Monday, July 13, 2009

Dad talk

Last week we finally got the question.

"Ima, do you have a dad?" Leigh asked.

"Yes, your Grandpa F_______ is my dad," I answered.

"Mama, do you have a dad?"

"Yes, your Grandpa C_______ is my dad," she answers as I began thinking fast in preparation for the next question.

"Do I have a dad?"

Ouch. I knew it had to happen some day, but was very afraid of saying the wrong thing. "No, sweetie. You have two moms, but you don't have a dad."

That was it for that day. She thought for a little while about it and then wanted to talk about other things.

Today, we had part two. Leigh was talking on the "phone" (her hand, I think) as we were all walking to a restaurant to have breakfast. "Hello, Dad?" she said into the phone. I gave Lyn a meaningful nudge.

"Who are you talking to on the phone?"


"Oh, whose dad?"

"Mama's dad." This then led to a round of phone calls that started "Hello, Ima's Dad" and "Hello, Mama's dad."

Then she gets down to it: "But which one is my dad?"

At this point we stepped over to a conveniently placed bench to talk.

Then I said something like the following (only less eloquently), and hoped it was the right amount for a three-year-old: "Honey, you have two moms and you don't have a dad, but you do have grandfathers. Lots of people have a dad, but some don't. It's kind of like how you have a brother, but Mama doesn't have a brother and Ima doesn't have a brother. Some people have brothers and some don't. It's the same with dads. Some people have a dad and some don't."

She seemed to understand and wasn't upset about not having a dad (at least, not that she showed us), but we're waiting for the next conversation to see where she goes with it.


jessie said...

I think you handled that VERY well! Good work

Strawberry said...

I'm totally using that explanation as well when the time comes :)

Cindy said...

That is really the best explanation I have heard to give to a child. Honest, matter of fact, and sensitive. Bravo!

Lex said...

Sounds like it went very well! This might also be a great time to either purchase, or take out (if you already have them) some picture books about different kinds of families. I really love "Everywhere Babies" (the text is not about different kinds of families, but the pictures show different families, and my kids like to talk about who's in each family), and then, of course, Todd Parr's "The Family Book." When our 6-year-olds were first gaining awareness about their lack of a dad, we'd also just talk about all of the different families we knew--friends of theirs, relatives, etc.--and point out which families had a dad, and which had two moms, and which had only one mom and no dad, etc.

I think you were wise to not bring up the donor in the context of the "where's my dad?" discussion, but it might also be a good time to start telling Leigh her conception story, if you haven't already been. She won't understand it yet, of course, but if you start early then it will always be something she knows.

tbean said...

I'm always thinking ahead to those conversations. Thanks for writing about them and previewing what is to come. Sounds like the first "dad talk" went perfectly.

Skye Xyan said...

I really like the brother analogy. I wouldn't have thought of it. Though it's not entirely true, I think it works very well for the age she's at. Does she know any other families with two moms or two dads?

Lyn said...

Skye -- Yeah, I thought Gail was pretty clever thinking up the brother analogy right on the spot. However, we do think this explanation *is* completely true. She doesn't have a dad, which is a family relationship. She does have a sperm donor, but that's really not the same thing.
And yes, we are blessed to know several kids her age with two moms, though we're short on friends with two dads.

Lex -- What language do you use with your boys to talk about their conception story? (and yes, we love the family book and everywhere babies)