Questions

by mssinglemama on March 11, 2009

Benjamin is catching on to the fact that there is no man in this house.

And it’s hard.

I didn’t think it would be so difficult to hear them:

“Mommy, is Daddy working?”

“Yes, baby, he’s working but he misses you.”

and the new one…

“Mommy, do you have a daddy?”

“No. Not anymore.”

“Where is he? Is he working?”

“No, honey he is gone. But he loves you too.”

I’m awful at this shit.

They’re just so hard to answer – these questions that carry such incredible weight to us adults – so I try to keep it simple. And Benjamin doesn’t just talk about his Daddy every once in a while, it’s at least once an hour. But it’s also every time he’s crying or throwing a fit over something.

Between sobs he always manages an, ” I – waaaaannnnntttt mmmmyyyyy daddddyy.”

It’s hard as hell to hear that in those moments.

—–

The two men I’ve actually fallen for since becoming a single mom, Kris and Mr. Man, were polar opposites right down to their looks and their age. But they both had one thing in common — Benjamin adored them and they adored him right back.

I’m realizing now that if Benjamin doesn’t love a guy then I can’t love him.

My son’s approval is paramount to mine. Funny having such a teeny, tiny little person completely in charge of my love life. But it’s fine. Really. Because I don’t think I could fall for someone who wasn’t falling for Benjamin too. With that said, finding that allusive love trifecta is the tough part.

Here are some of my red flags I look out for while dating. These clue me in on whether or not a guy is into Benjamin:

  • He rarely asks about Benjamin or he asks often but doesn’t wait for the answer.
  • I tell him about Benjamin and he tells me a story about his dog.
  • He doesn’t seem excited to meet Benjamin or hang out with him again if they’ve already met.

You may be thinking – how could a guy ever care that much about my son before he’s even met him or directly thereafter? But it does happen. There’s a click between big people and little people too.

Have you ever broken up with a man because he didn’t click with your kids? How long do you think it takes to see if a bond is there – I know it must take longer if the kids are older? And how do you handle the daddy questions?

See. Lots of questions all around.

More posts I’ve written about Dads or a Lack Thereof:

{ 2 trackbacks }

I’m sick again and the dating scene « Tales of a Single Mama
March 11, 2009 at 10:16 am
I’m not out of the woods yet « Tales of a Single Mama
March 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

SingleParentDad March 11, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Not easy to answer these questions, but I believe a straight bat is required – yeah, I'm using a cricket analogy on your blog. The truth is what it is, and while we can't expect little ones to understand, we can get them to accept, eventually with less upset.

I agree on your pre-requisite for any man to fall for Benjamin too, but have to admit to have never dropped a guy myself because of this. Does that invalidate my comment?

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Don March 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

You are doing great by being you.
My son and daughter in law have separated after 5 years and 2 kids. We are starting to get the questions like you. I will be following your blog and twitter for help.
Good luck and don't give up on all of us guys.

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abrookshire March 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

My situation is a little different with the Daddy questions. My 3 1/2 year old son, Ty, has never had a Daddy. He was never a part of my pregnancy, his birth, or any part thereafter, so it's never, for him, been an issue of "where's my Daddy", it's been an issue of "I don't have a Daddy".

He's only recently started talking to me about this, but right now, to him, a Daddy is less of a want to him than the $20 pack of Moon Sand on the shelf at the store that he wants.

He did recently comment that everyone had a Daddy except him (not in a sad kind of way, just kind of matter-of-factly. I just affirmed, no, he didn't have a Daddy yet, and he told me that he needed one.

I told him simply that we were still waiting on God to give us his Daddy. He seemed to be okay with it that a Daddy was a special gift that God was going to give us at the right time. He's actually not brought it up nearly as often, either, since we had that conversation.

Good luck with it, we'll figure it out someday.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Sounds like you're an awesome mama.

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Jillian March 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I've always wondered how parents answer those tough questions. But I agree with SingleParentDad, I think it's best to just tell them the truth as simply as possible. Benjamin may not like that he doesn't have a dad around all the time but he'll accept it if you just make it sound like an irrefutable fact. And as he gets older he'll realize there's more to life than two parents who are together or even continuously present. Like a really awesome mom. : )

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Missy March 11, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Well said. I've only been privy to breaking only one man's heart since the demise of my marriage and it had nothing to do with my wee one. He had children of his own, and I could tell he wasn't as interested in her as he was his own. Needless to say, we didnt last long.

I have a little girl and she is 2.4 and I am starting to wonder if boy tots are different than girl tots when it comes to wondering where Daddy is? She asks about him, but never wonders where he is. She sporatically mentions him in passing but never cries out his name during a meltdown. This may come with time, or it may never. I think you are doing a spetacular job explaining where Daddy and Grandpa are. Keep it simple with him. As single parents I think we tend to over analyze the missing parent situation because we have so much to make up for. Keep up the good work with your little man—he'll thank you for it!!

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I think they are. Boys need a man around, I'm convinced of it… at least they definitely want one around. They also need good mamas too though and he definitely has that going for him.

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Mia March 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm

the tactic I have always used to explain where Benjamin's daddy is to Sydney, my 4 year old, when she has asked (they are friends since babyhood)… I would explain to her that family is group of people that love one another no matter what and all families look different and are special. Some have daddys that live at home with mommy, some have two moms, sometimes we call people family that really aren't (like "Mia who loves you so much!"), etc.

Now that I am explaining the same to Sydney about where her daddy is I reiterate the "special" part, and the "he loves you and misses you so much". I also throw in the "aren't we so lucky to have eachother and a daddy? no matter where we live?"

It's tough but honesty, consistency, and reassurance they are loved is the best we can do. of course, I act like I even slightly know what I am doing!!??!

Great topic, thanks for writing this.

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Courtlynn March 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm

You are a strong woman and I admire you so much.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Thank you so much.

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Pisceshanna March 11, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Oh Man Alaina, thats so hard. LB doesn't ask for her daddy, but she does talk about him a lot more, and his girlfriend, and her "sisters". I hate everything about it, but I have to just play along because I know its important to her. You think little B would enjoy talking to his daddy on the phone, if you could get a hold of him?
Ugh, its so damn exhausting. I feel you.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I know. We call and he doesn't answer. Sometimes he does but he can never talk for very long. And he NEVER calls us.

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Canadian Bald Guy March 11, 2009 at 3:13 pm

There absolutely needs to be a big connection there for the "love trifecta" to actually work. With my 10-year old daughter, she has only met my ex-wife…and it'll probably be awhile before she meets somebody else in my life. I don't want to confuse her or have her asking "where is so-and-so"?

My 2-year-old will eventually be the same way. I don't want him growing up meeting different women and the one(s) that he does meet, there will have to be a connection there in order for the relationship to continue…and I would expect the same from a single mother I dated.

I've heard my daughter cry out "I want my mommy" when she was younger and now she yells out "I want to live with my daddy" to her mom. It's a tough spot when you're a single parent. I don't know if there's ever a perfect way to handle that kind of situation…but you're certainly not alone when it comes to having it happen and hurt quite a bit. ESPECIALLY in those moments when all you want is for them to give YOU a hug.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I hear ya. Thanks for this comment.

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littlemansmom March 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I'm going to tell you right now that TBM ALWAYS asked about litteman in just about every conversation. He couldn't wait to meet him (even though I made him….timing had to be just right) He made the effort with littleman….and littleman now adores him.

Yep, it's hard to hear…littleman and I went through 8 years of occational where's dad comments, especially because my X was so inconsistant but insisted that he be permitted contact.

Age appropriate answers that are short and sweet is my opinion. It works for me. It seems to work for littleman. He's getting the information without too much to digest.

Hang in there kiddo…..

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Abby Carter March 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I remember my son going through the same stage when he was about four and finally figured out that everyone else had a dad and he didn't. He was really angry for a long time. Its better now, but we still have daddy conversations from time to time. The latest was him deciding that his dad really wasn't dead, and would come home somehow. That was tough.

I think my response to your question leads to another question. At what point do you actually introduce your child (or my case children) to a new man? My son is very against my dating at all, and I am sure would disapprove of anyone that came into it (I guess related to his hope that his dad will come back to life). Truth be told its getting a little Oedipal with him despite my best efforts to thawrt it, but that's a whole post unto itself. I really have to be into a guy to let them meet my kids and that hasn't happened in a long time. I guess all that said, if a guy doesn't seem to be into my kids, then we don't even get to the stage where he gets to meet them.

And then there is the whole issue of breaking up, once you have introduced them.

Isn't being a single mom the greatest? <grin>

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

I wrote a post about this a while ago – it's not easy. Also see my response below to CME. http://mssinglemama.com/2008/09/27/dating-single-

And be sure to check out my page on single mom dating, tons of advice here:

http://mssinglemama.com/single-mom-dating-advice/

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CME March 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Hmm…great questions posed by all. I am embarking on a new relationship and while he is anxious to spend some time with my little man, he doesn't ever ask about him specifically. Now I am concerned. They met very briefly but I am not comfortable bringing him around just yet. I would love to hear other peoples opinions about when is an appropriate time to introduce a partner into your little ones life.

Good luck with those questions. They keep getting better. My son also says he wants his daddy when he doesn't get his way at my house. His latest question is why he can't have a baby. Apparently he wants a little brother or sister to play with so he's not "alone". Awwww…..

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:15 pm

It depends. Is he childless? If he is … they tend to ask about them less. And it could also be that he feels uncomfortable asking about your kid. It's weird. Everyone is different. These aren't hard and fast rules so don't let them freak you out. Just be aware and take note after they've met… he should ask about him more then – show some concern or care for his well being.

And you could try a random meet up in the coffee shop or park. Pretend like he's a stranger you just met to see if there's any chemistry and to take the pressure off of everyone. Or invite him to a party you and your son are going to.

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CME March 12, 2009 at 5:11 pm

He is childless and he did meet him very briefly and I could feel a connection between the two of them. I'm not worried about that as much. Thanks for the advice. For some reason I'm not able to access your post from Sept. on the Rules. I agree that there are not steadfast rules, but I enjoy hearing other peoples experiences. Thanks, Alaina. Love your blog!

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Ms. Single Mama March 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm
new single mama March 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Excellent post. As I start thinking about the possibility of dating someone soon, it's good for me to consider what I expect from that someone in order for things to be cool.

Something I am adding to my list is that the guy be extremely flexible because with a little one (mine is just over a year old) life is very unpredictable, especially during flu season.

And based on what you've explained in tone of your previous posts, if the guy is into you, he will be super extra flexible and understanding of what life is like with a child.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Yes… keeping all of this in mind is HUGE, especially if you're a new single mom.

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won March 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Trust your gut. It knows the correct answers.

I would only be hesitant when he's "crying or throwing a fit over something" and then exclaims "I want my daddy." You said it's hard, and I suspect he knows on some level that it is a button for you.

Spoken from a mom who was manipulated for years. Reformed now.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

How do you become reformed exactly? How do you tell when they're manipulating you?

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notasoccermom March 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm

This is a really hard question and although I have been a sinlge mother for 11 years now, I still do not have an answer myself. I think that may be why I am STILL a single mother. I dated a man who was also a single father, we tried for 5 years to blend the family. It is hard, Although he loved my kids, and I loved his as our own, we parented differently and it caused conflict regularly.
I think it was that difference that was finally the end of us. We still speak on occasion and I know his kids still.
Because of that , I have a hard time introducing men to my kids early on. It is important that they have a good relationship but I feel that is something that I would know about a guy without them actually meeting right away.
I think this is the hardest part of dating as a single parent.
Now that my kids are all teens, My daughter will say, mom, we need to find you a good man. So much different than when they were tiny.
Dont take this the wrong way- but too many 'rules' placed on your dating can inhibit being yourself and potentially write-off good guys who are just nervous about saying or doing the right thing.

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mssinglemama March 11, 2009 at 5:59 pm

That's a really good point.

These are just my red flags gleaned from experience. They are more gut checks than anything. I wrote a post once all about the rules of when to introduce the kids here… in it I write more about how our rules can sometimes hurt us and our kids.

Here it is…

Dating Single Parents – Can it Work? http://mssinglemama.com/2008/09/27/dating-single-

Check it out. Really good post after some of my readers were upset that I was introducing Benjamin to a man I was kind of dating.

Good luck figuring this all out as well! And the co-parenting thing – yikes, that deserves its own post entirely.

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mssinglemama March 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm

That's a really good point.

These are just my red flags gleaned from experience. They are more gut checks than anything. I wrote a post once all about the rules of when to introduce the kids here… in it I write more about how our rules can sometimes hurt us and our kids.

Here it is…

Dating Single Parents – Can it Work?

Check it out. Really good post after some of my readers were upset that I was introducing Benjamin to a man I was kind of dating.

Good luck figuring this all out as well! And the co-parenting thing – yikes, that deserves its own post entirely.

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Apples March 11, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Our poor kids. Sometimes it can make you feel so down in the dumps (atleast it did me) At that age my daughter would cry for daddy when she was really tired. For some reason that was the key, tiredness. I started to ask her if she wanted me to call him. At first she said yes. After two times she started to say no. This normally would calm her down. I'd tell her it's okay to miss daddy. I then tried to redirect her. I would say 80% of the time she is just wants whoever is not there. I came to this conclusion one night when she was crying for grandma and grandma happened to walk in the door. She was happy for two seconds then started to cry for someone else who wasn't here.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Yep. This happens to me too… most of this is all in my head – not his.

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wyliekat March 11, 2009 at 7:46 pm

FWIW, Rosebud has done this to me more than once, the cry for her father. She uses it whenever things in her environment are not exactly as she likes it. But then, Our Lady of Daycare has informed me that Rosebud cries for *me* when things aren't exactly to her liking at daycare – so I think it's a bit of a manipulation, coupled with her cute little notion that the grass is invariably greener where she isn't.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I know much of this is definitely that… it still hurts to hear though. Since I wrote this (his father didn't come this week b/c he's taking him over the weekend this week) he hasn't asked about him. So it ebbs and flows. But yes, depends on if he's tired or not (someone else mentioned that above and there could definitely be some manipulation in there).

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wyliekat March 12, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Oh boy, does it hurt. It just rips your guts out.

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PhenomenalMama March 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

I absolutely agree that there needs to be a "click" there with any guy I introduce my girls to. This was something that I hadn't given a lot of thought to before, but now having had the opportunity to see a click not really happen, I know now how I need it to feel in order for me to be comfortable with it.

Having only introduced my girls to one man, and having that NOT work out, has made me realize that it's going to be a good long while before they meet any other man in my life. They're too precious to risk on just anyone. The next guy will need to work hard to prove himself to ME before he gets the priviledge of meeting my wonderful daughters.

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Mama_Crazy March 11, 2009 at 9:27 pm

I'm completely with you on this one. If he seems to have no interest in Monkey, then I can't love him. Monkey is the center of my universe – so if he only feigns interest or has no interest in all I don't need to make room for him in our universe.
As far as the daddy questions go…. Well, I'm not quite there yet with Monkey. She does say daddy – and I have to bite my tounge from saying she doesn't have one. She does, but he's not around and wants nothing to do with either of us. I've decided that all "daddy" questions will be directed towards him or his family.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm

How old is your little Monkey?

Yeah – you won't need to point out that she doesn't have one until she actually asks (I think) anyway. It's true – if we make a big deal out of it they catch on…

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thewarriorpoets March 11, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Wow, this post tugs at the heart strings.

I went to this Dads-n-Donuts things at my Ben's school. My heart hurt like hell for the little ones who didn't have a dad there… whether it was because dad wasn't in their life or dad couldn't take off work that morning. You could tell they sensed the awkwardness.

But while I know it's important for a child to have dad in their life if at all possible, sometimes the right guy can serve as a sort of surrogate and provide the child emotionally with what they crave from a male- whether it be a grandpa or uncle or family friend.

May you find who it is you both need, at the time you most need it.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Yeah. It would be easier if my dad were alive – I just know it. Hard to think about because day dreaming about that won't do me any good at all. But Benjamin doesn't even have an uncle who is a consistent presence – he has uncles they're just not around or in different states.

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thewarriorpoets March 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

I feel for you, and especially for Ben. I'll keep hoping the right guys can be a masculine influence in his little life until you find the right guy for both of you.

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Arshad January 28, 2015 at 2:18 am

It sounds like you’re giivng William a good balance of social skills: nice, polite talk for when he’s around ladies, with a good dose of locker room lingo so he doesn’t get beat up after school.I’d say, good job, Nashes!

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Jen March 11, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Wow – tough one. My daughter has never known her father. When she was 2, I started dating the man that would eventually adopt her. I will never forget being in the car one day when she was 3ish (my ex had 3 kids by 2 different women) and she pointed to the other kids and said "you have a daddy, you have a daddy, you have a daddy, but I don't…I had a daddy once, but I threw him in the dumpster". It devastated me. She said it so matter of factly. That was 14 years ago and I remember it as if it was yesterday. My ex and I were together for 13 years. Now that she is older, she has asked about her father and honestly, I still am not sure how to answer. I have made several mistakes over the years, however, I have always had her first in my heart. Single parent families, blended families…are there any easy answsers? Our only rule was to not talk bad about the other parent in front of the children. I grew up with a parent that talked about the other and it was terrible. It was very confusing and I always felt I had to take sides. You are a great mom! Like it has been said before, you will know in your gut how to answer.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I can't even imagine. You must have such incredible strength. The dumpster comment would have stung for any of us. So you're still with the man who adopted her?

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Jen March 13, 2009 at 12:05 am

Again, I am not sure where it came from but I was speachless. I am no longer with him. I left almost 1 1/2 years ago. He remains in her life (on the fringe, but still there). I was young when we met, he had 3 kids, I had my daughter and I thought I could make everything work out perfectly. Blended families are difficult. Well, my situation was anyway. I certainly cannot speak for all.

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Nico March 12, 2009 at 12:14 am

I've been dealing with something similar in the past few days — but mine has gone so far as to have my daughter nearly pimp me out in the hopes of scoring a stepdad. Just wrote about it on my blog today (SHAMELESS self-promotion…). I guess i shouldn't be surprised that this is a theme for other single parents, but alas, i am somewhat surprised nonetheless.

Still, my child's desire to have a whole family (mom, dad, kid) is not going to compel me to marry the wrong ones — even if they do laugh and revel in my kid saying stuff like "are you my stepdad now?"

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Oh… that's so cute. Like Parent Trap or something. I sometimes think if Benjamin could he'd be out there forcing me to date every cool guy in sight. I know he would love a man around but yes, we can't settle or let our children actually be matchmakers.

Thanks for calling out your blog post – shameless self-promotion is strongly encouraged on this blog.

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:10 pm

How old are your girls? I think that's important to point out here…

If you do find someone there are other ways to do a "meet up" with the guy. Could even be "randomly" bumping into him in the coffee shop or the park. Here's my thing – I don't want to invest tons of time in someone only to find they don't click with my son.

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PhenomenalMama March 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm

My girls are 4 and 6. The thing that really sucked about my recent break up was that they, in all their loveliness, had started to get attached to him, even though they'd only met him a few times. It felt like he he didn't just dump me, he dumped THEM, too, and then *I* was the one left answering the questions when my 4 year old thought that THEY had done something to drive him away. I just want to spare them of that in the future, I guess.

But, on the other hand, you do make an excellent point about not wanting to invest a ton of time in someone who doesn't click with your child, either.

*sigh*

Why does this all have to be so complicated? 🙁

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mssinglemama March 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm

TBM is awesome. SO Happy for you.

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Nakia March 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I definitely hear you on the love trifecta. I've been asking myself those same questions alot lately in relation to THE boy that I'm sorta kinda dating right now.

I do know that the questions about daddy are ones that come and go at different phases. Our situation is a little bit different (Kaleb's dad has never ever been around). K's discussions about daddy are so business-like, it makes me incredibly sad. "Do I have a daddy?" "So and So has a daddy." "Do all boys have daddies?"

It would be nice for the other parent (other parents being the ones who choose not to be around on a regular basis) could see our side of things and love their children enough to make the effort to be a constant presence in their lives instead of just being around when its convenient.

Ahhh, deep thoughts for 6am. :o)

When you figure out how to answer some of Benjamin's questions, let me know because I could definitely use some help over here.

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jenn March 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I'm dealing with this too. I think my daughter is close to your son's age (2 1/2) and she asks about "daddy" all the time. The thing is, she's never been around him and I don't know what to tell her. I don't want to say, "You don't have a daddy" because it's not completely true, but in a way she doesn't. I usually just say, "you have a mommy" but recently she asks, "but where's my daddy?" She's too young to know that he's in prison. I don't know what to tell her. I try to change the subject, but that's not very fair to her. I never thought I would have to deal with these questions when she was so young.

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melanie March 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I'm not a single Mum but my big sister was when I was a teenager and I watched her closely (because we were close). Her son started asking all these questions too and would run up to any guy who was dark skinned thinking he was his Dad. Um, AWKWARD! Anyway, the way my sister dealt with it was to not introduce the guys to her son until they had been dating for a while – a hard situation to do but important since her son would get attached right away to any male figure near by. In fact, I had to do that with boyfriends too because if I broke up with one my nephew would be DEVASTATED and I would feel awful. He's a sensitive soul. However, she did meet a man eventually who was just as interested in her son as he was in her and now they have a wonderful family with two more children.

I have to say though, one thing my sister did that always impressed me (especially since she was rather young when she had her son) was rarely said anything negative about his father. She would answer questions honestly (yes, he did quit his job again so he could avoid paying child support etc) but when she needed to rant she would come to me because she knew her son would learn all-too-soon what a shit his Dad was.

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Greg March 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm

This post made me cry. As you know, I am a father who has always been actively involved with my children. Now that I am facing the reality of them living in a different city, I am certain there will be times that my children (ages 2 and 4) will need me and will ask or cry for me. But I will be unable to be there like I so wish I could.

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