Friday, April 13, 2012

How To Answer A Difficult Question: Where Is My Father?

Last year, my daughter asked me the dreaded question “Mama, may papa ba ako?” (Do I have a father?). I have no idea what came into her mind why a mere four-year old will ask that particular question. Probably she saw other children growing up with a mother and a father. Unfortunately, she was not able to see this kind of family model because technically our family consists of only females. Yes, my mom was also a single parent not because she chose to be one but because God took away our father when we were still very young. Having said this, my daughter grew up with the idea that a normal family is devoid of the presence of men and so it surprised me when she asked me about her father.

Among the bisaya, we usually have a ready answer for such questions and we often declare the following lines:

1. “Nak, patay na man imong tatay”- “Your father is already dead”
2. “Anak, nalumos imong tatay sa sabaw” - “Your father drowned in his soup”

I don’t know if the last sentence makes sense but this is an old cliché I kept on hearing from other single moms like me in my place. The question is, did I use any of these cliché to answer my child’s question? At first, yes but then I later realized the repercussions of saying this to my daughter. And since she will really exhaust herself asking the same question, I decided that then was the best time to answer her. After all, putting it off for the next day will not let her forget about it. My daughter has a good memory.

I don’t want to deny her roots- her identity. Although she did not grow up with a father figure at home, I still told her the truth and believe me it is not a very easy task. By the way, if you want to know the truth, then just message me and I will tell you my story or maybe not. Hahahaha! Oh well, the father- my boyfriend when I was in college- left me when I was conceiving her for another woman. Going back to the topic, I believe that children these days are more mature and they can handle the truth if told properly. In this case, sugar-coating is not acceptable. I also don’t want to twist the story and give her false hopes and later resent me in the future for telling her a lie. Although she may not fully understand everything that I said to her, I assured her that despite the fact that she does not have a father, this will not make her less of a person and that there are lots of people who love her too. And so the incessant questioning whether she has a father or not stopped after our little talk.

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