I need advice on what to tell my almost 4 yr old son about his father’s neglectful behavior. I don’t want to get into the whole back story (way too long) or whether I should leave or not. I am a stay at home mom, so don’t have the resources to leave now anyway. That said, I need advice on how to interact with my son about his father’s behavior.
In a nutshell, his father is more concerned with preserving his own free time and will neglect his son and frequently even ignore him. He is a narcissist and very self-centered. He has left town on business without even telling our son that he is leaving. He sometimes does not call him for a couple of days (when he is not on speaking terms with me mainly). And, when his father does call from a trip, our son doesn’t want to talk to him at length or at all lately. Most evenings, he will only play with our son for 10-20 min because the news is on after that or he is tired and wants to lay down. Increasingly, my son would rather now continue playing with me than his father, though he still sometimes plays with his father but it has to be within that 45 min to 1 hr time span before the news comes on.
And, when he does play with our son, he is checking e-mail as well. He is 100% devoted to his job. He doesn’t know how to cook. Can’t fix anything, etc. so I am the one that has to deal with all of that and get no help on anything on the homefront. He basically just provides the money. Period.
Also, he hasn’t spoken to me in a month (long back story which I won’t get into, but another sign of his childish and dysfunctional behavior) and does not eat meals with us as a result (yes, we all live together). I don’t know what to tell my son about this behavior. I really want to badmouth him and have a few times, but I also know this is not a good idea. Still, I don’t want my son to think that this is normal behavior and to model it as an adult since he is absorbing everything and the groundwork is being laid for the person he will grow up to be. Our son doesn’t ask why daddy is not eating with us anymore and this has now become the norm. Also, because it’s just the two of us, I do end up having the TV on for him to watch during dinner, which is something I vowed I would never do. I just can’t keep him sitting there staring at the wall while I get dinner ready and I need him to be distracted so I can work, so that probably helps in distracting him from his father not being there too. I just don’t want my son damaged by a negligent father and for him to grow up thinking that all fathers are that way. I don’t want him to be anything like his father.
So, any advice on how to deal with this whole situation (other than leaving which I cannot do now so I don't even want to get into that topic) and ensure that my son is not adversely impacted by it? What do I tell him when he asks about his father (i.e. why isn't he eating dinner with us, not talking to you, etc)? Or, even if he doesn't ask, I feel like I should say something about some of the behaviors but I know I'm walking into a minefield...
I wasn't sure where would be most appropriate to post this, but since I feel like I am single parenting, thought this would be a good start.