Focus on the positive aspects of your child's father, even when things are tense.

How to Answer Children's Questions About Absent Fathers

by Nakia Jackson

If you're a single mom, the prospect of the inevitable "Where's Daddy?" from your little one can keep you up at night. Little kids don't need to know every detail about your break-up, but they do need to know that their curiosity is perfectly natural. Choosing age-appropriate details and language will help your child cope with a difficult situation. Sharing a little about how you're dealing with the absence of your child's father can also help him feel that his emotions are valid.

Choose the details that you wish to share with your child carefully -- and decide how you want to respond to questions about aspects of the situation that you aren't ready to share. This will help you remain composed when he asks difficult questions -- and keep you from over-sharing. For example, if you don't know where your child's father is -- and you know that your child is going to ask when he can see his dad -- have a response ready, such as "Daddy has a new job and doesn't know exactly when he's going to be able to get away, but he misses you very much and thinks about you all the time."

Get close to your child in a comforting position when you talk about her dad. Explain a little about how her father left and why, emphasizing that it is not her fault. An answer such as "Your daddy and I didn't get along -- and your daddy left so we wouldn't argue" is age-appropriate for most children who are old enough to ask about their father's absence.

Remind your child that you love him and will not leave. Young children may get the idea that if one parent left, the other might.

Discuss your own emotions when you feel it is appropriate. You can explain that you felt sad or confused when your ex left. This is not, however, about you venting to your child. You're showing your little one how adults cope with stressful times by talking about your own stress.


  • Share children's literature and television shows featuring single parents with your child. This might prompt a discussion about single-parent families or just comfort your child in the knowledge that he is not alone.


  • Avoid saying negative things about your ex.
  • Stick to the facts and share only what your child needs to know.
  • Don't give your child false hope if you're uncertain when, or if, his father will reenter his life. If this is the case, you can tell your little one that his dad misses him, but make no promises about actually seeing his dad in the future.

About the Author

Nakia Jackson has written for online publications since 2006, including columns for Sadie Magazine, Naseeb and Muslim Wake Up!. She has written on religion and beauty, crafts and music. Jackson's expertise stems from personal experience and her years at Berklee College of Music, pursuing a Bachelor of Music.

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