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How to tell my 5 year old his dad isn't coming back

(6 Posts)
Leesae Sun 19-Aug-18 23:08:47

The father of my 2 boys (now aged 5 and 3) left just over 18 months ago. He just left one day when I was in work and didn't pick them up from school. In the first year hee phoned when he felt like it and visited about 5 times. He lived about 3 hours away. After 11 months he totally disappeared and wasn't contactable, no contact over Christmas or my older sons birthday. A month later he tried to get in contact, he had gone back home (abroad) and I found out off others this was because he owed people thousands and got himself involved in drugs. He text mr 3 times since then asking to speak to the boys. I've ignored him. He wasnt a good father when we were together and even worse since he left. He planned visits and didn't show up, or arrived late and hungover. I'm the parent who had to make excuses for him everytime.
My 5 year old keeps asking why daddy had to leave and go back to this other country, he asks if he's forgotten about them. It breaks my heart. I don't know what to say to him 😢 what age would you explain things to them? How do I tell him he's not coming back?!
At the moment Ive just said daddy went away for work, he loves you, but now you've got me and nanny and grandad and we're a lovely family and you're both loved very much.

OP’s posts: |
Gingerninj Sun 19-Aug-18 23:21:32

I went through something somewhat similar a few months ago. DC thought their dad went away for work but were confused/shocked when the day he was supposed to come back anyway he came back only to properly pack his bags and leave. 13 year old DD understood what was going on. 6 year old DS didn't really, I basically told him daddy loves him lots and so do I but me and his dad won't be living together anymore, everything else will stay the same dad just won't live here. I think it's best just to be honest but not go into detail, it's something you can go over when he's older if he wants to. Although for him to know now it's something he'll get used to and it'll become the norm. Sooner you explain this the sooner he'll start processing it

Leesae Sun 19-Aug-18 23:34:33

Thank you. I should have said that they understand that their dad doesn't live with us anymore. What they don't understand is how he could move to another country and not come back to Wales, or UK to see them. My ex has always wanted more. A bigger tv, a better car, more money. I think he left because our life wasn't enough for him.

OP’s posts: |

Sounds like a difficult situation. Your son is worried that his Dad has forgotten about him. That is one of the hardest things for a child to live with - no matter how loving and excellent a parent the one who sticks around is, many kids in that position will grow up fearing that they weren't 'good enough' for the parent who left. They weren't quite enough to be loved. Your son is already showing signs of that with the questions he is asking. And the effects of those feelings can be profound on children as they grow into adults.

You asked how you have the conversation with your son. Good question - and reflecting on that may help you to consider whether you are doing the right thing now.

I would suggest visualising the scene some years from now. Your boy is older. Quite a lot older. Old enough to want to know the details. And old enough to handle the details. So you're telling him.

His dad got into some trouble. He made some very bad decisions. And because of those decisions, he decided to leave.

So far, so straightforward. But now you come to the difficult part of the story. The part you've been worrying about telling your son. But the part where you either have to tell him the truth, or tell him a really big lie. The sort of lie that people can't just get over when it is discovered.

This is the part where he asks why his dad just forgot about him. This is the part where you have to tell him that his Dad didn't forget him. That - despite his poor decisions - he still tried to keep in touch. And you ignored him. You denied your child that relationship - however imperfect - with his father.

Does that sit right with you? If it doesn't - and it shouldn't - then you may wish to reflect upon the decisions that you are making now.

The guy doesn't sound like much of a dad. Or much of a human being. But it is not the right thing for you to do, to deny your son even the chance of having a flawed, imperfect long distance relationship with his Dad. Because when you do that, you leave him believing that his Dad forgot him. You leave him believing that he wasn't enough. That isn't right. And it isn't fair to your son.

My advice, for whatever it's worth to you, is to return those texts. Set up the phone call. Set up the video call. You can't compensate for the man's failings. But you can give your son the best possible shot at a relationship with his Dad. And, in doing that, you can let your son know that he is worthy of his dad's love.

Coyoacan Mon 20-Aug-18 03:53:17

Mmm, well my dad emigrated when I was four and I didn't see him again until I was eleven. I have no memory of him before he left so I presume he wasn't very involved with me, but I never worried about whether he loved me or not and certainly it never crossed my mind that I had anything to do with his absence.

That was the sixties and nobody ever explained why he didn't live with us, it was just the way it was.

Starlight345 Mon 20-Aug-18 18:47:36

I think unless he has gone to work abroad then don’t say so . You can say he returned to the country he was born in.

I have always had issue with telling a child , Daddy really loves you, I don’t want my Ds to think this is an ok way to behave to your child you live when they grow up. I tell my Ds I can’t speak for your dad ( I don’t believe he ever cared) he may think of you every day, every week or month but as I haven’t spoke to him in years I can’t say what he thinks or feels.

We also left my ex dv, I didn’t tell him that but have told him I left as I thought we would be happier just the two of us instead.

I am always honest and tell him the truth just at an age appropriate level.

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