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To attempt to talk about DS real father?

(28 Posts)
thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 13:42:52

When DS was a year old I left his biological father because of emotional/verbal (and on 2 occasions, physical)abuse. Felt really proud of myself for giving my son a much better life, and 6 months later I met a lovely man who is now my DH and father of DS2.
I have tried to mention the biological family (still in touch with MIL, father has had nothing to do with him- his choice) and don't want it to be a 'surprise' that he has bio-dad elsewhere. DH says I am creating problems by mentioning it if DS doesn't talk about it and that I need to be careful as when DS is 14 he might blame me. AIBU to expect him to accept that I took him away for a good reason (without EVER saying your real father did X, obviously)DS and DH not exactly close, but it is as close to a biological relationship as you could get, and he does think of him as his son.

Pinkieminx Mon 06-Dec-10 13:51:46

Unfortunately I think YABU to expect him to accept this. He may well accept it as it sounds like he is being raised in a loving environment. BUT he may not understand why you did this, even if it was for the best.

An old friend seperated from her partner due to DV when he boys were young. When they became teenagers they acted out terribly. Eventually she had to tell them about the DV to explain her actions - they chose not to believe her and went in search of their bio-Dad. In time they realised what he was really like and distanced themselves but it was an awful time for her.

Sorry if that's doom and gloom, but I think children can find these issues far more difficult than we realise.

flaine Mon 06-Dec-10 13:54:15

Your DH is wrong. You are creating problems for the future if you do NOT tell your son.

It is so much easier to gently mention that he has a biological father whilst he is little than to leave it unspoken.

MorticiaAddams Mon 06-Dec-10 13:54:21

I haven't been in this situation but he most definitely needs to know that your dh is not his biological father.

I wouldn't mention anything about circumstances as he will ask when he is old enough and you can tell him then what you feel is appropriate to his age. If he is still quite young then for know I would just say that he has a daddy that made him and now has another daddy who looks after him, etc.

Adopted children often have a book with photos, etc of their biological family which is just kept along with their other books and accessible so that they can look at it and talk about it when they want to. Is this something you could do? It might be easier than trying to gauge how often to bring it up so that he will remember but not too often to make it an issue.

tabulahrasa Mon 06-Dec-10 13:55:19

well my opinion on it is that what you absolutely don't want is for it to come as a surprise to him at 14 that his dad isn't the same as his brother's

has seen that happen and it isn't pretty

maybe your son will give you a bit of angst about it at some point - but I doubt he'll be the only child in school that doesn't see his dad or lives with a step-parent, he'll have friends in a similar boat, I'd rather that than him not knowing if it was me

LaWeaselMys Mon 06-Dec-10 14:01:18

How old is your DS?

Obviously it is hugely difficult, and I've not had to do it myself, but my grandfather was a violent drunk, so I have had lots of very edited contradictory things told to me about him. It is confusing for children.

I think growing up with the age appropriate truth is better than having his dad's violence sprung on him later.

So you could stick with "we left your father because he wasn't very nice to us, and we were much happier after we left." Until he is old enough to need to know what 'not nice' means.

I'm sure somebody with more experience will let you know what they have done/thinks works soon.

Sorry you have to deal with this though, like getting out of DV isn't hard enough.

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 14:03:58

That's how I feel to, and Morticia I did have photos from the MIL that were in a book of his cousins/nan/bio-dad and even his half sister (bio dad has now had more children, but haven't mentioned this to DS) When he was 3 he used to get angry when he saw the photos and wouldn't look at them with me- I left the book in his room for him to look at when he wanted to. Now he is older, he seems a bit more 'open' to it all and it came up naturally in a conversation that we had that he had a different Daddy and that I had left with to start a new life- he asked 'why did you leave my real Dad?' and I said 'We both loved you, but we didn't get on as parents and then I met your other Dad'. He seemed Ok with this- but DH said he heard him repeat it to his mum saying; "mum didn't like my real dad so then she married Dad" shock Really worried about teenage fallout and if it is ever possible to prevent this from happening? Doesn't help that DH mum clearly favours DS2...

Pinkieminx Mon 06-Dec-10 14:04:13

I forgot to say I think you should talk about bio-Dad - my prev. response was in relation to him just accepting your decision.

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 14:07:47

Laweasal: DS is 8. Worried that if I say Dh wasn't a nice person, even if I don't go into detail that he might think 'Well he is my real dad, so does that make me not nice too?" Or am I being a bit OTT? Agh, I have never regretted what I did for us, but I do worry that he will 'turn against me' as DH says

LaWeaselMys Mon 06-Dec-10 14:24:43

There's definately a fine-line to tread. You don't want him to believe he's 50% bad, OR that you left his dad just because you didn't like him anymore.

Both are unhealthy attitudes that are likely to back-fire on you.

How you get a nice balance exactly between the two - I've no idea, sorry. There are quite a few people on MN who have left DV, usually around in the evening. So hopefully they will be able to talk to you.

8 is pretty young, definately a good age to talk about him having a dad and start being more honest (if not the whole truth) He's not a teenager yet, and should, hopefully, still be quite excepting of your decisions.

onlymumintheworld Mon 06-Dec-10 15:54:42

I also left bio dad when DS was young, but I didn't enter a LTR with another man until DS was a teenager so it was always clear there was another father 'out there'.

I think it's important for children to know if they're not biologically related.

I didn't really talk to DS much about his bio dad until he started asking questions. At the age of 8, I would take cues from the boy - children make it pretty clear how much information they're willing/able to take.

I think it's important to be honest about the nature of why you left and the relationship. It would be dishonest to let him develop a rosy picture in his mind, and potentially dangerous when teen hormones strike and he ends up longing for some mythical hero father. You don't have to go into detail, but remember that stating the truth is not the same as bad-mouthing his father.

I'm sure that one of the reasons you managed to leave bio-Dad was that you didn't want your DS1 to grow up in a poisonous environment. I think it would help if you framed the reasons for your leaving in a way that reflects that, that you wanted better things for him and to protect him, not just because you got bored/disliked bio-Dad.

mumbar Mon 06-Dec-10 16:05:09

I think you are right talking to him about his bio-dad and not why you left tbh.

Slightly different here as my DS dad cheated on me as well as mild emotional abuse (non-intentional I think) and I left when DS was 13 months. He hasn't seen his dad for 3 1/2 years, he doesn't pay for him either. I did however tell his father I wouldn't tell DS why I left as it may ruin their relationship. I am still single tho.

If when DS gets older if there is any backlash I may (calmly not during high emotional times) tell him why I left just so he can see it wasn't a choice I made but was made for us.


whensteaready Mon 06-Dec-10 16:07:00

Please Please Please tell your DS asap. You do not need to tell him about the abuse yet, he is far too young to understand that. My mother left my father when I was 5 and very quickly became involved in another relationship and was married within a year. I had no contact with my real father and was not allowed to discuss him or ask any questions. I didnt see a picture of him until I was 20. I eventually made contact with him when I was in my early thirties.

I know my situation is different to yours but I have had several sessions of expensive! therapy to come to terms with this. Secrets have a habit of not staying hidden and I believe that if you tell your son now he will be able to deal with this better than in the future and will probably come to admire you when he is older for having the strength to leave his father.

Perhaps your current partner feels that his relationship with your son may change if he knows, and indeed it may short term.

I wish you luck and well done for being so brave.

solo Mon 06-Dec-10 16:10:29

Only read OP.

I have been totally upfront with Ds regarding his father from very young and the last time Ds saw him was at 3.6yo.
I think that it is important that children know the truth about their (absent) bio parent from early on as I think they can be very angry with the parent that is raising them if/when they do find out the truth.

Does Ds1 think that your Dh is his Dad? what does he know or think? does he know anything about his bio dad?

Silver1 Mon 06-Dec-10 16:11:13

From a slightly different perspective.
Your DH is almost like an adopted parent to your son-not his biological parent, but his parent all day every day.

Your son has or will have access to facebook, google, twitter, and so will your ex, how long do you think it would take your ex if he was interested to track down your son.
You need to be the ones to tell him that he has another parent, and why he doesn't see him.

Could you do it as a life story piece of work- we have this for our son's adoption. We drip feed in at age appropriate ways and times, and use a book, to show him he had other parents, who couldn't keep him safe, and as he gets older and asks more you can drop more information in. Be as pragmatic as possible, but do be honest.

solo Mon 06-Dec-10 16:21:42

I also have a small photo of the three of us together that is up in the lounge, but not too obvious. I have told Ds the truth to the questions he asks. It helps that at the time, I kept a journal and I've told Ds that when he's old enough, he can read it. It's warts and all blush but Ds can judge for himself through that.

His father contacted me through FB this year even though I'd blocked him when I opened the account (blocked on Ds's too), he found me through his new wifes account...he's got another child with her now. None of this information I've kept from Ds (he's 12 btw) as he'll only find out at some stage and I don't want him to hate me for any of this. <crosses everything >

ghostgirl Mon 06-Dec-10 16:55:07

You NEED to tell him about his bio dad. These things need to be kept open and discussed naturally throughout his life.

Also keep in contact with his paternal grandmother so there will always be an easy way to make contact with his father when the need arises.

I'm sorry to tell you this but your relationship problems with his dad are completely irrelevant to your son's relationship with his father.

If you create a barrier between your son and his father then you are potentially creating all sorts of problems for yourself and the rest of your family in the future.

Keep things in the open and be supportive of your sons paternal links. You CHOSE him to be your son's father so you need to keep a window open for your son's sake.

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 17:19:35

Thanks for these replies, it is such a relief to talk about this and with people who have actually the same experience (either as a parent or as a child).
DS does know that DH is not his bio dad- we have never hidden that from him at all, but when he was little he didn't have the words to ask about it and got angry- now he is more receptive to it and I have been trying to talk about it when he raises the subject-it is DH who sometimes gives me the 'look' as if to say, 'that's enough, drop it', but DS rarely discusses it so I feel I need to grab those moments when I can, IYSWIM. DH wants him to have contact when he is older with bio-dad, and I have tried to contact bio-dad via his mum, but she says he was too 'hurt' by me 'walking out' and he won't have contact as we live too far away for it to be regular contact. I am keeping that line open, as I do want him to meet his Bio-Dad himself, when he feels ready.
I have kept a scrapbook since we left and at the back there are a few pages outlining why I left (warts n all) and I think when he is a lot older, if he still has questions, I would like to give him that book.
Thanks also about the advice everyone has given which is tell him truthfully (but tactfully) why I left, and not gloss over the fact that there were problems...this is something I think I will need to think about for our next conversation, ie how to phrase it tactfully and for his age confused

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 17:27:49

solo it's so hard, isn't it to want to tell them you had good reason to leave, but also not want to make them feel 'bad' somehow for having a bad parent, or hating you for leaving. I talk about the bio family and his dad and have shown him pictures. I just wish I could think of a gentle way to phrase what a dysfunctional relationship I had with his real dad.

solo Mon 06-Dec-10 17:43:11

My advice would be to wait a couple of years (10 seems to be an age where questions start to appear) and then have a proper conversation with Ds, take him out somewhere where your Dh and Ds2 are not and talk to him about it; you open the door and allow him to lead iyswim? It is uncomfortable, but necessary.
I still live in fear that Ds will hate me and only want his father (and he did not want Ds to even exist), so it's frightening to bring it all out. Ex was not a nice person either and I admit to being torn up inside when Ds does some of the things his father did/does? and I just know they are part of his make up as Ds has never lived in the same household as his father, nor has he seen him since he was 3.6 so it's definitely not learned behaviour <sigh>

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 19:14:54

Yes, definatly know what you mean there- I notice things too, and think oh no, I really hope he doesn't turn out to have the same personality as his father', but I think (hope) that this is me just putting my experiences of his father into it, because otherwise he is a lovely, kind little boy. I am just trying to really make him realise that violence isn't acceptable, and to think about other people's feelings- which most of the time, he does. I think it is natural to feel like this but then if/when he meets his father I also hope that he will see through the 'cool dad' myth he might have developed when he is older and see him for who he is.

ghostgirl Mon 06-Dec-10 20:16:42

Can I just suggest something also regarding the abuse aspects of your realtionship? If I were you I wouldn't bring these up at all. I would simply say that you two didnt get along and you separated. There would be many other children he wknoes in similar situations. I wouldnt mention the abuse aspects of it.

A very messy situation I know of where the grown up son missed out on meeting his father. He never wanted to meet him because he had always been told by his mother that the dad was abusive. He was very close to his mother.

The son took her word for it and never even thought of looking for his father.

Unfortunately his father died without ever them reuniting. The son then met his fathers' family. He discovered that the mother's story and that of the father's family didnt match up at all. The son has since ceased all contact with his mother and he feels deeply betrayed by her.

In this situation the abusive aspects (if they existed in the first place, only the mother knows for sure) are now irrelevant.

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 20:42:16

Thanks ghostgirl, there will always be that he said/she said aspect, I know his mum thinks it is my fault, even though she has said how hard he is to be with (she doesn't know the full story and he's her golden child)
I want DS to meet his dad, when he is ready, for the reason you stated above- I would absolutely hate to be the one that made him miss out on meeting his dad because of how we (didn't) get on, that's his call when he is ready and why I have been trying to make contact with his dad to make that a possibility for DS.

TheFallenMadonna Mon 06-Dec-10 20:46:36

Rather than start off by talking about your son's biological father, I would start by talking about how your DH came into his life. Then the door is open for any questions about what went before, but without losing sight of the important relationship he has now. Does that make sense? I have always known that my dad is my adoptive father, and that there is someone else out there who is biologically related to me. I have never been motivated to find out more about him, but I think I would have been confused and angry had I found out that secrets were being kept from me.

thatwasthen Mon 06-Dec-10 20:53:53

fallen that does make a lot of sense- the time when it last came up 'naturally' (ie not me showing pics or talking about the 'other' family) it was when I said how I had met DH. You sound like you are very close to your father- do you think that is why you never wanted to find out who your Bio-dad was?

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