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What do I tell DS about his absent father?

(5 Posts)
BertieBotts Wed 27-Jul-11 21:30:59

XP has not had contact with DS for almost 4 months, I don't know whether this is a permanent abscence or not, as he hasn't been in contact with me either, and according to his mother, nobody even knows where he is living at the moment.

DS stopped asking about him a few weeks after he last saw him, and I haven't brought the subject up again, because I found it upsetting to see DS upset when I said I didn't know when his dad was next seeing him. I don't know though whether this was the right thing to do. I also have a DP who I have been seeing for about a year and DS has known since before then, who has recently moved in, and DS has made comment on a few occasions that DP is "like a mummy". We have always called DP by his name rather than introducing any "Dad" labels, and we haven't suggested to him that DP is "like a daddy" rather than a "mummy", mainly because I have a weird feeling that it would be wrong to impose this on him. But am I being ridiculous? He called XP's girlfriend "Mummy", by the way, and also his childminder is "Mummy", but I think these were mainly because of having their own small children around who would of course call them Mummy as well. Often DS refers to CM as hername-Mummy and me as myname-Mummy.

So I don't know whether to bring up the concept of his dad, or just wait until he asks. I don't have pictures of him around the house or anything like that, don't have him as a friend on facebook, so pictures never come up by chance. It's likely if XP continues not to have contact that DS will just start to forget him, but I don't know whether that's really bad? I wonder if it will be when he starts nursery (next January) and comes into contact with lots of other children that the subject might come up.

Ugh anyway, I've rambled when it's really very simple. Should I make an effort to bring up the subject of DS' father with him, at his age, or should I wait until he asks?

onegiantleap Thu 28-Jul-11 17:04:04

Hi Bertie

My ds had an on-off/unpredictable relationship with his father until he was nearly 4 when it stopped, and ds appeared to forget quite quickly and stopped asking. Two years later he reappeared and wanted to see ds. By this time ds had recognised that most of his peers who's parents weren't together still SAW their dad. He genuinely seemed curious and had asked "why don't I have a daddy?", so I agreed to restart controlled contact. I also didn't have any photosor ever talk about Dad. I used to refer to him then as Your Dad.

Anyway to try and answer your question, I would say to wait a little while, in my experience he will ask sooner or later and then you can pursue it. I don't see how it would help him to be bringing up something that may not be going to happen, ie; seeing dad in the near future. I don't know if you feel strongly either way about him having his real dad in his life or not, or the history. I certainly felt it was unfair to my son to be let down by an inconsistent relationship, but at the same time it was my duty to try and facilitate something,and for ds to have the opportunity for knowing his dad warts and all. If your XP does get in touch then fine, but bear in mind he may let your son down again in future. As they get older it is definitely more painful for the child. If he never contacted you again your son will probably ask sooner or later, as mine did and then you would have to decide what to do.

By the way I agree with your calling your DP by his name, as you say it's early days.

I recently made a post in "bereavement" which you may feel is worth a look/ pertinent.

I really hope this is helpful as I know it is a tough position to be in.

BertieBotts Fri 29-Jul-11 10:43:38

That's what I felt too, that if I brought it up and XP still doesn't bother to have contact, it's just confusing/upsetting DS for no reason. But I wondered if it was better for DS that I brought his father up periodically so that if he does start having contact again, he hasn't forgotten him completely. But then I wonder is that covering up for him? After all he could phone, or even email pictures or write if he wanted to have contact with DS but wasn't able to see him in person.

The history is not great, TBH, if he wasn't his father, I wouldn't want him in DS' life, because he's an awful role model. I feel like my relationship with him was a mistake and I feel that it's unfair that DS has to bear the burden of that mistake. But I also feel that I should do the right thing and facilitate contact if he and DS both want it. I'm aware that DS isn't going to automatically take my word for what XP was like when he gets older, so I don't want to demonise him as I'm aware this could make DS feel he has to take sides later on, or decide he wants to get his own perspective without any sense of caution. And I don't want him to feel "My dad is not a nice person... so I must not be a nice person, because he is part of me". But equally, I don't want to idolise him, I don't want to tell him his dad is a good person and have him develop this image of a "nice person" including some not-so-nice actions that his dad does, because I think I did this with my own dad - my mum always told us that he loved us, and so when he let us down I just excused it, and later on this translated to a lot of relationship stuff. I thought that love was a feeling and separate to actions, so someone could love you but still do things which went against that. But then, I didn't have a stepfather or any close uncles or any other male role models to compare him to, so perhaps things will be different for DS (assuming things continue to go well with DP)

romomum Fri 29-Jul-11 21:34:18

Hi, sounds a bit similar to me, my ex partner has not seen his son since December last year! We have spoken a couple of times me calling him, and he says about coming to see him and then we hear nothing!! i find it frustrating as i wish i knew for sure if he is either going to be about or not. My son does not talk about him that much anymore he is only 5, so i have now left it and see if he ever contacts me in regards to seeing his son.
even last year when he was seeing him on Sundays he would ask me to phone him and wake him up??!! my ex too is not a great role model he has drink and smoke problems.
However in a newish relationship myself and my partner gets on great with my son! he has been so supportive as he is suspected to have ASD, attending meetings with me etc.... he doesn't call him dad but he has said to him "you can pretend to be my dad" so i think thats a big thing if him saying i accept you if you want the role!!
hope all works out for you xx

BertieBotts Sun 31-Jul-11 22:49:00

Thanks romo. Hope things work out for you too.

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