Telling small children about estranged half-brother

(12 Posts)
Whomovedthewipes Wed 03-Apr-13 10:13:34

Have name changed for this but am a regular (poo cube & Angela Hernandez my personal faves).

DH was married before when he was 20, they had a little boy, then a godawful breakup and never spoke again apart from through the CSA. He never saw his son again.

Cue me entering his life 10 years later, we now have 2 DDs aged 5 and 3. He is having counselling about contacting his estranged son who will be 18 next year.

So far we haven't told the girls about their half brother, but would like to very soon. Just wondering if any of you had experience of telling your DCs about half siblings, or equally important, have you been on receiving end of this news and found out about previously unknown family members.

Still trying to decide whether we tell the girls now and be honest that we don't know whether estranged son will want to meet us all, or wait until we have tried to contact him and then tell girls when we have something more concrete to tell them about him. (As likely questions will include Is he coming to live here, does he like Rice Krispies, will he watch Dora with me, etc etc).

Any advice/experience to share? Thanks.

flurp Wed 03-Apr-13 12:18:41

I would wait until there is something to tell them.
They are very young and telling them that they have a brother who they might never meet may be too much for them to take in.

Lilypad34 Wed 03-Apr-13 13:34:42

I agree with flurp, I'd let your DH pave the way with his son and see if there's a relationship to be had with him first then when you know there is i'd then tell them.

Whomovedthewipes Wed 03-Apr-13 15:05:09

Thanks for the replies!

I suppose I would like to get the information in 'under the radar' a little, so they grow up always knowing he exists, even if they never meet him.

Certainty about whether they will ever meet him might take a long time. I want to avoid the 'why didn't you tell us before' conversation which might come if they were say 8 or 10.

But don't want to freak them out either! I Just don't know, hence wanting to know other people's experiences....

alarkaspree Wed 03-Apr-13 15:12:18

I don't think you will freak them out whatever you tell them. In fact I suspect you will be astonished by how uninterested they are if you tell them about a half brother that they have not met, and if they then don't go on to meet him soon after you tell him they may well not even remember hearing about him. For that reason I'd wait a while to see whether anything comes of it, or until they are a little older, before you bring it up, but I don't think telling them now would be bad or difficult, just potentially pointless.

K8eee Sun 07-Apr-13 16:00:30

I had this happen to myself. Never has it bothered me. I ask about him and my half sister sees him, and has a good relationship with him. For the first time in my life I met him at half sisters wedding. I was bridesmaid, she sat me on the same table as him, opposite seated from one another and he didn't even acknowledge me or say hi. To this day I don't care if I have a relationship with him. He's in his thirties and you would think he would've taken lead and introduces himself with me being at least 10 years younger but no, nothing.

matana Tue 09-Apr-13 15:12:26

Watching with interest, though in slightly different circumstances. DH hasn't seen his 15yo D for nearly 2 years (her choice, not his) and we have a 2.5 yo DS together. We also regularly see my other DSD who is 13 and has a great relationship with her little brother. I love her to bits. We still have photos of SD around the house, though feel slightly hypocritical about that, and i'll never discourage DSD2 from talking about her sister. But i feel quite strongly that SD1 should not just be able to walk back into DS's life like nothin ever happened at some unknown point in the future. He doesn't know her and i don't care much for her. But i guess it's my responsibility to try to establish her as a sister in my DS's conscious thinking at some point. He'll have to decide if he wants to get in touch with her if she doesn't re-enter our lives of her own volition in due course. I feel really quite resentful about the whole situation having witnessed the distress she has caused to my DH.

I'm guessing your DH decided not to have contact with his son, OP, all those years ago? In which case, your DDs are too young to get their hopes up too soon. There's probably quite a lot of angst and resentment involved in the situation that would need resolving first.

Whomovedthewipes Tue 09-Apr-13 21:06:04

Yup, angst and resentment pretty much covers it. There's also the added complication of DH father who persuaded him that stepping out of the situation was the 'right and noble' thing to do. He's a bit all or nothing in his approach to parenting.... I can see how they thought it was best at the time as it was all so painful, but in honesty I think it was a little irresponsible of FiL to be so opinionated. A letter every so often might have bridged a gap. Anyway I wasn't there so I can't really judge anyone, I just want my children to know the truth from a young age, can't bear the thought of family secrets....

Think we will try and establish some sort of contact in the next year or so, meanwhile drip feeding bits of basic info to the girls. Like people say, they will probably be "yeah right, can I watch octonauts now?" But I was interested in others experiences.

No right answer for these things, is there? Thanks for the replies y'all...

longjane Tue 09-Apr-13 21:56:14

do you have any photos up of him?

as this what friend of mine have done

they have his photo out and and they talk about him

the dad always says he has 5 children and names him and adds his birthday to the family list
his youngest son has never met him but knows who he is

ArabellaBeaumaris Tue 09-Apr-13 22:03:19

My ex found out age 18 that he had 3 half brothers from his dad's first marriage. It shook his trust in his parents that something like that had been kept a secret from him. In your situation I would definitely introduce the information now, without making a big deal of it, so that your DDs have always known, even if there is no relationship there. But my experience is very much second hand.

Sula12 Mon 21-Nov-16 13:16:09

Hi, looking for some advice.My 4 year old daughter has a half sibling age 20 who has never heron in her life.She caused a lot of problems for me and her dad and despite this we allowed her to meet our daughter and have some contact with her after she was born.However she has always been very volatile and the police were involved due to threats made by my step daughter towards both myself and my husband.When things were not going her way she then threatened myself and our daughter who was 4 weeks old at the time.my step daughter was almost 17.She also tampered with the car tyre under where our daughters car seat was so we decided it was not safe for her to be around our daughter any more and stoped all contact.she recently had a baby which we hoped would make her grow up but out of the blue after her baby was born she started sending me abusive messages which i have ignored.Now to the actual issue.our daughter has some contact with her grandparents (her dads parents) but this is a recent thing due to the fact that my step daughter was living with them when our daughter was a baby and because we stopped contact between our daughter and my step daughter , husband parents refused to see our daughter.But I know she is going to ask at some point about the photos in her grandparents house of my step daughter.If this happens soon I do not know how to tell her she has a half sibling and why she is not allowed to be in our daughters life and how to tell her in an age appropriate matter.I know in years to come she may want to meet her half sibling and we won't be able to stop her, but this girl is a compulsive liar who has threatened us, who has deliberately hurt her half brother (mum and partners son), has been involved in drugs and who enjoys hurting people (she has admitted to this).We want to protect our daughter from her for as long as possible but we will need to tell her about her half siblings existence if she asks questions.Even if she doesn't I want to be honest with her because if she finds out from someone else then she will be more succeptable to any lies her half sibling may tell her if they do eventually meet.Please do not judge me as I did everything for my husbands daughter and never did anything that would cause her to hate me the way she does.

NotWeavingButDarning Mon 21-Nov-16 13:23:38

My DC have 2 half-sisters with whom they have no relationship. My oldest has met each of them once, the youngest has never met them.

They know they exist but to be brutally honest they couldn't care less one way or the other and have never asked any questions or been curious about them at all. My DC are 5 and 8, the sisters are in their 20s and have children of their own who we've never met.

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