My three year olds tough question

Lisa - posted on 10/06/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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My children have very close relationships with my husbands parents, my grandparents and my mom.
My Dad and I have always had a difficult relationship mis-treating eachother and total unkindness (I'd like to stay I'm totally inocent in this but I don't know if I am or not) About six months after my son (now 3) was born we(I) decided our relationship was not healthy or mendable and that my Dad was a dangerous person for my son to be around. (child molester) I ended our relationship and have not had any contact with him since.
I am not angry or bitter, I have learned to forgive and I hope he has learned to forgive as well.
Any way Today my three year old and I had this converstation.
"I have a Grandpa and Grandma, K." Son
"Yes you do." Me
"I have a Grandmpa and Grandma, L" Son
"Yes you do." Me
"I have a Grandma S..." Son
"Yes you do." Me
"Mom, where is Grandpa S?" Son

I have no idea what to tell him. I asked him if he wanted to take a bath and avoided the question. I knew the day would come when he would ask something like that and have never been able to come up with a good answer.
Any thoughts suggestions? I don't want to lie and tell him his Grandpa is dead or anything. Nor do I feel its apropriate to tell him what kind of person his Grandpa is. I don't want to tell him I walked away from his Grandfather becasue I dont want him to think it is ok to just give up on people. (unless for the safty of himself and others)

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User - posted on 10/06/2011

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Tell him a degree of the truth, such as, his Grandpa isn't always a nice person and that he has made some bad choices which mean he's not good to be around.

Ez - posted on 10/07/2011

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You have to give him a watered down version of the truth... that you don't see his Grandpa anymore because he was not a very good person and you love him so much you only want good people in his life.

Julie - posted on 10/07/2011

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My friend's ex-husband did some terrible things and a psychologist told her never to say that daddy is a bad person, but to say that he made bad choices.

Kate CP - posted on 10/06/2011

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I have the same issue with my daughter and her paternal grandfather. Plane and simple we told her this: "Daddy's father (his daddy) doesn't make very good choices and he's not allowed to come over." She's 5 and understands completely.

Pamela - posted on 10/09/2011

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Relationships are the hardest task on the physical plane. HONESTY is the best policy. It is dangerous to AVOID such questions as your child is curious and will continue to be, for that is one of the ways we learn on this planet. When the question comes up again, take the time to sit down and have a discussion with your child.

You might say, "When I was little and while I was growing up, your Grampa S and I had a very difficult time getting along and we still do. Because we are not comfortable in each other's company we don't see each other anymore. That is why you haven't met him. If you have any pictures of the grandfather you might want to show them to the child and introduce him that way. You can say, this is Grampa S. He lives in............and he does..........and leave it t that.

At this age there is no need to go into why the relationship soured.

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Jen - posted on 10/09/2011

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I basically agree with sticking to the simple answers, as suggested here, but in my opinion, it's too soon for even those. They say answer the questions they actually ask, not the ones you THINK they want to know. I just don't see a three year old leaving it at, he made some bad choices so we don't see him. The three year olds I know would just be made more curious by that- what kind of choices, what do you mean, etc.etc. Especially if you are calm about it, which you should be. I think the only way a three year old will leave that kind of response alone is if they can tell you're freaked out or upset or angry or whatever. So while I don't suggest lying to kids, personally, at three, I would leave it at, yes, you have a Grandpa S. but he lives very far away and we don't see him. Chances are, that would answer the question he's really asking right now, and I'm sure later on he'll ask more specific questions like, how far away, or can't he take a plane, or something. Once he can reason that far, and has thought that much about it, THEN would be a more appropriate time to say, we don't see him because we don't want to. Along with however you have decided to word it. It's kind of like the joke about the kid who comes home from school and asks his mom, "where did I come from?" and she sits him down and has "the talk" with him, explaining how when a mommy and a daddy love each other, etc.etc.
and the kid gets up and says, "Oh, I was just wondering, because Jimmy comes from Boston."

Ashley - posted on 10/09/2011

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I am in a similar situation with my father. I did not feel it was safe for my daughter to be around him. The time will come when she will ask.

When I was a teenager (I was never around my dad), I found him on my own and started a relationship, something I wish I had left alone. If you forbid the relationship he will find a way if he wants.

I keep my dad at a good distance. I rarely return phone calls, see him, etc.

Personally I would not lie to him. I would tell him he is around, but sometimes you don't always get to see relatives like we do the others. Maybe help by explaining how you have an aunt in another state or something? (Not sure where all you have family?) but normally there is some family in another place you know of and can't see/talk to as much? Make sure he understands you don't talk to him either and he gets that it isn't something with him (your son). Don't make him sound like you are not talking because of something bad either, but that its just how it is. Closer to some over others.

Lika - posted on 10/08/2011

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Just tell your 3 year old that he doesn't get to see that grandpa, because he's not a safe person, and it's your job as a mom to protect your precious boy.

[deleted account]

There is a very simple solution to this. If you dont want to lie then tell him the truth. To some extent though. Just tell him "Grandpa S is not a nice man and he did some mean things so now he is not allowed to come over" That's it. Im sure that will be a good enough answer for him for now and when he gets old enough (In his teens) you can tell him the the rest of the story if you want or if your son wants to know.

Fawn - posted on 10/08/2011

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I would tell him that Grandpa S is not a nice person and it's not safe to be around him.

Kristin - posted on 10/08/2011

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Lisa, thank you so much for posting this question. My children are estranged from their father because he molested my older daughter (well, his daughter too, but he gave up all parental rights the moment he touched her, as far as I'm concerned). In a few years, I'm sure my kids will be facing similar questions. Now I have some ideas on how they can handle those awkward questions. Thanks to all who answered this as well.

Gabrielle - posted on 10/08/2011

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I have a similar family issue where I just dont want my children anywhere near my biological family. When my children were younger and asked questions I told them I would happily answer those type of question when they are a lot older. Now that my children are in their teens, I forgot about my biological family and they had forgotten about them too...(not forgot but out of sight out of mind) until one day one of them found my son on facebook. I didnt panick or anything I just told my son to delete, block and unfriend and that he wasnt allowed to correspond with any one with that name. When the family member contacted me, i just simply told him, that my child has gone through life not knowing of their existence and I would happily tell my child about the real him an the real family. They chose to leave me alone.
I wont tell you to lie, but choose your words carefully and let it be age appropriate for each stage of life. I just chose to tell our children that I will tell them when they are old enough and they have been satisfied with that.

Sarah - posted on 10/08/2011

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i know its not the same thing but my father killed himself before my girls were born. i dont think they need to know that so i just tell them that their poppy died because his brain was sick. so far they accept that. i think you need to find a way to tell your son that you dont want to see your dad because you dont get on. at that age all he needs to know is that its hard for you to be around your dad. add more detail as he gets older but even then i wouldnt be specific until he can handle the information.

Wanda - posted on 10/08/2011

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You don't state whether you live close enough to see your father. In my case I lived too far away for visits to become an issue, so there was phone contact, with cards and gifts on birthdays and holidays. If you're uncomfortable with that kind contact, then just explain that you haven't talked to him in a long time because he was not a good parent like your son's dad is to him.. let him have a comparison so it will help him understand why it's best not to be around a negative role model.. at this age if your honest it will go farther and be better for him later in life.. you don't want him to come back and be upset because you lied to him, no matter how small the lie was..

JuLeah - posted on 10/07/2011

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Well, this is for his safety. Grandpa makes choices that are not safe and we choose to be around people who are safe and treat us well.

You don't need to say more

My daughter, age 10, knows I have a father and knows, if I can help it, she will never be in the same state with him - will never ever meet him, and knows I have not spoken to him in over 15 years

She knows he is dangrous and she never really has asked about him with any kind of detail .... I keep the focus on the people in our lives who are healthy and love us

Megan - posted on 10/07/2011

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Just be as honest as you can with him. Just say that his grandfather isn't around because of grownup things that you will tell him about when he's older. He may have a grandfather but he doesn't see him. My sons have a set of grandparents that live out of state that my oldest has only seen once when he was 9months old. He's 5 and he knows that he doesn't see them because they live far away. When my MIL who lives just across town from us is behaving in a manner that we don't tolerate she isn't allowed to see our children and if our son asks why he doesn't go over there we just tell him that she is in a time out and he can go back over there when she can behave. It seems to work for now, when he's older we'll probably go into a little more but for a little kid saying that a grandparent is in time-out is the best way for them to understand why they can't see them.

Alexandra - posted on 10/07/2011

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yes, i would not lie but i would not tell the truth either. half truth would be good. whatever you say i am sure he will accept, you don't have to give difficult explanations right now.

Sharon - posted on 10/07/2011

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Lisa: By law :If law knew what happened to you with your dad they would arrest him for being alone with your son. So you are safe they're, so if you feel you don't want to lie, you could let your Dad see your son -but--never alone, the state if they knew would not allow a one on one meeting.You can do it together you an your son. make the meeting at a distace from one another so he is never in close contact. He will eventually lose interest an it will be easier to handle.

Desiree - posted on 10/07/2011

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I am estranged from my father and all I tell my kids when they ask is that he has a sickness that causes him to make bad and sometimes dangerous decisions so we cannot be around until he gets help to get better so we say a prayer for him every night and for the older ones I have explained more indepth what his "sickness" entails. And that seems to be enough for now. Good luck

~♥Little Miss - posted on 10/07/2011

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My father died when I was 16. I have never met him due to how horrible of a person he was. My son who is now 5 asks about him. I do tell him he is no longer alive, but then he asks me the difficult questions like what was he like etc. I tell him the truth, that mommy has never met him.

As bad of a man as he was, that is to much of a burden for such a little guy. To try to explain to him WHY.

I would be honest in the most simplest of ways. Like he isn't around any more. That should suffice for a 3 year old. It is when they get older, the questions get tougher. Don't lie. That is my best suggestion, but also don't tell him more than you need to . He is only 3, and simple answers will make him happy. Also, don't bring it up unless he asks again.

Sharon - posted on 10/07/2011

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similar situation if my kids ask i will tell them that Mummy doesn't think he is well enough to spend time, sometimes unwell is not like the cold its about making wrong choices that really hurt others. and because of that mummy needs to make sure your safe.

Sherri - posted on 10/06/2011

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I agree 100% with the first two responses from Sarah and Karen. Great advice.

Karen - posted on 10/06/2011

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if you don't want to take the totally honest route of age appropriately telling your son that grandpa s. is not a nice person you could try telling him that grandpa s. lives very very far away (even if he doesn't you son won't know this)and because he lives so far away we can't visit with him.

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