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What to say to my daughter about not having a father around?

My daughter is 3 and since she was born we have lived with both of my parents. My dad has been her father. She loves him as much as she would love her own dad. But recently she has started calling him daddy. When she is around her cousins and my brothers, she hears them calling their dads that. And finally, the day I have been dreading since she was born arrived; she asked me, "where is my daddy? Is pop my dad?" I know that right now she can not fully understand what is going on. But she feels and knows she is missing something that other kids around her have. Her dad left me while I was in delivery with her in the hospital. He was into drugs, had severe emotional & psychological issues and had cheated on me many times throughout our relationship. After he left, I tried for a while to make things work, but in the end I decided him not being in her life is truly the best thing for her. When she asked me this, all I said was that everyone has different families. Some have both a mommy and dad, some have just a mom, some just a dad, and some even have only grandparents. That she is lucky because she has three parents, me and her grandparents. She seemed to accept this answer and moved right along. But I know that in the next few years these things will become more clear, and the question will resurface. I know the basics of what I should tell her. To be honest, and let her know he is sick. But I am looking for more specific of an answer to give to her. What are some specific things I can tell her? Any advice will help. Thank you!!

Answer Question

Asked by belljulia at 2:31 AM on Nov. 30, 2013 in General Parenting

Level 2 (7 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • You tell her that it always takes a man and a woman to make a baby. But sometimes the man and woman find that they can not live together, The child is still loved

    Answer by Dardenella at 2:47 AM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • Be truthful but never bad talk the other parent. Tell her he was not able to care for you and her....that he didn't know how to be a good partner and father. And you knew you & he could not make a life together. You can go into more details as she gets older, but always stay positive about those who do love her and be truthful .....nothing negative.

    Answer by silverthreads at 8:01 AM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • Tell her that you chose very unwisely when you chose her dad. Use your mistake to teach her to be very selective when she is old enough to marry. You start now by accepting responsibility and then you build on that as she grows up.

    Answer by NannyB. at 8:10 AM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • The truth is always best!

    Answer by older at 8:12 AM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • I really don't know. I like silverthreads' answer. She is too young to understand drug use and addiction. giving her a general idea of the fact that he is alive but not well and he isn't a good person to be around, that he can't really even take good care of himself.

    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:03 AM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • You let her know that she does have a daddy (like Dardenella said, it always takes a man & a woman to have a baby), because she's wondering where hers is, does she have one? You can point out that families look all different ways, and family members don't always live together for various reasons, but that YES she has a father.
    As she gets older or as it comes up again, it's mostly a matter of answering her questions and being responsive to her feelings. If she's sad, it is more important to acknowledge those feelings & validate how it makes sense to feel sad about it, than to try to "get her over" that sadness, or point out how she's actually lucky, etc. I don't think it's a bad idea to see her as lucky (at all!) but it's important to respond to concrete feelings, and not to resist them or try to make them better or "fix" them. So if she's feeling UNlucky down the road, make space for that & support her through that.

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:02 PM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • In my opinion you are doing great job ! Let her grow up and then will be the chance to be honest for now worries less!!

    Answer by Blessedgirls at 5:25 PM on Nov. 30, 2013

  • I think as she gets older it will be easier because when she goes to school she will see that her friends come from all different types of families. Some mom/dad, single mom/dad, stepparents, half siblings, divorces, deaths, grandparents, relatives, adoptions, nannies, two moms/dads, parents not married but together, etc. Today there are so many different types of families and after you tell her the truth about her dad (that he is sick and has problems) she will accept that and it won't be a big deal. My kids don't really care that exdh and I aren't together. When i asked the They actually said it doesn't matter, that most of their friends parents arent together. So in today's world it probably won't be a major issue. Sounds like you're already handling it well.

    Answer by jenny3344 at 12:33 PM on Dec. 3, 2013

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