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My daughter is 3 years old and is asking about her father. He left when she was 6 months old and I am not sure how to answer her questions about why he is not with us.


Mike Mastracci Replied: At only 3 years old, less might be best. You might want to look for a local Rainbows organization. That program is in many schools and stresses the concept that a "Family" can take many forms (and coping with loss, like death of a parent), such as single parent, grandparents, same sex couples, etc. etc. I don't know if they have it for that young of a child. Perhaps a child psychologist would be a good place to inquire. Personally, I might say that you are not sure where he is and change direction/redirect to saying that a lot of families do not have dads that live with them and then have her name who else is in her family: grandmom, uncle job, cousin Jill etc. Focus on what she has and give her enough love and attention for two. Best of luck. Mike
Posted On 2010-04-21 22:07:13
Christine Hierlmaier Nelson Replied: For young children, simple answers are best. Don't avoid her questions. Be honest. You can tell her that all families are different and some families just have a mom and child or a dad and child. If she asks why her father is not part of the family or not "with you," just say that he chose not to be in your family. Do not make it seem negative. Just smile and reassure her that you love her very much and will always be there for her. Remind her that the two of you are a great family, just as you are. If she asks whether she will ever see her father, be honest. "I don't know," is perfectly acceptable if it's the truth. Don't create expectations that may not happen. Focus on who your family is now and what's great about it. She will gain comfort in your reassurance that there is nothing "wrong" with your family; it is unique and just as loving as any other.
Posted On 2010-04-20 16:58:31
Nadia Thonnard Replied: Dear concerned mom, I am a great advocate of honesty and telling the truth. I also believe that people ask questions when they are ready for the answer. She is though young and needs to be told in an age appropriate way. There is nothing wrong in telling her that some mommy and daddy do not live together and that some daddies also are not around. But it is a known fact that most children want to know about their parents and may engage on a quest to find the missing parent at a later stage. It is normal and healthy and should be allowed. No matter your choice/mistake at the time, her father helped you conceived her and what I would draw on is the fact that she was born out of love. I would perhaps suggest creating a little story book with pictures and drawings to put in perspective your family situation, even if it means using birds and bees :) or something that you know she relates with. Most mis-communication between parents and children happens when parents fear answering their questions. Trust me, there are many more to come. If you haven't got an answer ready, just say that you need some time to prepare for the answer, but one should never fear the truth. Kind Regards Nadia | Parenting Coach
Posted On 2010-04-20 04:08:10
Rosalind Sedacca Replied: This is never easy and your answers will have to change as your daughter grows. It's so important to keep her age in mind when forming your responses. For now just say something to the effect of: "Some Daddies choose not to live with their families. Those families are happy just being Mommy and the children she loves. There are no rules about how a family should be. The only thing that is absolutely important is that our family is filled with love for one another. And that's what we have!" If you focus on the love for her as she grows, it will be foremost in her mind. In years to come you can remind her that not all families have a Daddy and a Daddy is not essential for being in a happy family. Never bad-mouth Daddy. Just let her know that adults make choices, just as children do, and your family is wonderful just the way it is!
Posted On 2010-04-18 13:31:16
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