Trying to search out the proper words for explaining to your child regarding an absent parent can be really difficult. Do you tell them the truth? How do you react to their questions? Read on to get more insight into how you can approach this delicate subject.
There are a variety of reasons for a parent being completely absent from your child’s life.
The main four are:
- The other parent is not interested
- The other parent is abusive and it is not safe for your child to have contact
- The other parent lives abroad and regular visits are difficult
- You have been bereaved
What to do if the other parent is abusive?
It is not so different from the situation above if they accept that they are not permitted to see their child. But what if they constantly try to make trouble and come to the house? How can you skate over the fact that Daddy is “naughty” or Mummy tries to kick the door in? Sadly you cannot protect your children from this hurt, you can only mitigate what happens by being strong, involving the authorities, reassuring your child over and over, and by finding good support for yourself in order to cope with this awful situation.
It is, however, important to acknowledge to your child that father doesn’t want to be involved what is happening is wrong and that you do not agree with the other parent’s behavior, whilst saying that you will keep them safe.
What if the other parent lives abroad?
If the other parent is not interested then see above. If they do want to maintain a relationship then there are ways for you both to foster this. Methods of contact between visits can vary with the age of the child, including webcam, Skype, Facebook, MSN Messenger, picture postcards, email, airmail letters, international telephone calls, photographs and voice recordings. It is even more important that arrangements made are stuck to tell a child whose father left, because so much time goes by between actual physical contact visits.
If you have been bereaved
Whether or not your child has strong memories of their parent, you can encourage these by looking at old photos, talking about things they did with the other parent, how happy they were when the child was born, whether there is a resemblance and how proud the other parent would be of them.
Remember explaining absent father to child that you love them and will always be there.
They need you to be extra-loving, supportive and always willing to answer any questions or listen to any worries they may have about the other parent.
Don’t criticize the other parent, but acknowledge feelings your child expresses.
Look around for good role model adults for your child. This is especially important if your child is the opposite sex from you.