Children with completely absent fathers

(44 Posts)
acceptableinthe80s Tue 05-Feb-13 09:07:19

Anyone else on here who have raised their children alone from birth? My ds is 4 and has never asked about his dad. I've never mentioned him as I thought it best to wait until he asked and didn't want him to be aware/hurt by his fathers rejection at such a young age.
However a couple of his friends have asked about his dad in front of him. I just explained about different families.
Ds starts school this year and I know other kids will question him about not having a dad so my question is do I bring the subject up now or continue to wait until he asks?

targaryen24 Tue 05-Feb-13 11:08:14

My mum let us know we didn't have a dad around as he had 'problems' that meant he couldn't be with us or see us from a similar age and we just accepted it as fact and when people did ask I think we just used to say we didn't have a dad, full stop. Because we didn't remember him we didn't question it so when asked I seem to remember being pretty matter of fact about it! I'd probably just tell him the simplest version you can so he can reply to people and have an idea of what happened. Don't think he'd feel hurt/rejected as he has no real emotional connection to the subject.(Or at least we were never fussed, he just wasn't around and our mum loved us enough for two parent and then some) smile hope that helps. Didn't want to read and run as I've been on the kid's end of this issue. Good luck!

targaryen24 Tue 05-Feb-13 11:09:02

*parents ...oops!

WhatDoesTheDogSay Tue 05-Feb-13 12:48:28

Hi, watching with interest, as I have been raising my LO alone since birth. Well, since pregnancy actually! He's only 18 months at the mo, so not old enough to ask questions. Don't know whether his dad will ever try to get access (though hopefully not), and I may well find myself in your situation in a few years. I agree that all you can do is give simple, 'age-appropriate' answers to any questions that your DS asks. And emphasise how much you love him, and that it's equal to the love of 2 parents smile. Best to keep any murderousness animosity you may feel towards his dad completely to yourself as well.

acceptableinthe80s Tue 05-Feb-13 13:20:57

Hi, thanks for replies. I think you're right targaryen about the lack of emotional connection, i think he probably will be quite matter of fact about it.
I was planning on saying something along the lines of what your mum told you.

The truth is i don't even know the reason his dad chose not be involved, he said he wanted to be, moved closer to me then half way through the pregnancy just stopped contact and ignored all my attempts to contact him over the next year or so. I don't feel any animosity as we ended our relationship mutually so not bitter or anything just pissed off that he could possibly affect my sons happiness by making this choice.

Sorry, rambling now! I was asking as i've heard other single parents say they talk about the absent parent/show photos etc but i just don't see the point in igniting a curiosity that's not there yet.

I'm thinking i'll probably wait until he asks, thanks again.

betterthanever Tue 05-Feb-13 13:26:54

My DS is 7. he asked me at four `where is my Dad' - I told him where he lived - it is a way away from us. He asked why he wasn't `here' I just said it was because he didn't love Mummy. He never asked again.
My ex has since turned up (6 months ago) it has been a torrid time and we are going through the court process.
Other children have asked my DS - he just says `I havent got a dad'. he does not want to discuss it and I respect that and would/will be there if/when he does. When my ex did turn up he made contact directly with my DS and that scared the life out of my DS. Secuirty and a stable life is what is important and as they get older there will be other questions and the answers I give will be `age appropriate' as whatdoes say - it is all you can do. If you have that stable and secure life together and a good bond and the trust of your DC then I am a firm believer it will have little impact on thier adult life (read a lot of research on this).

StrawberryMojito Tue 05-Feb-13 13:27:38

I was told that my mum and dad split up before I was born and my dad had moved away. That was fine when I was little and I was a happy child. I think I became more curious and more sensitive about it as I got older, particularly in my teenage years, but I got over it and have still never met him.

acceptableinthe80s Tue 05-Feb-13 13:56:07

Oh god betterthanever I dread that happening, must be very stressful for you all. Ds has a very secure little life and has a great relationship with my dad. He' s also close to his cousins/aunts and uncles so not lacking in that respect at all.
strawberry it's the teenage years I worry about the most, glad you came through it ok, I can only hope ds does too.

targaryen24 Tue 05-Feb-13 14:12:40

Think my brother found it harder than I did as he grew up (as his friends would do stuff with their dads and have guy time etc) but was still ok. He just had a very close relationship with other men in the family (mostly our gdad & uncle). But i'm glad we didn't have a dip in-dip out dad as it's much easier to brush off a dad you've never met not being bothered about you than one who's involvement is unstable etc. At the end of the day he's got one parent, who loves him unconditionally and that's what really counts smile

I have brought my daughter up from birth on my own. I wanted her father to have contact, he didn't. My daughter has never seen him. I am willing to tell her about him but she dosen't want to know anything.

betterthanever Tue 05-Feb-13 14:45:40

It is your worst nightmare isnt it acceptable it's very complicated but that is why he had now made contact sadly - to make it my worst nightmare. So having contributed nothing for 8 years including when I was pregnant, he thinks it's acceptable to add negativity to his sons life. You would like to think he doesn't realise he is doing that but unfortunatley I think he knows exactly what he is doing as he always did when we were together. My DS is having some of his questions answered by these actions which he shouldn't have to address at his tender age.
My general advice would be to just live your life, we never know what is round the corner with any aspect of it and as a great Mum you will be able to answer any questions when/if they crop up. It is always the things you never even think to worry about that cause you the most stress.

acceptableinthe80s Tue 05-Feb-13 15:02:27

Oh how awful for you both betterthanever, i assumed you meant he'd decided he wanted to be a dad afterall but to come back into your lives out of malice, just shock. What an utter shit.
Have an <unmumsnetty> hug from me.

WhatDoesTheDogSay Tue 05-Feb-13 15:55:20

Yes, acceptable, the teenage years are my main worry as well. Seems that that can be the time when identity crises, feelings of rejection and regret at there being a lack of knowledge/involvement of a whole side of the family can come to the fore. I am concerned that my ds might resent me if I don't even try to keep contact with his dad's family... But then again there's nothing stopping them from trying to get access so it's not as though I'm actively resisting it (not currently anyway).

I do think you are right about there being no point in igniting a curiosity that may never be expressed, through showing photos etc. There's a lot to be said for going with your instincts about what is best for your son, you are his mother after all smile.

Hi, better, sorry to hear that your situation is dragging on. You will be right that your ex is doing it out of pure malice, and not out of any new found concern for his son. Too late for that! Hope you are not too stressed about it.

OwllwOOwllwO Tue 05-Feb-13 16:00:26

I practically raised my oldest alone, he's 9 now. I've been trying for the past 5years to keep his 'dad' out of his life. This man isn't worry of being a dad and my son doesn't need a man like him in his life. He know he has a dad but doesn't acknowledge him even though he has phone calls once a week. My son stays silent and doesn't even say hello. He actually says he doesn't have a dad which, although is heartbreaking, is actually right.

betterthanever Tue 05-Feb-13 21:27:15

Thanks Whatdoesthedogsay I have my good and bad days.
Thanks for the hug OP.
Owll my DS says that - but since my ex made contact he still says that but looks at me as he does and just smiles at me - it is times like that you understand the true bond you have which is fantastic.
It is heartbreaking but it is right and the way I look at it is that they had to find out a some point that not everyone is a good and genuine person our ex's have kindly volunteered to be the examples.

whateveritakes Tue 05-Feb-13 23:07:01

I've got a DS aged 9 and his Dad refused to have contact once I became pregnant. We had been friends for over 8 years.

I have always told DS the truth which is that his father wanted to be with another family. He started a serious relationship with someone pretty soon after me. I do actually tell him about his Dad and mention when he does something that his Dad would do or when he has the same expression etc. I also started a new relationship after 6 months of having DS and he is still around for DS although we are not together now.
DS doesn't seem to have any problem with it and has asked a few questions to which I have answered honestly. Now he is older quite a few of his friends parents have split up so it's not such an issue that he only lives with mummy.
Thanks to MN I did contact CSA and we get £5 a week maintenance. I was tempted to send contact details through CSA but TBH he can find us. I'm on Facebook, I still have all my old friends, he could find a way if he was interested. DS knows his father isn't interested and why and he's dealt with it.

My top tips would be
Remember ex left because he didn't love you, nothing to do with any children Tell the truth - lies get found out
Get on with having a great life without him. Your child will make contact with their father later (if they feel the need) themselves. It's not up to you to make him responsible. Your responsibility is just to your child.

STIDW Wed 06-Feb-13 17:23:24

Children who are insecure about their natural parentage and heritage tend to grow up with low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems later on. Sharing positive stories and photos, comparing physical likenesses from a very early age helps them create a positive image of an absent parent and themselves.

targaryen24 Wed 06-Feb-13 17:35:14

I'd like to point out my dad was abusive (to the very worst degree) and my mum managed to tell us in a very matter of fact way and mention some of the things about him that weren't god awful. So while I don't agree with a lot of the generalising & fear-mongering that surrounds the absent-father issue, I do agree that it's worth trying to let them know who their father was/is, as long as you don't overdo their negative traits etc. or in contrast, make out they were a saint.

im in a similar position, the kids dad hasnt seen them for over 6 years and we have no idea where he is. they are 7 &8 now. it was easier when they were younger as they weren't as aware ofnother families etc, but sometimes they ask. I tell them that mummy and daddy didnt love each other and that daddy had to move away but that they are very much loved by everyone. it helps that they have a wonderful grandad who is very much the father figure

betterthanever Wed 06-Feb-13 21:17:31

This is commonly known as rhetoric: Children who are insecure about their natural parentage and heritage tend to grow up with low self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems later on.

acceptableinthe80s Thu 07-Feb-13 07:28:15

Quite better! 'Comparing physical likeness'? I don't think that would help seeing as ds is my spitting image and bears no resemblance whatsoever to his father.
STIDW Not really the done thing to post your opinion as fact.

targaryen24 Thu 07-Feb-13 08:14:46

Agree. To be honest, I'd rather i'd never gone snooping and found the photo I did because it's easier to not be bothered by someone you've never seen smile

Also, it strikes me as counterproductive to hold up a picture and be like 'see this man, he's your father etc. But he doesn't want anything to do with you' (obviously said with more tact) hmm Surely that'd cause more harm.

If DS/DD wants to know, they can ask, but I wouldn't force it upon them. I'm sure as hell glad my mum never made it an issue and just told us the basics then let us ask the odd question as we grew up!

WhatDoesTheDogSay Thu 07-Feb-13 08:49:54

Interesting to hear your perspective as the child of an absent father, targaryen. Just out of interest (sorry for minor hijack), did you see your paternal grandparents? Or was that whole side of the family cut out?

STIDW, there is a lot said along the lines of your post, and it is very confusing for parents such as those on this thread who are trying to do the best for their DCs. I know courts generally take your stance, do you know whether what you say has been proven to be the case? I'm not being stabby, btw, am genuinely interested. Surely each child's circumstances are different and it's not always best for the child to know their father?

targaryen24 Thu 07-Feb-13 09:02:19

We didn't see the paternal G'Parents as there was an issue of my dad finding out where we lived (as he was violent and my mum literally ran away in the end). To be honest that's the bit I feel more of a twinge in the gut about, as my mum said his mum was lovely (but his dad was violent to her so was a bit of a sorry old thing). Probably for the best we never saw any of that side of things really smile

(Obviously if the dad's not around due to bereavement or prison etc. then maybe the approach STIDW suggested would be appropriate. It really does come down to what the remaining parent feel's is best, given their individual situation)

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 07-Feb-13 09:04:06

Interesting thread. What would you say to a child whose dad walked out when he found I was pregnant as he didn't want a child (after 6 yrs of marriage with kids agreed from the beginning)... He came back partially & made my life hell til Ds was about 9 mths and then he hit me so was finally out physically - emotionally he never came back after leaving the first time, I think he only came back physically as he would be ashamed at what people would say, oh, and that I paid for everything.

I mean, I could whitewash it or be a version of honest somehow without hurting Ds? It's a tricky one and I don't have an answer. I don't want to set him up as a great dad, cos he's not and I don't want Ds thinking that's his role model. But I don't want him to feel utterly rejected either...

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