Absentee parent - Where's Papa?

  • Start your talk by letting your child know that it is okay to come from a family background different from a friend's or neighbor's, for instance. Some children live with two parents, others with only their mother or a father, and still others may be members of families headed by either grandparents or other relatives, step-parents, friends, or guardians.
  • If your child's father is not safe to be around, you might consider letting your son, for example, know that his feather would love to see him if he was able. Saying something like, "Your daddy gets sick a lot because he drinks too much beer (or takes drugs that are not good for him) and when he gets sick, he becomes angry, and behaves in a very dangerous and bad way. It's not safe for us to be around him. I hope, one day, that he gets better. Because I know he has some really good things inside him--every time I look I at you, I see all the good things! But for now, it's the way it has to be."
  • Be sure to let the child know that nothing he or she did has any bearing on why "dad" doesn't live with you.
  • Listen to your child, and allow him or her to freely express whatever feelings are being experienced.
  • Don't bad-mouth the absent parent, yet don't paint him as a dragon-slaying hero, either. Keep your conversations age-appropriate. As your child matures, you can reveal more information.
  • If you were donor inseminated, try telling your child, "I wanted a baby very badly, but I wasn't married to someone who could be a daddy. So the doctor helped me make you by taking the seed from a nice man and planting it in my body."
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