All children from various types of families can benefit from having dad around, but when he’s not, it isn’t always easy to explain why.
Not every child is fortunate enough to have both parents in their lives despite efforts made to allow that to happen. Shared parenting has grown significantly over the last few years to make up for the split in the nuclear family; however, it doesn’t always work and some kids are simply left with only one parent actively involved in their life whether they are heterosexual or LGBT. Even when both parents are around, there is sometimes a parent who appears to be emotionally absent.
Though it is not always possible to keep the parental unit intact, it doesn’t mean that kids need to form a negative image of the absent parent. Many parents have been accused of pushing their negative opinions on their children, while others instead may avoid the topic all together because they don’t know how to explain the other parent’s behavior.
A few points to ponder when deciding how to speak with your child about the absence of their dad are:
- Remember, there were two of you who brought this child into the world or adopted them into your family.
- If the other parent doesn’t cope well with emotional challenges in life in general, their absence is simply one of their ways of not coping and not personal towards you.
- Own your emotions in an effort to come to terms with the end of the relationship and their absence so as to not project your feelings on your child.
- It is not your responsibility to take blame for their behavior nor bash them because of it.
- Remember, bashing a child’s other parent can make the child feel if you are bashing the part of them that is blood related or loves this absent parent.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings about not having the other parent involved and depending on age ask them what the two of you can do together to have fun and make the best of what you have.
- When the other parent is asked about, be careful of the tone used in your voice as kids are very intuitive when it comes to how genuine parents are.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist to help your child and yourself get through this topic in a healthy way.
- Explore mentoring programs and show them positive male role models. Mentoring programs aren’t just for underprivileged kids, but they help all kids that have a need.
- Find out what type of things your child would want to do with dad if he was involved and seek our resources to get them involved with those types of activities.
Parenting is hard with two parents and even harder with one. There is no sense in adding to its challenges by creating a negative image of the absent parent. Even when we say NOTHING about the other parent it gives a sense that this parent did not exist and the child’s feelings towards this non-existent person don’t have any value either. Trying to express the positive things about the other parent can be hard, especially when you know the treatment of your child is unjust. In this case someone has to take the lead in trying to create a happy, healthy childhood for your child and by default is has to be you. It is not an easy place to be but it can be manageable if you put a plan in place to deal with it.
Photo: Valentina Powers/Flickr