Young Child Has Never Known Dad

How do I answer my preschooler's questions about his father who left the family when I was three months pregnant and hasn't been in touch since? Lately my son has been asking why his dad doesn't live with us. What should I tell him?

The first thing you should tell him is that he’s deeply loved and that none of this is his fault. Affirm him for who he is – a child of God and a special creation of the Heavenly Father – and love him as only you can. Do everything in your power to help him feel secure in his own identity and in the knowledge of your care and concern.

Once that’s settled, tell him the truth about his dad. Be honest and straightforward, and don’t feel that you need to sugar-coat the facts. Explain that his biological father has made some mistakes in life, just as we all do, and that one of the biggest of those mistakes was his failure to stick around and get to know his son. Make sure he knows that his father left because of his own problems, not because of anything he did. Reassure him that it’s okay to be sad about this. He can even express anger about his dad leaving if that’s how he feels, but you should help him understand that God doesn’t want him to hold a grudge. Grudges and resentment make God sad, and they only hurt the person who holds on to them.

Your ex-husband may have abandoned the family, but that doesn’t mean that your son can’t have wonderful male role models in his life. Do everything you can to help him connect in a meaningful way with a grandfather, an uncle, a Sunday school teacher, or some good and godly man in your church community. The affirmation of such men will help your son understand how special and valuable he is. They can actively demonstrate the truth of God’s love for him, helping him to realize that while his earthly father may be gone, his Heavenly Father will never leave him or forsake him.

If you’d like to discuss this situation at greater length, feel free to call our caring counselors here at Focus on the Family.


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