How To Talk To Your Child About An Absent Father
The Truth Of What It Means To Be A Stay-at-Home Mom—If You Get Divorced
Every two weeks I answer anonymous questions to an exclusive segment of my list. This week's question, however, was important enough that I wanted to share the answer more widely. (If you'd like to be on this exclusive segment of my list, you can sign up here.)
An anonymous reader asked:
My son often asks for his daddy. I don't know what to say to him. It breaks my heart because I've done everything I can to bridge the gap and encourage his father to be a part of his life. But he's totally absent. Only visits maybe 20hrs a month sometimes less. Can you give me any advice on what to say to my son about where his father is? Why he isn't here etc?
First of all, let me say that these kinds of questions break my heart. According to Psychology today, "...24 million children live in biological father-absent homes— in the United States alone. And 1 in 3 children grow up without a father." What this means first and foremost is that you are not alone.
When To Introduce Him To Your Kids
When I became pregnant, I had just lost my job managing a successful fitness studio that was being financially mismanaged. I was also an actor, and while I still had to have a day-job (as most of us do), I’d been doing pretty well in theatre and television most of my life.
I started my acting career when I was about 3 years old, when I became one of the regular kids on Sesame Street.
Being raised by actors in New York City, I had access to some pretty insane opportunities. By the time I was 12, I had the kind of career most actors would kill for.
When I was 23, I had my picture in almost every newspaper and magazine across the country because of a highly controversial TV movie I starred in (we had the second lesbian kiss in TV history. In 1994 that was a BFD, even for HBO).
All this to say, I had a career, and not an insubstantial one.
But pregnant, I wasn’t exactly taking Hollywood by storm.
Five Reasons Bad Moms is Bad for Moms
OK, so you’ve met a new guy (because you are all that and a bag o’ chips) and it seems like this new relationship might actually be going well. Your next big question is, how do you know when to introduce him to your kids?
At some point it will be nice to ease into a more relaxed kind of dating where you have dinner at home and watch a movie, rather than going out all the time.
While there is a delicate balance in all of this, it’s actually more simple than some would have you think.
Let’s start with what doesn’t work, and while these may seem super-basic, you’d be surprised at what I’ve seen...
On Turning Forty Five
When I first saw the trailer for Bad Moms I was so excited for this movie to come out. Like so many failed relationships, I pinned my hopes and dreams to it. We were finally going to be understood; someone was finally going to tell the truth about what it’s really like to be a mom in today’s world. As a coach and educator for moms, I could not have been more excited.
And when I finally saw the movie last night, I could not have been more let down.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOL-ed. I cheered, and fist-pumped. I agree with the message that moms need to give up their search for perfection and “having it all.” I believe that we and our kids are over-scheduled, overworked and overwhelmed. I agree that we’re all trying to be and do too much and that it’s killing us—as a culture and as individuals.
But this movie missed the mark on so many levels, because in the end, this movie isn’t really about us...
Is Positive Thinking Bullshit
I turn 45 on Wednesday.
Until it was right on top of me, I didn’t exactly think about how this would feel. It’s a birthday and I tend to like my birthday. I get a massage, take the day off, and indulge in… me! Plus there’s all that Facebook love! What’s not to like?
But this? This is a huge hump.
I’m now closer to 50 than to 40.
What the actual fuck?
Today, here’s how this whole birthday thing is looking and feeling (I’m premenstrual, so I admit this might be looking and feeling a little bleaker because of that. Cruel nature.):
On Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I am having a cervical biopsy because I had an abnormal pap. Regardless of the results, cervical biopsies SUCK. They hurt like hell. They’re invasive and send your body into trauma-shock for a while after. My body takes longer than the average person’s to heal from every trauma it’s ever experienced—major foot surgery, a c-section, and, yes, a cervical biopsy and LEEP procedure in my 20s. So, yay. This year on my birthday I’ll be recovering from someone taking a giant, un-anesthetized snip out of my cervix.
I’m single. I’m getting to that age where the guys I check out are more interested in the women in their 20s, and the guys who helicopter me at parties are pushing 60...
A few weeks ago I watched a video series by a business coach named Todd Herman. In one video, Todd talked about the difference between an “OW Mentality” and a “WOW Mentality,” and told the story of meeting two business owners, each of whom had a different mental outlook on their businesses. Todd said he could predict, just from their outlooks, which business would succeed and which would fail. Spoiler alert: Todd predicted that the one with the WOW Mentality was going to succeed, whereas the one with the OW Mentality would fail.
The business owner who looked up and saw only the mountain left to climb, how much further there was to go until his goals were accomplished, was destined to failure, while the one who turned around and looked at all she’d accomplished and felt the rush of her successes thus far pushing her up the rest of the mountain was going to succeed.
This is nothing more than a reframed conversation about the power of positive thinking, but sometimes a re-frame can be really powerful and hit you right where you need to be hit.
I’m not new to the whole positive thinking movement. After all, I’m a life coach and these are things I teach and sometimes often preach.
But it’s time for me to get super honest about this shit, because since watching Todd’s videos, I’ve been in a mental pickle about this whole OW to WOW Mentality thing...