How do you explain to a three year old that their dad isn't around?

Hi. Could you please post? My 3-year-old has never known her dad—his choice. Recently my brother got home from jail, and my nephews got their dad back. So she’s catching on to what a dad is. Tonight my three years old came up and said she needed a dad. What do I do? How do I explain this?


Everyone has different families . Some people live with their mum and dad . Some with grandma and grandad . Like bing bing just has a daddy . Suzi sheep on peppa just has a mum . :slight_smile: have to do this often


Ask why they need a dad what do they think a dad could give them they dont have and maybe they will find they dont need another person in thier life after all

I told my son that I was his dad too. I told him I loved him so much that I would do anything for him and that included being his dad too. Sometimes he will call me momdad. He knows I’m his mom and he knows I’m there for him and he’s okay with it. Not sure if this is the correct thing to do but it works. He’s now 4 and if a stranger or someone that doesn’t know says you better ask your dad he proudly says my mom is my dad. Kids are resilient and as long as you show them love they will be okay!


Only thing you can tell 3 years old is that he died.


My daughter asked, and I told her that our family was different, like all the other ones. Some kids don’t have dads. The older she got, the more truthful I was. That he didn’t want to be in her life but its his loss, and that she’s such a great kid and there may come a day he wants to be around her, and it’ll be up to her.


You tell her that you’re her dad and her mom. I was both to my son for a long time… until I met my husband, because his biological donor was MIA.

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Just tell her some people don’t have dad’s, and some people don’t even have mums


There are lots of books geared towards young children and how each family is different.

Lots of these “problems” can be found using the search option above for your answer from others who’ve posted the same thing :thinking:.

My daughter when she was 3 she cried she didnt have a dad either I had reached out to him and told him and she cried on the phone when I used to tell her he worked and she said to him everyone dad works but they see them. Hearing it from him changed his mind about being around I can say 6 years later he still remembers that day she cried she didnt have a dad and he hasnt stopped being in her life. But I always told her every family is different .


Tell her people have different types of families. Some have no mama and no daddy, some have nanny and papa, some have aunties n uncles, some have mama, some have daddy, some have two of each. Each family is unique :heart:


Tell her the truth and ask your brother to spend time with her. The more love the better.


I told my 2 year old that he’s not with us anymore. :woman_shrugging:t2: when she started asking why I just told that her he’s not a safe person. Easy explanations without a lot of detail

I agree with the all families are different statement you could get books on diffrent families

That she has a dad and when she is older she will have a chance to meet him that not all families have dads …That y’all had her and didn’t love each other anymore so y’all split! She will have more questions probably why can’t she see him etc. Saying you don’t know where he is will be less hurtful than saying he didn’t want her or doesn’t love her.

Until my son was old enough to see for himself what was actually going on and for his own opinions, I simply told him that sometimes dads aren’t ready to be a dad and it’s better to let them go than to force them into parenting. My son is almost 15 and has only seen his bio dad a handful of times. He completely sees the entire thing for himself now as bio dad will call occasionally drunk and try and talk to him and he’s formed his own opinion.

I would say that she has a dad and that not every person who has a baby is ready to be a parent. He’s living life and learning lessons along the way so that if and when he decides he’s ready he can be a good dad.

You’re probably internalizing more than she is… she can’t miss something she never had. Easy quick answers that don’t require tons of follow up questions and you should be good to go.

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Just tell her all families are different. Some have a mom and dad, some 2 moms or dads, some just a mom, but they are all families nonetheless. That is just the way your family is built.

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I have two sons, now 7 and 4. My oldest dad is around, my youngest never was. He was around 2 when he realized “daddy” because of my nieces and nephews, and my oldest son saying dad. He would literally call his dad, daddy :joy::woman_facepalming:t2::woman_facepalming:t2: I never knew what to say, and would just be “thats not your daddy honey”. I got with my current boyfriend two years ago, and he calls him dad or by his name. I never really had an explanation for him, as bad as that sounds. :flushed:

You don’t need to go in-depth she’s three. A lot of times kids just need you to listen rather than give an explanation.

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You don’t… she’s 3 … tell her okay… she will forget it for awhile… kids this age live in the moment.

I raised 2 boys with no father. I was scared I would say the wrong thing and influence thier outlook on thier dad. So I would only tell them that dad loves them and he was busy, and when he was able he would come back to them. Now They are grown And I am glad with my decision they have their own opinion and relationship with their dad.

I would ask her why she thinks that. It may not be the reason you think. Sometimes children think more simply than we can fathom. It may be that she feels she is missing out on activities or love that she sees someone else having. That would be a great opportunity for assurance and you two to have a new hobby! That would give her time to grow and adapt to her life and see that she has many who love her.
However if it is what you are dreading I would start with a simplified truth: not everyone is ready to be a mommy or a daddy when the time comes. You were ready to be her mommy but the man was not ready to be her daddy. And you remind her that that is not her fault at all, he just wasnt grown up enough. Then you tell her that she has lots of people who love her and you will always be there for her.

That way you’re not lying but not confusing her too much either.
Good luck!

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Tell her the truth. Daddy busy doing other things and maybe one day he’ll come see her.
Dr. Laura always encourages telling the truth - in terms that are age appropriate.

Right now, she’s too young to understand anything you can explain to her. She may sit there and act like she cares…but once she goes off to play…she’ll forget everything you tell her. You, can focus on dating and, hopefully, find someone who wants to be her dad.

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Tell her she has lots of daddys giving her love. Older cousins, Uncles your closest male friends. As long as she has good male role models she will be fine. Lots of love to go around.


Be honest, but only tell her what she can understand.
I’m a single parent of an almost 17 year old son…dad chose to not be in picture, but pays child support.
I told my son at a very young age (3 or 4) when he started asking… that he does have a dad. I showed him pictures, and told him his name. I told my son that some kids live with their mommy’s and daddy’s, some kid live with either their mommy or daddy, and some live with their grandparents… I told mine that he lives with me, and we are fine. As years went on, I told my son if he ever wanted to meet his dad, I’d do everything in my power to make that happen. My son has no interest… but who knows, maybe one day he will. That is his choice to make at this point.


Gotta let her talk, and listen carefully, without leading… She will tell you what you need to know, given the time she needs to express herself…

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I took a totally different approach with my son. I was upfront age appropriate. He would always ask “when is dad coming to pick me up”. And I never made excuses. I always told him, he isn’t coming to pick you up, but mom will. When he asks where is dad I say. I dont know. Because I don’t. Hes almost 5 now and has stopped asking.


I always told my little one the truth. I never said anything negative about him.
“He’s not here right now but I am” is what I would tell her.
It would break my heart and sometimes she would cry but don’t lie.

Mrs Doubtfire /Robin Williams last scene is an age appropriate, lovely way to explain all the different kinds of families.
She’s 3…keep it simple


I have a 3.5 yo son. His father is not in the picture, by his own choice. My son adopted my boyfriend as his “dada”. We never referred to him that way because I wanted to save that chance for my ex-husband but my son adores my boyfriend. They are best friends. Before my boyfriend, it was my son and I against the world and that was just fine too! Kids adapt way better than we give them credit.

My 5 year old never met his dad cause he wants nothing to do with him. He hasn’t asked about him yet

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always be honest, no matter how much it hurts; love and trust are everything

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Tell her all she needs is her mom n that u are mommy n dad


I told my boys that for now they don’t have one and I would use a local cartoon as an example. (In that cartoon, the kids were raised by the elder sister and grandma) I also told them that all families were different and that it doesn’t mean not having a father makes the family less perfect. A 3 year old may not understand this but I think you can still tell him by using any cartoons as an example to how different families can be.

Look at how some people have two mummies, some people have none. Some people have a Mummy and Daddy that live together, some never see Mummy or Daddy. Say he’s far away maybe and might come back to see them one day if you want to leave it open. Saying he’s died will become a huge betrayal once they realize you lied.

Tell her she can call you dad when she feels she needs to.
Tell her about all the people who are in her life and love her.

There is a children’s book called Love is a Family. It helped me talk about it with my little one. :orange_heart:

When the boys were little my youngest was about 4 and he looks at me and he says Mom we need to go to the daddy store and pick up a daddy.

Also I tell mine God always has a plan for those and sometimes god noes that children need mums and dads some only need mums. Some have two mum two dad’s some have foster carers.

They also learn to value what little they have.

My son is 5.5 and always says to me I be your mummy he makes me cry eveeytime. I don’t have a mum. Or father. But they learn very quickly who’s there and who’s not school time the worst specially father’s Day etc

I grew up without one.

I taught mine that doesn’t matter they don’t have a dad. They’ve got me and we got each other.