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Explaining Absent Father to Child

My daughter is 4 years old.  Her father has rarely been in her life.  He told me at the time that we got together that he was in the middle of a divorce.  My pregnancy came as a complete surprise as I had been on birth control.  I found out at that time that his supposed divorce was not true and that he was married the whole time.  He dumped me and had nothing to do with me until I sued him for child support after Melody was born.  He never told his wife anything.  She found out when he was served with child support papers.  The whole thing was ugly and painful.  

I was almost 40 when she was born.  The pregnancy was extremely difficult and I was in and out of the hospital 4 times.  At one point, they almost delivered her 2 months early because they thought I was in liver failure.  

My job was great and very flexible with me but I was out of work for over 4 months during the pregnancy and after she was born.  Because the pregnancy was a surprise, I had no short term disability and had no money coming in and no help from Melody's father at all.  Thank God for my family because I would have been out on the street without them.  Gary refused any contact at all and would have completely walked away from the entire situation if I hadn't sued him for child support.  The initial hearing took place when Mellie was 9 months old and even then, he insisted on a paternity test.  So, the first time he laid eyes on her was when we had the paternity test when she was almost a year old.  It is like a bad TV show, but we are grown adults.

Gary's wife told him that she would only stay with him if he promised never to see Melody or have anything to do with her.  He saw her sporatically after our initial court hearing and said that he was sorry for being such a jerk and that he wanted to be a good father (but it had to be in total secrecy - he only came when he could lie to his wife and get out of the house), but this last year, he has not seen her at all.  I have accepted long ago that he is a loser and will never be a real part of Melody's life.  It is beyond me how anyone could not be involved with a human being that they created, but I can't make his choices for him.  I still struggle with the grief I feel for bringing a child into such a terrible situation.  She is a lovely and wonderful little girl, and I consider her my late in life surprise angel.  She deserves better.

I try not to feel guilty for her growing up without a father.  I am divorced with a teenage daughter who spends a lot of time with her father, and so it is even more apparent to Melody that her dad is not around.  She talks about him and is always talking about the time he picked her up from daycare and took her to lunch in his "big red truck."  She thinks it happened recently when in reality it was the last time she saw him over a year ago.  I believe that she may never see him again at this point.  How do I deal with that?  How do I answer her when she asks about her father?  Do I give her presents and say that they are from her dad?  Do I tell her she may never see him again?  It is so hard to know what to do.  When she asks, I've been telling her that he lives far away and can't come to visit her, but she's growing up and that excuse will not suffice for long.  I would really appreciate any advice and suggestions that anyone has for me.  

All my best.
7 Responses
292932 tn?1209309180
I know how you feel.   My daughetr is 3 and her father and  I are going through a bitter divorce.  He actually signed over parental rights (so he doesn't have to pay support).  Well- he was in her life up until our seperation 1 year ago.  She continued to see him until April- as we were very close friends at that point.  Now she will mention him all the time.  She has an unreal memory and if we pass a restaurant or something she will say we ate there with daddy, or daddys can eat when he drives so you have to also mom  or remember whenmy daddy....  When she sees a pic of him (most of whih I have packed away)- she iwll hug and kiss it and say my daddy- my daddy.  It is very painful for me to see this.  When she says "Mommy- I love daddy- I just say daddy loves you  too."-
Avatar universal
All you can ever be is honest. My daughter is 14 and never met her father. Her 3 older brother's father died when the boys were young so they have no father BUT they did so it makes it hard for her to understand. I was lucky to have good male role models around her and always told her I had enough love for 2. It is not east but with time you can explain a bit more to her. Do not lie to her but explain that her dad is far away or he simply cant be part of her life anymore. Do not regret for one moment the gift of life you gave your daughter. It is YOU who has courage-It is YOU who is the responsible paretn-It is you who is unselfish-and it is YOU that your daughter will grown up and respect as a single woman doing it on her own with enough love for 2. Good Luck and give her a bit hug just for the hell of it!!!
Avatar universal
I've been single parent for 17 yrs - it is not easy, but at times there are some upsides -- You  are the one in power, to make the best decisions, and raise your child as you see fit. Listen to your child. Recommend "The Complete Single Mother" by Andrea Engber and Leah Klungness.
Avatar universal
I'm right there with what stlmom told you on 12/02/07. I'm a single 47 yr old mom with a 10 yr son. My son has no recall of his father and I as family. We separated before he was 1 yr old and he never trusted his dad as a toddler and even now.  My son started asking questions when he was 2 1/2. He would see his cousins with their family unit intact and for the most part his friends families, and began asking, where's my daddy. I explained everything about visiting with daddy on weekends and holidays.  He was fine with the visiting, he just didn't want to stay long.

I never lied to him and that appears to be the right approach even today. When he was 2 1/2, the questions started out with, where's daddy's toothbrush? where's daddy's coffee cup? I would simply tell him, daddy's toothbrush is at daddy's house in his bathroom and that this was our bathroom with our toothbrushes, etc. My son excepted that and moved on. The questions did become more in depth from 2 1/2 until now and I continue to make them age appropriate answers.  Trust me, kids ask and they continue to ask or probe for more information when they need it, want it, and/or feel they are ready for it. It's really up to you.

I don't want you to think he hasn't had his difficulties in processing the anger. My son has had to be in play therapy off and on for about 3 years in the early part of his life for anger issues re: dad and currently is returning to therapy for more anger issues re: obsessive compulsive behaviors of dad that are so far above me. OCD is what broke the marriage up and now my son is having to process what's going on when he visits as well.

That's another important thing--Let you child learn who and what the absent parent is like. "You" being the one with the child can easily sway their opinion whether it be positive or negative, realistic or idealistic at an early age but when they get older, they will always remember how you spoke of their father and what you said about their father. I try to be completely neutral when it comes to my ex. I have made excuses for my ex on a couple of occassions to my son but those were some old habits from the marriage I don't repeat anymore. I just try to stay neutral and it's best that way. I'm not the bad guy or the good guy. I'm just mom with unconditional love!
Avatar universal
This works for children born our of wedlock.

You can always say, "I didn't want to share you with anybody else, and I wanted to give all my love and attention to just you."

Good explaination for kids to give other kids. Why don't you ahve a Daddy?", "Oh, my mommy wanted me all to herself."

Explain that there are different family types

*ones with husbands and wives who choose to share taking care of their kids together

*ones with one mommy/daddy and who are not married decided that they didn't need any help.
663081 tn?1225063862
My four yr old daughter has just recently started seeing her fathers parents ... She hasnt seen him since the day i left the apartment . She was 1 n 1/2 when i left . At first she used to ask questions and i just told her he was at work and eventually she quit asking . But now that she's seeing his family im concerned that he's going to show up there when she's there . They know i have my reasons for not wanting him to see her and i hope that they will continue to hold on to my wishes .
Avatar universal
Hi i wanna share my story with all of yall n i hope someone here helps me out. My daughter is 6 yrs old but her bio father has never been in her life. I was pregnant when i found out he was married and had a kid with this famliy. So i did what was best for me i decided to be a single mom and raise her. A year later i met my boyfriend and he has been a father figure to her. She was only 6 months when i moved in with him. She calls him dad and everything. She doesn't know that my boyfriend is not her dad. I feel its time to tell her the truth. I just dont know how....please help!
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