How to talk to a child about a father who is not in his life?


Question 4. Will he come back? Do you (still) love him?

The disappearance of the paternal figure, especially in the case of a divorce at a more or less conscious age of the child, is always a split of the world into two parts, and different children adapt to this split in different ways. Some people hope for a long time that everything will eventually become as it was, and periodically check their mother with such questions.

Unfortunately, you cannot give false hope and dismiss it here – the child needs to understand that now everything will be different. It can hurt, though.

Answer options:

  • no, he will not return, we have decided everything completely. I’m sorry kid;
  • I love your dad for giving me you;
  • I sometimes miss the good times we had;
  • I will always remember him.

Better to avoid answers like:

  • I hate (do not love) him;
  • if he comes back, I will kick him out;
  • he did so much wrong to me, how can I love him?
  • grow up – you will understand.

Question 5. Can we (I) find it?

The absence of a living person with all his merits and demerits gives rise to fantasies. In children, they are most often positive – a dad or a pilot, or a sea captain, in general, sheer romance.

This is natural and understandable, and this process is often accompanied by a desire to establish real contact. After all, you want to get to know such a person, you want to be closer to him, perhaps – to start a relationship. The child still cannot logically come to the idea that dad is absent precisely because he does not want to communicate with his former family, and not because of some objective difficulties.

Such questions should not be scared, they do not necessarily mean that the child will actually go looking for dad. But even if it does, when it grows up, nothing terrible will happen for you. All people have the right to know their parents and form their own opinion about them.

If dad is an alcoholic, drug addict, abuser or criminal, it makes sense to indicate this right away.

Answer options:

  • it’s not so easy, I don’t know where he is, and there’s no way to find him yet;
  • he does not answer my calls and letters, so it will be difficult to communicate with him;
  • I have his address and telephone number, if you want, you can write to him or call him, but he is unlikely to answer;
  • you can look for it yourself when you get older, if you still want it;
  • your dad is insecure, so maybe you shouldn’t go looking for him.

Better to avoid answers like:

  • do not dare to look for your father and communicate with him, I forbid you;
  • maybe you want to go to him and live?
  • you don’t need him, forget him;
  • he left himself, so now let him be alone.

Do not be surprised if after some time after all these conversations the child becomes more angry, offended by you than usual. It is the result of living in a painful situation that cannot be changed.

At the same time, you are the only close person whom the child can trust, so he will bring all his feelings to you. He might have been angry with the departed parent – but he is already lost, so it does not work to be angry with him. Be patient a little, it will pass.

Read more in the book by Ekaterina Sigitova “How to explain to you: we find the right words for talking with children” (Alpina Publisher, 2020).

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