How do I explain to a 4year old her father is absent because of drug addiction?
Shortly after I was married, My husband became addicted to crack. It was about the time I learned of his addiction that I also learned I was pregnant. When my husband found out I was pregnant he left me and persued his crack. God helped me get through my pregnancy and my daughter was born a very healthy baby. When she was 3 months old, he appeared in our lives again. I forgave him, soon we were back together. He was a great playmate for our daughter, but just was not any kind of provider. When my daughter turned 1 year old, he was using crack regularly again. Shortly after my daughter turned 2, he spent more time in search of crack than with anybody. I decided I could not live with this any longer and I didnt want my daughter to have this type of influence in her life. It was then I decided to move us to another state where we could no longer be used or manipulated by him. Many people I know have said I did the right thing and I was brave to do what I did, but I often wonder. Since we moved out of state, he checked himself into a rehab, but still has slipped. My daughter is now 4 and she recalls many of their play sessions as if they were yesterday. SHe says how much she misses him and wants him to come back. Right now she knows he is in the hospital getting treatments for being sick. Her questions are getting more and more complex and I dont know what to say. She asks me why I left daddy in the hospital, She asks me why did we move, she wants to know what kind of sickness daddy has. And I just dont know how I can explain crack/ or addiction to a 4 year old. Also Im afraid that Im looking like the bad parent to her because I took her away from her daddy. SHe has adjusted to her life well here, likes her daycare, friends and seems to get along well with other children and adults. But since we moved she consistantly wets the bed, Is it normal for 4 year olds to do this? Also she seems to be expressing more anger and negative emotions than she did before, I almost feel like she blames me for not having a daddy. The other day she was making up a song to herself and some of the words were "Keep your child away from her daddy." How do I communicate what is going on appropriately in a way she will understand? Will I really be the evil parent in her eyes? When is the right time to tell her the truth. Will the truth devastate her? Please help!
Your daughter does not grasp what has occurred and, as you can see, perceives that he was ill and in the hospital and you left him. Her reaction is entirley understandable, given what she understands occurred. Now is the time to tell her the truth. There's no sense in waiting. Now, it will be difficult for her to understand what drug abuse is, and how it impairs a person's ability to be a responsible father. But in simple ways this is what you must try to convey. In doing so you are not painting him to be a bad person, but rather a person with a serious condition. You can help yourself with this communication by going to your local library and asking the librarian to help you locate the appropriate resources. There are books, intended to be read to pre-schoolers, that talk about having a parent with a drug or alcohol problem. As you read the book(s) with your daughter, you can draw similarities to your situation (since not everything in the story will be a precise match for your circumstances). As your daughter grows and matures, she will become increasingly able to grasp what happened with her father.
It's none of your daughter's business (the reason)-just quickly (without thought) re-assure her that you and her daddy love her with all your hearts and that daddy wishes he could be here-and please never deny or "punish" anyone that loves your daughter, the right to see her....it'll only be denying "her" love that she is entitled to recieve- but be FORWARNED.....................
KEEP THE "LOVING" VISITS UNDER CAREFUL AND WATCHFUL EYES....DO NO PROMOTE THE RELATIONSHIP-JUST ALLOW ACCESS (w/caution) -THE LOVE FOR HIS DAUGHTER WILL ONE DAY TURN TO RESENTMENT AND HATE TOWARDS YOU (he will have to blame "someone" for his choices in life)-once he comes to the "realization" of the lost time; the lost life w/his beautiful daughter;and the guilt he'll feel for abandoning YOU and HER (your daughter will be asking for explanations from him soon enough (and you will marvel at her own quest for justice for the both of ya....!!-He'll have no one to blame and no where to hide!!!) Never give him any personal information about your life; your significant other (if any); medical conditions that may arise; financial disasters (handle that stuff thru the courts-believe me-he'll never feel guilty enough to part w/cash on his own); never give any info if she doesn't do well in school, etc. HE WILL OR HIS FAMILY WILL ONE DAY USE IT ALL AGAINST YA......even s TV dinner could maybe turn into a court ordered "Mother doesnt feed her daughter-daughter is malnourished......." - trust me.......
YOUR DAUGHTER WILL BE OK...AS LONG AS SHE KNOWS HOW BLESSED HER MOTHER FEELS FOR HAVING SUCH A WONDERFUL DAUGHTER TO LOVE!!!!!
BOY-I DON'T GET OUT MUCH DO I?-WHAT A RAAAAAAAAAA....MBLER!!!
I do not agree with shockacon. You're daughter has a right to know why her daddy isn't there. Don't dodge the subject when it comes up. You don't have to go into detail about his problem, but you should try and explain it as best you can. At 4 years old, children always want to know "why", no matter what subject. I have a 5 1/2 year old girl and I am going through a similar situation. I had visitation with her father suspended due to marijuana use. She didn't understand why she couldn't go see him. I couldn't give her an answer like "just because", I had to explain that daddy has a problem with drugs. Yes, even at 5 I've started to explain what drugs are. It's never to early to start. I found a book at the library that helped to explain it. I also make sure to enforce the fact that even though daddy isn't here, and they don't get to see each other, that he still loves her. He just needs time to get better. She asks how long until she can see him, and I won't lie to her, I tell her I don't know how long it will take for him to get better. Never lie to your children or tell them it's none of their business when it is something that directly effects them. You may not want to give all the details, but don't hide it from them. They are smarter than we give them credit for!
just want to say how much i admire your courage and strength...you obviously love your daughter with all your heart, keep up the good work and as long as you keep it honest and simple things will work out
god bless and well done!
I had almost the same situation, my ex-husband was first addicted to cocaine, came out of rehab and began a heroin addiction in which my son and I left, my son was 1 1/2 years old the last time he saw his dad, but he is starting to ask for his dad, he has tried calling me dad, and has really latched on to my father and brother. I know it is confusing to them at their age, my son is now 4 and in Pre-K and all of the other kids have dads and their dads come to parent night at school and to their shows and we are now at the point where is asking where his dad is? So I have gone with the approach of telling him that his dad had to go away, that while his father loves him, he has a lot of problems of his own that need to be fixed before he can be a good father to him. Before I would allow my ex to be around my son he has to show me that he can be responsible, pay child support, go to drug classes, family classes, everyday responsible things. My son has had behavioral problems, and I know that if at the age he is now it would be a lot harder on him now if his father walked out of his life, and I am not sure emotionally he could take it. I think the situation varies for each child, and if your daughter is harboring resentment towards you then you need to talk to her and explain the best that you can, because left to their own imaginations could be much more harmful than what the truth is. Good luck, wish you the best!
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