5 Steps- Help Your Child Deal With An Absent Parent by Meg Lowery

My son has acquired a new friendship with a boy his age that lives down the street from us.  They have become quite close and it was recently that I learned his dad is a single father because his wife walked away from their family when his children were less than 2 years old.  His kids have never met their mother and have told my son that they think she died.  This boy plays wonderfully with my son and when he had left to go home one day, I let my son know that he was a really great friend and that this boy probably needs a good friendship since it is probably hard for him to not have his mother.  My son uttered words that will forever speak volumes to an absent parent.  My son said, “Ya, probably as hard as it is for me living without my dad.”

Shudder.  My son equals losing a mother to death with having a dad who is barely in the picture.  The intensity in that one sentence brought me closer into the reality my son is living with everyday.  Living without his dad most days to him feels like his dad isn’t around at all.

Children grieve differently than adults.  Adults are more experienced in grief and disappointment first hand.  Most adults have experienced the range of emotions that go with this and have learned ways to cope with loss.  Although divorce or separation is traumatic for us as adults, we have more maturity for learning ways to “move on”.  For children, they begin their journey not understanding fully the loss they are encountering, especially if that loss happens as a very young child.  As they age, they realize the loss they experienced deeper and deeper.  They are aware more and more of the absent parent and what they will never experience first hand.  A child may feel guilty for the absent parent.  They may feel they, for some reason is responsible for the other parent being distant or not available at all.  They also may feel like they are a burden to the active parent.  Children do not know how to express guilt in the same ways as adults and may be observed in behaviors or emotions that are negatively self-reflective.

So what are we to do? How can we ease these feelings and inspire healing?  I have a few suggestions:

  1. Squash negative thinking.  Be sure that you are not reinforcing any negative talk from your child.  Even if what they are saying is true, be sensitive to what your words will reinforce especially if it is reflective of how they view themselves.
  2. Express your blessings. Tell them that you are blessed to be their mother/father each and every day.  Let them know the things you love about them and why you are a better person because they are in your life.
  3. Be informative.  Let them know how many people love and support them, by name.  “Uncle Joe, Cousin Susie, our friend Vickie, love you so very much and are available to you when you need them.”
  4. The details of your situation are not important.  Do not worry that your child understands exactly why the other parent is not around. It really doesn’t matter and does not help your child cope with the loss.
  5. Intercede for your child.  Unfortunately, we are not always blessed with the possibility to speak with the absent parent on behalf of how their actions cause infliction upon our children.  If it is possible, constructive conversations are necessary to stand in the gap for your child and what they need.   If these conversations are not possible you should still be interceding for your child in prayer.

Meg-LoweryMarried at the young age of 20, a mom by 24 and divorced at 29, Meg Lowery brings her life experiences to her blog, The Single Parenting Journey, to provide hope and encouragement to others in her situation.  Meg is originally from Southern California but now resides in Colorado Springs, CO with her son and is the Communications Director for Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk.  Her blog is featured on their website, DrJamesDobson.org.  Meg holds a Communications Degree from The University of Phoenix and has over 15 years experience in Marketing Communication in the worlds of Print, Radio, Web, Social Media and Customer Service.  In her “spare time” she leads her private business for social media marketing and website strategy.  Her clients have included: Dr. Meg Meeker, I am Second, e3 Partners and others.


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The Life of a Single Mom (TLSM) is a 501c3 nonprofit that exists to serve single parents and those who work with single parents. We are fully accredited through a variety of organizations that include high levels of financial accountability and awards for our premiere financial stewardship, including GuideStar, Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, Great Nonprofits, Chamber of Commerce, LANO, and others. 

2016-10-17T16:11:21+00:00June 1st, 2015|Meg Lowery|4 Comments


  1. Dee December 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Very sound advise. Thank you

  2. Esther Caroway June 17, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Thank you–being a single parent is not what I signed up for but because of an abusive husband it’s where I find myself. I tell each of my kids they are my biggest earthly blessing and try to remind them the are valuable and have a purpose. My heart aches for the father they never will have. On this Father’s Day I find it especially difficult to celebrate a day my kids can’t. (Any suggestions)

  3. Sam February 24, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Hi I’m actually here for my nephew. My brother has full custody of him and he goes to his grandma’s house (mom’s mom) every weekend. While there he sometimes doesn’t see his mom. To make matters worse my brother who is my nephews dad is deployed so me and my mom are watching after him. He deals with aggression and sometimes gets very sad because he doesn’t see his mom and then his Dad is deployed. More often then not he doesn’t have good days in school. He’s disrespectful and sometimes has even put his hands on other kids. He has a smart mouth and time after time I tell him he can’t speak the way he is speaking. Also too when my brother is home he spends little time with him. He doesn’t plan around him which leaves me and my mom to pick up the pieces. My mom also lacks consistency which makes it hard to break my nephew of these bad habits. It’s different with my girls because ultimately I have the final say. I know some kids are just head strong but if I’m here to be any type of influence in his life I want him to grow up and be a good person with good morals. I don’t know how to break through to him and sometimes I know I might go about the situation the wrong way, but many times I have tried talking to him. My younger daughter is head strong too but she’s so young I am able to get a grip on her. Where he is 8 years old almost 9. I know I need to go about things differently and I know I’m not his mom but if I could at least be the role model he needs.

  4. Rai June 9, 2018 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your tips on dealing with and absent parent…..it’s given be a new approach on dealing with my current situation God bless

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