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Need advice on what to tell ds about absent father

19 replies

mogs0 · 03/01/2010 15:09

Ds is 7. He's never met his dad. I have no contact details for him and I'm not likely to anytime soon. I would love for ds to know his dad but it's not something that I can see happening. I have been quite honest with ds. He's seen photos, he knows his name etc but also knows that we won't be seeing him because he lives in Oz.

He hadn't mentioned anything for a while so I thought he understood the situation but at the end of term he came home from school with his Christmas wish which said he wished his dad would come home from Australia. I don't know what to tell him. Part of me feels he needs to realise that it's not likely but then another part thinks should I let him have a bit of hope that he might one day meet him and get to know him?

I tend not to mention him very often but always answer questions if ds asks. The other day I commented on how ds has the same mouth and chin as his dad and he was quite taken aback - not particularly bothered either way but suprised, I think, that I'd said it.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone here has an opinion on how I'm dealing with this and whether there is any advice that could help ds and I?

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Earlybird · 03/01/2010 15:21

Does your ex know about ds? How long was the relationship that produced ds?

I'd tell ds that some people are not ready to become parents, or are not good parents. Your ds' father is one of those. Say that you'd love it if things were different, and you understand how curious your ds is and how nice it might be to meet up. But also say that you don't know where he is, and have no contact details so meeting up is simply not a possibility.

Acknowledge the loss in your ds' life, but don't give him false hope. If things change in the future, then you can discuss it.

And fwiw, I would refrain from making comments about physical similarities, etc. If you are having a discussion about ds' father, and he asks, then by all means share information. But i think it is not right for you to bring it up out of the blue, as a random comment.

mogs0 · 03/01/2010 15:31

Thanks for the reply.

He knew I was pg then disappeared off to Oz before ds was born. I knew him for approx 2 years before I got pg.

I have told ds I have no contact details but he thinks I can just phone a lady and get his number or we could just fly to Australia and find him. I don't quite know how to tell him so that he understands!

Why do you think I shouldn't make comments about similarities? I'm just interested to have other people's opinions. I thought maybe he'd feel less curious if he knew more about him. I always assumed he'd ask me as soon as he had a question about him but after seeing his Christmas wish I now think that it's on his mind more than I'd realised so by commenting on their similar looks thought it'd be a way for ds to continue the conversation.

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mogs0 · 03/01/2010 15:32

Sorry, that was a bit of ramble!!

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Earlybird · 03/01/2010 15:59

Did you/do you know any of your ex's family or friends who might know where he is now, and how to contact him? Not saying you should make contact, just wondering what other avenues there might be to pursue in the future.

Is there any man actively in your ds' life atm? A new partner? Uncle? Grandfather? Anyone at all who could/does fill a surrogate role?

I think you should always be open/ready to talk about your ex/ds' father. But personally, I wouldn't bring it up. Let your ds come to you. You don't want your ds to feel rejected by this man, and thus somehow think there is something wrong with him (your ds).

I see what you were trying to do by mentioning your ex, but he is really not a factor in your lives and hasn't been for your ds' entire life. Bringing him up unprompted, and then making comparisons could be a bit cruel, and could feed into the longing, and romantic fantasy image your ds might have of your ex.

Just concentrate on how lovely your ds is, how lucky you are to have him, how lucky you are not to have to share him with someone who was/is so irresponsible/unreliable. Say to your ds (when it comes up) how grateful you are to your ex for helping you have your wonderful ds, but that some people are kind/thoughtful/responsible/would be good parents, but your ex is simply not one of those.

I'd also, at some point have a chat with ds about the difference between fathering a child physically, and actually being a father in a child's life.

Maybe someone else with an absent parent can offer better advice, but that is how I'd handle.

mogs0 · 03/01/2010 17:10

His family are all overseas. There are friends of his who I could possibly track down but I don't think any of them would help me.

Ds sees my BIL, Dad and step-dad but none of them are on a regular basis.

Poor ds is constantly being showered with affection (lots of girls in our family!!) and I often tell him how lucky I am to have him. However, after growing up with my mother openly hating my father I could never talk about ds' father in a negative way to him despite how I feel and what I know to be true. I'd rather say nothing at all.

I have a feeling there are going to be more difficult conversations ahead .

Thanks for your advice!!

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Earlybird · 03/01/2010 17:19

Just to not suggesting that you speak about ds' father in a negative way - just be matter-of-fact and don't sugar coat.

mogs0 · 03/01/2010 18:57

I know . I'm a little touchy about the way my Mum handled her break-up with my Dad and am trying desperately not to make the same mistakes (well, I see it as mistakes - I don't think she does and as I have never felt able to talk to her about it I'll probably never know) although our circumstances are quite different but there is still a mum, a dad and a child involved so the are obvious similarities!!

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jamestkirk · 03/01/2010 19:56

mogs - i pretty well agree with what earlybird has been saying. youve got to see how your ds will be feeling. he'll have friends at school who'll be going on about all the things they do with their dads, and may ask him where his is - no doubt as already said he'll be fantasizing allsorts. he'll keep seeing stuff on tv which'll get him wondering what his father is like.

the things you tell him now are important as a boy's main roll model isnt footballers or popstars but their dads. thats usually the person who shows them who they are as they grow up. and without him around your ds may well try to imagine who his father is depending on what you tell him, and then model himself on that - does that make sense?

just keep it simple and a version of the truth that is best for him in the long term.

lindsaygii · 04/01/2010 18:56

You say there are friends you could try? In your shoes I would start trying to track down the father. Try things like Facebook, old friends, searches on his name (depending what he does you might be surprised), attempts to find his family (if they might be easier to reach) and so on. I used to be an investigative journalist, and this isn't as improbable as it sounds.

DO NOT tell DS you are doing this, but follow up any avenues you have.

The world has changed so much, even in the last 8 years (since you were pg) that Oz is not so far away, nor people so hard to find, as they were.

When you get in touch with him, tell him that his son has finally reached an age where he really wants to know about his father, and ask him how he feels about that.

In the intervening years he may have come to regret never meeting his child. He may have grown up, started another family, got a well-paid job - who knows?

If Ex is prepared to get in touch with his son you could arrange for them to Skype each other, perhaps?

If he's not interested, you aren't any further back than you were. And that's why you can't tell DS till you have an answer - in case the answer is no.

He's that boy's only father, and it's worth your time to try to find him now DS wants to know. If it doesn't work, or he says no, then in a few more years, when DS is a big teenager, you can tell him you tried, if you judge it's the right thing to do. After all these years I'm assuming it can't really hurt you anymore, and anyway, certainly not enough to justify not trying.

If you decide to try, and you want a hand, I'd be happy to help with suggestions, or actually searching. I managed to track down friends I'd lost for years with a bit of hard work. It can be done.

Earlybird · 04/01/2010 19:20

Would you and ds be fairly easy to locate if your ex tried?

mogs0 · 04/01/2010 19:41

lindsaygii - thanks for your post. I moved 2 years ago from the place where ds' dad and I knew eachother. Before I left I did try finding him online (with the help of an MNer) but couldn't find him in this country. I wouldn't know where to begin trying to find anyone overseas. I have looked on FB a couple of times but the pics are too small to tell whether it's him or not, though, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be on there.

I would love for ds to have a relationship with him but, selfishly, I fear the rejection again. And, yes, even after all these years it does still hurt. Probably more because it affects ds aswell. However, I would have to put my fear aside if there was a chance that my ds could know his dad.

I'm rambling now, sorry. I try not to think about him otherwise my imagination takes over and I can't live like that.

Earlybird - I think I'd be fairly easy to find from a basic search on the internet.

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lindsaygii · 04/01/2010 19:54

mogs. Good for you. That must have been really tough to do if you still have hurt and feelings left over.

If you can face it, try again. Things change. If you can't, then I'd suggest you come over to another website I frequent. There's a few of us in the same situation as you (no contact with father at all), and the advice is very good, as it's all aimed at single parents. It's not as much fun as MN, but better if you really need the kind of answers you're asking for in this thread!

I don't know if MN let us link to other sites? Search on One Space or use this link if they don't delete it...

mogs0 · 04/01/2010 20:43

Arghh! I have found someone, by doing a google search, that could possibly be him. I have the option to send an email but what do I write?! I'm crap at wording things at the best of times but this is much harder! It might not even be him but if it is I need to get it right.

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Mongolia · 05/01/2010 11:55

Have you tried facebook? I have found it easier to identify the right people (phot provided and easy to check if there are friends I know).

As someone said, it is worth trying to find his dad but don't tell him about it yet. You don't want to raise his hopes and then feel heartbroken.

If the dad is unlikely to materialise, I think it is not exactly ggod to tell good stories about his dad, and telling him he looks like him. He is very likely to idealise a father that is very likely not to care about him. Perhaps factual information, with no sugar coating may be the best option.

Earlybird · 05/01/2010 12:26

If you do manage to find the dad, sad as it sounds, i'd make it clear immediately that you are not seeking financial support. That will remove a big 'obstacle' to his responding, I should think.

mogs0 · 05/01/2010 16:47

Mongolia - I have tried FB. I couldn't tell from the little photos (even borrowed ds' magnifying glass to see if would make it clearer). Also, I think they've changed the search thing so you can't see other people's friends.

Earlybird - Money was mentioned by him when I first told him about the pregnancy so it may still be an issue now. I've already sent a brief message but am not very hopeful that anything will come of it.

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lindsaygii · 07/01/2010 20:37

Scary stuff. Any news? If it wasn't him - I had an idea to find him, but it would depend on having a little bit of money to spend.

Fingers crossed for good news...

mogs0 · 07/01/2010 21:26

No news. I have convinced myself that, even if it is his profile, that it's no longer being accessed.

I registered on the other website you mentioned and am just going over to re-type the post I messed up last night!!

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mogs0 · 08/01/2010 23:33

Oh shit! I have just found a recent-ish photo of him on someone else's FB profile. I am shaking with shock and have no idea what to do next. It would be totally inappropriate to make contact through the FB profile.

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