I recently revisited the “Oprah Lifeclass” on single moms. I participated in this powerful Lifeclass, yet this portion of the episode escaped me. In this particular episode, Iyanla Vanzant helps a single mom, struggling with telling her 6-year-old the truth about his father’s absence. As you know, I’m a single mom to a beautiful 7-year-old little girl and have been that way since she was born. Her father stuck around for a few months, so he was physically present, yet mentally and emotionally absent from us. It has been a journey filled with many bumps and bruises, but we’ve persevered.
A moment ago, I had a conversation with my significant other which he stated he believed I was overcompensating for my daughter’s biological father’s absence. We were discussing how she’d asked for a few high-priced ticket items for her birthday, and without blinking he responded in a calming voice, “Ebony, you cannot fill the gaps for his absence with material things. Stop beating yourself up to purchase things you cannot afford.” In that moment, I was brought to reality and it stung a bit but it was my truth. I found myself often making excuse after excuse for the times he failed to show up after promising to pick my daughter up, the never-ending imaginary birthday gifts, or the lack of showing up to milestone events and holidays. My smoke and mirrors were the result of the guilt I carried for not providing her a two-parent home with her biological father present and for his absence; I wanted to do all that I could to make sure she didn’t feel its impact. It never dawned on me that he would be absent whether I had a million dollars in gifts or $2. I could no longer afford to do this. It was a disservice to my daughter and me.
What she clearly needed from me was a continuance of my unconditional love, support, providing for her, and open lines of communication. I had to affirm for her the excellence she and I deserved and let go of what was because she and I are blessed. Iyanla wasn’t just speaking to this single mom, but she was calling me to the carpet too. It was time that I got my ish together. Do you feel like you too need to kick it into gear? Are you making excuses for your child’s father too? It’s time we got candid with our children, at their level. There is a way to provide our children with the necessary tools to succeed and make the best out of the immaturity their absent father brings to the table. Sometimes you have to count it all joy and know that your children will respect and love you more with the truth being part of the relationship. You don’t have to bash your child’s father in order to accomplish it. My daughter knows that the irresponsibility of her father has caused him to be absent, but there is always the possibility for him to grow up. I always tell her, perhaps you’ll be part of the process that impacts him to do and be better.
Mother’s realize your only responsibility is to be respectful to the part your child’s Father did contribute and let the rest of it go. It is his responsibility and cross to bear when he finally comes around and his child calls him to the couch for a session. Give your child credit; they’re wiser beyond their years these days. We have to allow them to openly express themselves to their absentee parent and fully support their journey.