35 answers

How Do I Explain the Absence of Their Father?

Can someone give me a bit of insight on how they explained to their children that their father will not be around? My sons are 2.5 and almost 4 years old. The oldest very much knows that a family consists of children, a mother and a father. Their father has not been around for over 2 years, so they do not remember him. So far I have left the topic alone. Now my oldest out of the blue said he had no father. I told him that is not true, it is just that his father lives far away. Their father is an idiot, but I do not want them to know it. I never said anything negative about their father. I am a bit in the middle here and do not know what the right answer to this question is. If he asks why his father is not seeing him, do I tell him the truth which is that the father does not care to see him? The truth hurts sometimes, but I prefer sticking to the truth as much as possible.
Again would be nice to hear from other single parents with simialr experience.
Thanks in advance for your responses.

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I wouldnt say not one thing bad about the father that isnt in the little boys life. Just tell them that their daddy lives to far away to come see them Let them find out how he is. When they get older they will find out on their own. That way they will not hate you fot it. I have a granddoughter that her dad has nothing to do with her , she found out how he is by herself. Kids are not dumb. Lots of luck A grandma in Atwood

My sister has two boys similar in age when she went through this, about two years ago. Her oldest remembers the dad, but the youngest, not so much. She doesn't want to bad mouth him, and doesn't shut the door on any relationship that may come since he is their father. He has been taking visitation, not as often as planned but he does care about them. Later in life they will have the time to make their own opinion.
Speaking from my own exp., my mom never led me to opinions of my dad. The rest of my family did. Now, I have my own opinions, and in the end he's my dad. I didn't grow up with him, he lived states away. I got used to the absence, and relied on my close family. My grandparents (his parents) have always been wonderful, even though they live far away.
Best of luck to you, sounds like you are on the right track.


My daighter is 8 now & hasn;t seen her father since she was 17 months old. He does not pay child support. He still lives with his mother in a different state. I tell my daughter that her father can't take care of her because he can't even take care of himself, that's why he still has to live with his Mama. I don;t bad-mouth him, but I don;t make him a saint either. And I tell my daughter that if she has any interest in meeting him, I will do my best to make that possible. So far she has not expressed any interest in that option.

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I was in your boat for a very long time. When my daughter would ask about her father, I just told her that sometimes people can't live with eacher other.. then the "Why's" came in. I tried to answer the questions the best I could, then change the subject. Some say "out of sight out of mind" I think that it is different for children with a missing parent in their lives. I didn't tell her the truth of the real reason why her father is not around. I want her to have her own feelings of her father. She is 12 now. We live here in IL and her father lives in FL. He sees her now for only two weeks at a time. This just started two years ago. He did not have any contact with her at all. Nothing for Christmas, birthdays or anything.

I have yet to explain the "real" reason her father and I are not together. I would like to tell her because I hate him, he is a very bad father and he cheats on his wife just like he did me and I can go on. But I choose not to and let her find her own feelings.

It is very hard when you are making up excuses of why they are not there. I think they are to young to really understand. I am not going to tell my daughter the "real" reason until she is in her late teens. Then she should be able to understand. I have notes from him telling me he hates me and blah..blah...blah.. I will show her everything when I feel she is old enough to understand.

I am now happily married. I thought I would never marry, but my Mr. Right came along. :-)

Good luck to you!!

You have a lot of responses so I'll keep it quick. As a 34-yr old whose parents divorced when I was 2, I'd like to suggest that you not share the reasons you think their father left / isn't around. I had a conversation with my Dad (who moved 1,000 miles away when I was 4) a few weeks ago and learned that his point of view was very different than what I'd assumed and what my mom had told me. Though she made a serious effort not to trash talk him, I still grew up thinking he left us /didn't want us/ didn't love us, etc. Once he had kids from his second marriage, that added to the feeling, which of course, is very damaging to long-term self-worth, self-esteem, etc. But I learned he had a point of view and had feelings - about us, my mom, etc. And though he may have been a jerk to my mom for most of those years it didn't mean that he wasn't able to grow up and see the error of his choices, to feel deeply saddened by missing our childhood etc.

Best to be truthful and to take responsibility for it onto yourself. Tell them that you made a mistake, that you made a very poor choice when you picked him to be their father--but stress that the mistake was your fault alone, and that the mistake was picking him--they are NOT a mistake. I would not say that his father doesn't want to see him--tell him/them that you and their father decided together that under the circumstances, it's best that they not see him now.

It's good that you're not saying anything negative about their father. Is there some way you can repair this so that their father can be in their life?

As a mother to two adopted children with rather wayward biological parents, I understand that the absolute truth is way too much for them to know or understand.

We tell our children that their parents just couldn't take care of them so they came to live with us.

You could try that with your kids telling them their Dad couldn't take care of them but knew that you could do it all by yourself. That way it shifts the blame of themselves, (which a lot of kids do) and to the parent who has left. It's not the whole story, but it's not untruthful, either.


I am in the same situation my daughter is 6 years old and she has never met her father, i live at home with my parents and her friends have started to confuse her saying that my father is her stepdad. She had never asked about her father until she started school. What i told her was that my father was her grand fahter and not stepdad, and that she does have a dad, but she has never met him and i explained to her that he lives far away and that when she grows up and if she wants to meet him she can. She asked about him, how does he look, are my eyes like him etc. I did not tell her any negative comments about him to her, i told her that when she is a little bit older and when she can fully understand things we would talk about it further. She has not asked anymore, just answer the question he is asking without trashing his father.
Hope this helps! if you want to talk send me a message, i would like to hear how things went!


My situation is a bit different but my child is older (9)so I wanted to give my input. My son is adopted so my situation is different but similar. He has a good relationship with his birthmom but no relationship with his birthfather (BF). Just recently, out of the blue he said "my birthfather must be an awful person because you won't tell me about him." It shook me to the core because in fact his BF has made a world of bad choices. I thought I was making a good choice not telling my son about him because I didn't want him thinking that he is bad because his BF is bad. But it seems to have backfired and my son actually has a worse impression of his BF than it really is. So, my advice is to keep it as positive as you can but not to avoid it because their imaginations may make the situation worse than it really is. I hope this makes sense.

I think you already have many good suggestions. The only thing that I would add is that you go to the library and find books about different kinds of families and read them with your children. Can't think of any titles offhand but you may want to ask the children's librarian for suggestions. That way they will know that they are not unusual and that families are all about love and not just mommy, daddy, kids.

Best of luck,

Never put dad in negative light because they child will have enough resentment on his own. also want to leave that open if dad does come back and wants to be included, the child will then be able to work through it on his own feelings rather than how you feel about dad. I would tell them that even though it is more popular that mom and dad live together there are many different kinds of families. and that your family is this way and it's okay and all that matters is that we love each. I would be as honest with them about dad without attributing negative character traits to him. so tell them yes you have a dad but he just doesn't live with us or spend time with us. If they ask why you can easily say I don't know, and help the kids get through their feels about that and reassure them that they are not the reason why dad isn't her it is his choice at this time. It is hard and it will be something your kids will have to deal with forever, but having a loving mom like yourself will be an advantage. do they have an uncle that could take them out and spend time with them so they have a male figure. They do need some thing like that. Just a family friend that could take them to baseball games or play ball with them.

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