Young Child and Divorce: Why a Child Needs Her Mom and Dad

Question on a Young Child and Divorce

Using the parenting question form, a single mom wrote to me with the following question:

I am a single mom. I have a 2 year old daughter. The father is not in her life very often. The last time she saw him, it was about a year ago. She has recently been talking about her "dad". Saying how he called her or that he is sleeping. Stuff like that. I need advice on how to deal with this. Should I call the father and ask that he see her or call her. Or should I just let it be and chalk it up to normal pretending? Please help me!!


Answer re: Young Child and Divorce

Hello Dawn,

Even though your daughter is only two, she is sending you an important message—she wants and needs to have her father in her life. This is not a judgment against you as a single mom. The research shows that children need both parents. Kids who grow up with two parents (divorced or not) are healthier, happier and have greater self-esteem. It takes two people to conceive a child and two to raise her. Unless your ex is abusive in any way (you don't mention why you're no longer together or why he hasn't seen his child in a year), I suggest you call him, tell him that his daughter has been asking for him and figure out a plan for doing so. If he wants to be a part of his daughter's life, he must agree to be a consistent presence.

Young child and divorce: Statistics show that children need both their parents.
Effects of Divorce on Child:

While it is tough being a single mom, it is equally hard for a child of divorce. Long term research has shown that children of divorce have more adjustment and behavioral problems than other kids. If you think that encouraging your ex to be part of your daughter's life might be a good idea, you're right. Studies have shown that when children have regular contact with the parent who does not have custody, they have less problems than kids who only have one parent in their life.

Having your ex back in your daughter's life may also be good for you. Single moms have a high risk of depression than married moms. As long as you and your ex can maintain an amicable relationship, sharing custody will help.

Although your daughter is only two, she is beginning to notice that many other children have two-parent families. She sees these families at preschool, out in the world and in the idyllic lives of children on t.v.

Heed your daughter's message. Contact your ex. If he feels wanted and needed, this may inspire him to stay in regular contact with your child, but whatever you do, make a shared custody plan. Today, there is software available that will help you and your ex plan one-on-one time with your daughter. One of our favorite software packages has a diary function, so you can keep track of your daughter's interactions with her father or use the calendar function to let her know when she will get to see him next.


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