willheadphones.jpgI have a social kid.  I’m thrilled about it.  Now that he’s getting older, he makes friends whereever he goes – the park; the coffee shop; the walk-in clinic (he really loves going there!).  He particularly likes older kids.  You can see his energy level just ramp up the minute there are older kids in the room.  I really do love it.




What I’m finding a challenge is the question…. ‘Where’s his Daddy?’.  It’s funny, I’ve thought so much about what I’ll tell Will when he starts asking but never about other kids.  Right now, he’s very, veeeery into all things ‘daddy’.  Big sticks are daddy sticks; big pieces of apple are daddy apples – you get the picture.  If he says Will’s daddy – I say, ‘Will you don’t have a daddy but who do you have?’  He smiles and rhymes off all the important people in his life (which now includes Jeff from the Wiggles).  For the time being, it works for us.

But when a 7 year old asks me that question, I freeze up.  The quick answers that come to mind just don’t seem appropriate.

a. I don’t know but if you have his number, hand it over!

b. Probably at the bar drinking with your daddy and hitting on chicks?

c. Running the United States of America but shhh don’t tell Michelle.

None of these seem right, so essentially the convo goes like this…

“Where’s his daddy?”

“He doesn’t have a daddy.”

“What happened to him?”

“Nothing.  He just doesn’t have one.”

Then they generally look at me like I’m nuts and drop it.  Here’s the thing – in much the same way Kath doesn’t want to tell other people’s kids to believe or not believe in god or ghosts- I don’t want to give sex ed classes to other peoples kids.  I also know that this explanation won’t always suffice.  The odd time I have to resort to the ‘you need to ask your mom’ and leave it at that.

It’s starting to hurt my heart that he’s going to have to answer that question one day.  I picture him flabbergasted in the schoolyard trying to explain that his mother couldn’t find the right guy so she picked some random guy to be his dad.  This sounds all well and good to an adult but this sounds ripe for the teasing to a bunch of ten year olds.

I guess we’ll both just have to figure that out as we go along.  And I’ll try not to humiliate him in other ways so that can be the one thing he gets picked on about.

But back to the original question – “Where’s his daddy?” – What would you want me to tell your kid when they ask me that at the park??

  • Kath

    I agree with most everyone Sara, Will is super lucky to have such a fab mom and all the other wonderful people in his life, I don’t think not having a Daddy is going to be a problem for him and I also agree he’s not likely to get teased about it, especially with the diverse range of families out there these days.
    As to what to tell other people’s kids, I so appreciate that you think about it that way! I sometimes think people take kids’ questions as an opportunity to push their own point of view: “ghosts are real”; “your Gramma is in heaven with the angels”; “girls can’t marry girls” are all examples of things other people have told my kids that I object to. So good on you for NOT stepping on the soapbox with a little one.
    Again I’ll have to go with the majority. For most kids, “Will doesn’t have a dad” will be fine, and for those who want to know more, a simple “that’s just the way our family is” will likely be enough. If they insist on continuing to ask “why”, then I think you’d be right to say, “you’d better ask your own mom or dad about that…”
    You guys will figure it out together, and you can take comfort in the fact that most kids outgrow that insatiably curious with no sense of when to stop asking awkward questions stage by the time they start school anyway.

  • Susannah

    I have been teaching now for 11 years and I am confident that he will not have to answer the Dad Question in school for a long time. There are so many types of families today and kids are lovely beings and just go with the flow when it comes to that topic. One family at my school just adopted two more children…. to add to the three that they have adopted in the past few years…. and the parents are two incredible moms who are incredibly awesome. The students in the school are thrilled for the family- no questions asked. Will has an incredible mom, and a huge village around him. He will be well prepared for anything that comes his way. xoxoxo

  • Lisa

    I have a cousin who grew up never having met her father. Not exactly the same scenario as you and Will, but similar in that she just never had a father outside of the father figures of her uncles and grandfather. My cousin is my age and her not having a father was never explained to me as a child. We just knew that my cousin didn’t have a dad and didn’t think twice about it. I remember playing Barbies with a friend and I was mad at her for suggesting a woman had to have a husband to have a baby. I remember yelling at her because my aunt had my cousin without one! Seriously, I just thought that was a different form of family.
    Which brings me to present time… That was the 80’s and as a child I didn’t think twice about someone not having a father. So I think if you told another child that Will doesn’t have a dad, that should be fine. As a parent, I hope to teach Travis that families come in many different shapes, sizes, colours, etc. and I don’t think I’m the only parent now who will try to lead their child to that way of thinking. So I wouldn’t worry about coming up with a big explanation about why Will doesn’t have a daddy. He just doesn’t and everyone else, kids and adults, just have to accept that. And I think most will!
    He doesn’t have a dad. ‘Nuff said! But he does have a mom who loves him dearly. Good enough for me!

  • http://www.loridyan.com Lori Dyan

    Honey. I feel where you’re coming from. Luka is 7 and his best friends (twin girls) have 2 moms and he was VERY curious as to where the daddy was, although the girls have never asked. I told him that families come in different forms: some with a mom & dad; or just a mom or a dad; or 2 moms/dads, and that each of those variations is a family. And it’s the truth…never forget that.
    (p.s. because my son is obsessed with procreation, he demanded to know how it could happen without a dad because they give the sperm and then we did a whole talk about reproductive technologies…call me when that topic comes up and I’ll give you pointers.)

  • Jason

    I think when a kid asks you should get on your knees, take his/her hands gently and say “Will’s dad’s name is mind your own effin business!”
    Then high five Will and go for a soda.

  • Jen

    I think Nancy’s answer is good for kids who press beyond the “He doesn’t have a dad”. Inquisitive kids (yes, I’m looking your way Christine!) may ask “why” when told he doesn’t live with you but a simple “That’s just the way it is” with a smile is usually enough to get them to shrug their shoulders and move on.
    A friend of mine is a single mom by choice and I have heard her say “I wanted {son’s name} SO much that I decided to have him on my own.” My son came to me later and asked how she had him without a dad. At 10 he was old enough to get the truth. If a kid asked you that question I would say “Why don’t you ask your mom or dad. They can explain it best.”
    It is tough but every kid has something. He is a confident boy loved by many. You guys will figure it out!

  • CG_05

    Not to do exactly with what you are asking but something still a little awkward.
    When I was 15 I spent the summer babysitting my little sister (who was 5). We were in the mall and she spotted a very dark skinned person. I saw her notice and start to stare at him and was like “oh no…what am I going to say to her?!”
    Sure enough she announced “why is his skin so dark?” and it was loud enough that the person heard.
    I hummed and hawed and came up with something along the lines of “There are lots of different people in the world and each one is unique. He has different coloured skin to us and that makes him different but only on the outside. It’s just like different coloured hair.”
    She seemed happy with that answer and I felt it was as proper and to the point as I could be with a 5 year old!!! haha

  • Christine

    I had a set of twins at the childcare centre I worked at whose mother proclaimed on a regular basis that they were “sperm bank babies”
    She would just they say “They don’t have a dad. They’ve never had a dad. Just a mom. That’s how our family is.”
    With your situation – Cam would want to know more. He’d wonder if you were divorced or if he died – so I would tell him everything.
    Cuyler and Eva – the basic “He doesn’t have a Dad” would be sufficient for them.
    I have the kid who asks “What’s your husbands name?” to every woman he see’s.
    Very often we hear “I don’t have one” sometimes the response is bitter. Sometimes it is joy. Sometimes it’s sad.
    I’ll bet that when you come over (because you will) Cuy will ask that. And he’ll ask about Will’s dad.

  • Nomi

    I like the answer you gave. My girls are 5 and 3, and if they came and told me “He doesn’t have one” I’d be totally good with that.
    There’s a great book store in Roncesvalles called Another Story which specializes on books that centre on non-traditional families. I bet they’d have a children’s book that would fit your family perfectly and maybe even give Will a few ideas on how to tell his story in a way that would make him proud.

  • http://www.myfamilyisnotbroken.wordpress.com Nancy

    what about -for right now at this age- “His dad and I do not live together- I am raising him by myself” ? That is probably enough info right now. And Knowing you and your great style and forthcoming nature- your son will be like you and start answering confidently with more info as he grows. You will get a better “elevator line” as time goes on but for now -keep it simple.

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