Myself and James


Q: Has James asked about his dad?  My child’s father doesn’t see her, I don’t know how I’ll explain this when she asks

It’s probably the most heartbreaking and difficult question that I’ve had to deal with. I remember when James was a tiny baby, looking into his blue eyes and thinking to myself, ‘I hope this situation works itself out as I really don’t know what to say to this little angel.’

Then I figured I had a couple of years, at least, before the question would come up and — surely — by that stage I’d have it all figured out.

James makes every day worthwhile and never fails to make me laugh. He gives the best hugs and has changed my life in positive ways that I never thought possible. I often feel sad that his dad has missed watching this amazing little person sit, crawl, walk and talk.

I’m lucky to have great friends and  family — and indeed a counsellor — who have all talked me through the bad days when I feel guilty and sad that his dad isn’t around.

One thing I’m very sure of is that I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I have a very happy little boy who smiles from morning until night.

However, children go to pre-school and then they go to school and it’s around this time that those tough questions start to be asked.

James is nearly four years old and the only child in his pre-school that doesn’t have a dad at home however, we have spoken about how much his dad loves him but that he lives far away for work. James did ask me why he didn’t want to meet him but I reassured him that of course he does and hopefully will one day soon.

I felt that was appropriate for now and my sister Laura also spoke to him at length about all the
amazing people in his life that love him and how lucky he is to have such a big family. He seemed delighted and for days kept talking about — and listing off — all the people that love him. He kept telling me the list was so long and that he kept forgetting people.

But recently, we went to Wexford for two days and had an incredible time building sandcastles at the beach. After we returned, his teacher Rosie — who is his idol — asked to speak to me because James had told his class that he had been away with his dad.

My heart sank. I know he only said it because everyone else in the class was saying that, but it doesn’t make it any easier. My advice is to be as age-appropriate and honest as you can. If you’re finding it hard to communicate, ask for help. But remember: love, stability and security are what a child needs and if you’re providing those, then you’re doing a great job.

One thing I would love to see is all parents talking to their kids about the different types of families that exist nowadays. I didn’t give single parents a second thought before I had James. I know that some parents don’t feel it’s their responsibility because they’re happily married, with perfectly adjusted children (yes, this was actually said to me) but times are changing. Whether you agree with how people live or not, teaching kids to be accepting and non-judgmental can only be a good thing for them and our communities.



4 thoughts on “PARENTING ALONE”

  1. Hi Alison, well done for sharing your advice on this tricky topic, I go through the same awkward Q&A sessions with my 6year old from time to time about her absent biological father. It is soooooo difficult,gut wrenching and bewildering to say the right thing at the right time when you are caught off guard peeling spuds or out with friends. I hate the social awkwardness I feel as a mum when I have to explain the situation in public and I hate that this one aspect of my daughters life has the power to completly over shadow good days…but you are sooo sooo right by providing “love, stability and security” us moms can raise kick ass human beings.

    • It really does come down to love and stability overall. I really feel its ok to acknowledge our feelings too and sometimes I just have to understand that life is not perfect for anyone no matter how it might look on the outside. I’m having a great run at the moment so cherishing every day xxxxx

  2. This post made me smile and tear up all at the same time. You are a wonderful person who had always been kind and thoughtful in all that you do. You should be proud of the parent you are. There are certainly many children who have 2 parents who together are not equal to you, as a single parent. XO


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