I left my ex in May 2010 due to domestic violence. My eldest son was 2 years and five months old.. and I was three months pregnant. He was in jail for several months (DV that my son witnessed) and during that time, I moved out of state to be closer to family when I delivered. Due to these extreme circumstances, he didn't get visitations and started threatening me and my family. Anyway, he hasn't seen my boys since then (never saw the little one, who is nearly four now) and that, unfortunately, is for the best. I filed for divorce two years ago and he showed up in court and was given the opportunity for supervised visitations- he told the judge he moved here and had a job, etc- but because he wasn't given 50/50, he refused to see or talk to the kids.
I will bring up things (positive) about my ex and his family. I lived abroad with ex during the majority of our marriage, so a lot of the interesting life experiences I have involve him in some way- mostly his family who I was very close to during our time abroad, which was two years. So, he comes up maybe once a week in funny or interesting stories but I refer to him by his first name, not as "daddy"- my oldest son insisted he never, ever had a dad even though he had memories of us living with EX. I think this is because we didn't call his dad "dad" but rather Abu, which his dad in his fathers language and also because he did zero parenting, like not even wiping his child's face after a meal or playing with him.
My kids know that this man is their biological father, that I was married to him and he is the man who put the "baby seed" in mommy so they were born. At this point, they never bring him up except sometimes when they're playing together one might say "We don't have a dad" and the other will say "Yes we do! ----- is our dad!"
I think on some level my oldest son remembers the hard times we had when we left ex- including the divorce because at one point he was forced to speak to ex on the phone every two weeks and it was very hard on him.. and that keeps him from asking questions.
It makes me that we had zero contact with ex or his family- I have tried to reach out to his sisters who I was close to before the divorce but they don't respond. I hope my children don't feel a void in their life due to this loss of not only a father but a huge extended family and a beautiful culture and language that I am not able to expose them to in our locale.