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Helping DS understand his "two dads"

(10 Posts)
BertieBotts Thu 30-Jul-15 20:12:16

DS is 6.9 and has recently been asking a lot of questions and seems to be mulling over the issue of his dads. He doesn't know his real dad, doesn't remember him, has no contact at all. And then he has DH, his stepdad, sometimes "Name", sometimes "Daddy".

He was asking the other day why other kids don't have two dads, and I was surprised and said yes, lots of kids have two dads, but then realised that he doesn't know any, and I don't even know any. I know a few single mums but none who have remarried.

I feel like I'm handling it a bit wrong. He keeps talking about families and what makes families and stuff and the other day he said "I hope I don't get a third Dad" as though he thinks that you might just get a new dad at any moment and the old one goes away. Which he probably does. But the moment passed, and then the next day he said something and I decided I really ought to let him know that even though it's unlikely me and DH will split up, if we did, DH would still be there for him, whatever happened, he isn't going to go anywhere. He cried and said he didn't know why he was crying because he knew it wouldn't happen but it made him really sad. So we had a cuddle and I reiterated that DH is always going to be around and loves him very much.

Mentioned it to a friend later that day and she said "Because that is what family is! He worked it out for himself!" and I immediately kicked myself for not realising that at the time and phrasing it so perfectly.

Then later he asked DH "You know you said if you weren't around, we wouldn't have come here and I wouldn't have X and we wouldn't be doing Y? Does that mean it's a good thing that my mum and dad split up?"

So he clearly has a lot of questions and searching at the moment. I offered to make him a little photo book of photographs of his other dad, that he can look at whenever he likes, and he liked that idea. I haven't suggested that he contact him, but I don't know if I should? He hasn't suggested it, but I don't know if he knows it is an option. We live abroad from our family, so he knows that you can write letters to people and phone them and skype them, and we vaguely talked about writing to StampyLongNose, but I don't know if he has generalised that to understand that you can contact anybody you want to by writing to them. XP has both my email address and phone number and we have mutual facebook contacts (he periodically deletes and reinstates his account, I don't have him as a friend), so if he wanted to get in contact, he could. TBH, he can be quite unstable, he was emotionally abusive, he had problems with alcohol, he's prone to aggressive outbursts and I'm not sure how he'd handle a piercing seven year old asking him these kinds of questions directly (if of course he does). I wouldn't make excuses to DS or block contact if they both wanted it, but I'm not averse to avoiding the issue until he's a bit older.

Sorry that was a huge ramble. I suppose just wondering if others have come across this situation and if you can suggest anything to me? I keep being blown away by his questions and not really knowing how to answer them especially on the spot.

Rosieliveson Thu 30-Jul-15 20:20:36

I am from a blended family. When we were younger we were told that we had different 'fathers' because a different man helped to make us (not sure if that opens more questions for him!!) but that we had the same 'daddy' who loves us and takes care of us and would be our daddy no matter what happened.
I have to admit the third daddy didn't really occur to me though.

BertieBotts Thu 30-Jul-15 20:23:07

Thanks smile Yes no worries he knows about the baby making part and the genetics, that was how I explained it to him to begin with when he started to query why he had two dads when he doesn't ever see the other one.

girlwiththegruffalotattoo Thu 30-Jul-15 20:28:24

I wouldn't suggest contact at such a young age, but would go with it and support ds in every way you can if he brings it up himself. From what you've said it sounds as though he's needing to know he's secure in the family he has now, you, him and stepdad, so I would be focusing on that rather than adding in another person (who of course you know to offer no security).

Tell him explicitly and often that he is safe and secure and loved by you and dh (I'm sure you show him every day but children also need to be told) and that neither of you is going anywhere.

Floundering Thu 30-Jul-15 20:35:04

Also tell him some kids have 2 dads, some have 2 mums & not everyone always lives together.

If he got a sense that there are loads of different variations on the nuclear family, it might help him work it out?

Must be hard for you & your DH seeing him so interested in his biological dad but really he doesn't have 2 Dads, anyone one can father a child, but it takes a lot more to be a real Dad, & sounds like he has that with your DH.

BertieBotts Thu 30-Jul-15 20:37:50

He definitely does smile Yes it's interesting because I assumed by this age he would have come across other kids who don't have a nuclear family setup, but apparently we run in particularly nuclear circles! I myself have a stepmother, but we don't see them all very often. But he has met them so maybe I'll talk about that with him as well.

Floundering Thu 30-Jul-15 20:57:24

If he is still worrying come Sept have a word with his form teacher & maybe they could do a circle time thing about the different types of
families ?

BertieBotts Thu 30-Jul-15 20:59:43

He will only start school for the first time in September as we are in Germany, so that might be a bit much! Something to bear in mind though smile

Perhaps I could find a book with a non traditional family in it.

rhetorician Thu 30-Jul-15 21:07:46

we are a same-sex couple and the girls see their dad about 5 times a year (he isn't very interested in them, although his parents very much are, but that's another thread). I have noticed that they (they are 3 and 6) are very much aware of the norm (there are 28 kids in DD's class and 26 of them live with their mum and dad!!), they have their own way of understanding it. So they see their dad and grandparents, who are in their family. But their real family (if you ask them to draw a picture say) is me, DP, the two of them, the cat, the chickens (so based on the house we live in). It's interesting to me that DD1 is drawn to other kids who come from non-normative families - two of her best friends are from single parent families. Not sure what that means.

We found Todd Parr's The Family Book very useful, but it's really aimed at children younger than your DS. Unfortunately in children's literature, step fathers (and step mothers) tend to be of the evil variety, which tells its own tale

Meerka Thu 30-Jul-15 22:07:01

I offered to make him a little photo book of photographs of his other dad, that he can look at whenever he likes, and he liked that idea. I haven't suggested that he contact him, but I don't know if I should?

Don't suggest it yet. Let him take the lead.

Given what you've said of his bio dad, maybe quietly not volunteer information, dampen things down, make it a boring matter rather than an interesting one if you can. His bio dad does not sound a positive influence at all.

Not sure if this is quite relevant but just in case: my older one is currently struggling with the idea of death, of himself or one of his parents dying. Other children I've heard of seem to be struggling with the idea of separation. If it's a matter of coming to terms with the world not being safe, then perhaps massive doses of reassurance are better than specific information on his bio dad, such as emphasising that his mum and the dad he knows will always be there for him. (if this 'feels' wrong then another course would be better!)

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