To Tell Or Not To Tell: What Will I Say When My Daughter Asks About Her Father?
I remember when I made the decision to go about being a single mother. Though it wasn’t anything that I planned, (because when you marry someone you usually think it’s going to last forever), it was something that I was okay doing.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty intimidated because I was raised in a two parent household, as were both of my parents. There aren’t a lot of single mothers in my family. In my immediately family I’m the only one. Though my parents are divorced now, they didn’t follow through with that decision until I was about 25 or so.
So, I didn’t really have an example of how to raise a child by myself and how to filter through those questions of why it was only mommy and baby. So I decided that instead of telling my daughter what happened I would tell her what I tell everyone else: “We were just two people who weren’t good for each other.”
My rationale with this was that I didn’t want to influence her to think anything negative about her father. If she decided to love him, hate him, or feel indifferent to him, it was all going to be on her. I felt comfortable in that decision, until I started watching this season’s batch of reality television programs.
On “Love and Hip Hop Hollywood,” you see Apryl angry with her mother for not telling her about the events that shaped her childhood. Apryl, whose father was in jail, was raised by her grandmother from the age of 4 until she was 11, and then moved to live with her mother and other siblings.
On “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” you see Phaedra and Apollo interacting with their children during the extremely tangible circus in the room. It was more than an elephant. There were clowns, lions, a ringmaster, the whole situation was bananas. Occasionally you’ll see little Ayden ask his father: “Where are you going?”
There it is, actual reality in reality television. Who would’ve thunk it?
But along with these situations that are being played out on reality television, I’m reminded of my own. My daughter is starting to ask questions about everything, and one of her favorite ones is: “Where is [insert name here]?” She goes to the window and ask: “Where’s G-Mama/G-Daddy?” (Translation: “Where’s Grandma/Granddaddy?”) or “Where’s Tee-Tee Kayla and Robby?” (Translation: “Where’s Aunty Kayla and her boyfriend Robby?”) These are people that she loves and asks for, and waits for them to show up, and I know that eventually there’s going to be a day of asking where her father is. That’s going to turn into asking where was he, and then finally: “What happened?”
I’m not looking forward to it, but I know it’s going to happen, especially if my daughter keeps her affinity to always ask questions (much like myself). I feel a little annoyed with myself for not asking the right questions before I walked down the courthouse halls and got married, but there’s nothing I can do about that now.
After asking as many of my friends, who were raised in single parent households, the thing that I learned from their perspective was that timing and discernment is everything.
I learned that they were appreciative when their parents told the truth about what happened with them, while being objective. They respected the timing their parents used when answering their children’s questions about the past. Even when my friends thought they were ready, their parents knew if they were emotionally mature enough to handle it, and it turned out that their parents’ timing with the information was always ideal.
I plan to take their stories into consideration whenever that dreaded day comes and saying my go-to line isn’t enough for my daughter. I also plan to continue to encourage her father to be more involved. That way when the truth does come out, it’s not as harsh for her. Until these things happen, I’m just trying my best to give her the best life that I can as a single mother because, as my friends revealed, having a positive childhood made up for it being with only one parent.
So what do you think, readers? What’s your advice and take on this? Believe me, I’m taking ANY advice I can get at the moment!
Kendra Koger is holding her tongue, but her fingers are free @kkoger.