Son Craving a Dad?

Updated on June 10, 2012
T.J. asks from Bronxville, NY
18 answers

I hesitate to ask this question because it is just fodder for people who are anti-single parents, but I really need to know the answer, so I can decide how to proceed.
I am a single mom by choice, I adopted my son who was placed with me at 3 weeks old. Now that he is a toddler, I notice that he is obsessed with men, any man. He walks right up to random strangers and wants to be picked up by them, and protests mightily if I say no, because it's some random man, or if the man picks him up, talks to him and then tries to hand him to me. He will have a tantrum. A couple of times he has pushed other kids when they've gotten attention from their own fathers!
I'm not worried about attachment, if he thinks I've disappeared (of course haven't if it's a male I don't know well), he will cry.

The agency I used highly discouraged allowing gender to be a consideration when deciding to accept a child placement, so I decided to ignore my instinct to stick with girls, since I am surrounded by women in every aspect of my life. Although, my son is my absolute joy, I'm wondering if he would have been better off with a male, either single or in a couple (not necessarily straight).

My family are all 3 hours away, he loves his uncles and cousins (all male) and we see them when we can. But all my friends are women, I work in a college and all of my students are women. I know one hetero couple and we do have playdates because my son loves the husband, he he loves him back. I will join big brothers big sisters, but he is one, so it will be a few years before that happens. I also plan to join t-ball and soccer as soon as he reaches the youngest age.

I guess my question is, is this normal? Do most boys with single moms have this obsession? Should we seek therapy, should I start dating even though I'm not even slightly interested in doing that? Mostly, is this normal??

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I'm still dealing with the same issue, no change except that I'm taking it in stride. When we are in a room with strangers and he gets a little to intense with a stranger (who seems weirded out) we leave. Hopefully it won't last long. I don't really care that he is drawn to guys, I just want the crawling all over strangers to stop. I was really kidding about dating, I really have absolutely no time for it while baby boy is little, and I'm really not interested. Also, my mom had a string of boyfriends before marriage and that was not a good situation for me.

I really appreciate everyone's answers, it really helped to calm me down about the situation.

Featured Answers



answers from Las Vegas on

It is normal. It doesn't matter if it is a girl or boy, they will often seek the missing element. My daughter has a friend whose father is in Hawaii and fails to call when he says he will. Sometime she will call my husband Dad. Her mother says to correct her, but it is so hard.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My son was like that at one too. He loved men. (I am married and my husband is a very attentive father, can't get away from him) He loved men, I remember having to leave places because he wouldn't stop pestering some kids dad while I was trying to play with him. It had nothing to do with not having a dad around. He is just a guys guy. He also loved Santa too. He is still very out going but grew out of that stage pretty quickly, he is 5 now.

More Answers


answers from Biloxi on


I have been a single mom (by choice) to a son for 16 years now. While his father was local, he chose not to be regularly involved in his son's life.

My son went through a phase were he wanted me to "get a husband" - like I could just go pick one up at Walmart. LOL He went through a phase were he wanted me to have another baby. He went through a phase were he wanted no one but me.

Like you, my family lives out of town, so it was just consistently, him and me, and various friends - mostly female. My Aunt, who is a very strong woman is the other person in his life that he is closest to - and you know what, being raised by stable, strong women, has not damaged my son in the least.

We did Scouts, and mentors, and sports, until he settled on band in 6th grade. For me, it was not about doing "manly" things, but exposing him to a variety of people and activities so that he could discover the ones that he liked. This summer, depending on his brand new work schedule, we want to take a stained glass class - continuing the exploration.

As for your son's interest in males - eh, they are different from you, hence intriguing. I think you are on the right track with your male friend - play dates with adults are great fun for little kids.

But, I really don't think that boys need to be raised by men. I seem to have successfully taught my son to be a man without having one around. (graw, that statement should send the village round with pitchforks).

So, long way around the bushes to say - I think your son is perfectly normal - you don't need to start therapy, you definitely don't need to start dating - worst thing EVER to do is to introduce your son to a series of men. You just need to continue to explain personal space to your little guy and teach him not to run up to strangers, be they male or female. This is a phase, and it to shall pass.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Don't know the answer, but contact Big Brothers/Big Sisters and find out when you can enroll him. Do NOT date just to find a male figure - that's just a recipe or disaster.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You would not be in much of a different situation if you had a girl. I know several single moms (am one myself) and I've been told that the girls do this too.

My son is a little bit shy at the outset, but if he gets the sense that a guy is friendly, he's very quickly trying to be his best friend. I've seen him get attached to workmen who have come to the house, even if they're over just for an hour or so. Obviously, I get a little worried about a child predator taking advantage of this type of situation, so we've had THAT discussion a few times already.

Now that my son is in school and doing lots of playdates, he's getting quite a bit of "guy time" with the other kids' daddies, and that has been great. A lot of the fathers have been really terrific with him once they learn his situation and do a lot of the rough-housing that I'm simply not good at.

So I guess my advice would be to really start courting those playdates once he hits pre-K and Kindergarten. Can't always guarantee that the dads will be around, but they have been much more than I have expected. Interestingly enough, a couple kids who playdate over here don't have Moms, so I get to be the "mother-figure" for them.

I've read in a few books about raising sons that from birth to 6 they bond extremely closely with their mothers, then from 6 on begin really identifying with the father figures in their lives, so something worth keeping in mind.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm a mom in a partnership, raising two girl children, but I wanted to chime in as well.

Some of the men I've known, my closest male friends and the such, were those who were raised by a strong, loving woman (or two).

In many cases they had uncles, mentors, teachers, older cousins - some had bio dads 'in the picture' (sort of). It was their relationship to their moms though (and her relationship to herself and community), that taught them how to treat the people around them.

I'm sure there are some jerks raised by single moms, just like there are jerks raised by heterosexuals in marriages.

There are also some amazing, kind, responsible, strong, compassionate, creative, tough, wise, men raised by single moms too.

Just anecdotal experience, but that's what I wanted to say :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Do not just date, in order to have a man around.
That is, irrational. And not good.

Yes, you can get Therapy for your son. I would highly recommend that.
Better when younger, than older and bad habits are more entrenched.

My friend, a single Mom, has a son. When he was a Tween, through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Organization, she got him a Mentor. And it helped her son immensely.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think it is normal. I am married, but my husband is rarely home. My boys are all obsessed with male figures. My BIL is my middle son's favorite person in the world, and my next door neighbor is my other boys' favorite. Please don't think that you have somehow short changed your son. You obviously love him very much, and that is the most important thing for a child.

I dont know at which age they start mentoring, but Big Brothers, Big Sisters is a FANTASTIC organization for matching kids with a same gender mentor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

They told me it was normal that my 15 month old was scared to death of men, so I assume it can be just as normal to love men. I agree, don't date if you don't want to, you'll end up with the wrong guy and the wrong kind of influence on your son. I wouldn't worry so much now, but I think you are on the right track for when he gets older. I don't know about your area, but when I was in Texas they had teams as young as 18 months for t-ball and soccer, and here in Virginia it's more like 3. It hurts me that you think your son would be better off with someone else. While I do think it's necessary to have both positive male and female influences in a child's life, it doesn't mean that boys need to be in a home with a man, or a girl needs to be in a home with a woman. You love your son, it clear from this post, so he is better off with you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

As a single mother to a daughter who is also adopted and has no close male family, it is the same with girls. You'd be facing this same situation if you'd adopted a girl rather than a boy. It is totally normal.

Men represent FUN adults for them...they aren't disciplining them, they aren't busy providing care, etc. They are adults that they just plain get to have fun with, and women are the ones who do take care of everything else. With my daugher, it's always worst in June as Father's Day approaches, as daycare focuses on dads.

You need to get to know more men for your son to interact with on a more frequent, neighbors, friends' dads, etc. My daughter adores my male neighbors, her friends' fathers, and my male friends and coworkers. It gives her a healthy interaction with them, and it takes away some of the novelty/mystery.

I would not date if not interested in that right now or as a way to introduce men into your son's life. Dating will take time away from your son that he will miss from being around you, and a relationship will divide your attention even more. You're already juggling a lot on your plate, and you don't need to add something else that you aren't really interested in doing. Besides all that, unless you find a man that you are planning to marry, you wouldn't want to introduce your son to men you're dating and then have them exit his life. That'd be more detrimental than beneficial, IMO. Plus, a relationship should be built first upon your feelings for someone else more than your child falling in love with that person. When I consider dating, I have those same issues....I don't have time to devote to building a relationship so I really have time to date, and I don't plan to introduce her to any men I'd be dating until a future together appeared imminent.

By the way, in some ways, it will get harder before it gets easier. Just wait until you son tells you, "so and so says I don't have a daddy...," we had that at age 3. Kids say it as they start to notice differences, not necessarily even to be mean. I always tell my daughter, "That's true. God makes all kinds of families which is really great! He made our family with Mommy and you, and we have lots of love. And, you have a Grandma and cousin so-and-so and uncle so-and-so, etc."

Don't play the "what-if" game or feel guilty about other family options. You have no way of knowing what other family your son may have been placed into, and it really isn't the important factor right now. He's with you . You love him, and you are providing the best life you can for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would say it's normal. As he grows older he will stop the indiscriminate bonding to all men and hopefully find some nice men in his life to have a geographically closer Uncle type relationship. I would suggest a children's book called "A Father Like That" (by Zolotow) I used to read it to my son whose father was out of the picture.



answers from Dallas on

I think it's totally normal. Children are biologically engineered (for lack of better terms) to need both male and female influences. They will naturally be drawn to what they don't have all the time. Now, that male influence doesn't have to be a father. Is it ideal? Sure!! We all know the ideal doesn't and isn't supposed to happen for every person. In many cases, it's better for the child to have no father...then the one they do! Some kids are just more inclined to relate to one gender more then the other. I was always drawn to my father and male influences, more then my mother, sisters, and female influences. I would say you are on the right track, for your ideas on filling his life with a male role model. There are all kinds of classes you can put him in now, that could have a man as the leader. Look into gymnastic gyms in your area. They often have male leaders, and there are usually "mommy and me" classes for very little ones. My son had a great male teacher at one of his classes.

Do NOT date, if you don't want to. Seriously. You can't date for your son, that won't work. You should only date for you, if that makes you happy. No other reason.


answers from Williamsport on

My husband travels 90% of the time and we are divorcing. I have two daughters and a son (4) He almost never spent time with dad, and now he still won't. Yes, my son was the same way. He is happy, thriving, an amazing boy, and LOVES his sisters. He's very comfortable here at home in our "lady's world", but yes, he LOVES MEN. He too would always be running after other kid's dads at the park etc. Getting possessive and jealous of men, and I would see him brighten up so much when men played with him. It tore my heart out.

I'm not sure if I'll meet a decent husband any time soon, but when I do his main qualification will be setting a good example for my son and being a good dad. Otherwise, I keep my son in Tae Kwon Do with a really nice coach with his sons and brothers involved and they're really good with my son, and I have great male friends come do stuff with us. When he's in school he'll have more boys for friends regularly. He has lots of male cousins and uncles I make a point to spend time with even though we're far away, I take a few long trips to visit them each year. He's actually less "needy" now than he was at 2 and 3 for male attention. I have my neighbor who is a total yard working/construction type guy letting my son "hang around and learn stuff" while he works out in our yards. And I pay his son to do our yard, and he (male teenager) lets my son hang around for that.

Just be sure to keep good men in his life. Not everyone has perfect marriages and dads around. Just the facts.

President Obama is doing OK in life and he had a single mom...and the list goooooes oooooon...



answers from Youngstown on

I agree it is probably normal and most likely a phase, a little girl might have been the same way in your situation. He doesn't have a man in his life on a regular basis so he is possibly more curious about them. Nothing wrong with that. I would get him involved in things where he can be mentored by good men: sports, scouts, church ect. Don't date just so he can have a male in his life that would be all the more confusing if it didn't work out. Good luck, raising kids is hard. You are doing a good job.



answers from Miami on

Kind of normal but they do wish and wash back and forth. Do your son a favor and put him in sports. Karate, gymnastics, tball, football.



answers from Denver on

I don't know much about this, but I would imagine it is normal. Even if you had a girl my guess is she may do the same. I know they have those big brother programs, maybe you could look into that. Maybe he could have a male influence through a program like that? good luck!



answers from Muncie on

I think it's normal for your son to be fascinated by what he doesn't get to see often. I think a girl would be just as fascinated with men, it's something "new". I also think it's easier to have a spouse, a partner. I'm not downing you, you're strong and can do this. I just believe that raising a child is easier as a shared joy and frustration. I kid. You keep doing what you're doing, keep those loving strong men around him. Keep close when he's friendly to strangers.

My husband has a long commute and works the usual 5 days a week. Everyday my daughter seems to "miss" him, I'm home all day so I'm 'meh" to her.

Keep going. Good luck.


answers from Kansas City on

whew, absolutely don't start dating lol. i don't think you were serious about that though.

being a single mom is not for sissies :) i think this is normal...but i also think it's important to teach him boundaries and correct him when he approaches strangers - yes i realize he's only 1. like any other behavior issue - a firm "no" and brief explanation when he starts acting inappropriately, and then you deal with the tantrum just like any other tantrum. don't let your uncertainty about being single interfere with raising him. the tantrums will get worse, once he is 2 and then 3 years old...

there's no way to "fix" this because you can't just implant some man in his life. you'll have to deal with it. hang tough mama! he will be fine.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions