Daughter asks: Where is Pappy?

Date posted: January 11, 2011


Published in Identity Magazine – January 2011

Daughter asks: Where is Pappy?

Hi Marwa, 
How are you? I just read that you got married and that you are expecting a baby! I am so happy for you.  


I am not sure if you will remember me or not; I sent you an email three years ago telling you that I got divorced from my husband who was a hacker and was involved in a lot of illegitimate scams on the internet. I moved back to Egypt with my daughter who was 5 months old at the time. Now she is three years and a half.


I also emailed you six months ago telling you that I got engaged to a divorced man who has been through similar circumstances; he has a little girl too. My daughter has never seen her biological father; she does not know him. When I got engaged my family told her that my fiancée is her father. She got so attached to him and began calling him “pappy”!


In the beginning everything was great but bit by bit he showed his true colors; he always took my car and money, and I felt used – again! It was like living with my ex husband all over again. I left him one month ago. The problem now is with my daughter; she is always asking about him! At first I lied – hoping that she would forget him – and told her that he was traveling outside Egypt and that we might go see him. Then I made a male friend call us and pretend to be “her father” – and she was very happy.


She says the most hurtful things like “I love pappy more than I love you” when I scold her for being naughty, for example. She once told me that she hated me because “I drove pappy away”. I am suffering and I do not know how to handle this situation. My family advised me to “create” a fictional father figure for her who calls her on the phone and buys her gifts and sends her cards from abroad. What do I do? She is very special and very smart, what do I tell her? Do I keep lying or do I tell her the truth? I do not want her to lead a troubled life.

Please answer me and thanks for your time 🙂



Hello Y


I am so sorry to hear that your fiancée turned out to be mean and abusive – Good riddance!


Listen Y, I do not know the ideal scenario to deal with your daughter for I am very new to this motherhood thing myself. But if I were you, I would be very honest and would not lie to her. You say she is smart and special and I am sure she can process the truth. I have a lot of faith in the purity and simplicity of childhood and this is what I will build my advice on.


If I were you, I would choose a time when we are close and she is likely to be receptive, and I would say:


“Hun, your mommy made a mistake and wants to talk to you about it.”


Yes! Start by admitting that you made a mistake because this will help set the mood for what you are about to disclose.


“Remember how you sometimes do something wrong, well, mommy makes mistakes too. All human beings make mistakes. Pappy makes mistakes too. This is how God created us. We make mistakes, learn from our mistakes, and become better people.”


You can even give her an example of a mistake she made, learned from it, and made her a better little girl so she could relate to what you just said. Then tell her


“Mommy lied to you. Liars are bad and the only way to fix a lie is to tell the truth. This is why I want to tell you the truth.”


This way she will be ready, then say:


“Mommy was young and silly and did not know much about life; mommy met a man and fell in love with him. They got married and lived in a far away country called America. After a while mommy got pregnant and you came. You were so beautiful and adorable. Mommy and Pappy loved you very much. Then Pappy got in trouble. He lied and did not tell the truth, he did many wrong things and God was angry. So an angel told mommy to take you and come back to Egypt.”


Then make sure she understood how that story ended.


“When mommy came to Egypt, she decided to get you the best daddy there is. She looked left right and center until she met a very nice man.

(Then tell her the name of your fiancée)

She decided to tell you that this nice man is pappy and that was wrong.

(Then apologize).

The nice man was only nice for a while, then he began doing wrong things like your pappy who lived in America and again the angel told mommy to take you away because you might get hurt.

(Hug her or hold her hand if needed)

Then you missed the new pappy and I made my friend – uncle X – call you and pretend to be pappy. I lied again and lying is very bad. This is why I decided to tell you the truth and now I want you to forgive me and I want you to know that I love you very very much.”


Then hug her and assure her that you love her and see if she has any questions. Tell her that you will not settle for any “pappy” and that you will keep looking until the right “pappy” comes along.


I really don’t know what else to advise you to do but I just want you to be honest and answer all her questions with sincerity. Kids are very sensitive and smart at the same time. Good luck!




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