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How to explain to a 3yr old?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ds will be 3 in a couple days, and the divorce will be final at the end of the month (in theory, I've been trying to sort things out sense ds was 15months old!)
His dad started doing drugs right before ds was born, He got arrested for stealing a CD from walmart when ds was 2 weeks old and got put on probation. I gave him another chance to sort things out, we moved out of state, and he went to rehab for a month. Came back home and was great until close to ds's 1st bday, when he started up again. I told him to get help or I was gone, he didnt, so I left when ds was nearly 15months.

I havent seen him, talked to him, heard from him or anything at all sense then. I dont even know what state he lives in (part of the reason the divorce is taking so long is b/c no one knows where he is).

Ds has been asking "where's my daddy?" "why dont I have a daddy?", "whens my daddy comming back?" and "will you get me a new daddy?" etc.
Talking to him about it, he seems like he remembers his dad quite a bit (not suprising, the kid has an amazing memory, and the time he did spend with his dad was all positive expereinces).

But how do I answer that stuff? He is just turning 3, he is a smart kid so I cant blow off the questions anymore, but I dont want to say 'your daddy is a psycho drug addict who was abusive so mommy and you moved to florida to get away from him' (even though thats the truth...)
post #2 of 11
Hugs, mama. This sounds tough--but on the other hand it sounds like you have a very bright, aware little boy!

My friend, whose situation sounds similar to yours, put it in a way I always admired: "Your daddy loves you very much but is very sick and can't take care of you right now." That was when her daughter was three or four. She's older now, and she's gradually answered more and more of her questions as they've come up. It's hard to navigate, but her daughter always seemed satisfied to know that she did have a daddy and yes, he did love her very much, but he wasn't able to be around at this time. It worked for them. Good luck, mama.
post #3 of 11
There are lots of books out there about the different types of families - single parents, grandparents raising, two moms or two dads, foster families etc.. I think it's a great opportunity for you to talk about the babes daddy in non-romantic age appropriate words (your father's name is ... and I'm not sure where he is, but momma loves you very much and we are so lucky to have <gramma grampa etc> to love us too) If you think he's more mature than that - have him draw his daddy a picture or something and then keep those in a special place in the rare chance you do hear from the loser some time <hugs momma>
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
See I worry about telling ds that his daddy is 'sick', b/c ds himself has never ever been sick in his life (not even a cold), he is on a lot of immune boosting supliments and stuff for his food and other allergies, plus he nursed until he was 2.5, so I guess thats why!
Anyway, he is already worried that he will 'get sick and die' someday, Im guessing b/c he doesnt know what 'being sick' is actually like. I also dont want to think that being sick = going away/not comming back.

I do remind him that he has LOTS of people that love him (he loves to make lists of all those people... "and mommy loves me, and Shawn loves me, and Nai Nai loves me".... etc).

I'm going to check the library for books - any recomondations? He loooves books so thats a good idea. Even books for older kids, he will sit and be read to for hours until I get bored and need to do something else!

Its hard b/c all of his friends have daddys around, we are part of a very 'crunchy' playgroup and dads are involved a lot w/bday parties, playdates and things, and a couple are WAH/SAH daddys too. So he ask 'why does B have a daddy and I dont?' I just tell him all families are different... some people have ____ other people have _____ but families are just people who love eachother.
post #5 of 11
That's really hard.

I would see if there is any counseling for children in your area. Sometimes you can find it free (maybe call a dv shelter for references) or a sliding scale if you don't have insurance.

Another thing you might try is instead of actually answering the question, use empathetic listening - repeat back what ds says to you. "you really miss your daddy", "you wonder where your daddy is" etc.

Just brainstorming with you, hope that helps.
post #6 of 11
Hugs to you. I have a three year old and the awareness at this age is surprising at times.

I second the recommendation for empathic listening. If he can name & process his feelings it will give him so much strength in coping throughout the years.

Hope you find a way to frame the story for now in a way that works for you. If you did go with illness (which addiction arguably is), would he be able to understand that there are different kinds of illnesses? (So he needn't worry about catching this one himself..)

What a tough situation and what a strong, loving mama you must be.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I dont stop him from telling (real or made up) stories about his dad, I do think it helps him process things, telling stories is one way he explains things to himself (he will hear a story, and retell it with himself as the main character instead of the origional speaker).
But once he had a whole story about how his dad was bad and had to go to jail and he was still there. (he DID go to jail for stealing a CD from walmart when ds was 2weeks old, but I know ds doesnt remeber that!!, I know I dont/didnt talk about that with anyone so it was a 'made up' story that really did have truth to it)

He goes through phases of talking about his dad a lot, and not mentioning him at all. He is more 'into it' when he has spent time with his friends dads a lot, he thinks those guys are pretty cool!

I never thought of councelling for him - how does that work with a 3yr old? I'd have to find a free/super cheap place for sure, I am trying to get him insurance (esp b/c of his bad allergies), but that cant happen until the divorce is final.

I guess its just a progress we have to deal with. Levi is an awsome kid though, and we are in a lot better place than we were 2 and 3 years ago for sure.
post #8 of 11
oh mama, im subbing in this one. I dread the day when my babe asks the same questions, I felt so bad on fathers day this year. I think my approach with my own child will be that daddy isnt ready to look after us right now or something. When he's older, much much older Ill be more honest and straight forward.

My LO's daddy is a jailbird too, luckily he was only in my babes life for 2 months so there isnt any long term effects, I hope.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadianhippie View Post
oh mama, im subbing in this one. I dread the day when my babe asks the same questions, I felt so bad on fathers day this year. I think my approach with my own child will be that daddy isnt ready to look after us right now or something. When he's older, much much older Ill be more honest and straight forward.

My LO's daddy is a jailbird too, luckily he was only in my babes life for 2 months so there isnt any long term effects, I hope.
Its really hard to figure out what to say, I guess it would be different for every kid. Its weird that my ds remembers him (including some specific experiences with his dad), sense he was only 15months when we left and I never bring him up.
Luckily ds has been distraced this past week b/c it was his birthday last tuesday! But I'm sure it will come up again, so I hope this time I will be better prepared on what to say, I still havent figured it out excatly.
post #10 of 11
My DS1 doesn't remember his biological father....they haven't seen each other since he was 8 months old. But he has asked a couple of questions here and there.

I basically told him that not all grown-ups "grow up". Their bodies might be grown up, but their feelings and thoughts sometimes remain childlike. And people like that are not able to take care of kids.

It was a nicer way of saying, "Your father is an immature, selfish, violent jerk who only cares about himself."
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
hmm... thats a good way of putting it...
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