"My son hasn't seen or heard from his father in more than three years," begins an e-mail we recently received from a single mom.
Single Mom Seeking: "I've always told my 7-year-old son that his dad moved away and I didn't know where he went," this mom goes on. "Truthfully, I knew that he moved in with his girlfriend with whom he had two daughters. So, I found out last night -- quite accidentally -- that they just had a baby boy. Clearly, he has no plans to have any sort of relationship with our son. I started crying. My son heard me and hugged me. I blurted out that his dad probably won't be in his life -- and his father has a new family."
Now, this mother is wondering if she did the right thing by being so bluntly honest with her son. She explains: "I just can't stand the thought of my son waiting for his dad to call -- when obviously his dad has moved on. Both of us are heartbroken."
She wants to know: What can I say now to help my son get through this terrible loss?
Here's what Dr. Leah, author of The Complete Single Mother, suggests:
Don't waste any more energy second-guessing yourself. Unfortunately, there are no "magic words" to soothe this kind of loss.
Do make sure that you emphasize to your son that his father's decision to abandon him has nothing to do with him being unlovable or inadequate. His father left for his own reasons, which even he may not fully understand.
Rituals and ceremonies commemorate transitions in life, such as marriage and death. Consider organizing a ceremony to give your child an opportunity to speak about his loss. Invite selected friends and family, if appropriate.
Give your son an opportunity to give a little speech about his father -- kind of a eulogy for the living. You can also talk about your good memories of his father. You can set aside photos and other mementos in a special place. Light candles and prepare special refreshments. Like an old-fashioned wake, there will be tears and laughter.
Most importantly, others will acknowledge and mourn your son's loss. This is critical for both of you. Wish Dad well as you light the candles. And tell your son that it's time for both of you to move on with your lives, too.
We'd love to know: Have you coped with a similar situation? What advice can you offer to this single mom?
|Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. "Single Mom Seeking" blogs at SingleMomSeeking.com and co-founded SingleMommyHood.com, the first-ever website to offer "a whole new way to think about life."|