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Does the pain of an absent parent ever go?

(13 Posts)
Neweternal Wed 06-Jun-18 10:59:45

My DS has an absent father, never met him. I was left in pregnancy. He stays less than a mile away, he's in his late 40s has no other children. Never made an effort to see DS.

DS is 11 exceptionally bright and a high achiever. People always assume I'm divorced or widowed and asked his fathers name and about him (even in front of child). I'm left in that awkward situation of telling people I'm a single mother and father is a dead beat. I find this upsets me for days and must have an affect on DS (although he doesn't show it).

I find myself 11 years later crying at the cruelty of doing that to your child. Does the pain ever go? What on earth are these men thinking when they abandon their children? Do they ever reflect on the subject or do they just shut it out? There are lots of children of absent parents and I have discussed this with a few and none of them want anything to do with absent father after childhood. Anyone know any absent fathers for their perspective?

proudmummy1231 Wed 06-Jun-18 19:14:45

Very similar situation here and no the pain will never go away. My ds asked me yesterday why he doesn't see his father anymore (last time he saw him was 7 years ago), asked me where he was and if he could have his father's number so he could call him. It broke my heart... especially when he said how cool it would be to have a father and how not having one made him sad.

Neweternal Wed 06-Jun-18 19:48:58

That's the thing lots of people are in the same situation yet no one speaks out if they're a partner or close friend of absent father to give some insight to help us understand why they would do such a thing.

snickledon Wed 06-Jun-18 20:08:02

I know my dad tells himself it was best for my brother and me that he didn't have any contact with us after my parents divorce. My dad's mum denied she had a grandson when my brother knocked on her door years later when he was all grown up so it's not just men who can wash their hands so easily. I know another absent father who is rewriting the past and tells his current wife that the woman he was with before had kids but they weren't his.
But your DS may genuinely not be bothered - I never missed my father even though he didn't leave until I was 9 and whilst my brother for a couple of years as a teenager felt he had a dad shaped gap in his life he also eventually realised he was chasing a fantasy that didn't exist and stopped trying to seek our dad out. My brother is an amazing dad to his own kids and neither of us lose any sleep over the choices our dad made.

DaisysStew Wed 06-Jun-18 20:11:45

All you need is one great parent and it sounds like your son has that.

My dad wasn’t around growing up. I’ll admit to feeling quite hurt when I was younger but now I don’t even give it a second thought - he’s the one missing out now. My mum will always have me in her life and she gets to have a relationship with my son. My dad will never have that.

Stillme1 Sun 10-Jun-18 20:32:17

What if the absent parent turns up in later life? You may not be able to prevent this. It is so difficult to make the decision on what to do or say about an absent parent.

lynmilne65 Sun 10-Jun-18 20:33:58

No, my mum died over 50 years ago and I miss her Still ☹️

ginswinger Sun 10-Jun-18 20:59:30

This is pretty much down to you. Do you want to let your ex's actions define your mood or are you going to let it go? You can actively choose to let it go and create coping strategies. When I am asked for DD's father's details (which is very rare), I just shrug and say he's not around. The topic gets changed very fast. Often people have complimented me on doing a good job of bringing up my DD single handed and I would lay money on it that people think the same about you. Try and focus on what they're saying and less on your ex. It's really not worth the ballache.

Clairenewbie Thu 14-Jun-18 02:08:18

Didn’t have a dad either, what I didn’t have I didn’t miss
The years my dad was in my life was pretty bleak, he was horrible and abusive to me and my sisters once held my sister up against the wall to punch her in the face my mum got between them and punched her instead - that was my childhood the best day of my life was when my dad left
Haven’t spoke to him since and it’s been 26 years now, he tries to contact us but we ignore him.
My mum did a brilliant job raising us alone, I don’t feel sad not having a dad, why would I? My brother doesn’t want anything to do with him either but he saw him as his hero, he treated my brother differently to us that was his boy,that was until my brother grew up and sat listened to the hell that man put us through

Did you type your sons dads a deadbeat? Then why you feeling Bad and upset?

buddhasbelly Thu 14-Jun-18 02:20:22

I constantly tell dd 4 that she has many other people in her life (grandparents on my side, aunt uncle, friends) that love her and are consistently there for her and that it is the consistency that matters.

This approach seems to have turned her into a very confident individual with high self esteem.

I think hammering consistency of those that are there for them is key smile

LinoleumBlownapart Thu 14-Jun-18 02:42:03

I have a close friend who is an absent father. When I met him he was just recently divorced from his second wife who was a nasty piece of work and convinced him not to pay child support as his son's mother's family were rich. He was an idiot to go along with it. He was broke and bankrupt. He eventually paid back his child support. His 5 year old son and his mother had moved away and although he resumed his child support and made back payments, he had no contact with his son, who is now probably 25. I tried to convince him and he told me that the boy had a loving grandfather and uncle and didn't need him. Later he said he hoped his ex would find someone else. I don't think she did. My friend was raised by his father and stepmother. Both functioning alcholics and he never really knew his mother, who was also an alcoholic. He was a bit lost in life. For him, having a mother was important, father, less so. He has since re-married and really got his life together. He has two children for whom he is there for, but the family now live in a different country to his son. I don't know if he thinks about his son or realises how much his son probably needed and wanted him in his life. I'm sure there's many reasons why people do this, but that's just what I know about my friend.

LinoleumBlownapart Thu 14-Jun-18 02:47:02

I just remembered that once, whilst drunk he sobbed over baby pictures of his son that I didn't even know he had. They were hidden in a drawer. He said the boy had his name and talked about him as if he was sleeping in the next room. The next day he was back to convincing himself the boy was better off without him. I didn't really get it.

Ellafruit Thu 14-Jun-18 03:08:35

^ interesting articles

I think it’s less about understanding why the father did what he did, and more about understanding yourselves and the effect his actions have had on you both.

I don’t think the pain of an absent parent ever goes, but I think if you grieve properly the pain can lessen or be less overwhelming. (Whether absent through being emotionally unavailable or death, you still need to grieve).

By grieving properly, I mean acknowledging the need, the loss and allowing yourself to feel all the emotions - getting to the anger particularly is a big turning point for me.

To acknowledge what you’ve lost, you have to get in touch with what you need from the figure you’ve lost - or help your son to understand the importance of what he’s lost.

My husband died, so for my son I’m learning about this as I go along, but I have chats with him at key points where the loss of his dad might be more poignant e.g. it’s Father’s Day this week, so we had a chat about whether he’d like to make a card at school for his dad, why we make cards for dads, how it’s sad that his dad isn’t around to give a card to, how we might take it to his grave instead, and the kind of things he might have wanted to say thank you to his dad about - things he remembers eg tickle fights! (his dad died when he was 2 and he’s 5 now so his memory is fading). I think I should also have a chat with him about what his dad might have done in his 5th year that he might have thanked him for - teaching him to ride his bike? We’ve talked about how daddy missed out on our holiday this year, how daddy didn’t like to swim but would have enjoyed the other bits with us etc.

Sometimes this almost feels like inserting sadness in my son that isn’t there, but it isn’t there because of the very absense of his dad - my son doesn’t fully understand what he’s lost. But when he understands what he’s lost, he can begin to feel sad and angry about that, and I think that’s where the healing begins - allowing those emotions to come out.

As my son grows up, I expect he’ll grieve all over again bit by bit as his understanding develops and as I re-tell him the story of the loss of his dad in an age appropriate way or at key events like Father’s Day and the dads race at sports day etc. I’m sure as his understanding develops, his rage and depression and sadness and sense of loss will emerge bit by bit. Feelings come and go though, we don’t have to get stuck in them and they don’t last forever.

Things particularly gained from a present, loving father include a sense of journeying I think - mothering is more about nourishment, particularly in young children, and fathering is all about journeying out into the world from that mothering, so particularly important in older children. As a single parent you have to do both - the nurturing and the separation/encouraging journeying out into the world. I don’t think these are necessarily gender specific roles, it’s just as a single parent you have to be aware of your natural tendency towards one and be deliberate about the other a doing it yourself or finding other role models to help. I know as a mum I’m good at the nurturing and keeping my son close, but have to be more deliberate about encouraging him to break the apron strings.

I think it’s hard when you have a different relationship with the father than your son does. He’s your ex so you’re going to have anger/ambivalence towards him that your son doesn’t necessarily have. My husband killed himself so I don’t feel enamoured with him (quite rageful at times), but in my son’s eyes he’s his wonderful daddy. I think the anger might come out later for our sons, but I think it’s important to meet my son where he is and not cloud his feelings too much while he’s little. I do say things to him like ‘daddy did a very silly thing’ and ‘sometimes I’m cross with him for doing that’ because it helps him see his dad as a real, flawed person rather than idolising him as a fantasy perfect father who can rescue him from mean mummy making him brush his teeth etc!

It’s so complicated and difficult to navigate.

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