How to explain to 3yo that she won't see daddy again

(29 Posts)

Its breaking my heart but I don't know what to say to her.

The likelyhood is that she won't see her father again. She asks for him every day and I've been saying he's at work. She then asks what time is he coming home sad I've been saying I don't know but I can't keep fobbing her off.

Please does anyone have any idea how I can help her deal with this?

Theydeserve Tue 27-Nov-12 22:05:19

It is hard my eldest DC was 3 and eventually, the question of Daddy drove me mad and I said:

Daddy hasn't got his head on straight at the moment and he needs to screw it back on properly and that will take time - but he loves you.

This has stuck and whilst the questions are less after a year - I only get the occasional "has Daddy got his head screwed on yet"

RedHelenB Tue 27-Nov-12 07:24:47

Since SS are the ones stipulating no contact I would imagine they will have ideas in place for appropriate ways to tell her she won't see her Dad again. Porr little mite, I doubt anything she is told will make much sense to her.

Spero Tue 27-Nov-12 07:17:27

No I didn't confuse your post - sorry, I didn't mean it to read as you advised to say she would see him soon as you clearly didn't. But all other options will cause her to be upset, I think the key here is trying to find the option that Is the best in the long term. So even if telling her he is not well is upsetting, I think that is less damaging in the long term than saying he is bad.

madam1mim Mon 26-Nov-12 22:11:26

spero , don't know f you have confused my post with someone else's but i nrvrt said i thought it was a good idea or that she would see him soon. i personally think that saying he is 'ill' would just confuse her as when she or mummy are ill they don't have to leave home. imagining her dad is poorly could conjur up scary thoughts and images too. i don't know the right answer but OPs dd is very young and has obviously Been through a lot. so whatever is explained to dd needs careful thought and consideration of her vulnerability . she wot just forget and get over it either, i know from experience. good luck to u and dd Op.

I really like the idea of play therapy or family therapy. I'm going to ask our GP if she can refer us.

Just because he has been a good father up until now it doesn't mean he doesn't pose a risk to her. He is not allowed any contact of any discription. Ss want it to remain like that. He is of course entitled to go through the courts but my solicitor thinks its highly unlikely he will be granted any contact.

RedHelenB Mon 26-Nov-12 19:23:13

If he has never been anything but a good father to her then surely at some point contact will be resumed? Is he allowed indirect contact?

cestlavielife Mon 26-Nov-12 14:58:23

get referred to a family therapist for yourself and dd.
for dd maybe a play therapist.
you need to talk thru whatever it is has happened.

if he isnt allowed to see her then one assumes he isnt necessarily a good person/dad.or is a person who has done bad things.

you need to look to the future too.
you ned to talk honestly with someon a profressional counsellor/family therapist about this and come up with a strategy for now and also for the future. eg is contact going to happen in the future?

elkiedee Mon 26-Nov-12 13:56:06

The HV dropin, or even a separate appointment with your HV, is a good idea - if you don't make it to the drop in or it's not very soon, try phoning, or contact the GP. The Surestart Centre may also have other family support workers who can help advise.

It sounds like you need some support for your daughter and for yourself.

Thank you so much for all the replies. Some really good advice and ideas. I'm not going to say he has been naughty, I agree it could be really distressing for her.

He does love her very much and has never been anything other than a good dad to her and I can't take that away from her. More than anything I really need her to know how loved she is.

I could ask Ss but tbh they scare me. Even though the social worker has been lovely and supportive to me and im not the one who has done something wrong I'm still terrified they'll take the dc.

My GP is really lovely and knows what has been going on. I wonder if she could refer dd to some kind of counselling.

Spero Mon 26-Nov-12 12:44:21

Madam - she is going to be worried and scared whatever. She has lost her dad. But to lie to her and day she will see him 'soon' is massively unfair - she will end up resenting her mum. I think what is needed here is a very sanitised version of the truth, to minimise the harm and worry. But there isn't a perfect solution here.

But I completely agree, telling her daddy is 'bad' is the worst option. She knows she is part of daddy, so what will that message do to her self esteem as she grows?

cestlavielife Mon 26-Nov-12 12:20:32

daddy isn't very well right now and he needs some help to get better

would be the best line to take.
dnot say he at work when he isnt.
the truth is a form she can undestand.
did she witness anything? she may have seen or heard something anyway?

ask gp to refer to family therapist or play therapist to hep her with this .

and make sure other adults closely involved relatives friends so she has other people as well as you - as eg if you sick one day or whatever.

madam1mim Mon 26-Nov-12 12:11:07

P.s. Daddy not well may also scare and worry her imo

madam1mim Mon 26-Nov-12 12:09:59

Please please don't say anything about daddy being naughty or not ever going yo see him again. Speaking from experience, my mum told ne my dad was a naughty man at the sane age and i became terrified That he was going to hurt/come get me. I then went on to be terrified if men, i cn remember screaming with fear when my child minders partner came home early as i thought all daddies were naughty. Still having counselling now at 24. I would second the advice from others about hv etc. Books explaining separation for kids are a great idea.

Spero Mon 26-Nov-12 12:05:50

I agree that it is better to go down the 'daddy is not well' rather than 'daddy is naughty' route at this age. She is just beginning to learn about good and bad and being told off for being naughty - if her daddy is naughty, what does that make her?

Hopefully SS can give you best advice, as they must have been in this situation many times - but if the reason he can't see her is drink/drugs/violence or whatever, I would say that daddy isn't very well right now and he needs some help to get better. Is there any way she could have indirect contact from him, like a birthday or Christmas card? One of the problems is she may worry he has died which may start her off worrying about you.

Letsmakecookies Mon 26-Nov-12 11:59:18

I would agree with not going down the 'daddy's naughty' route. She won't understand that. I think any explanation has to be honest, but non-judgemental and ensuring that the child doesn't take on blame themselves either.

It is hard without knowing dad's issues here, but something like 'mummy and daddy both love you very much and will always love you. Daddy is not able to see you for a while because he is <not very well and needs to spend time getting better>. He doesn't know when he can come again, it will probably be a very long time. But remember he misses you and loves you no matter what, and so do I and I will never leave you remember that.'

I am just trying to imagine a little child being scared that if dad can go, mum might too... so perhaps reassurance that you will be there for her might be good.

Letsmakecookies Mon 26-Nov-12 11:48:30

You could probably call your HV too (mine is based at the local GP) and talk to them more privately than at the drop in. I had a long chat to mine recently because of relationship breakdown (and my children are over 3) and she was utterly lovely. She had lots of good advice and listened. Possibly the outreach staff at the surestart centre might be another starting point, the ones where I used to live where really helpful and approachable, and had training on parenting issues like this.

I agree with AndiMac. I think when your dd is so young she might be worried that if she was naughty then she would be taken away from you, or that she would get to see her daddy if she was naughty too.
If social services have been involved already then maybe they could suggest a counsellor for you both.

AndiMac Mon 26-Nov-12 11:34:40

I know nothing about lone parenting, but somehow, the idea of phrasing it as, "Daddy has been naughty so he isn't allowed to see you" doesn't sound right to me. I would think that it would be easy for the child to think that if she's naughty, either she won't be allowed to see her mother or that she will get to be with her dad.

I think it needs a bit more explanation than that.

Startail Mon 26-Nov-12 11:26:15

Ask social services for advice.

They should know a councillor or someone who can speak to her in an age appropriate way.

I knew someone who insisted they spoke to her DCs as her DP had only ever been lovely to them and problems were with his new family and she was totally at a loss explaining the situation.

mummytime Mon 26-Nov-12 11:23:51

I would tell her honestly that she isn't allowed to see Daddy as he has been naughty. You could even tell her he has done something bad so it isn't safe for her to see him. You love her and have to keep her safe.
She may be upset but it will pass quickly.
Then as she gets older you can tell her a little more. Truth is the best policy, but you may want to also get support and know how to access counselling support if she needs it as she gets older.

I don't really want to go into details but social services have been involved and ex is not allowed contact.

I'll have a look out for some books. That's a good idea. They have a HV drop in at my local surestart centre so I'll definately go along and have a chat with her.
She's getting really clingy with me and I'm sure she's thinking I'll disappear too.

RosannaBanana Mon 26-Nov-12 11:07:53

Agree with getting help if poss- eg from health visitor or even child psychologist. Really feel for you that must be so hard.

Letsmakecookies Mon 26-Nov-12 11:07:05

Why is she not allowed to?

Happylander Mon 26-Nov-12 11:06:37

watching with interest as I am having to say to my DS who is also 3 that he won't be seeing his dad again. Ex wants no contact with him.

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