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What age should I tell my Son that the man he knows as dad is not his biological dad?

(110 Posts)
Chelsea987 Sat 16-May-20 09:26:21

My son is 8 years old. Me and the man he knows as dad got together when he was four months old. My son has not seen the sperm donor since he was a few weeks old due to domestic violence, and he was put in prison for threatening us both with a knife. He never tried to attempt to have any contact with him through court, and he has been raised by my husband as long as he can remember. The sperm donor is however on his birth certificate and one day I know I need to tell him. When is the right time to do this? Too young he might not understand- too old might cause him issues in future life so I just don’t know when or how to tell him. Any advice appreciated smile

OP’s posts: |
SomeoneElseEntirelyNow Sat 16-May-20 09:34:07

This is one of those things where its best if the child has always known, or never knows.

I think you need to tell your son ASAP and be prepared for it to be quite confusing and upsetting for him at first, he'll need lots of reassurance from his dad too. It might be useful to arrange for him to see a counsellor once he knows, too, so he has somewhere safe and neutral to get his feelings out.

Dyrne Sat 16-May-20 09:38:17

Yes I Agree with PP. if you’d raised him as a fact he had always vaguely known, there would be no “big reveal”. As it is, he’s old enough for it now to be a huge shock to him and has the potential to cause some damage so you need to be careful.

You need to tell him ASAP. There are some good books out there to help. Make sure to emphasise that his Dad loves him no matter what and stress that family is more than just blood. Does he have any friends with stepfathers or adopted situations you could draw a parallel with?

Alb1 Sat 16-May-20 09:42:41

Tell him ASAP, my sister found out at 13 and it ruined her teenage years. Growing up with the knowledge is far better.

GingerbreadBiscuits00 Sat 16-May-20 09:43:34

Oh god, tell him now. He should always have known. Don't leave it to the teen years that would be horrific. He should have been made aware years ago.

MyOtherProfile Sat 16-May-20 09:45:44

Definitely now. I agree that he should have grown up knowing but now is better than never. Make sure his dad is there ready to reassure him that he has always loved him as his son even though he didn't physically make him.

Newchapter2020 Sat 16-May-20 09:47:48

Definitely now. Obviously he should have always known so it's not big news, but he doesn't. You need to do it now. Secrets like this can destroy a persons life. He's still young, do it now.

Alb1 Sat 16-May-20 09:47:57

Sorry I should really be clear, don’t want you to think she then hated her dad for nothing, her ‘dad’ left at this time, he wasn’t around to reassure her he loved her, that’s why it ruined her teenage years (he turned into an arsehole). The realisation that both parents and everyone else who’d always known her had always kept that secret didn’t help though. Nobody knows what’s around the corner in life, so it’s better to arm your child with the knowledge as soon as you are able and in my opinion well before the teenage years.

mnahmnah Sat 16-May-20 09:48:22

I have an 8yo DS too. I think this is an age where they can totally process it and understand what you tell them. But will accept it factually. As they get older I think it will get more complicated for you both. I would just keep it to the basic facts and not make a big deal of it. It’s tricky I know. Good luck!

Lifeaback Sat 16-May-20 09:48:50

I think you should tell him ASAP- the older he gets the more distressing it will be as he will start to feel like he’s been lied to and it will really impact his identity. IMO you’ve left it much later than I would have....

I think if I was in your shoes I might consider you both him sitting him down and telling him as a pair- so that your DP can reassure him that nothing has changed now that he knows and he still loves him/is his dad etc.

Friendsofmine Sat 16-May-20 09:48:57

Tell him now. Look on after adoption and other sites for guidance including books to gently introduce it to him.

It will cause him great harm if you leave it.

Babdoc Sat 16-May-20 09:51:12

Now would be a good time, OP!
You have a perfect opportunity to combine it with pre teen sex education, and drawing a distinction between the mere act of providing sperm (biological fatherhood) and the loving and raising of a child (parenting fatherhood).
You can legitimately say that you waited until DS was old enough to understand all this. He may feel flattered that you now regard him as mature enough to cope with the information.
One caveat - you need to be prepared for DS to ask some tough questions or even want to meet his “sperm donor”. Decide in advance how to handle this. Good luck.

sluj Sat 16-May-20 09:51:13

You need to be clear in your own head first about the difference between a "sperm donor" and an ex partner. The man you are describing sounds like a former partner rather than a sperm donor. Otherwise you will confuse the child further.

BuffaloCauliflower Sat 16-May-20 09:52:51

Tell him now. As others have said he should always have known then no need for some traumatic reveal. Don’t leave it to teenage years which are even harder. I found out (in bizarre circumstances) in my 30s and it knocks you for 6. Better younger than older.

BuffaloCauliflower Sat 16-May-20 09:53:36

He’s also not a sperm donor, he’s an ex, don’t use confusing language to him

CherryPavlova Sat 16-May-20 09:53:46

Casually introduce the idea using stories and mention almost in passing rather than making it a big deal. Part of usual sex and relationship education within the family, maybe even from his father talking about it being funny they’re both good at x when it was donor sperm. Then move on until he questioned.

Veterinari Sat 16-May-20 09:55:05

Please tell him ASAP, leaving it as a big reveal doesn't favours to anyone.
Now would be a good time for a basic facts of life/sex talk if he hasn't already had that too so you could cover the basic facts of conception and explain that in his case a different man provided the sperm as mummy hadn't met dad yet.

Also please don't refer to his biological father as a sperm donor or abusive, even if that's true. Remember your son shares his genetics and how you describe him has impacts for how your son may feel about himself.

combatbarbie Sat 16-May-20 09:55:28

Absolutely tell him now rather when the hormones start in a couple of years as he may well think he's been lied to and use it against you.

I have always known, my parents married when I was 4 so was never an issue. My daughter was 3 so she has also always known but did have a chat with her when she was 9 and she stated the obvious as she knew/can remember when she met him.

Id keep it factual, it's easier for them to process but don't make a big deal of it. Could you maybe do a "family tree school project"?

Lulu1919 Sat 16-May-20 09:58:05

I was 18 when I found out Dad was in fact my mother's second husband and my birth father had let him adopt me when I was school age.
It made me feel like my whole life was a lie ...that I was the only one that didn't know.
Please be open and honest

MrsPerks Sat 16-May-20 10:01:34

Have a look at the resources and advice on the Donor Conception Network, OP.

Spanglebangle Sat 16-May-20 10:01:44

He should always have known, this is a part of his identity and you have been hiding it from him. Whenever he finds out now he will feel hurt and betrayed. You need to be honest with him in an age appropriate way. Tell him what happened when he was a baby and why you haven't told him the truth before.
Most importantly his non bio dad needs to be right there with you reassuring your son that he is very much loved and wanted by both of you.

Neome Sat 16-May-20 10:02:58

The Donor conception network have a range of books telling stories of children born to parents where not genetically related to one or both and there are some good books like "The big book of families" and "Welcome to the family" and "A family is like a cake" (Big Hugs series, great conversation starters). If you git a bunch of books about different situations you could introduce the idea of families of different sorts and guahe your son's interest and readiness for exploring his own origins.

I started reading a relevant book to my chimd when they were very little. They aren't very interested in the subject! If they were to suddenly ask questions about eg differences in appearance I could say "remember this book I used to read when you were little?"
I know of other kids with the same book wjo took it to heart and felt it was a really positive and important part of their story.

I would say think carefully but start from now. Do you or your partner have any family you're nit genetically related to? Hslf sibling? Favourite aunt by marriage or non marriage? I've got a bunch of nieces I'm really close to although not married to their parent's sibling.

It's also good to look for interests or eg sense of humour things you have in common with each other. Does your son have the same hair colour as his family Dad? Or an interest?

beautifulmonument Sat 16-May-20 10:04:10

I've been with my DH since DS1 was a baby. I told him that DH was not his "real" dad when he was about 4 years old. He didn't really understand what it meant obviously but I continued to have conversations with him as he grew up (he's a teenager now).
I think it's very important that kids just grow up knowing. Then it's normal to them. You should tell him ASAP.

SmartyPants0 Sat 16-May-20 10:04:17

I agree that he needs to know, would you husband adopt him? You could start by asking him to list what a dad is/does and let him know that his Dad loves him so much that he wants to make it official.

Antipodeancousin Sat 16-May-20 10:10:54

You have massively screwed up as a parent thus far by making it effectively a secret.
My mum broke the same news to me at nine years old and here is a list of what NOT to do:
- tell the child it is a secret and not to discuss it
- make the child feel guilty for being curious about their biological father ‘because stepdad has done so much for you’
- minimise the seriousness of such a revelation on the child
- never discuss it openly with the whole family and keep it secret from half siblings for another decade
- not seek any outside professional support, even when child is showing signs of extreme emotional distress

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