I am a single mom again (as of a week ago) of a 5- (almost 6-) year-old, who is in kindergarten.

My son's biological dad and I were together 5 years but we lived apart by the time I got pregnant. He pushed us out of his life pretty much as I got pregnant. He wanted me to abort him, but I refused.

Though he wanted me to have an abortion, he was present for his birth and visited 2 times, celebrated his 1st birthday together, then he simply stopped seeing him. No support, no legal stuff done; I left the area to live with my mom. Before I left, I was starting a relationship with a man that I knew for 4 years. We did end up having a very loving relationship, a long distance one, and because my son was so young at the time, he eventually became "dad". We were together almost 4 years.

He wanted him to be his son. He said through the years that we were together that he loved him as his son. (We had been together a total of almost 4 years; it ended a week ago.)

I did not take lightly him being called dad. He moved in with us (multigenerational household). Things were good, but he was away a lot with his work, yet I feel we did well together and as a whole family.

Last week, he said he hated living in "the city" and had to leave. I was blindsided. Now my son has basically lost two daddies.

My son is smart and articulate. I don't need to talk to him about his bio dad since he never knew him, but how am I to approach him about the daddy he knows now that he's gone? Right now, I'm pretty sure he thinks he's just at work. He talks about him but hasn't asked where he is yet. He lives with me, my mom, his adult sister, including our next door neighbor, and numerous family members that visit. So he has lots of love around. No abuse. Normal, for us, family life.

What to do? How to tell him?

3 Answers 3


When my 5 year old had to face the prospect of death (several family members passed in as many months) we had a long discussion about change. I used the example how cutting down a large tree allows all the plants below it to grow and become big trees on their own. They would never live to their full potential in the shadows.

So what can seem like a major damaging change in life is many times new opportunity to grow and enhance your relationship with your kiddo. In the end you are teaching him that change is inevitable and its best learn from it rather than fear it.

Your goal at this time is to prepare him for the upcoming changes in his life and how to deal with them. And its ok for you to hurt from this loss as well, don't crush down your pain to hide it away.


I find the truth spoken in an upbeat tone is often enough. Daddy decided to go live in the country and won't be coming by anymore. It's sad that he's gone but as you said, the family is big and sounds strong so he'll be ok. Often I find as parents we think something will be harder on a child than it actually is for them. I talk to my kids openly about my feelings of sadness, but forgo most of the details of the split. I also remind them I'm sad because I cared about that person and they cared about me and sadness is natural and normal.

In my experience it's the parent, not the child who is struggling with the breakup and that can have more of an impact on the kids than that person leaving their life. Put self-care first and trust that your son is going to be ok just like the countless other kids of single mothers who turn out just fine too. I have faith in your resilience and his as well, especially given that he's surrounded by loving people at home.


I'm so sorry for the losses and abandonment you and your son have had to endure. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have this conversation with a child so impressionable. Make sure he knows that he was loved and it's not his fault. Children often blame themselves when loved ones leave. Teach him that no matter what God loves him and he has a father in Heaven. Assure him that you will love and be there for him no matter what.

This conversation is only the beginning. The truth is the boy will need good men in his life to teach him how to grow up to be good man. Studies on prison inmates have shown an overwhelming correlation with a lack of a father figure and eventually ending up in prison.

The good news is there are communities available that can provide this. Religious organizations do an exceptionally good job of teaching values and providing father figures to fatherless children and children with neglectful fathers. I've talked to men in my own church who grew up without fathers and were extremely grateful that the men in our church organization were able to step in and teach them what they needed to know to be good fathers and husbands. They say that even though they never had a father, these men gave them all the fatherly love they could ever hope for.

There are other clubs and organizations that have proven to provide this for young boys as well, such as boxing clubs and other athletic organizations. But from my experience with both, religious organizations do a much better job of providing this.

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