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How do I handle this dilemma?!

My 4 y/o has been talking about his absent father much more frequently lately. It used to be that he would mention him once every couple months. But within this last month, it's happened quite often. He will excitedly tell me that his father is coming to see him or something along those lines. Then end it with an "Okay, mommy?" or "Riiight?!" He has not seen nor spoken to his father in about a yr. I used to just say "Okay, sweety." or "Yeah, sure." And he would accept that and forget soon after. But now that he's getting a little older and is asking more often I'm wondering if I should approach it differently. How do you let a 4 y/o know that his father is NOT coming to see him? That his father has gone hiatus for a long time, and it seems that it will continue for much longer. Should I tell him anything at all? I don't want to psychologically traumatize him. But I'm going nuts wondering if he really IS 'waiting' on him.


Asked by Anonymous at 9:35 PM on Jan. 17, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • I had the same thing happen to my daughter when she was 5. At first, I too tried to make excuses for her father or just go along with her belief that he'd be coming to visit soon. Then, one day, I realized that I was just being the "crutch" her absent father was using so he wouldn't have to be the "bad guy." Finally, I sat her down and explained that I honestly didn't know why her dad did some of the things he did, or why he behaved the way he behaved, but that it had absolutely NOTHING to do with her. I just kept reassuring her that I loved her more than life itself, and that HE was the one who was missing out on all the BEAUTY and LOVE that she had to offer.

    Answer by lighthousemom3 at 10:17 PM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • My youngest son is 4 years old, and his father died when he was 10 months old. He often tells me stories about the things he has done with his dad, the things he will do, and what his dad is doing right now. All I can do is reinforce where his dad is and what really happened, and why he isn't here. I think its normal at this age to pretend and use the imagination to make up stories for something they're missing.

    A common thing right now is that he will tell me he and his dad will go camping, and he will say right mommy? I tell him well you and your brother can go with me later this summer when its warmer. Rather than point out the obvious, I make it about what he WILL do with us as a family.

    Answer by Ginger0104 at 9:48 PM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • He obviously has figured out that his dad isn't around, that's why he's bringing it up. It probably confuses him that you keep agreeing with him about his dad seeing him. He already knows some thing's up. I think you should be honest with him. Tell him you don't know why his dad doesn't see him.

    Then call his dad and tell him what an ass he is. If you give me his number I'll do it!


    Answer by MAUREEN55 at 10:08 PM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • As she got older, I continuously taught her that choices are something God gave each of us, and some of us make good choices, but some make bad choices. We're not responsible for other people do, only what we do ourselves. Now, she's 15 and recently thanked me for always being honest with her about her dad. I never made him out to be a bad guy, but I also never tried to make it seem like he was "innocent" either. I simply explained that He was the one with the problems...not her. He was the one who would one day answer for his choices as well. Just keep reassuring your child of YOUR love and commitment. There are many, many people out there who will come and go in your child's life, but you will always be the one main CONSTANT. Good Luck and God Bless

    Answer by lighthousemom3 at 10:21 PM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • I do think it is part of a developmental phase--kids this age do fantasize about what they wish for. I honestly don't know the right way to handle it, though. I would think that on some level he knows it is wishful thinking so maybe you can say something like "is that what you are hoping will happen?" or "is that what you imagine happening?" I don't know....maybe talk to an expert about this because you don't want to lead him to believe it is about to happen, but you don't want to interfere with his processing of the situation in his own way either. Is his behavior being affected at all? Does he seem upset? I do think expert advise would be helpful....

    Answer by BJoan at 3:34 AM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • Thank you all for your answers. I will definitely make it a point to be honest, in a modest way. I won't speak bad of but will not sugar coat the situation. My little man knows very well I love him much.

    I will also try to look into some expert advice just to see what kind of affect this could be having on him.

    Again, thank you all. :]

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:25 AM on Jan. 18, 2009