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Single Parent Q & A: Segment 2

Welcome back to segment 2 of Mama’s Boy ongoing single parent Q & A. Just like the first segment, readers send in Qs to, then I and an expert answer them. Today, please welcome back Dr. Leah Klungness, Ph.D, a psychologist and co-author of the best selling The Complete Single Mother.

Say my name: Dad

My son is 4 and has never met his dad. His dad does not want to meet him. I am getting married, but my future husband and I have decided not to proceed with a formal adoption. We want his bio-dad to contine to pay child support and we want our son to know that we did not close any doors regarding a future meeting. Is it OK if my son calls my future-hubby "Dad" - right now he calls him "Steve" and he knows his bio-dad lives in Florida. -Lily, 30, New Haven, CT.

CC: I don’t think biology has anything to do with the words father or dad. If your son’s biological dad has never met him, then he’s hardly a “dad.” Dads play baseball with their child, cut up chicken and make airplane noises, read books, wrestle, say I love you—they are present. Let your son call Steve, "Dad." When and if the biological father shows up, he’ll have to explain himself. We need to stop tiptoeing around grown men who refuse to own up to their responsibilities. Congrats on the upcoming wedding!

Dr. LK: It's fine for your son to call your future husband "Dad". It's *right* given the role this man will play in your son's life. Consider referring to your son's bio-dad by his first name now. It's an ideal time to make this important distinction.

New wife interferes

My ex-boyfriend is re-married and his wife doesn't want him to participate in our baby’s life. He is on a leash and does whatever she says. What can I tell my child, because this situation is not changing any time soon. Bethany, 38, NYC

CC: First, do you know for sure the wife doesn’t want your ex around the two of you—or is this speculation? (Be honest, now.) Forgive me, but woman-to-woman, this stuff is not easy and it’s natural to pinpoint the new woman as the problem-o, but reality is, we all make choices—we all have free will. Your ex isn’t coming around because of his own issues—and even if the wife is standing in the way or threatening to leave him if he pursues a relationship with his child, you have to think of the hell these people live in. You mention, “baby’s” life so, I don’t think you need to say anything right now. As your child gets older just tell him the truth. Read: The Best Way To Explain An Absent Dad To A Pre-Schooler.

Dr. LK: The best explanation is simply to share the facts. Your child may ask why his father has chosen "a dog's life". No one knows what really goes on in a relationship except the people in that relationship. So, the honest answer to your child's inevitable questions is that you simply do not know. Emphasize repeatedly that what's happening has nothing to do with your child—and everything to do with Dad's choices.

Can’t deal with the lies…

My ex left when I was pregnant and cut off all communication. I alerted him to our daughter’s birth via email since he changed his phone number. He wrote back promptly saying he had no money and was depressed. “I don’t know why I can’t love you. I can’t take care of you or the baby because I can’t even take care of myself.” This actually made me feel bad, but then I started doing some research thanks to google and I found his new girlfriend’s blog—there were pictures and descriptions of lavish trips and partying. Everyone was all smiles. The freaky thing is, the emails he sent me matched up with the dates on this blog. Why did he lie? Carin, 34, Winter Garden, Fla.

CC: I’ve been able to watch my son’s father’s life unfold like a happily-ever-after romantic comedy thanks to the (damn!) Internet and, confession, my own curiosity. I’ve seen engagement, wedding, pregnancy and newborn photography and like you, was also told a much different tune all along. I’m stumped. Try not to think about it too much. Focus on your family. Go to the zoo or park; have an ice cream cone with your child. Smile!

Dr. LK: Your situation sounds like a made for TV movie. His girlfriend and potential future family is in for a rude and painful shock. How your ex describes himself ("I can't take care of myself") is his personal, hidden truth and he is deeply troubled. His life is a wall of lies and deceit -- and the game can't last forever. Be grateful for the life you are creating with your child.

That’s it for today. If you have single parent questions you want me and a guest psychologist to tackle, please email them to And visit Dr. Leah at (one of my fave single parent sites!)

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