Talking to your kids about absent dads is a little liek talking to them about sex. Give them as much information as they need for the age, and let it go after that.
Its hard to talk to your kids about your ex. For some ex-couples, it gets easier. But not necessarily If you are a divorced mother, the questions your children ask about their father are apt to be fraught with minefields. If you’re a single mother by choice, you’re going to have a different set of answers to give your kids. Widows will have to deal with loss and memory of a very different type than divorce.
When my kid talks about his father, I always listen. This morning, he came into my bedroom with a handmade book in his hands. I knew just what that was. We sat on my bed and read through the wish book that had been passed around at my baby shower. The guests had written their wishes for my son in this book, and today we read them all, together. Then I went and brought him the photo album of his shower, and showed him all the people who were there, some of whom have passed away since then, young and old alike. And I showed him the photos of his father from that day, listening to my belly with a smile. I think it’s a good thing for him to see that he was loved by both of us, even before he was born.
For the rest of the questions, I use the time honored techniques of deflection and repetition. I mirror back the emotions he expresses to me, and he knows I hear him when he expresses his disappointment that his father didn’t send him a birthday present (to which I say I think he tried), hasn’t called in a long time, etc. And then it’s gone, and he’s off playing and singing and laughing again.
How do you deal with it?
Dr. Leah guest posted on Dr. D’s blog, and her answers are pretty great. I suggest you read them and hold her takeaway close to your heart.