What do you tell your child when they want their dad and his involvement is little to none? Here is a small passage from my book I Want My Daddy… The Psychology of Abandonment, out of the chapter titled, I Want My Daddy…
What do you say to a toddler when they are crying out for their dad and you know that he is selfishly missing in action? Do you lie and say he’s out of town, busy, or sleeping, or do you tell the truth and say, “Baby, he just doesn’t give a fuck; he only cares about himself.” I’m sure most opt to lie, as I have. I’ve tried to maintain this heroic image of a father that hasn’t forgotten about his children but just has a lot to do sometimes. However, it would be so much easier just to say he died because in reality, his absence is like death. Instead of managing a temporary emotional loss, the child is tormented with ongoing pain and feels lost when they are abandoned.
The absent parent has made a conscious choice not to be present in their child’s life. At least with death, a person knows why they don’t see that person anymore and can begin to heal and cope with that reality. When a parent leaves a child without explanation regarding why, the feeling of rejection can begin to tear away at the child’s own self-worth. In situations where the absent parent is consistently inconsistent, this can cause confusion, mistrust, and in small children separation anxiety. This is also damaging to the child because he or she is left with a continuous false hope that maybe today, Dad will show up or maybe today, he will call, though he doesn’t. The grief begins to build up, and resentment slowly sets in. The only reason we don’t tell our children the unfiltered, horrible truth is not to protect the image of the abandoner, but to protect the mental health and the hearts of our children.
Find out how I handled this tough conversation with my small children. Go to Amazon.com and get your copy of my book ‘I Want My Daddy…The Psychology of Abandonment’ today! Or come see me at the Buzz Annual Book Fair, Saturday, March 28th, 2015 from 10am-5pm at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.