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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2011/01/12

Telling the truth to a 4 year old.

My story is two-fold and I will try to shorten it. Was married for 6 years tried to fall pregnant got told that I will never be able to conceive, hubby couldn’ t accept this and we got divorced. He would have made a good father even with all his anger problems. Met a man after the divorce and starting dating, fell pregnant - went to the doctor she told me it’ s a miracle and don’ t know if the baby would survive. Baby was born my emergency c-section and that time I was told with my baby''s father that I will never be able to conceive because my ovaries, cervix etc is badly damage. That was 4 years ago. Present day: My daughter’ s father and I had a massive argument and he told me never to ever call him again and now he doesn’ t call his daughter either. This has happened before and 5-6 months would pass with my daughter not seeing her father. I would hide it and tell her lies, now that she is going on 5 and I decided that enough is enough. This morning she asked me to call her dad and I said that he told me not to call him and she just shrugged her shoulders and accepted. Am I wrong in telling her the truth? Sometimes life is so unfair because I was married and couldn’ t have a child and then I meet someone who doesn’ t care and I fall pregnant. I love my child with all heart and wouldn’ t change things but being a single parent is very hard.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Your struggles regarding getting pregnant must have been very hard for you. But presumably they're not directly connected to the baby[s father behaving so badly right now. Why have the pair of you quarrelled so bitterly ? And whatever happened between the parents, there's no excuse for a father to neglect his child.
Lying to the child is not helpful, and not at all as comforting as one might think. You were right to tell her the truth - and her reaction suggests she probably already knows much of what you have been trying to shield from her. THe important thing is you have a great and loving child, and she has a great and loving mother.
There's a difference between telling the truth to a child about her father's disinterest, and exaggerating or dragging your personal bitterness into attempts to turn a child against the other parent. What you're doing is appropriate.
To someone in JUliet's situation, remember it is NOT ( though of course it feels like that ) that he "doesn't want YOU as his daughter", but that he doesn't want a daughter, being too immature and selfish to care properly for any child.
Chantal's example shows how clumsily cruel a teacher can be by announcing "Let's all make a Father's Day card", without recognizing that many kids have no father, for various reasons.
If you feel so clearly that your child must know WHO her father is, sadly that means she also needs to know WHAT he is, and taking back a bum isn't good for a child.
What you['re doihng with your chil is RIGHT, not wrong, and obviously beneficial for her

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Our users say:
Posted by: Kelly | 2011/01/12

Rather tell her the truth now- when she finds out later in life she''ll be shattered because daddy isn''t who she thought he was all her life. She''ll also resent you then for lying and she''ll hold you responsible for her dissapointment. Honesty is the best policy. :-) It will also make her a stronger person with a good sense of reality.

Reply to Kelly
Posted by: Unique | 2011/01/12

From my experience she is a better off not having a dad around than having a dad that does not care. Seeing how much he doesn''t care every day is traumatic.

Reply to Unique
Posted by: Gracie | 2011/01/12

I personally think you were right to tell her the truth .. let her know that her father does not want anything to do with her .. he will have to answer for that one day when he is old and wants to know his child! Don''t lie to her about him .... just don''t badmouth him either.

Reply to Gracie
Posted by: Anon | 2011/01/12

I am fortunate that I am very strong and that I am able to provide for my child financially and emotionally. I have been commended by her principle and teachers because they know the situation and they tell me that she is still a well rounded happy disciplined child. I come from a community where kids didnt know who their fathers are, ever. They have never met them, dont know if they are alive or dead. I know that what I''m doing is wrong but I dont want to be the bad person here when she grows up. Thanks all for your responses.

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Juliet | 2011/01/12

At Anon - but why would you put your daughter through that and take him back every time if you know that he might up and leave again. Chantel is right you need to be strong and hold it together for both of you, my Mother was not any of that and that is were my problems stem from and after all these years I have only realised that, the problem never lied with me but I let it mould me and the person I''ve become. So dont make the same mistake as my Mother be strong loving and maybe not tell her the whole truth, sugar coat it as much you can, and sont let him back into your life he can be part of her life without you two being together.

Reply to Juliet
Posted by: Maria | 2011/01/12

Post on the parenting forum, there are other moms in the same situation.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Anon | 2011/01/12

Juliet, I understand where you coming from but I have protected him for so long and he walks all over me. He knows that if he decideds to come back tomorrow I would allow him to because I want my child to know who her father is. This is once again his decision and I can only lie to her for so long. I tell her that its okay for her to love her father and he does love her but more than that I cannot say. I am at the end of my tether and really dont know what to do. I have even spoken to his parents and he just doesnt listen..

Reply to Anon
Posted by: Chantal | 2011/01/12

Listen, I am also in the same boat with my father, he left when I was one so I dont really have a relationship with him...saw him 4 times in my whole life... I am 23. I am not too concerned about my situation because my mum is a very strong lady and she showed me no sign of weakness or being sad...in school its going to be difficult, especially on father s Day because when I was a kid, we had to make Father''s day cards, and I did not have a father... it was tough and I cried because everyone could make a card...you should tell her, there are many kids who dont have fathers but does not make it right that the father is not there, but at the same time make sure that she understands she is not missing anything in her life. My mother is strong and that is why I am strong... I finished school, she couldnt afford to send me to college but I worked and I am paying for my own college...was never involved with a bad crowd or became naughty...if she sees signs of weakness, i think she will have a low self esteem and lack of confidence ect.
You dont have to tell her the real truth, just bits and pieces, tell her that the 2 of you will look after each other.

Reply to Chantal
Posted by: Juliet | 2011/01/12

This is a tough one. Let me tell you about me, I am 29 years old have only seen my dad a few times in my life as he and my mom divorced when I was 2. And it still hurts to think that he doesnt want me as a daughter (this is info I got from my mom as well as what I picked up from his behaviour over the years), also what I can tell you is that it affected my self esteem BIG TIME, no one knows this except me of course its affected decisions I made in my younger years that I now regret. Not having a father is one thing but knowing that he doesnt want you is another. So maybe you should lie to her, she is still a liile girl after all.

Reply to Juliet
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/01/12

Your struggles regarding getting pregnant must have been very hard for you. But presumably they're not directly connected to the baby[s father behaving so badly right now. Why have the pair of you quarrelled so bitterly ? And whatever happened between the parents, there's no excuse for a father to neglect his child.
Lying to the child is not helpful, and not at all as comforting as one might think. You were right to tell her the truth - and her reaction suggests she probably already knows much of what you have been trying to shield from her. THe important thing is you have a great and loving child, and she has a great and loving mother.
There's a difference between telling the truth to a child about her father's disinterest, and exaggerating or dragging your personal bitterness into attempts to turn a child against the other parent. What you're doing is appropriate.
To someone in JUliet's situation, remember it is NOT ( though of course it feels like that ) that he "doesn't want YOU as his daughter", but that he doesn't want a daughter, being too immature and selfish to care properly for any child.
Chantal's example shows how clumsily cruel a teacher can be by announcing "Let's all make a Father's Day card", without recognizing that many kids have no father, for various reasons.
If you feel so clearly that your child must know WHO her father is, sadly that means she also needs to know WHAT he is, and taking back a bum isn't good for a child.
What you['re doihng with your chil is RIGHT, not wrong, and obviously beneficial for her

Reply to cybershrink

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