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Any practical advice on how to answer 'why haven't I got a dad?'

(22 Posts)
PoppyStellar Fri 27-Jan-17 14:30:45

Just that really. DD is of an age (top infants) where peers are all talking about their family set ups. I'm a single adopter, DD is very aware of and happy with her understanding of how we came to be a family but she talks about how she wishes she had a dad. She knows she has birth parents (mother and father) who couldn't look after her but I am struggling with how to give her the tools to confidently talk to her friends about her lack of a dad in her life now. I guess I'm looking for practical tips to both help her process our family set up, and practical things she can say to her peers that will answer the question in a way she is comfortable with, whilst not inviting further scrutiny. I don't even know that such an answer exists.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Fri 27-Jan-17 14:52:29

Because I am adopted and my mum lives on her own
maybe leading to
I am adopted because my birth mum and dad couldn't look after me properly and keep me safe.
possibly leading to
Mind your own business or That's private.

I bet there are other children in her class who don't see their birth dads.

PoppyStellar Fri 27-Jan-17 15:02:50

Thanks. You've reminded me that actually I probably just need to major on building up her confidence to say the last suggestions!!

Unfortunately she's the only one in her class who doesn't have a dad around. We know lots of other single parent families outside of school but in school it's all a bit Stepford and 2.4 children.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Fri 27-Jan-17 15:11:27

By the time DD2 was in top infants I reckon getting on for half her class weren't living in traditional family set up. Would be harder in your situation I think.

Absolutely teach her her how to cut off discussions she's not comfy with.

Haffdonga Fri 27-Jan-17 17:18:00

Why haven't you got a dad?
Because I am adopted and my mum lives on her own

I'd feel that bringing adoption into this is complicating the issue and it's not really answering the straightforward question that small dcs are probably working out. There are plenty of not-adopted dcs out there without dads too. Could she just say because it's just me and my mum who live together or because my mum says she hasn't met the right person to be a dad or my mum says she doesn't want to live with anyone except me .

Do you have any close male friends or relatives? My friend's ds would just say Oh I don't need a dad because I've got my uncle John instead .

PoppyStellar Fri 27-Jan-17 20:15:52

Thanks haffdonga. I think I will add 'because it's just me and my mum who live together' to her repertoire. I have two close male friends who feature quite strongly in her life, one is also her godfather. She has used the 'I don't have a dad but I've got an uncle X instead' line before when she was younger so worth revisiting that again I think.

Thanks to both of you for the practical suggestions.

Nicktynoo Fri 27-Jan-17 20:24:01


I recently went through this with my 3 year old. The nursery were doing a project on family and I wasn't ready for the millions of questions. I am a single mum and dad dosent even want to meet his son 😔 So he hasn't even got someone he can identify as dad.

We made a list of all his family members and he lived doing this and he felt like he had a very large family (including the pets)

After having a melt down i asked for advice and was recommended this book.

The Family Book

My son had stopped asking (for now) and refers back to the book.
It covers all the different family set ups in a really child friendly way.

Nicktynoo Fri 27-Jan-17 20:24:47


PoppyStellar Fri 27-Jan-17 20:39:03

smile we have a very well worn copy of the family book here. It's great. DD loved it when she was younger.

MyDogEatsBalloons Sat 28-Jan-17 00:43:56

Damn, I was coming on here to recommend that book! The 'Feelings' one is great too.

What's the class teacher like? Would it be worth asking them if they could read it to everyone?

Kr1stina Sat 28-Jan-17 08:56:15

I agree with " because it's just me and my mum "

DS ( aged 11) best friend had no dad. I pretty sure he's not adopted. DS is pretty insightful and has only asked me once . I just said that he has his mum and his cat and his aunt, uncle and cousins ( who we also know ) .

And that if friend wanted to talk about it he would raise the subject , so DS should not ask him. End of.

All families are different , some have dogs or other pets , some kids don't have a mum or dad and live with their gran. DS is more interested in freinds cat. Hes been friends with him since reception BTW he only asks now because he understands the biological fact that there must have been a dad at some time. When he was younger he didn't really notice. Sadly men are irrelevant in the lives of many small children, as so many of them do virtually no parenting .

I agree with not mentioning adoption, as I'm not sure it's really relevant .

Anyway soon there will be some divorces in DDs class #cheerful

londonisburning Sat 28-Jan-17 09:26:26

Ah, it won't be long before some of those 2.4 children perfect families change! Mwah hahaha!

I wouldn't mention adoption either, as it's actually not adoption specific that she's in a single parent family. Lots of kids are. We like

Just repeat the conversation regularly that all families are different, and some have 2 mums, some 2 dads, some one of a each, and some a mum or a dad, some in foster care, or with grandparents or aunties, some with 1 child, some with 19. Empower her with 'I just have a mum. All families are different, you know.' If she says it firmly, kids should back off. As you've identified, giving her the power to say to mind their own business is key.

Mainly, though, she will pick up on your confidence. If you slightly feel regretful she doesn't have a dad, she will pick up on that. Honestly, there is no evidence that once you correct for income, kids with one or two parents do any different, so have that confidence. She doesn't have a dad, because she doesn't need one, having such a fab mum!

Kewcumber Sat 28-Jan-17 11:44:52

Are you looking for a conversation with her to help her process it or a script for her to use with others?

DS is now 11 and over the years we have moved on from...

"I live with my mum and I don't have a Dad but I do have an uncle X and a grandpa and two cats"

Why don;t you have a Dad?

"Don;t silly everyone has a Dad, but I don;t live with mine. He lives in another country and I don't see him" (factually correct)

Now he says (I've just checked) "Because I was adopted by my mum" apparently he is unconcerned by people knowing (at the moment).

He says no-one in school asks because they already know. And now he's 11 many people don't live with their Dad's (or mum's) so he hasn't been asked in a long time apparently.

PoppyStellar Sat 28-Jan-17 20:42:36

Thanks everybody. I want to equip her with some things she can say but also want to help her understand she's not missing out by being in a single parent family.

That's a really interesting point london about how I feel about the situation and how that will be reflected in how DD sees it. I hadn't thought of that before. I wouldn't have said I was sad or regretful but perhaps a bit too much time with the Stepford wives has made me wistful for what might have been. Scratch beneath the surface and I'm pretty sure not everything's as rosy as they always make out though. There are definite positives to being a lone parent.

I appreciate the help with answers that don't specifically mention adoption. I think it was this I was looking for.

(Also the comments about impending divorces made me smile too but then that's just my inner evil coming through!)

Kr1stina Sun 29-Jan-17 11:47:26

Poppy, I think it's ok for you to feel sad or wistful about your loss. And to talk to DD about it when appropriate. Of course she will never really understand because kids can't ever see us as people, we are just their mums, who didn't have lives before we had them.

Kewcumber Sun 29-Jan-17 13:17:27

Just in case it wasn;t clear Poppy I am a single adopter and I can honestly say she is missing out on things not having a traditional Mum and Dad family. But I can equally honestly say she gains in other ways. Everyones childhood is the same, some things better some things worse, some things just different.

I had have once or twice the conversation with DS about how sometimes I wonder if I did the wrong thing in adopting him without a Dad. We have talked about a friend whose Dad left when she was born and has been pretty inconsistent about seeing her and he thinks that is so much worse.

Mostly we are matter of fact about it - whatever decisions I made for better or worse, we are where we are now and we are pretty happy with life. I try to spend too much time hankering for an idealised version of someone else's life because as you say - you never know what goes on behind the scenes.

crispandcheesesandwichplease Sun 29-Jan-17 14:09:49

Poppy I was single when my AC came to live with me and we also lived in a 'stepford' type community. I felt like the mum in the song 'Harper Valley PTA'! I subsequently discovered the apparently perfect families with dads in prison, alcoholism, domestic violence, granny actually doing most of the caring rather than parents etc.

I'd totally agree with others that this is not an adoption issue but a single parent family issue. I'm now in a relationship but don't live together with my partner full time. Whilst there's a view that 2 parents are better than 1 I'd also say that the fact me and my AC have a lot of time together on our own is a huge bonus. She gets lots of my attention, which she needs, and we have a closeness that I think we'd lose if there was anyone else living with us full time. Adopted children in particular need a lot of one to one to give them reassurance.

As it happens I grew up in a single parent family too, just my mum and 4 other siblings. I'm really grateful that as there was no dad around I got enough one to one time with my mum even though there were 5 of us. We called her our MAD which is a mum and dad rolled into one!

As for books I would recommend 'Who's in a family?' by Robert Skutch, it discussed all sorts of families including single, same sex, and animals. We also have 'Do I have a daddy?' by Jean Warren Lindsay but I didn't like that as much.

As for normal families my AD has a half brother she sees regularly, 3 half siblings we've never met and are never likely to, and 2 older step-siblings who she has never lived with but adores. 3 out of the 4 of my siblings are step-parents too. We don't have a family tree we have a family orchard that spreads far and wide!

PoppyStellar Sun 29-Jan-17 17:17:01

grin Harper Valley PTA. Yep, that's me!

crispandcheesesandwichplease Sun 29-Jan-17 17:23:05

Poppy there's actually a whole album by Jeannie C Riley based on the Harper Valley PTA song, I love it! In fact I'm going to dig it out right now and play it!

Kewcumber Sun 29-Jan-17 22:15:02

In reception I rather wistfully said to the reception teacher - "Aw DS is the only child with a single parent" to which she rather robustly replied "don;t worry you'll have plenty of company by the time you finish"


princesspeppa Mon 30-Jan-17 20:01:27

I'm having the same problem. My little one came home from nursery and said "mummy, I don't have a daddy". I am a single adopter. I said "of course you have, he just doesn't live with us". That seemed to resolve the issue for now, with no questions since.
Like that haffdonga will use that suggestion next time. I'm sure the questions will get more in depth as time progresses.

dimples76 Mon 30-Jan-17 22:40:21

I came on here to post about this too! My son seems obsessed about not having a Dad in his life. He keeps asking where his Daddy is. Today as we were walking back from nursery he pointed at a car and said 'that's Daddy's car'. We saw a gay couple with a baby in the dentists last week and he has talked non-stop about the two daddies since then. We have the family book but I think he just really wants a Dad (or at least the idea of a Dad).

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