How to handle an absent parent hurting a 2 year old's feelings?
Asked May 30, 2007, 08:38 PM
Situation as follows:
My ex (we never married) ignored me most of my pregnancy, had little to do with my son, was emotionally and verbally abusive, and I finally left. In the nasty custody battle that ensued, he actually got violent, threatening, and abducted our son when he was 15 months old and wouldn't even let me see him for almost a month. At the time, we didn't have a custody order.
So now, he is 26 months old, I have full custody, he has been ordered to have supervised visitation, and undergo psychiatric care. He has some kind of personality disorder, from what I can tell, it's a narcisistic personality disorder.
So a few weeks ago, he called my son (He goes through spurts of calling several times a day, to not calling for weeks, in this instance he had not called for 2 weeks)
My son was actually engaging him in conversation when his father abruptly said "Daddy has to go, daddy has another call" and promptly hung up on him.
My two year old stared at the phone, got the saddest little look in his eyes, turned to me and said "Daddy went bye-bye." then paused, then got a heartwrenching look on his face and with a very sad voice said "Daddy hung up on me?" I've never seen him respond like this, and truly believe his feelings were hurt.
Not knowing what else to do, we immediately called my brother (a prominent male fugure in his life) knowing my brother was home and would talk to my son until he was done talking.
So, now that you have the history, help me handle this. It's clear that my son knows everyone has a mommy and a daddy, he knows his daddy is gone and lives somewhere else, and know it seems he knows his daddy has other things more important than him to attend to. How do you handle a situation like this? I don't want his self-esteem to suffer because of it. He has my father, his uncle, and also my fiancˇe in his life as promienent male role models that love him consistently.
I was going to wait until my son decided to call my fiancˇe daddy on his own, but in light of this situation, I had a talk with him and just asked him if it would be okay if my fiancˇe became his daddy when we got married. Is this appropriate? I felt like he needed to know two daddies was an option, and that he was going to have a daddy that loved him and was consistently part of his life like he sees in other people, in books, and in TV shows. He's very excited by this, and will proudly tell people "He be my daddy!"
Does anyone have any advice on how best to handle situations like this? I don't want to lie to my son about his real father and tell him he's a wonderful man and father, when he's not, and have him resent me for lying to him. I certainly can't put his biological father down in front of my son. How are you supposed to handle situations with fathers like this so it all comes out best for the child? How do you walk the line between the truth, and tact?
Any help would be greatly appreciated. This is very far out of my leaugue, I didn't think this sort of thing would come up for a few years yet.