As a single mom, it is painful to come to terms that I am unable to raise my son without a father or in an incomplete family set-up. It becomes more painful when my son, Dylan, gets to see his friends with their Dads and finds himself comparing his life with theirs. When Dylan was about 2 or 3 years old, I faced the inevitable, hard questions every single mother dreads to hear about: “How come everyone has a Dad and I don’t?”, “How come Dad is not home?”, “I want my Dad, where is he?” Hearing these questions and remembering them are always heartbreaking. But it is important that these questions are addressed; that the children are made to understand the situation—however difficult or painful it may be. Never lie or sugar-coat the truth. Be calm and sensitive to the feelings of the child.
In my case, I held Dylan and explained calmly to him why his Dad is not around: “I wanted to be with your Dad, and I wanted to have a family that you could grow up with. However, your Dad made his choice not to be a part in our lives—and I made a choice to have you in my life. He has his reasons and I would like him to tell you those himself in time. It is okay to feel sad about it—I do, too. But always remember that your Dad loves you just as much as I love you. Life may not be perfect for everyone; if you see others are perfect, be happy for them and be thankful for what you have.” Saying these words made me cry. I did not hide this emotional burst to Dylan. I wanted him to see me being vulnerable but strong, at the same time. “Are you sad, Mom?” he asked before giving me a hug and a kiss. He went on to say, “Everything is going to be okay.” With those words, I knew he understood that I was there for him. I know he will grow up to be a gentleman and a good person.
As a single parent, we can feel vulnerable sometimes. But it is okay to feel vulnerable; it is okay to show vulnerabilities to children because it gives them an opportunity to see you as a person with emotions—someone who can get hurt and needs comforting. In doing so, we develop in them a sense of compassion at an early age. It makes them realize that parents are not just authority figures but persons they can relate to and share their emotions with. Most importantly, it cultivates their ability to care and show genuine concern for others.