As parents, we can never be too prepared for the questions that come from our children. A few weeks ago, a question I was not prepared for came from my son. He asked, “Do moms and dads live together?” My heart broke. I had not realized that my child had normalized the idea that parents live apart. My reply was, “Of course they do!” However, there came the dreaded follow-up question and statement that I was not prepared for. “Well, why does Dad not live here? I want my dad to live with us.”
Through pictures, my son is aware that his dad once lived with us, but he cannot remember. I dare not tell him the truth that his dad cheated on me, and that the continued infidelity brought mistrust and constant battles that were unhealthy for both of us. So I tell part of the truth since we did live together and were once happy.
I continued to say, “Sometimes moms and dads do not live together. However, Daddy and I are friends, and we love you.” In reality, I do not know if that is the best answer. When he is older, there will be room for more explaining and understanding. Most importantly he knows that we love him and we exhibit respect for each other in his presence
Funny thing is, I was surprised to be having that dreaded conversation so early. I figured maybe when he was older. I never even considered that this was a thought in his mind. Children teach us.
What my son’s question has taught me is that living as a single parent was normal to me. I was raised by a single mother and my grandmother, so to me, there is the normalcy of not having a consistent male figure. However, for my son, I wanted a different narrative. I never expected that I would be doing it mostly alone.
So far, his dad and I do the best we can with co-parenting. The reason I did not shy away from my son’s question was that he had to know that this is not everyone’s normal and that parents should be together to raise their children, although sometimes it may not work out.
With Father’s Day having just past, I am reminded that being a single parent (and co-parenting) requires a little more work. When couples are no longer together, they live separate lives, and with this, they enter new relationships and expectations.
On Father’s Day, I encouraged my son to call his dad, who was working on the road, and we sent a picture to him with his gift. What helps me remain positive and allows my son to have the best relationship with his dad is to encourage him to be with his dad and enjoy their time together. I also seek to surround my son with positive male role models within our extended family. I believe deeply that a young boy needs a father figure to help him learn how to be a man. Whether or not we live together, I will always work hard to cultivate the relationship between my son and his father.