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2 Bumps

When my son asks me the inevitable tough question about his birth dad...

What am I supposed to tell him??

Background information:
His biological father was no find in a man.. He turned out to be violent.. At first it was toward small animals. Which was a huge red flag to me.. I never planned to be with him for long after I noticed how he was with animals.. The situation was difficult however.. One I still don't regret because I love my child and would never change the fact that he came about no matter how he did.. But I DID end up getting pregnant. When I was 12 weeks pregnant, he threw me against the back of his couch because I wanted to leave during a heated argument. I left him after that happened. And then when I was about 4 months pregnant I found out he molested his 3 year old female cousin when he was 12.. He's also become an alcoholic since I left him and just bounces from house to house wherever anyone will let him crash.. Since I found out about the molestation, I cut all ties with him and told him I wanted nothing to do with him. Since then I've found a wonderful, caring and sweet man. Who I am expecting my next son with. My son (now almost 2) calls him dad and I never want him to feel any other way nor does my boyfriend. We plan to have my boyfriend adopt him as soon as he is of adopting age, which in our state is 25.. However, he has my last name and not the man's I'm with now, and we do not plan to change it. I never want to lie to my son about it. But I don't know what I'm supposed to tell him especially if he asks why his name is different when he's still little. What age would be appropriate to tell him the whole truth about his biological father.. And what am I supposed to tell him when he's still too young to really understand those things?

Answer Question

Asked by LogiAndIansMama at 3:42 PM on Jul. 8, 2013 in General Parenting

Level 3 (16 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • The truth in the best calm way you can, he will find out at some point. No way to sugar coat this. Maybe reassure him he is not the same. Ask professional if you can

    Answer by by2013 at 3:47 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • When your son is old enough to understand the basics of sex, tell him that his biological father contributed nothing to him but genetic aterial. His dad is the man who raised him. I wouldn't be in a hurry to tell him the whole sad story. My daughter ifive, and she's never asked why my last name is different from the others in the family.

    Answer by Ballad at 4:06 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • The truth in amounts he can understand. If he's under 5 it's simply that he's father was a not so very nice man. As he gets older you can start to add details as you feel he is capable of understanding. Being honest is always the best. It's not something you can keep a secret. I'm sure there are people that know the abuse/violent nature of his dad and one day it could come out. That's why you always tell him the truth. At some point he'll also ask if he'll turn out like him and you reassure him that he is who he makes himself to be.

    Answer by baconbits at 4:36 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • Kids do not ask questions unless they're ready for the answers. When he asks, give hm an age appropriate answer. His sperm donor was violent with animals, and when Mommy was pregnant with him, sperm donor hurt Mommy. But, Mommy was smart and left him. Now he's just a not-nice man.

    I would wait until he's older to tell him about the molestation. That's not really something a young child needs to know about, or will really comprehend.

    First and foremost, be HONEST with him. Kids know when they're being lied to. One of MY first memories is being lied to, and I was 3ish or so.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 4:47 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • Keep in mind that those behaviors (in your ex) are evidence of trauma. Both the acting out (aggression, victimizing others) and the acting in (alcoholism) indicate that legacy. This understanding gives you a context in which to frame that history, particularly when it comes to how you think of your son & how you speak about his father.
    It is important to be honest & truthful, from the beginning. But that does not imply disclosing particulars or details. If you understand those disturbing behaviors (including the fact that he victimized another child when he was 12) as tragic evidence of serious underlying issues he was left alone to deal with & for which he didn't receive help when he needed it, you're more likely to handle the subject in a way that doesn't harm or undermine your son.

    Example- If he wonders why his name is different from daddy's/baby brother's: When he was born you didn't know daddy. You gave him your name.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:16 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • If you can convey that information straightforwardly (without acting like it is something awful or upsetting that you are uncomfortable addressing or uncomfortable with him bringing up), he will get a positive message about those details. He also will grow with them (in the beginning, he may not connect the significance of "you not knowing his daddy" when he was will just make sense that he has your name. Later, he may realize that if you hadn't met daddy yet, then someone else must have been his father. But that realization will build on always-open facts, which is so positive.
    If you can accept his feelings around any/all of it, regardless of whether they are "positive" or "negative" reactions--simply being with him & letting his feelings be "okay" as they are (vs. "too much"), he's likely to proceed healthily through his emotional process rather than getting stuck at any point, or internalizing something negative.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:33 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • examples of accepting feelings rather than treating them as problems to fix:
    if he cries, really upset that his name is different, you stay with him & listen to him, showing that you can be with him while he's upset (you can tolerate the experience; it is not "too awful" or something to be rescued from), and you acknowledge what he is expressing. "You really wish you had the same last name as Daddy"
    If he cries that it means he doesn't belong, or isn't as special as baby brother, or that it "means" Daddy isn't his daddy, you reflect back that he feels like he'd belong/be part of the family if he had Dad's last name instead of Mom's (etc.), or that he's scared that he isn't part of the family.
    Sometimes, just allowing a fear to "be" is very empowering for children. When they state their worst fear, and a parent can reflect it back (without immediately negating it & offering reassurances) & let it be, they find inner resolution.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:41 PM on Jul. 8, 2013

  • Thank you everyone, you've all been very helpful. <3

    Comment by LogiAndIansMama (original poster) at 4:52 PM on Jul. 9, 2013

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