Talking to young children about a painfully estranged relative
Many of us have in-laws, step-parents or aunts and uncles with whom we never wish to speak again. A lot of this never needs to be discussed with our children until they are much older. But sometimes, the relationship is so close and seems that it should be such a normal part of your children's life story that it continues to surface -- even though your children are too young and the subject still too raw for you to address it evenly. What do you do? A. asks:
I have been estranged from my father for just over 10 years. He sexually abused me when I was a child, and needless to say I don't want to have him in my or my children's lives. What I really could use, is some advice on how to approach the subject of my father with my children. Tonight my daughter (who is 4 1/2) asked my who my daddy is.
That sent me into a panic. I stammered, he was a daddy, and promptly changed the subject. I don't want to say something like "he wasn't very nice to me so I don't talk to him anymore" because I worry that my daughter will make a connection that if she's ever not very nice to me than I may not talk to her anymore.
Any thoughts you wise mamas have would be very much appreciated, for both short term (what do I say now about my dad in my past/present, and why there's only grandma on Mommy's side and no grandpa) and long term ideas (like should I actually tell my kids the details one day? How old should they be? when they are young adults themselves??)