What I’ll tell my son when he asks

One day every child of a single mother has questions to ask about daddy.  Who was he, perhaps?  What happened between you two, maybe?  Where is he now?  We all became single mothers in different ways, so we will all get different questions and have different answers.  This is what I will say to my son.

“Your father was a nice man, but he had a very bad disease and was unable to take care of you.”

I choose to say it like that because

  • I don’t want to say nasty or mean things about his biological father
  • I assume he will be too young to really understand the implications of alcoholism
  • I don’t want him thinking there was something wrong with him that made his biological father not want to take part in his life
  • I don’t want him to think I stole him away from his father

As he gets older and can understand more, I might give him more information and detail, such as

“Your biological father was basically good, but he was an alcoholic, and because of his addiction was not able to be a fit father.”

I may tell him a few details about his father, should he ask, such as what he did (as opposed to what he did for a living, since his “profession” did not bring in any income) where he was from, maybe what some of his interests were.  I will do what I can to avoid going into too much detail before I think he’s ready for it.  When the time comes that he wants to know the whole story of what happened between us, I will try to relate it to him in the most matter of fact, nice way I can find to do it.  I will also admit to what I did wrong in the relationship (I certainly did make mistakes), rather than just pointing the finger at him.

I cannot do anything to stop Elijah from tracking him down one day, should he decide he wants to do that.  If Elijah ever comes to me (as an adult) and asks for detailed information about his biological father in an attempt to track him down, I will give it to him.  He has a right to find his father, if he wants.  I will not encourage it, however.  Come to think of it, Elijah has a half brother out there somewhere as well, or so his father told me, and he may wish to track him down.  Whatever the case, I can’t do much about it.

What have you told your child/children?  What do you plan to say?  Have you thought about it at all?

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About Rockingthehomestead

Badass feminist environmentalist.
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6 Responses to What I’ll tell my son when he asks

  1. E says:

    As a child ages, I like the language of, “Your dad made bad choices and that’s why he can’t be here.” Though I like the language of ‘disease’ for alcoholism, I still prefer to emphasize some aspect of “choice”.

  2. Katy says:

    Since my dauughter has a great relationship with her father’s family, he’s not a huge mystery to her. He lives in Hawaii now, the rest of us are in Texas so once a year she goes and spends a month with him. So she hasn’t asked the question of “who is/was my father.” She asked the (I think harder) question, “How is he my dad.” She was 8. What do you tell an 8 year old? We were driving in the car when she asked so I just fumbled over the words that poped into my head. “You dad and I were boyfriend and girlfriend when we were in high school. Then broke up because we got older and realized we wanted to do different things and go different places.”
    So she asked, “Why did you have me?” I told her we didn’t plan on having her, but I’m glad we did.
    Then she asked, “How did you have me if you weren’t married.”
    I just said, “You don’t have to be married to get pregnant and have a kid.”
    Then she said something about her friend’s whose parents are divorced, pointing out that they were married at one time and wondered how it was that we were together enough to have a kid and not be married.
    Not wanting to explain sex to an 8 year old while we were driving in a car. I just said the old tried and true phrase, “You’ll get it when you are older.”
    And then she dropped the subject.
    I should point out that her father and I do not get along, in fact he won’t even talk to me on the phone, and she knows this. So the very idea that we were once friends completely blows her mind.

  3. jessimonster says:

    Yeah, they say kids ask those difficult questions while in the car so that you can’t escape!
    Has it occurred to you that she might be asking for the sex talk in a round about way? That kind of sounds like how I did it around her age. I don’t know though. These days, kids aren’t as naieve as we’d like to think. Sex is marketed to them from a very early age. It might be better to give her accurate information before she absorbs too much of the mass media info. That would just be my course of actions though. What’s right for me and my family isn’t right for everyone.

  4. Katy says:

    You know, you are probably right. I didn’t even think about her asking about a sex talk. When we were young, I think my sister did the same thing to my parents, but I never did. She is old enough now that I should probably bring it up with her one day.

    Thanks for the perceptive!

  5. Crystal says:

    I still have the hope that before T gets old enough to know the concept of ‘Dad’ that his dad will have had a change of heart and be involved. But I only want that if his father really wants that. However T’s other half of the family is fairly involved in his life and hopefully this will alleviate some of the challenging questions. T is 21 months old and I do show him pictures of his dad. I also don’t want to trash talk about his father. I look at it as we all had a choice. I could’ve chose to abort the child or not inform his father that I was pregnant. Or put him up for adoption, and then his father wouldn’t have had a choice to make. My choice was to have this child and raise him alone. I am still very torn on how I feel about wanting his father to be involved or not and what to say when he asks about him. I have many fears about the out come of his fathers involvement. I guess just roll with the punches. I know his father has substance abuse issues and anger issues. But I also know that he has gone back to school. Hopefully this is a positive step. But the only thing I can think to say is that he just wasn’t ready for the responsibility.

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