Children with completely absent fathers(44 Posts)
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?
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) hope that helps. Didn't want to read and run as I've been on the kid's end of this issue. Good luck!
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 . Best to keep any
murderousness animosity you may feel towards his dad completely to yourself as well.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 . What an utter shit.
Have an <unmumsnetty> hug from me.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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) 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!
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?
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
(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)
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...
when she asks questions, don't lie or cover anything up. Just try to explain it in an age appropriate way, and without slating him (easier said than done)!
Anything you feel is too extreme, leave til she's older/asks directly about. Up to you in the end though. If you do whitewash it just be aware that she might try to guess at what happened (and may guess wrongly). It is a tricky one but just do what you feel is best, as you're more likely to know what'd suit you than we are
IMHO I think its common sense that to have a crap parent who patently disregards a child will cause far more damage than to not have the parent around and to have one very loving engaged parent instead. It all depends on the situation doesn't it.
I don't think my son is insecure neither do I think he will have emotional or behavioural problems. He's a lovely kid, polite, well behaved and independent. His dad has no positive stories about him and my Ds knows this as he remembers all the bad stuff that happened whilst we were with his dad. I'm certain if my Ds had a relationship with his dad, talked to him, stayed weekends etc. then my Ds would be a completely different boy. I know this because the first three/Four years of his life my Ds was an absolute devil. He would swear, spit and kick me, he never called my mum he called me by my name or bitch, slag and even prostitute. He once got a knife out to me, why all this? Because his dad told him to do it.
I eventually escaped soon after he turned four when his dad went to prison for drug dealing. If was hard for the first year trying to 'change' my son for the better but I persisted and like I said earlier he's a lovely boy now. He doesn't believe when I tell him what he used to be like. Even friends remembered what he was like and can't believe it. There were times when I though I wouldn't be able to cope with such a child and to just let his dad have him. I'm glad I didn't as god knows what he would have been like now.
Unfortunately court has granted contact to 6 times a year, this isn't a lot I know but I'd rather it was no contact and I'm sure my Ds would agree.
Thankfully I now have a fantastic DP who cares not only for me and our DD but also my DS. My Ds looks up to him and although doesn't see him as dad he listens to and respects him.
Good for you owll you have been through so much and done so well by your DS. I am so pleased you now have a suportive DP and happy family unit.
The actual research makes all your points within it. The one liner is just rhetoric - there are of course lots of variables and as babbyhammock said it does depend on teh situation. The one liner is used (IMO) by those who want the variables/individual situation ignored and a quick route to getting contact for thier own selfish reasons not what it is the best interested of the child.
Owll I would see how the contact 6 times a years goes. If you do not think it is not in the best interests of your DS take it back you court. Some contact may just help your DS settle in his own mind that contact is not good for him and at some point he will be old enough to make his own mind up if he has contact.
My DCs father walked out just before Christmas. He left the country and went to Australia. He hasn't had any contact with the children since. They are 14 & 6. How do I explain to them that they had a father and now he has just disowned them. No calls, no letters. He has just abandoned them. My youngest is struggling with this the most. I feel they would have been better off never knowing him then this treatment.His family have completely disowned them also. I cant even tell them if they will ever see him again as I simply don't know the answer.
aven, what an awful situation. Don't have any answers, perhaps the most important thing is to ensure your DCs know that he didnt do it to hurt them (who knows why he did it! A breakdown?), and that they haven't done anything wrong. They (and you) must be heartbroken, what a bastard .
Thanks, targaryen, sounds like your mum did the only thing she could by cutting all ties with your dad's side of the family. Glad you don't feel like it has affected you negatively. I have been debating whether to contact DS's paternal grandmother, but similarly have concerns about ex finding out where we live etc. Not easy trying to find the best path!
aven I am so sorry to hear what you are having to go through. Does he have family in Australia? I guess you can only play it a bit by ear at the moment and answer that you are not sure. Could it be a breakdown and then you could he is now well for now?
Hi betterthanever. Yes he has a brother there. I dont think its a breakdown. He planned it for a while it seems and other people were aware apart from the children and I. I had to drag him through court to beg for maintenance to support the kids and he is earning a massive salary over there. He has been so callous in the planning of this that I actually dont recognise who he is. He has just decided he can have a nicer single life over there and we are just thrown on the rubbish heap. I have tried to explain every way I can think to the children but its becoming very apparent that he has simply turned his back on them. I hate to say it but the man I fell in love and had my children with has actually become a complete monster. I worry for the long term effect on my children and im trying so hard to compensate but how on earth can I compensate for their father abandoning them. Its just so disgusting to me.
Aven that is just so terrible. You wonder how they live with themselves but they do. My ex did and now is trying to rewrite the history as justifying it to others is harder than to himself, which is like sticking the knife in the healed scar.
From the research I have done there are a number of variables that effect the outcomes for children in this situation. Your mental health, finances and how your new family unit functions from this point, seeming to be important ones. Conflict is another but in your case (and in mine until now) there isn't going to be any in terms of arguments all the time. Before my ex turned back up.. so all my DS's life - I tried to make sure I didn't do anything different, as much as I could help it - because I was a lone parent. We are not a traditional family but we are a family and we function well. I've done everything I can to keep my mental and physical health well, which is tested to the limit when on your own. I work and I am honest, age appropriate and never letting my DS feel he has been rejected - I say it was because he didn't like me.
I know your situation is very different and my god really hard. I hope your new family unit goes forward with happiness - the bond between you I suspect will end up very strong and no one can take that away from you.
hello I have been a lone parent since pregnancy, dd is now very nearly 7yo and does struggle with this on and off.
She is not a girly girl (ironic given my username!!) and I think if she had had one would have been a daddies girl
Today for example she cuddled up to me and said 'I want a daddy, I just really want a daddy' its really sad and I just acknowledge that it is hard for her. One of the things I find that helps is having a booked called 'do I have a daddy?' got it on amazon and dd actually got it out today and read it.
Op your son will at some point ask questions and you have to make him feel that it is fine for him to ask. I try and be honest but it is difficult to explain to a young child why their father wouldn't want to be involved and I say that as well- that I don't understand it!
Dd has seen a photo of her dad once, she was getting very upset and said she didn't even know what he looked like so it felt like the right thing to do. She hasn't asked to see it since.
It makes me feel really sad to see her struggling with it but I remind myself that has a nice home, a loving family, gets to do lots of lovely things etc She also has some friends at school who don't see their dads so she knows she isn't the only one.
Sorry am tired and not sure this is very coherent! Main points are to be honest and matter of fact, let him ask questions (don't let your feelings stop the conversation iyswim) and remind him that he has a mummy who loves him very much!!!
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post. Lots of good advice/ideas.
Sorry for those of you going through tough times just now, i almost feel like a fraud posting here as i know how easy we have it compared to others.
I think ds's lack of interest in his dad is probably down to the fact that my dad is very much his father figure. My parents have ds 3/4 days a week as they look after him when i work so he effectively has 3 parents!
I actually think ds lives a pretty charmed life compared to many children i know who do have fathers. Luckily for us my dad retired when ds was 2 and he is amazing with him. They spend their days going on adventures or pottering in the garden/garage. Ds loves 'helping' around the house/garden and is generally a very content wee boy.
So it seems that 'cross that bridge when you come to it' is the way forward for us. Thanks again for all your advice, I have a much better idea of what i'll say now.
I really hope things improve for those of you having a hard time at the moment.
XP hasn't seen the DC's since they were 2.6 and 8 months old, they're 6 and 4 now. Again like others I live in fear of him turning up and wanting contact, he was a hopeless and eventually nasty parent.
I've told the DC's that daddy was grumpy and not very good at being part of a family. There are a couple of photos of him up, it seemed wrong to pretend he never existed. They hardly ever mention him TBH, but they've asked his name and what is job is and I don't have any problem talking about it. He said he wanted nothing to do with them until they're 18 and I hope he stands by that.
That's what my ex said Meglet, his actual words were 'I'll be here when he's 16 if he wants to look me up'! I just hope he doesn't.
On another note, having waffled on about ds's great relationship with his papa, my mum just told me that yesterday ds asked my dad when he was going to die! (at that age where he's trying to get his head around the whole life/death thing). Obviously my dad said not for a long time (here's hoping), ds then turned around said 'when you die i want to die', my dad was in tears .
A friend of theirs who is the same age (late 60's) recently found out he has a month to live so i think mortality is playing on their minds at the moment.
I just pray they stick around until ds is grown up.
acceptable I think it's hilarious they think their DC's are going to welcome them with open arms after all those years. Shows how little they think of parenthood.
Glad to have found this thread . My dds father opted out when i was pregnant. he has met dd once, she is 4 months now, but i think he was just curious and we have heard nothing from him since. So am now planning a life for the two of us. My mum has been amazing but my dad sadly passed away recently so i am putting a lot of pressure on my bil as a male role model .lol. Exp family also uninterested (dysfunctional the lot of them) so no grandpa or uncle to rely on there I'm afraid.
Trying to relax at the mo as I'm thinking questions won't start coming for a few more years. i have kept pictures of her dad and even the two of us together looking loved up as i thought i might want to show dd that mummy and daddy once loved each other but now I'm not so sure.
tbh he is so cold and heartless i would never want her to romanticize him as chances are if she goes looking for him shell get the same treatment i did.
like i say trying not to worry about it at the moment. just making sure dd knows she is super loved by my side of the family and hoping this will be enough.
Out of interest an ex (not dd dad) never knew his dad and never had any interest in finding out. He was just ok with the way things were . didn't even know his dads name.
I think it very much depends on the child, my dd feels really sad that she hasn't got a dad but I know other children of lone parents who really don't care.
I hope dd can make peace with it some day and I always said I would support of she wants to find him when she is older. Infact there is a few things I would like to ask him myself
My ex left me just before DS was born. I have always spoken to DS about his father - nothing very much but I just wanted to avoid having a 'big' conversation as he got older. It is so hard to explain to child why his dad doesn't come to see him. DS seemed OK with it and he has my father and my DB as role models. His friends at school are curious and do ask about his dad.
I tried really hard to encourage my ex to be involved with DS and had all but given up when he turned up recently. It was a very difficult time for us but I think it was good for my DS to get to know his dad. They got on well but DS is nearly 8 now and I know the bond will never be there.
He's gone now and who knows when we'll see him again. I've never said a bad word about my ex but i'm sure my DS will make his own mind up as he grows up.
I left my ex when I was pg due to abusive behaviour. DS is fortunately happy with our family life (just me as a parental figure but lots of involvement from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). I don't think he really twigged that his family setup was unusual until he started school.
He knows the basics about his bio dad, I have been truthful about the reasons for leaving and wanting to keep me and DS safe, so he's never expressed a desire to meet him. I have no doubt that it would be more damaging for DS to have contact, and I see no signs of insecurity or emotional or behavioural problems. DS is a teenager now and I expect that any problems would have emerged by now.
I feel sad for DS that the father he has isn't a better role model, but I don't feel sad that they don't have contact. I feel sure it wouldn't be a positive influence on DS, it wouldn't have been consistent or beneficial for DS.
I think it's important to be honest about an ex's behaviour and not to paint a too positive picture that can allow a child to put their absent father on a pedestal. That kind of thing really blows up in the teenage years.
From pregnancy I became LP. Ex did make contact 17 times in 5 years. I so wish he hadn't. Ds was non verbal when younger and due to AS could not verbally express his stress only by headbutting the wall the day after he returned from visits which Consultant Paed said was change of routine, leaving home causing Ds to headbut.
A year later after contact stopped when Ds 6yrs old triggered by seeing a man who looked like DF opened can of worms of abuse he experienced by DF he could not say when non verbal
Ex just took his hatred of me out on the most important person in my life to hurt me.
Ds asked as I put him to bed again tonight 'why did you make me go with my naughty daddy in 2007.'...Ds is 8 yrs old so was 3yrs old then....sadly the amazing memory has been a curse for my Ds!
I said I am sorry and didn't know DF was naughty gave Ds a quick hug/kiss and tonight Ds asked also 'What would happen if Daddy lived here'. I said the reality that Ds would not get all the nice things and go to nice places and do fab stuff as DF would want to do what he wants and would shout at us. Ds I hope felt reassurred that the love/time I give Ds makes up for not having Df here.
I wish I could turn the clock back and never have allowed contact...trying to do the best thinking Ds needed his Df in his life...when all the evil monster wanted was revenge!
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