What and when to tell a child about an absent father?

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  • #51969 Report


    My daughter has asked in the past whether she has a daddy and my response has always been there are many different types of families and ours a small one of you and me, plus extended family.

    She is now 6 and in year one at school. The family of one of her classmates is having a baby and they have told her about the birds and the bees! She has told my daughter that she must have a dad and that she needs to ask me if I am lying.

    He has been absent from her life since she was a baby. It’s the age old story of it was too big a commitment and he met someone else who didn’t want children and certainly didn’t want another woman’s child in their lives. The paternal grandparents are in her life and she has a good relationship with them.

    I am wondering what to sensitively tell her that will satisfy her curiosity but will minimise any feelings of rejection. We have a great life, she is a very happy girl, I would hate her to feel suddenly that what we have is not enough and she is missing something.

    Has anyone gone through anything similar?

    #51980 Report


    Hi there, not had to go through this yet but wanted to say hello as I will face the same situation. I have a newborn and his dad (my ex) and I split when I was pregnant- I’m good, friendly terms at the time. He’s since moved on and has now chosen to stay out of his son’s life, despite this being a very much wanted baby and all of his promises of dedication. Anyway, we move on. But I equally share that concern re how I will explain this scenario to my son as he grows up and also how I explain that he may know his paternal grandparents but not his father. How have you explained that to your daughter?

    i am sure you will be more than enough for your lovely daughter and that you will find the right words to explain

    #52131 Report


    I’m Michelle, one of the Moderators here.  Good to see you posting.  I thought the following information here within the site might be helpful with the topic that you’re discussing:

    Support for your child – Gingerbread

    There’s a section within that link that gives some guidance on talking to children about separation.

    I hope that helps a bit

    Kind regards


    #52473 Report


    Hi Cloudyrainbows,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I have been where you are now and although it is hard on your own with a newborn you will definitely get into your own rhythm! I found I coped because I didn’t know any different having not experienced having a second parent around. I do hope you have a good friend or family nearby to help you out when needed.

    The topic hasn’t come up since my daughter last mentioned it so I haven’t broached the subject. I know I am merely stalling for time but I think it may lead to more questions and feelings of rejection.
    There must be plenty of parents in the same position as us though and facing the same dilemma!

    #52502 Report


    hi my name is Lucy and I’ve been where you are with two of my sons.. one is 7 and the other is 3. My 7 year old hasn’t seen his dad in years and his dad doesn’t want to know.. My son has asked me about his dad and I’ve told him that sometimes mummy’s and daddys don’t get on and that he was best to live with me as his daddy was very busy( a lie he abused me) but 7yr old doesn’t need to know that.. I’ve told him when he’s older I will happily help him find his dad and he can see him if he likes. I feel that when my son is old enough he can make up his own mind about his dad and see him for what he is. Since telling my son when he’s older he can see him it seems to have worked and he doesn’t ask anymore.. I think if you leave the door open for your child  to have that option when there older your not distancing them from a parent. Save all records of contact aswell that you may have tried getting intouch with the father as that will then show the child when there older that you tried.

    #53067 Report


    I have told my son whenever he asked that when a mummy and daddy want to have a baby the daddy plants a seed in the mummy’s tummy and it grows into a baby. That his mummy wanted to have a baby but his daddy didn’t so he planted and seed in mummy’s tummy and let mummy grow it on her own. He accepted that… or so I thought. He attends catholic school (also in year 1) and his married schoolteacher is pregnant. He asked me the other week about the man I married who died. I explained that I was never married, that not everyone who has a child gets married first but he seemed unsure. He had since brought up my non-existent dead ex-husband a few times despite me correcting him. I think maybe school have been teaching the marriage before children message. He has also heard grandma talking about when her dad died and when my dad died so perhaps he thinks that dads dying is the normal thing. Unless your child is particularly stubborn when he gets an idea in his head like mine is perhaps the seeds explanation would work?

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