What, when and how to tell the boy/girl?
Many mothers doubt about explaining the child that he has a father and how to do it. Some mothers think that it is not necessary to explain it, that if children are very little (less than five years), they will not understand anything. Traditionally there was a trend to hide their condition of “son of single mother”, as it is considered as a shyness or a sin, up to the point that many children grew up considering themselves as children of their grandparents and brothers of their mothers.
The most convenient thing for the boy/girl is to know the truth. Sooner or later (s)he will make questions about the absence of his/her father when comparing his/her family to other families. Knowing the truth will help him /her to accept it naturally. (S)he must be provided the information (s)he may need to know in that very moment and transmit him /her safety and confidence in the future.
Depending on his/her age (s)he must be given an explanation adequate to his/her level of understanding.
If (s)he is under five years old, (s)he needs no very detailed explanations, and i(s)he may not understand it completely at the beginning. It will be sufficient to say that there are many kinds of family and that his/her father does not live together in his/hers, although the fact that he has one.
From five to eight years (s)he will understand the implications of what (s)he is explained and will want to know what his7her father is like and where he is. (S)he will also ask for information about the perspective of what will happen to him/her.
From nine to twelve years the boy/girl tends to think with the terms good/bad, correct/incorrect. It is important to explain him/her that there is nothing wrong in a family similar to his/hers, which is one more, by talking him/her about other types of families and especially of one parent families. It would be also advisable to answer the questions s about his/her father as we can do it, in a positive way.
When going on with the trend of clarity and honesty with the information (opposing to the past negation and hide), it is advisable to keep communication channels open by expressing that we are ready to discuss this topic when the boy/child wants or needs it.
What are other families like?
As we mentioned previously, it is convenient to provide boys/girls with some information about types of families, in particular of one parent families, by being sure of transmitting them a total normality and the consciousness of profiting from the same rights and duties as any other family.
As a kind of sketch we could suggest speaking about the following types of families:
1. Families in which daughters/sons, father, mother and grandparents live together.
2. Families of father, mother and daughters/sons (core family).
3. Families in which daughters/sons live together only with their father or mother (one parent family) and which can be composed of :
4. Biological or adoptive motherhood or fatherhood alone.
5. Partner’s death.
6. Legal separation, divorce or annulment of the couple.
Many single mothers hurry to look for a couple to solve their emotional needs, to “normalize” their situation as family and provide their son/daughter a fatherly figure.
Finding a couple as fast as possible seems to be the solution to all their problems. A high percentage of them usually get pregnant to give an own son/daughter to their partner and assure the link with him.
Unfortunately this solution fails in most cases, and when looking for another couple fast she does not give the couple enough time either to create an emotional link with the boy/girl who she already had or to let the couple develop itself in an appropriate period of time so as to progress positively.
On the other side, when having another child soon the first one finally gets hurt inevitably, since (s)he does not integrate into this new context and feels rejected, not loved by his/her mother’s partner and not a natural part of the new family.
The most sensible approach would be the couple as a choice, neither a solution nor the best one.
It is necessary for the relationships to develop themselves along the time and for the people to assume some compromises consciously so that people can link themselves to each other emotionally. Single mothers can educate their children on their own with satisfactory results.
Dependence or independence?
The quest of independence is one of the primary aims in adult life of everybody. It becomes a primary need to single mothers. Many of the most severe problems presented by single mother’s situation are caused by the fact that their life precisely gets developed in a situation of dependence to other people.