January 15, 2003

Dear Sandra,

Four years ago my daughter’s father left us. She is now seven, and her dad is rarely in the picture. Once or twice every six months he may drop in and deliver a present, but he’s in and out of the door before she even has a chance to spend any time with him. Now that she’s getting older this seems to be bothering her very much, she’s convinced her dad thinks she is a horrible kid, when she isn’t even close to being a horrible kid. I don’t how to explain his behavior to her and it breaks my heart to see her experiencing this kind of pain? Any suggestions?

Sad in Kingston, ON

Dear Sad,

As much as you want to just up and smack the jerk you need to be the responsible one and remember that as horrible as you think this man is, he is still your daughter’s father. This is a difficult situation and one that can’t easily be solved by words and condolences; this distress your daughter feels will probably last throughout childhood.

It’s important for you to reassure your daughter that neither of you made him leave; that it was his own decision. Be honest with your daughter, tell her that you don’t know why he doesn’t come around, and suggest that perhaps something in his past or present is making it hard for him to be a full-time father.

No matter what you do, don’t ever let your daughter hear you say anything bad about him. Children seem to think that if their parents are bad then they must be too. If you are harboring negative feelings about him, don’t share them with your daughter, confide in a good friend or write your feelings in a journal.

As a child, I went through this same situation and I truly believe that there is a difference between a dad and a father. A father is the one who impregnates your mother and a dad is the one who sticks around after or picks up the pieces after the father leaves.



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of