When you’re a single parent, you’re bound to eventually be asked a question by your child that you will have to prepare to answer. The question that I’m dreading is, “Why isn’t Daddy around?” I confronted my mom with the same question when I was younger, and I could remember the shock on her face by the question. I was only about 6 or 7 at the time, so I’m sure she thought that she had a couple of years before the question was asked. But I have always been an old soul, and Micah is shaping up to be the same way.
Therefore, I have to be fully prepared to answer Micah’s question whenever he should ask. Taking a few tips from the conversation with my mom and some additional tips from some research, I have come up with 7 tips that will be able to help explain why Daddy isn’t around.
1. Be honest and keep it simple.
It’s necessary to be honest when you talk to your child why Daddy is not around. Although it may seem so much easier to lie, you have to be very honest with your child. Forget the canned response – in terms they can understand, to your child exactly what happened between the two of you and why Daddy isn’t around. You don’t want to lie to your child and have them resent you later. Respect the fact that your child needs to know the truth, and help them to understand the full situation.
When my mom explained it to me, she took part of the blame for the breakup and explained that because we lived in St. Croix and my father lived in Boston, it may be difficult at times for him to be around. She assured me though, that he would visit when he could. It made it a little bit easier to deal with.
2. Assure your child that they are still loved.
One thing that my mom failed to share is that my father still loved me, even though I hoped and prayed that she would. When you have the conversation with your child, make sure to let them know that both you and their father loves them dearly. You want to assure your child that they are not at fault for their father not being around, and sharing the fact that their father loves them gives them some level of assurance.
3. Stay away from the bashing.
This is a very important – don’t bash your child’s father, regardless of the circumstances by which he is not around. If you start bashing your child’s father, you will only make things worse. You don’t want your child to resent you for the fact that their father isn’t around. And bashing your child’s father will only accomplish this.
4. Explain that there are different types of families.
Some families have only a mommy, some families have only a daddy, some families have both moms and dads, and even others have grandparents and other family members involved. Explaining this to your child is of the utmost importance. This is a very important tip, and one that came up several times during my research. I honestly had this conversation with Micah already; however, it is important to refresh when you’re having the conversation as to why their father is absent.
5. Make sure your child knows it is not their fault.
It may be his fault, it may be your fault – but it is definitely not your child’s fault why their father is not around. And you should explicitly state this to your child. Don’t leave your child guessing. This may have to be repeated as well. A lot of insecurities may come to the surface and you want to reassure your child that although it’s okay to express their feelings about the situation, it is not their fault in any way.
6. Allow your child to express their feelings, good or bad.
The explanation is nothing if you don’t allow your child to express their feelings. They need to be able to share how they feel at every point. Allow them to express their feelings, but don’t feel the need to address every concern. Try to be general in your approach to responding to those concerns. When my parents got divorced, I had many negative feelings. My grandmother sat me down and let me share all of my feelings. She then took the time to explain that it’s okay to have these feelings, and that she would be there for me any time I needed.
7. Be open to more conversations.
This will not be the last time that you talk about this with your child. Be open and available to answer questions, provide clarification, or just to repeat it all – it doesn’t matter. You want your child to know that they can speak to you about this issue and other issues as often as they’d like. The whole point is that you are there to hear them out and be there for them.