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To be really nervous and uncertain about how to tell our DS's about their estranged half brother.

(78 Posts)
mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 00:28:46

First off, please don't flame me.

The backstory...

My DH has an almost 20 year old son from a previous relationship whom he has not been in contact with until recently. His son lives quite far away so now contact is quite sporadic. I am not going into the reasons as to why it is like that but it is and now that we have two of our own boys I don't know how best to handle the situation.

The situation is odd because my DH's parents don't know about his oldest son, because of this a lot of the people we know don't know either. His parents are not lovely. They don't know about our youngest son either.

Basically my preferred option is that our DC always know about their oldest half brother, eventually meet and somehow we all forge a relationship together.

I guess what I am asking is how do I present this information to them without them thinking they have a 'bad daddy'?

Anyone out there with any experience that could help me?

I don't want to discuss this with anyone in real life, hence turning to me.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 00:30:00

To mumsnet, not me.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 00:32:25

Also, we have a very young baby and a two year old.

ArsenicSoup Tue 04-Nov-14 00:42:07

I guess what I am asking is how do I present this information to them without them thinking they have a 'bad daddy'?

They are a baby and 2 years old OP smile

They won't think 'bad daddy'. You don't need to present information to them.

They'll just grow up knowing their big brother. It'll be organic.

You're anxious. Understandably. But isn't the tricky issue the PIL?

You're overthinking the littleuns.

ArsenicSoup Tue 04-Nov-14 00:48:06

I mean if the PIL issue is tackled, is that the main barrier to regular contact removed?

Even a 2 year old will accept a new face quite quickly.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 00:52:15

Thank you for replying.

The PIL are so odd and have chosen to be NC with us so, at the moment are not tricky.

I am concerned that something doesn't evolve organically for a few years and then we would have to tell them, rather than it be something they would have always have known.

My DH is a wonderful man and an excellent father to our children but emotionally he wasn't there for his first child.

How can I qualify that to our boys and avoid their anxiety or confusion? And make it as easy for my DH as possible.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 00:55:04

I am very happy for my PIL to be NC.

I don't respect, care for or like them.

They have been open and sly in the meanness they have offered my DH and I don't want our children exposed to that.

nocoolnamesleft Tue 04-Nov-14 00:59:19

What your kids want to know...

Does daddy love me?
Will daddy always be there for me?

As long as you find a way to present things that doesn't threaten either of these, they'll be fine.

It does seem a rotten shame for your DH's "D"S1...but that was well before your time, and credit for building bridges.

ArsenicSoup Tue 04-Nov-14 01:04:19

Oh I see. Sorry my fault, I accidentally skipped a line.

Photos displayed would be a start. "Who's that" etc.

We did have a similar(ish) situation. The issue here was the intermittent nature of contact. I was breezy and mentioned making the most of visits because distance meant they were few. Breezy can cover a lot of sins. DC do accept their own families as normal. They will ask questions piecemeal much later. I remember not believing that, turns out it is true smile

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 01:22:23

So my boys are bound to say something to our wider community and then we will have some explaining to do.

Any ideas on how I can politely explain to them?

MrsCakesPrecognition Tue 04-Nov-14 01:33:06

All your need say is "Yes, DH has a grown-up child from a previous relationship" and then refuse to get involved in further discussion.

Have a photo of their older sibling on display in the house. Encourage them to make and send him a card for his birthday or Christmas, so they get used to understanding he is part of the family and to saying his name.

Answer their questions accurately, but briefly. Don't let yourself get carried away with long, complex explanations that go over their heads and have little to do with their original question.

CeeloWeevil Tue 04-Nov-14 01:40:41

I think MrsCakes is spot on. we were in an almost identical situation, but DH (at the time; he is now xh) was adamant that he didn't want the DC to know that they had a brother. I, on the other hand, wanted to approach it in the way Mrs suggested, but we couldn't. Result? We now have 8 & 11 yo DS who have no idea that they have a sibling and I have no idea how to broach the issue with them.
So, just make their DHB's existence normal and part of their wider family. Secrets are rarely a good thing, imo.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 01:46:00

Thank you, this is very helpful.

We are not really a photographs around the house kind of family. I did think that over the next few years they could help choose his Christmas/birthday present by way of talking about him.

I also feel nervous of how to handle the shock that others close to us will feel.

Has no one else been through this?

MexicanSpringtime Tue 04-Nov-14 01:51:57

I would say that it will just seem normal to them. They are certainly not going to see anything wrong with it. At that age, they don't even understand what grandparents are.

mameulah Tue 04-Nov-14 01:58:41

Cecelo

If you don't mind me asking why did your xh not want to tell your DC about his older son?

When they do find out what will you tell your older family?

CeeloWeevil Tue 04-Nov-14 02:10:27

mameulah I don't really know, tbh. His immediate family know, but his friends don't.

MexicanSpringtime Tue 04-Nov-14 02:10:41

My DBIL never told his second lot of children about their oldest brother. Now they are all in their twenties and, at this stage, I just hope they never find out as I don't know how they would get over the lying.

wheresthelight Tue 04-Nov-14 02:35:16

I think you are massively over thinking this if I may honest.

just talk about X and always refer to him as their brother.

as for everyone else, it doesn't matter what they think. your dp has an older son and there are a great many reasons why people may not know about him. an ex boyfriend of mine has a daughter but if you asked most of his friends they wouldn't have a clue as her mum left him after having an affair and took their daughter and never told him where she was etc. he has court ordered access but she just moved house and refuses access. he never really talks about her as it upsets him too much

EBearhug Tue 04-Nov-14 02:50:28

I think it's better to let them grow up knowing he exists. I found out I had a half sister when I was 26, and it really screwed me up - I just didn't know who I could trust any more, what else had been hidden. If I had had at least an idea while I was growing up, it wouldn't have been such a shock.

(But equally, my parents were of a generation where a single mother was still a stigma, and you'd probably want to wait till the children are old enough to understand what they're being told, and then you don't want to cause upset while one is starting school, changing school, in hospital, doing exams, starting uni... you don't want to upset the cart at critical times, and then you probably don't think about it so often, in a whirl of swimming club, music lessons, Brownies, homework, etc, etc, so there's never a right time, and suddenly they are in their 20s and left home.)

EBearhug Tue 04-Nov-14 02:52:00

But if he's in his 20s, it's easy enough to understand he's an older brother who doesn't live with you because he's already a grown up.

Notmeagain1 Tue 04-Nov-14 02:55:22

Does DH have any contact at all with his older ds? Make a photo book for your younger children. Have his picture in it and always let them know they have an older brother and who he is. If you have contact with older dss, send him pictures of his little bros, so he knows them and let him decide if HE wants ti be part of their lives.

Dss is a grown up and will have to make a decision if he wants to be in contact, but I would never hide it from the wee ones of their older sibling, even if it is years before they actually ever meet.

As for others, none of their business. They can feck off if they want to ask questions that are none of their business and I would tell then the same. Tend to be a bit outspoken at times. blush

musicalendorphins2 Tue 04-Nov-14 03:48:10

I think what the others have said. Put a framed photo of their brother somewhere, on a dresser, or even in the boys bedroom. Surely having one photo up in your home won't ruin any minimalist style that you and your dh have. smile Skype with him? Invite him to come visit once a year or so. As for other people, I have found that people may be slightly surprised to learn there is a child in someones background, but that is all.

ipswichwitch Tue 04-Nov-14 04:14:54

I found out I had an older brother when I was 18. He had been adopted at birth (DM was forced to by her parents as she wasn't yet married to DD, he was penniless at the time and couldn't support them. It was fucking awful for them, and not something I can easily forgive DGM for making them do as it was the only way).

Tbh I think we only found out because he decided to find his birth family. My parents kept the secret for so long, and I think it damn near killed my mum. Both my younger brother and I understood the situation, and there is no bad feeling whatsoever toward our parents. It is a bit surreal though. We don't have that close bond with him that we do with each other, because we didn't grow up together and had massively different lives, then by the time we met we were all living a distance away.

I feel sad that we aren't in contact so much. I do keep wondering wether to make the first move here, but I'm wary that he might not want it.

I would say just start talking about him. At your DC ages it won't seem like a big thing unless you make it so. They will just accept and be fine. Maybe a picture will help put a face to the name for them. I just think the longer you leave it, the more difficult it will get. We were very accepting, knowing the shitty situation an the fact they had no choice. They may not be if you go the route of making a secret of it.

SuperMumTum Tue 04-Nov-14 04:37:38

Agree with everyone else. Present it as natural and normal and do try to get over the feeling that it is shameful or a dirty secret as the kids and the neighbours/friends etc need to see that you and DH are comfortable with it and happy with your family as a whole (PILs excepted!).

comedancing Tue 04-Nov-14 04:58:36

Have two people in our extended circle both of whom had given babies up for adoption. These babies appeared years later looking for their mum. When they told us and other friends we had absolutely no issue. If anything we were excited and took their lead in everything. Bottom line was we were all totally supportive as we had years of knowing them and nothing changed there. Tell your friends so that is one less burden.

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