Ask AF: Who is my Daddy?

When children start asking a single parent about mommies or daddies, how should we respond? Our expert answers.

Q: I’m a single mom, and my three-year-old has begun asking about her daddy. I’ve told her that he lives in Guatemala. I’ve also explained that there are different types of families, and that our family includes a little girl and a mommy who loves her. Is there anything else I should say?


A: It’s important for single parents to distinguish between “birth father” and “daddy.” It’s normal for children who have a single parent to fantasize about a daddy (or mommy), but parents who talk about a daddy who lives in Guatemala (or China, or Russia) may confuse matters further. It would be natural for the child to ask, “Well, why don’t we go find him?” or “Why can’t he live here, with us, instead of in Guatemala?”

Be clear that, while your child has a birth father and a birth mother who gave birth to her, she doesn’t have a daddy at this time. You can say, “Your birth father and birth mother still live in Guatemala, where you were born. We don’t have a daddy in our home because I adopted you as a single mom. I wasn’t married, but I wanted to have a little girl very much, and I’m so happy I was able to adopt you on my own.”

You may want to go on to talk about men (friends, uncles, grandfathers) who aren’t her daddies, but who play important roles in your lives.