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“Mom, Where’s Dad?” How to Answer the Toughest Question

  • Mom_Where_Is_Dad_Strong_Single_Mom_NetworkIt’s a moment no single mother looks forward to – the one where our precious little one asks the inevitable question, “Mom, where’s my dad?”

    If Dad’s not in the picture for your children, you know this question will be asked at some point.  And even if you’re expecting it, you don’t look forward to actually answering it.

    There’s a million and one things that may come to mind, but as the Mom of this precious child we somehow realize that not EVERYTHING that comes to mind would be beneficial to actually say.

    So how DO you answer this ticking time bomb?

    When I went through my divorce, a met with a counselor for advice on how to handle the news.  One point that stuck with me is the importance of never “bashing” the dad in front of the kids.  She reminded me that these children have the dad’s DNA, and so he is a part of them.  And whether I like it or not, every time I bash the dad, in the child’s mind I am also bashing a part of them.  Yikes.  That one hit me pretty hard.

    So whenever I felt the need to vent my anger, frustration, or other negative emotions regarding the kids’ father, I would wait until after the kids were in bed asleep and I could call my girlfriends.

    I also wanted to dig deeper into this issue with a professional.  So to help us answer this question, I went to Strong Single Mom Network’s Official Psychology Expert Lisa Gomez MA, LPC.

    “A mother needs to give the child permission to ask questions at all stages of the child’s development.  However, the information mom gives needs to be at an age appropriate level.  Children need to be protected from adult business.  For example, if a dad is in jail for murder, a child only needs to know that he broke the law and he is paying for his crime.  They do not need to know the specifics of the crime because that may be too much information for a child to process.  I do believe that when kids are teens and going through the stage of individuation they may need more information about possible dangers due to genetic factors. For example, if the dad is an addict it would be wise to tell the teen about the father’s struggle with addiction and the possibility of that genetic struggle.
    At all ages it is important to let the child know that they have a safe place to talk about their feelings.  If as the mother you have too much anger and hostility towards the dad, you may struggle to be objective & validating.  It is important to find a way to keep your anger and hostility away from conversations with your child.  If you simply cannot do so, than I recommend a neutral person the child can talk to.
    They need reassurance that the dad is the one missing out.  Assure them that it is the dad’s problem and issues that keep him away and his absence has nothing to do with the child having any faults.
    Also be honest if you don’t understand his absence either.  It is okay to answer with ‘I do not know.’
    In closing if the child is sad or angry, allow them to have those feelings.  Just give them your love and support. Sometimes the best thing a mom can do best is just listen.”

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