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I am a single parent of a 6yr old and her father is in another state and only sees her once a year. She has phone contact with him but not regularly. My problem is that when we are outside playing with other children on the street they ask her about where her father is and why he is not here. My daughter tells them he lives in Texas and then they ask her why he is not here and she just changes the subject. I don't think it upsets her but I am not sure how to talk to her about it. I do make sure I spend plenty of time with her and give her unconditional love.


Sondra Drahos Replied: If her father has lived out of state for a major portion of her life, it's completely normal to her and she may not be able to express to others why it would be any different. Children who spend the majority of the time with one parent will need to revisit this topic as they get older so be sure to keep the dialogue open and let her know that she can talk to you about her relationship with her father at any time. In fact, let her know what physical traits or qualities she gets from her dad. This might be a good way to "change the subject," having her ask her friends what traits they inherited from each of their parents. Being a single parent is not easy. You are doing a wonderful job!
Posted On 2009-11-18 01:52:07
Rachel Russo Replied: It's great that you are providing your daughter with love and affection. I'm sure she benefits from the time you spend with her and could benefit even more if you would initiate some conversation about her feelings on being a child of a single parent family. It may be a good idea to familiarize youself with the unique circumstances that children and parents in single families face by reviewing some of the current literature. It's important to normalize the idea of living without a father. If your daughter understands that there are many children in the same situation, she may feel more comfortable talking to other children about it. Do not assume that the situation doesn't upset her just because she doesn't acknowledge it. Work on creating an open, safe, environment where she is free to talk to you about her concerns now and in the future.
Posted On 2008-12-03 18:02:35
Dr. Tom Greenspon Replied: Spending plenty of time with your daughter has probably already set the stage for her to feel securely connected to you, and it opens up the possibility for conversation about how she feels when her friends question her. You could say, "I've noticed that some of your friends are wondering where your dad is; does it feel awkward to talk about that?" Saying what you see, and asking about her feelings, allows her to feel more natural about questions she might have, and about telling the truth to her friends. You might point out to her that in all likelihood some of her friends and school mates are in similar situations. We may like it to be different, but it isn't abnormal, and most of all it doesn't mean something is wrong with her. It might be good for her to talk with others whose dads aren't living with them, just to normalize her feelings and experience. This is something to investigate carefully, though, since some children are very angry with one parent or the other after a divorce. If your sense is that your daughter's dad loves her even though their contact is irregular, then you might remind her of that. If not, then you might talk with her about her feelings about dad and their relationship. Empathizing with her in this regard helps her to feel understood, and to feel more empowered to be open with her friends.
Posted On 2008-09-30 09:48:56
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