Thanks to Tina for the suggestion of an absent parent, a difficult subject; but one I have had a little experience of.
My boys, were aged four and six years, when myself and their father split. I decided at the time that I was going to try to stay on good terms with my ex, to make it easier for my sons to adjust, but, of course I quickly realised it wasn’t as simple as that. I told my ex husband that he could see the children whenever he wanted, as long as it was pre arranged. This worked well for a while, but soon he was telling the children, “Daddy is all on his own now.” ( I had started a new relationship and he hadn’t) I tried talking to him about this, but he was having none of it and very soon was returning the boys to me ten minutes later than arranged.
I know Tina’s children are quite young, as were mine and so a certain amount of what is going on will go over their heads, but we mustn’t under estimate our off spring and therefore try to explain as much as you think they can deal with. I would tell them that mummy and daddy have fallen out with each other, but not with them and that none of it was their fault. Mum and dad may not love each other any more but they will always love them, and will always be their mother and father.
I don’t know Tina’s exact situation, but am presuming that they still have contact with their father. A friend of mine; Hilary, split with her husband when their daughter, Emma, was very young because Emma’s dad wasn’t all that interested in her when they were together. Hilary decided that he didn’t need contact with his daughter now they were living apart. This arrangement was fine while Emma was tiny, but when she started attending pre school and made a father’s day card Hilary wasn’t so sure she had made the correct choice, in the end she posted the card to him. Emma is now a mummy herself and everyone has a healthy relationship with granddad.
Of course, sometimes a parent is absent due to a bereavement. I have another friend, whose little girl lost her daddy suddenly a few years ago. A lot of children first encounter death by loosing a beloved pet. My grand children recently lost their great granddad and on witnessing her mummy crying, my granddaughter told her “It will be OK Mummy, great granddad will be able to look after nanas dog.”
Back to my friend; she is amazing the way she has coped with helping her daughter through this difficult time, they send presents to heaven by tying small gifts to a balloon and because Steve(the dad) liked mints they placed a few polo mints and a school photo inside the balloon. They then go to a local high beauty spot and release their gifts. I must also stress that it is not always the dad who is the absent parent, I know of two mothers who chose to leave their husbands and children to start a new life. Sometimes an absent parent may not be able to have direct contact with their child, due to a court order or similar, there are usually ways around this too. The children’s centre where I used to work, can arrange supervised sessions, where a parent can spend time with their child with a third party present.
Just remember, stay strong for your children, let them know you are always there if they want to talk about anything worrying them and finally, for any person moving onto a new relationship, my blog called “Blended Families” may be a help.
As always questions/comments are welcome.