Son wants a father after divorce

Parent Q&A

June 14, 1998|By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. | T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q.My husband and I divorced when our son was 2. My son and I moved away from his father (to a different state) just before his fifth birthday. He has visited his dad several times and speaks to him regularly by phone. He is also aware that Dad sends money to help support him.

I have not remarried and don't have a significant other in my life. Sometimes when my son is playing with my sister's boyfriend, he calls him Daddy. Should I be concerned, or is this a normal way of expressing his need to have a father around?

When I read about children of divorce, they always talk about the anger, fear and confusion, but my son seems to be a well-adjusted 6-year-old.

I would like to make sure I am doing all I can for him. Are there hidden issues I just don't see?

A. There is likely to be a kind of hunger for his dad that your son is showing by attaching himself to your sister's boyfriend. Calling him Daddy is just an expression of this hunger. I'd not call attention to it or try to stop him.

Maybe his father should get more involved regularly now, if that's possible. Children of divorce keep longing for the other parent for many years, so he won't get over it easily.

I hope you and his dad are friends. That's the surest way to help your son adjust.

A fear of loss is a normal reaction to losing his father's presence. Regular visits (and phone calls) can help to mitigate that feeling of loss.

Address questions to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 6/14/98

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