2009

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write off the sperm donor. I'm sorry, but he's most likely never going to step up. You can't explain to a child that age why he isn't around. Instead of trying to explain it, change the subject. When she's older you can explain why he isn't around. For now she's just a baby and doesn't have the vocabulary to understand.

Elexis - posted on 10/27/2009

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My son wants to see his daddy as well and his dad could care less about him. He started wanting his dad after my room mates little girl started visitation with her daddy. So I gave my son a picture of his daddy that I had so when he wants to talk to him he can. Also I let him talk to his daddy brother and I have loads of guy friends that are way better role models than his dad is. I also let my boy call his dad even though he never answers the phone when I call I let Aidan leave him a message and that seems to sastify his daddy need some.

Krystal - posted on 10/24/2009

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You can't call the kettle black yet. do you have any brothers or other manly figures? That might help her coping without having her father around. She only seen in once, dont make a big deal about it. Get her involved with family. Tell her God and Mommy are parents. She will understand later, but never ever tell the facts until she's old enough to really understand. Be postive...Always be strong because I know you are. Best of wishes and Good luck~ Krystal

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