"Throughout this book, I felt Bruce had a secret window into my own life and private thoughts. Many private feelings I am currently dealing with were addressed and revealed in a manner that made me feel it is not only normal, but I am truly not alone in this. I was surprised that I cried while reading it and the comfort that the words brought me. I read tons of self-help books, among other types of books, and this book actually gives me hope and things to look forward to. My tears were from the fact that I am facing the words I read. I have been getting negative feedback from outside sources and these words reassured me not to listen, keep them out of your life and do what is right. The section on the other home/parent opened my eyes and freed me. I did not go into reading this book thinking it would help me on such a deep emotional level." ~Dorothy Justice, Vice Chair-Community Action Partnership

August 20, 2012

Where's My Daddy?

Trying to imagine what goes through the little mind and heart of a child at this juncture and at this age gets me, perhaps the little one surmising, ok when does my “daddy” come for me?
VaughanVisions / Flickr

Recently I was inspired by another blogger’s entry about a mom’s submission on her three year old daughter’s question. I’ve been seeing more on this topic raised around the blogosphere, support groups, and medical advice web pages. Mothers asking what do I do when my child asks this question. Unbeknown to the child, it flares up all kinds of emotions in the single mom.

In the cases I’ve read, the very young child usually about three or four witnesses other dads either with extended family or at daycare. Its here, that the child will hear
the name “daddy” and see this unusual transaction with another significant person, a man.

Trying to imagine what goes through the little mind and heart of a child at this juncture and at this age gets me, perhaps the little one surmising, ok when does my “daddy” come for me? Why don’t I have someone to call “daddy?” Finally submitting to mom, Where is my daddy?

Today overall, four out of every ten children are born to unwed moms across all age groups. Once upon a time teen moms held the highest percentage of newborns out of wedlock. Now, more than half of all children in this category are born to women in their twenties, according to a recent U.S. Consensus, and the numbers are rising. Its not just in the U.S. either, in some countries in Europe the statistics are even higher.

The mothers of these internet submissions knew the day would come when their child would be curious—just not this early and were blind sided. The question from small lips inevitably raises more hopeless questions, Where did I go wrong?, Did I do the right thing? In these cases, the father either wasn’t interested, wasn’t aware, or bailed before the child could know the difference.

Mothers are left asking should I have told the father or should I have done something differently. Shuffling moms are alone holding the burden of answering with accountability to a language-limited child--role reversal in its greatest form.

Why don't bio dads see or understand the complexity and repercussions their decisions have on others? Why is it ok to walk away? Why cant men hold themselves accountable? Stuff happens. Men receive challenges of all shapes and sizes all of the time. We normally and not surprisingly seize the moment and conquer.

In these cases, the males are involved in a transaction and now there is new life. Who is responsible for allowing their luxury to turn face? Its too easy, in my mind. Who is holding these males accountable? I like to imagine the same young child holding the unsuspecting guy with the bio credentials accountable after the about face-- small child to father:

  • What was more important that you walked away?
  • Why couldn’t we have grown together?
  • What did you substitute for my hugs and my love?
  • What did I do?  
  • All I needed was your acceptance and approval.

I describe in my blog, “What it means to be a father”, how having a child will inevitably change a man. It’s about understanding someone is relying on you for his or her very existence. Having the backbone to stand up and doing the right thing will favor the father in more ways than he would ever know. In this post, I distinguish being a dad forever changes a man.

It begs the question, What are you afraid of? I wish I could gather all the young mothers and fathers and their parents. Yes, the grandparents. If I had a son who submitted to creating new life, I would prepare to support my son for what would be the best thing of his life— even if he couldn’t see or understand the difference. I’d be with him every step of the way.

For the group, I’d speak about the positive and purify the negative. I would mention to our parents-to-be that with change and challenge comes growth. This is one area you cannot sidestep. With all risk come consequences. I would help in understanding that with a child, a parent’s time and love is profound. Innocent lives are at stake. This isn’t a time and place to be ambivalent.

This problem is a two-headed monster. I read blog posts from women asking for advice on whether to tell the father about the pregnancy. I can see the women have a conscience and foresee the child’s curiosity, questioning and need. They want to act on what their conscience is telling them, yet I read advice from other women to not tell the father—that it will only add trouble and conflict.

When we submit this advice, whom are we really thinking about? Who is really gaining and whom are we cheating? Within reason, the question really should be how to negotiate the father into the picture for the child. Having a father in the picture changes the outlook and life of a child. Dads play a pivotal role in a child’s development. Fathers are important to a child’s well being. Children who have two participating parents and active father have fewer behavioral problems whether the parents are together or not. Fathers are equally important as the mother. Who is sharing this with the pregnant mom?

For the cases where the father’s presence would be menacing, where there are voids there is resolution. Men don’t necessarily need the bio credentials to be a good man or to be a dad in a child’s life. Other men can provide the same love and attention to acceptance and approval of a child. Engaging our children within good healthy and secure boundaries with other men (whether or not the mom is in a relationship) at a very early age will gain dividends for all involved.

A single mom’s heartbroken submission inspired me. Thinking about her three year old daughter’s inquiry clearly impacted me. Indeed, if I had witnessed the mother-daughter transaction first hand, my impulses would have instigated without preservation, “I’m your daddy.” Young men and women should be accountable for their actions and their elders should be providing guidance. Consider your father’s absence— completely remove him from the picture and tell me how would you foresee your life? Children deserve a daddy.

© 2012 Bruce Buccio


  1. I agree with your post, and feel that children benefit greatly from having both parents actively participating in their lives. However, what if one of the parents is abusive, or doesn't have the best interest of the child? I struggle with this question every day, as the father of my oldest children is an abuser, whom often uses the children as pawns in his quest to get back at me. From the time that he and I divorced, I made sure that his relationship with the children continued. After the divorce, the older children were very angry with him, and I spent countless hours in counseling with them (note he was invited but never showed up), trying to help them overcome their anger towards their father. Every time they had a falling out with their dad, I would facilitate meetings so that their dad could come over to our home and speak to the children as a way to patch things up. Even through our bitter, and difficult divorce I helped my ex regain his children's trust. Unfortunately over time it has become apparent that he does not have our children's best interest in mind. He hasn't paid child support in months, and when I filed with the courts for the support, he filed for joint custody of the children. This would not have been so bad, had he not told the kids that he wanted joint custody so he wouldn't have to pay me support. At the same time, he then handed the paper work to my 14 year old and had him serve me with the court documents. The list of issues I've had with him concerning the conversations that he has with the children, and his inability to act responsibly while they are in his care leads me back to one question. Would my children be better served if he were not in their lives, or if he had limited access to them. I would never want to take their father away from them, however things like getting a DUI while driving my kids around, or driving my 5 year old around without a booster seat, or worst yet the fact that he has allowed my 17 year old to drink while in his care...it makes me wonder if having him in their lives is more detrimental to them.

  2. Hi Joanna and thanks for your response! Dads can be pricks and I'm not making excuses for those who miss the mark. Children deserve dads who strive and attempt to achieve the mark with his kids. For the bio dads who are menacing, there are valuable resolutions for the child's sake. Regardless, conflict with the kids dad won't win over any hearts with children. Facilitating their relationship with the dad will help the children find what's best on their terms when they are ready. It's win win for you. Stick with your plan for your children and eventually they will see for themselves what's best.

  3. Interesting. and yes, studies show that children are benefitted by having the "ideal" family of a mother and father, "ideally" with the mother not working outside the home. but this is real life and rarely IDEAL. in answer to these questions for my personal situation-
    What was more important that you walked away? ALCOHOL
    Why couldn’t we have grown together? BECAUSE I LIKED DRINKING ALCOHOL TOO MUCH
    What did you substitute for my hugs and my love? ALCOHOL
    What did I do? NOT A THING, I'M A DINK


    Yes, we could go into the poor choice I made in picking a man who told me that alcohol was more important to him then being a father. But I made a good choice in deciding that until he made himself a safe person to be around, my son will not be around him. How I answer my son "of course we all have dads, yours just isn't around because its not safe for you because he's kinda mean, when it is safe and you want to, you can meet him" and that will be done with the help of a trained professional.

    As a side note, though we are both adults, I did contact his father's family - they wanted nothing to do with meeting my son, according to him.

    1. Hi Nina and thankyou. I know a little about alcohol. My kids mom is an alcoholic. When i took my kids away and brought them home full time the judge said only supervised visits and when she passed a test and was sober. She was challenged with the choices but thats my kids mom. Children love both their parents regardless of the circumstances. When they were old enough it was up to them how they wanted to define their relationship with their mom- their terms not mine. With that said, This post is from the three year old perspective directed at the mssingperso in theie life. Children deserve to know they have a father.