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Dd Wants a Dad

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My dd is 4 yo and for about 6 mo has been expressing her sadness that she doesn't have a dad. She was conceived through DI and has two moms. She'll occasionally get upset about something and start crying about how she wishes she had a dad, and she wishes she didn't have this 2-mom family, and she wishes she only had one mom and one dad. It's so hard to hear, and then if I question her about 'why' she'll come up with some perfect 4 yo answer that diffuses the emotion of it somewhat, like this morning she had a whole breakdown about it and when I got to the bottom of it she said, (crying) "If I had a dad (sniff sniff) he would let me (sniff sniff) eat sugar."

Any other mama's had this experience yet? I'm sure it's age appropriate and all, but it's challenging. We live in a small town on an island and all of her friends come from heterosexual two-parent families. I try to explain that there's lots of kinds of families but she's not seeing it reflected around her.
post #2 of 15
I know there are a lot of wonderful books about different types of families. Also does your daughter have a male figure in her life that she could relate to as a "father figure"? I know some of my lesbian friends with children make sure there is at least a male figure around, one even calls him dad. Another lesbian couple that I was a doula for have a male nanny. I think your on the right track in explaining the different families thing, but probably like you said since most of her friends have hetero parents thats what she associates as a family.
post #3 of 15
I think you should feel good that your daughter can express herself about this to you, even though it can be tough to handle. My ds is 4.5, also in a two mom family through artificial insemination. He just went through a period where he told us he wished he had a dad - though we never got any concrete reasons when we asked him why. His reply was always, "Just because I do." I think it's totally normal, and definitely challenging. We let him know that it was okay to feel that way, but it's just not how it is in our family. We do our best to make it OK for him to talk to us about it, and not to make it seem like it's pushing any buttons for us (though it may be some days).

For ds I really think it is an issue of wanting to be like the other families he sees around him, but I think it must be different for different kids depending on personality and what they perceive it means to have a dad.

We have made a point of talking more about different kinds of families, though we always have to some degree. We live in a very rural area in Kentucky, so there aren't many lesbian/gay families, but we definitely point out to him those we do know or know of. We try to show him as many examples of alternative families as possible - distant friends with two mom families, people in the news, anywhere there is a situation where it "could" be a two-mom family (two women out with a baby) we assume that it is. We also try to challenge his/our own assumptions. When he's pretending and make-believe people have a mom and dad, we'll ask him if he's sure they don't have two moms or two dads. We want to make that a possibility for him outside of just our home. We know at least some of it's sticking - the other day he was pretending and one of his imaginary characters had two moms and two dads!

We've always had some books around depicting lesbian families (though I think good ones are really tough to find). Ds has recently been much more interested in reading these than he used to be. Our favorites are "ABC: A Family Alphabet Book" by Bobbie Combs(ds likes this one a lot!), and "Best Best Colors" by Eric Hoffman. I like these because they are not about alternative families per se, they are an alphabet book and a book about colors where all the characters happen to have two-mom or two-dad families. A good site to visit for kids' books is www.twolives.com.

For the record, I don't think this is just an issue for lesbian or gay parents. When we lived in a much more progressive area in Western Massachusetts, where alternative families were abundant, we heard a Mom from a heterosexual family say her daughter had come home saying she wished she had two moms. I think it's just an age where kids start to understand the world outside, how they fit into it, and that there could be other options. Of course it is tougher when you're in the minority, and there aren't any families around that look like yours.

I don't know if it's anything we did or just because the phase passed, but the "no dad" thing hasn't been as much of an issue for ds lately. Keep talking to you dd and you'll get to the bottom of the issue for her and help her work it out!
post #4 of 15
Does she have any men in her life, Grandpa, Uncle, Close family friend, ET, these relationships are just as important as a bio/live in dad?

I also think she might have found something that can pull your chain. My son is from my first marriage. I have gotten that "If my real dad was here". Also take time and think how many adoptive families, stepfamilies, orphan, and lost parent go through the phase of "MY REAL PARENTS" would be-------------. When my son has made statements along the similar lines, I watch closely my emotions. I am sympathetic. “I know you miss your daddy V. I wish he was here, but I do not know were he is. Your dad and I love you very much and will always be here for you.” Becareful of parenting by guilt~~I have a few stories about stupidly doing that.

IMO, she has ideals what a dad is. She has fantasies what dad's are, just like a child would fanaticize about what a deceased mom would be. You now have the responsibility to guide her through realities. 1. You and your mate love each other. 2. You and your mate love her. 3. You and your mate are not going to change. 4. That you feel no guilt about your sexuality. 5. Realizing her sexuality might be different than yours and not get on a male bash. Choosing your words and actions carefully. ***My mom gave me enough fears and a distrust of men, and she is hetero. Also, she will sooner or later run into the attitude women are Lesbians because they are male haters.

I do think it would not hurt to have a male influence in her life. Some one to take her fishing, do things you moms normally would not do. She needs to a positive male roll model, all children do. Look at how men are often portrayed in TV/media. You go from the extremes of the perfect superman infallible dad (perfect man) to the other extreme of woman beating, child molesting, predator, who runs out on their children. Neither example one is reality most men are not women beaters, child-molesting pigs nor are they perfect (NIETHER AM I).
post #5 of 15
I doubt that your dc's expression of a desire for a dad when upset has much to do with having or not having "male influences" in her life.

Right after my dc was born my brother came down with his wife and children to help dp take care of me and dc. His younger child didn't want to go home at the end of the visit. He was 4 years old as well....anyway, part way back to their house (5.5 hours away) his dc had a giant meltdown because he was 4, tired, in the car, etc. During his upset time, he shared quite strongly that he didn't want a daddy. He wanted two mommies like <my dc's name>.

I hold that story in my heart for the time that I know my dc will tell me the same thing with the genders reversed!

I think it's normal for kids to wish they had other options than us utterly imperfect parents. I think two mom and two dad parents sometimes worry ourselves about this unnecessarily because we hear the rhetoric about our familes and can't entirely block it out.

I know it really helps my almost 3 year old make sense of her world that we spend time with other two mom/two dad families. Any chance when you vacation you could make that a priority (Olivia Kids vacation, women's music festivals, GLBT family camp, P'town Family Week, Rosie O'Donnell's partner is starting up some GLBT family cruise thing....)?
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks for the feedback.

She does have a really close relationship with my dad (calls him papa too) and he is great with her, especially since he has a son the same age who now lives halfway across the states due to divorce. She also loves her other "grampy", my mom's husband, and we all live in the same town. We get to see her friends' dads on occasion as well, but not nearly as much as we see the moms of course.

One of her closest friends is a little older, and we joke about them being sisters a lot. One day after we left the friend said, "If she's my sister does that mean I have one dad and three moms?"

I think the best thing would be for her to have more exposure to families like ours, ideally in real life but also in the media, etc. I'll have to check out the link for books.

We are a very low income family, so a lot of those GLBT vacation type deals are not an option. Our only vacation an annual 4 day camping trip with friends and family. I long to go to Michigan Women's Music Festival, someday....

We missed Pride this year, but now that she is older and expressing these feelings it is obvious that we need to make more of an effort. There are lots of playgroups and various events in Seattle, but that is an hour and a half (including an expensive ferry ride) away from here, so it's never been a priority.

Yesterday she told me that she wished she only had one mom and that it wasn't me, just her other mom that she wanted. Trading me in for a dad, hard not to get emotionally hooked by that...
post #7 of 15
Ouch, that's gotta hurt. They do say that 4 is the first adolescence.... I'm sure, as they say, this too shall pass...

We've got a group in our area (North Carolina) for GLBT parents and wanna-be parents. We do all kinds of great stuff together (meet at parks, museums, discuss the local schools/homeschooling, how to get pregnant,etc.) We've got a really active listserv going too.

An hour and a half travel and expensive ferry ride would mean you'd have to really make the visits count. Are there any groups like that in Seattle?

The other thought I have is that publication Lesbian Connection....maybe you could write in and find out about resources for your dd? It's free to lesbians... Here's the info I got from another web site:

"To subscribe send your name and address to Elsie Publishing Institute, P.O. Box 811, East Lansing, MI 48826-0811 and ask to be added to the mailing list. If you are making a donation please enclose a check payable to Elsie Publishing Institute.

For more information you can contact the Ambitious Amazons at either:
Phone (517) 371-5257 or
Email: elsiepub@aol.com "
post #8 of 15
Ow! It's hard to let that just roll off without feeling it. For what it's worth, ds will sometimes tell my partner he only wants me because "I love her the best." It really stings, but we've talked to him about it and think it's actually because she spends more time with him - she's home full time and I work full time, so my time with DS is much more limited. Not much help, but seems like it's a natural part of their development for whatever reason.

I think it's normal for kids to wish they had other options than us utterly imperfect parents. I think two mom and two dad parents sometimes worry ourselves about this unnecessarily because we hear the rhetoric about our familes and can't entirely block it out.
ITA, with chfriend on this. In addition to sometimes telling us he wants a dad, DS also gets very emotional about telling us he wants to move to a new house, and he wants a dog. These are things he knows we're not gonna give into, and he usually brings them up when he's tired or in the middle of a meltdown about something else. Sooo, we take his feelings seriously, and find out where they're coming from, but we also try not to blow them out of proportion or give them too much weight based on our own assumptions.

I had one more thought about helping your dd connect to other alternative families. Though he's young for real pen pals at this age my ds "corresponds" through mail with friends who have two moms. They send pictures and transcribe notes through us to send back and forth. Maybe if you connected with other two-mom or two-dad families in Seattle, she could stay in contact through the mail between trips?

Hang in there! I know it's tough especially when you're feeling isolated, but you are definitely not alone.
post #9 of 15
i thought there was a thread where someone was specifically asking for kids books showing all kinds of families but i can't find it, so maybe i was just thinking of this one. anyway, there is a really good book called FAMILIES by Meredith Tax, available from the feminist press (feministpress.org). i gave it to some kids in my family who are adopted. it's very simple and sweet, a little girl is describing all her friends and how they all have different kinds of families - queer, single, adopted, blended, multigenerational, etc. very multiracial too.

just to reiterate what others have said, i think all kids fantasize about having different parents. i know i did, and my sister went thru a phase where she believed she was an alien. like from outer space.
post #10 of 15
You know this reminds me of when DS was about 4 or 5. The parents of most of his friends were divorced (or never married to each other). He came home from school and was really upset that he had to stay home that weekend. It took a while to understand what he was trying to say but he finally said something like "Why doesn't dad take me to his house for the weekend". I explained that our house was dads house. He couldn't understand why his dad didn't have a house like all of his friends dad's did. IT took a while to expalin to him but once he realized that those kids didn't have their dads at home every day, he changed his mind about wanting dad to have his own house.

Maybe your DD just sees the fun side to their friends having a Dad. As in your sugar example she has this fun idea of what it would be like. Perhaps just pointing out the special things that each of you enjoy one on one with her would help.
post #11 of 15
I think it's normal for kids to wish they had other options than us utterly imperfect parents.
you got this one right.

When my niece was four my sis was a single mom no partner and niece would constantly express her desire to have a dad around cause dad would have done XZY or a dad would be xyz.

Now my mom is staying with my sis (niece is 12 now) and my 4 yr old dd tells me she needs a gram to live with her, because a gram bakes cookies and Vanna is the only little girl with no gram around. "How come niece gets gram to live with her instead of us?"

Grass is always greener thing IMHO

I do not think she is saying this because she is lacking a male influence, more likely she is very smart and knows exactly which of your buttons to push because you have a strong bond with her.

mom to ds15, ds9, ds6, and dd 4yrs
post #12 of 15
single mom with 0 male influence in my 2 year old's (dd) life. Oy not looking forward to 4. Not looking forward to finding an explanation for an extremely sticky question that only has an extremely sticky answer. If she ever tells me she doesn't want me to be her mommy I'll perish, I really will. oy.
post #13 of 15

I'm not a QP but this thread caught my eye and I hope it's ok for me to lend my 2 cents...

We are going through the exact same thing in opposite with my 4yo dd.....she DOESN'T want a Daddy...she doesn't like going to see him and when I question her, she gives me the same kind of 4yo answers you seem to be getting. It's very hard to see your kid going through ANYTHING like this.

Recently, her dad and I started therapy to be better co-parents and to communicate better and this issue came up. And our therapist pointed out what a few other posters have....that it's not the concrete person that she doesn't want, or in your case, DOES want...it's the percieved benefits.....it's them trying to take control of their lives and do what feels good. I think many queer moms and single moms a like will tell you that you CAN do it without a man.....it's not a requirement to grow a good kid. And it really sounds like she's got some WONDERFUL male influences in her life. She's realizing that the mama's have rules and she doesn't always like them and maybe a daddy would parent differently...i.e. give her sugar.

My dd has said the same things to her dad that your dd has said to you. Your post just echoed so much of what we are going through right now it was weird! And that makes me think that you shouldn't beat yourself up over the man aspect of it, but maybe realize there really is more...maybe she is just trying to assert herself...I mean, right now they are really coming into their own, aren' t they??

Vanna's mom summed it up nicely I think. And I just wanted you to know that I have a wonderful 4yo dd out there who's just like yours and my bet is that it's just this stage....we've got an unconventional family, too, and so maybe that plays on it. But I have faith that "this too shall pass" and I'm just gonna love her to bits in the interim.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm back. Just wanted to thank you all for your thoughtful replies and give an update to say that the issue seems less acute, for now at least. It still comes up, but not so often. I'm sure it will come around again, my dd is very emotional and usually has a few different things up her sleeve that come out when she's tired or stressed, like missing our cat who died a year ago, missing our old house, and the dad issue.

I think the "wish I had a dad" thing really started coming up when a new family moved in next door with 2 kids who had probably not been exposed to an "alternative" family before. I overheard my dd explaining that she didn't have a dad several times, and the kids didn't believe her, told her it wasn't possible, etc. It was the first time I felt like she stepped out from beyond the shelter of her friends and community, or actually, an outsider stepped in. I didn't like it. It actually really bothered me to have this unfamiliar influence in her life (one of the kids was another girl who was about 18 months older, and easy for dd to idolize), and I really avoided the future of the whole situation by moving! Okay, so it wasn't the only reason we moved, but I'm so glad we don't have to deal with that anymore!

It's been awhile since dd has complained about not having a dad, although the last time it was definitely because she and her other mom were having some sort of issue, and dd said to me, indignantly, "I just didn't expect to have her as my mom!" I have to admit it was hard not to laugh. What did she expect? Was there some sort of preconception brochure to help prepare incoming babies for life on earth? Weren't we in it?

Kids. They say the greatest things.
post #15 of 15

I just wanted to say that we have started to experience something similar with our 3.5 year old--not so much that our dd says she wants a dad, but that she keeps denying that she has two moms. While reading your post and from an experience we had today, it looks like it is in response to kids in her class pressing the issue of how can she not have a dad?

I have started a new thread on this topic, but just thought I would post here, too. Yourmessage makes me think I might need to look at dealing with it by trying to take the pressure off at school, as well.
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