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If your dad left you when you were young, is there anything you can suggest to say to our kids who are being treated similarly? Inspired by 'how does he sleep at night thread'

(36 Posts)
piratecat Thu 14-Aug-08 11:20:28

I totally empathise with the poster, who inspired me to do this thread. Both my parents met other people, and both did the abandoning bit to me and my sister, albeit mentally with one and phsically for a time with another.

The feelings it can imprint on you as not feeling worthy person, are immense obviously.

Yet even tho I have experienced rejection from my parents, i find I can't think of ways to make it better for my dd.

Lots of lone parents on here, want to be able to make life easier for thier kids.

So as an adult now, do you have any advice, on how I and others can explain thier useless fathers' behaviour.

piratecat Thu 14-Aug-08 11:23:35

oh my dd is 6, very tender/emotional.

I am asking becuase I think other's people's perspective/upbringing might enforce some coping skills/sense of self worth that weren't ever drummed into me!!

Mamazon Thu 14-Aug-08 11:24:45

Thankfully both my parents are alive and together so no personal experiance form that point.
but i am a single parent now.

I think that you need to answer all question honestly. if they ask where daddy is or where he has gone tell them the an albeit less than graphic way.

Explain that daddy loves them greatly but maybe he finds it too hard to come and visit them.

I think you need to think of all the things that you wish someone could have told you.

youcannotbeserious Thu 14-Aug-08 11:25:31

I'm sorry that you are going through this.

IMHO, the best thing you could do is to sit down together (You and their dad) and explain that you still love her, even though you aren't together...

Is that a possibility?

ib Thu 14-Aug-08 11:35:33

Dad left when I was 1 yo. He went straight to live with a former close friend of my mum's. He saw us every Sunday, but didn't necessarily pay much attention to us. He never gave my mum a penny, so she brought us up effectively as a single mum until she remarried.

I think what worked for me was that

1. My mum NEVER bad-mouthed my dad. In fact, I only found out the circumstances of his leaving years after he died.

2. She accepted that we would need to work out our relationship with him in our own way, and never interfered or opined in any way (this was particularly much later when we were teenagers)

3. When we asked why he left she always said he didn't leave, that because she and dad didn't get along they had decided together that it would be better if they lived apart.

Above all, she never EVER played the victim - which meant that we just thought of our situation as the way it was, rather than something sinister/awful.

Obviously I can't say that this works for everyone, but that is what my life was like and I don't think I suffered from my 'broken' family at all.

RubyRioja Thu 14-Aug-08 11:37:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

piratecat Thu 14-Aug-08 11:40:23

it's along story but ex dh, left 3 yrs ago, and contact/respect ofr dd has got worse. there is a very strong force from his new wife involved in this, but i don't balme her, i don't understand her tho. This is all my dd's dad's choice, which i have tried to tell her.

Yet it doesn'r seem enough.

Nbg Thu 14-Aug-08 11:43:14


My dad left my mum when I was 2. He had been having an affair, came home one day, packed his bags and left.
Never helped my mum physically, emotionally or financially.

But my mum was honest with me throughout my childhood and answeredany questions I had for her. She never said bad things about him either.

I have grown up with my own opinion of him and I am pleased that my mum chose to deal with it the way she did.
I do remember having odd panic moments as a child that my mum would leave too like my dad did but all my mum ever did as reassure me and that must have worked for me.
My mum sometimes says that she was also very aware of what other people said to me. She recalls one particular time when my grandad threatened to "leave me behind" if I didnt eat my dinner and my mum exploded over it.
It was those kind of things that she anted to avoid so that I wasnt worried or anxious about things.

Sorry for waffling.

mangolassi Thu 14-Aug-08 11:48:16

Oh God Ruby, really? Why not focus on the relationship between sis and bil being over, rather than the fatherhood part?

Like ib's suggestions though, particularly number 3.

I never felt able to even ask questions about why my father wasn't around. So I would say be as open as possible (not gory details, but not dismissive/ defensive about kids wanting to talk about their father). And trying to keep badmouthing down to a minimum. And try not to put ideas into the kids heads - 'he didn't leave you' is fine if that's what kids were thinking but spectacularly unhelpful if it hadn't crossed their minds!

RubyRioja Thu 14-Aug-08 11:49:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tinkerisdead Thu 14-Aug-08 11:49:44

I have similar situation as ib
My dad left when i was 6 and contact was erratic. i remember him promising to be there for my birthday and i just sobbed the whole time at my party that i wanted my dadday!

My mum handled it exactly as ib mum, she never ever bad mouthed my dad or his wife, saying that we will form our own opinions. She never ever said he left us, but that they just didnt love each other anymore but that he still loved me. On the rare occasions he did visit, she was civil and even jovial and so i never sensed animosity.

at 11, i realised it was his choice not to visit and i wrote to him saying i would have coped better if he had died, as i would never have lived hoping for a birthday card or a visit. If i look back, i think i had major seperation anxiety around my mum though. only now as an adult do i recognise, i was scared to go on rides in a theme park in case i lost my mum, i sleepwalked a lot as i was anxious she would leave in the night. So reinforcing that you will never "leave" is vital too.

RubyRioja Thu 14-Aug-08 11:51:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mangolassi Thu 14-Aug-08 11:52:19

And piratecat, it's not enough, but you can't change that, unfortunately. I know it's crap but it's his responsibility. Does she ask a lot of questions? Is part of the problem that you have a lot of questions too?

PaddlePig Thu 14-Aug-08 11:55:50

my parents divorced when i was 5. we had the "normal" level of contact with our dad (fortnightly weekends and a summer holiday). That tailed off when my mother remarried and we moved away. He died when I was 17.

I remember too much abuot the lead up to the split and the time afterwards but it's still quite hazy. I don't remember anything ever really being properly explained.

I don't remember asking either of parents why it happened or talking about how it affected us or how life would be for us after they split.

Now, it's too late to ask all of the questions I have.

Neither I or my siblings have had succesfull marriages. My brother is a single parent as am I, my sister chose not to have children but is twice divorced.

My dd's father is erratic with contact but he hasn't lived with us since she was very very small. Luckily for us both she hasn't had to deal with daddy leaving.

On my own experience I would say offer as much information in a way that your child can understand. Don't assume one converstaion is enough. Even if your child doesn't raise the subject, make sure they know you will discuss it if they ever want to.

My parents didn't badmouth eath other either and at the time I thought that was enough. It wasn't, I needed to know that it wasn't my fault.

Children's comprehension of matters changes over time so what they might understand at 5yrs will change when they are 10yrs and during that 5yrs they could be imposing some strange stuff on their understanding.

I'm not saying it should be Topic #1 of the day every day, but it shouldn't be taboo and it should be something that is reiterated every now and then.

RubyRioja Thu 14-Aug-08 11:56:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

charliecat Thu 14-Aug-08 11:58:39

I knew my mum loved me, that was enough. I knew my dad, he wasnt a very nice person, it SHONE through. And I didnt like him, so him coming and going and eventually going for good was a HUGE relief.
When he died a few years ago I cried, for the dad I never did have.

mangolassi Thu 14-Aug-08 12:00:22

Ruby, he sounds like a complete arsehole, I totally agree with you that he's a terrible dad. I'm just not sure it's the best thing to say to his son.

I remember being told by my stepfather's mother that my mother should never have had kids. Made me feel like crap.

bluegreysky Thu 14-Aug-08 12:01:46

ruby that might make your dn think that he won't make a good daddy in the future though.

OrmIrian Thu 14-Aug-08 12:04:41

Not me, but DH. FIL left when DH was 4, his sisters were 6 and 3.

What would have helped would have been honesty. FIL left MIL to explain - 'it would be better coming from you' but with no discussion as to how to do it. So, being horrified by the idea of having a 'broken' family, she prevaricated and lied. 'Daddy's working away' mostly. And because FIL was a selfish coward when he came back for a vist he went along with the story. Didn't help that he got back into the marital bed giving his wife hope that he might be back for good one day. Right up until he informed her that he was seeing someone else.

Poor MIL and poor bloody kids sad. Man still makes my blood boil and he's been dead 12 yrs now angry

witchandchips Thu 14-Aug-08 12:12:11

I think what really affected my relationship with my Dad was
a) I always tried to be on "our best behaviour" when we saw him so we never learnt how to row with each other
b) He was rather stingy with money + my mum was quite open about this. This meant i felt that he did not feel much responsibility for us. My sister and I always came second after his other family
c) While we were growing up, he never saw us or did much with us when by ourselves, our relationship was always as add ons to his other family. Have lovely step mum + step sis but it is not the same
d) My sister and I never really spoke about all this until it was too late

My dad is a lovely person + i do love him loads but i do feel rejected by him. Think in sum we all colluded into pretending that everything was okay + did not deal with the real problems of having an absent father with a new family. Just because leaving was clearly the right thing to do for him (and for us) does not mean that it is not without problems

sorry really really long post but hope it might help your dd

SilkCutMama Thu 14-Aug-08 12:12:41

In answer to the op I can only tell you what my amazing mum did for me
She loved me like I was the most precious thing in the world
She worked her ass off to make sure we had as much as we possibly could
She never, and I repeat NEVER said a bad word about my Father. When I then made up my mind many years later that he was indeed an idiot she then told me stories about how he treated her if I asked her
She was an amazing woman to not slag him off and to let me make up my own mind. She knew I would reach that conclusion anyway later on in my life

If he disapponted me when I was a child, she would just hug me harder
She is an amazing woman and I am so blessed to have had her in my life

edam Thu 14-Aug-08 12:18:44

Um, not sure if I have any wise words on this. My parents divorced when I was ten - not sure how old I was when daddy 'left'. We drove him to his new flat, which was very tough, but made it real for us kids. Went straight round to our lovely childminder afterwards, who was a close family friend - she and her kids (she was divorced herself) reassured us that it wasn't the end of the world and we would still see our Daddy, etc. etc. etc.

My mother did complain about our father to us - the temptation must have been irresistable because he was very shitty, about money and contact. But I wish she hadn't, in a way. Would still have noticed his crapness, but not had it rammed down our throat.

Things that helped - my parents explaining that they weren't going to live together but they loved us very much and Daddy would always be our Daddy and we'd see him regularly (every weekend at first, I think, or every other).

Essentially I think lots of reassurance that your parents both still love you (even if it's a lie on one side), that you will still live in the same house and go to the same school (if you aren't, lots of reassurance about what will happen and that it will be fine), reassurance from other people/children/aunties who have been there and, ideally, your mother not slagging off your father despite overwhelming temptation.

However, as teenagers we did enjoy the fantastic bitching sessions with mother about Dad and his new wife every time we came back from a visit. blush It was a way to offload and laughing about it helped. I dunno, some counsellors would say it's a bad thing in the long run, but helped us cope.

I ended up having counselling about my relationship with my father once I'd grown up, which really helped - my sister, who didn't, still gets very hurt by his behaviour (he's still in our lives, on his own terms).

What really helped, but can't be guaranteed, is that my father later became a single parent to my little half sister and learnt an awful lot about being a Dad. Made him a damn sight better – although a bit too late for us and he's still very far from perfect.

edam Thu 14-Aug-08 12:19:55

Oh, very important to stress the divorce or separation is about the grown ups' relationship. That it is not the child's fault and that both parents STILL love you just as much but find it very difficult to live together.

edam Thu 14-Aug-08 12:22:01

Sorry, another thing - my mother made it very clear in word and deed that she would absolutely always be our mother, would never ever leave us etc. etc. etc. So we had one parent who would put us first without question and walk over hot coals for us, that we could rely on absolutely.

piratecat Thu 14-Aug-08 12:35:03

sory wil read later, having a panic attack i thikn, out of blue, have doen thread!

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