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How do I tell my Son? Advice really needed please..

(17 Posts)
mummywilko Thu 21-Jul-11 21:23:29

Ok, I'll try to be brief!
Basically my now 8 year old is still unaware his dad is actually his step-dad. I split from his biological father while still pregnant and my now partner has always lived with us since he was a tiny baby and grew up with his elder (step) sister who he copied and called him dad. We rightly or wrongly never told him or corrected him.
I always thought we would tell him at age 10 but now think we have left it too late and want to do it asap.
He is a very confidant, laid back child who I hope will handle it well and any advice would be greatly received x

FriggFRIGG Thu 21-Jul-11 23:23:56

who or what exactly are you telling him for?

i mean, generally im of the 'tell them from day 1' school of thought...

but if you've left it until now,im not sure if it might do more harm than good?!

Kayano Thu 21-Jul-11 23:35:06

I also agree stuff lime that should have been dealt with as soon as he was old enough.

Tell him ASAP IMO
The longer you leave it, when he does find out- and he will it'll make it all the more difficult for him thinking you concealed it

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 01:00:59

Kids at that age tend to have relatively few hangups about specifics of relationship-definition. They just need to know that they have a strong family unit around them with adults that love them unconditionally and put them first.

Maybe if necessary you could precede it with some more general talking about different kinds of families. Are there any families you know with unconventional but happy structures? Or maybe get some of those very PC kids' story books, about how "Emma had a mummy and a daddy, but Nathaniel had two mummies, and Billy had a mummy and four daddies who took turns on a rotating monthly schedule" smile

Once it's clear to him that none of this matters as long as people love each other and treat each other right, then it's just a question of "oh, and by the way..."

pickgo Fri 22-Jul-11 01:12:29

Definitely tell him. TUrn the fact that he's 8 into a positive - 'now you are such a big boy and clever enough to understand...'. If his relationship is good with step dad it should be relatively easy for him to take on.
But be prepared for him wanting to see a photo, wanting to go and see him, ask about other family etc.
Might have feelings about sib too - now being step-sib.
How will you respond? Be prepared with answers (discuss with Sdad?)

nakedandangry Fri 22-Jul-11 01:23:02

I would tell him now.

Do you still have contact with bio dad? I would expect an 8 yr old to become very interested with his unknown dad.

Like what confidence says. Pick your moment. Your partner is his 'proper dad' to all intents and purposes. So as long as this relationship (your son's and dsdad) is secure in your view he may well adjust to this idea without problems.

I think tell him now. I have a similar situation in my family - oldest child is not biologically the mum's but is the dad's - and she doesn't know. She's now 7, 8 later this year - and she should be told asap. but mum doesn't want to tell her until 18 which is waaaaaayyyyyy too late and so potentially damaging I can't bear thinking about it.

ExpatMummyInOz Fri 22-Jul-11 06:26:26

You know your boy best, so go with your instinct and tell him sooner rather than later.

My mother sat me down when I was 7 and explained the same thing to me - her words were that my dad wasn't my 'real' dad. It was a huge shock to me and, even now, 34 years on, I can still recall it all very clearly, the words she used and how I felt. In those days, being born out of wedlock was still frowned upon and my mother was very wary of our 'secret' getting out. I remember confiding in a friend at school when I was 12, the first person I ever told, and she was shocked that I was a bastard! The nasty bitch, I always was a lousy judge of character! grin
Anyway, sorry as I digress. But thank goodness times have completely changed now and very few people bat an eyelid about parents not being married.

I am no expert, but my advice is for both you and your husband to tell him and his sister together, if you feel that's appropriate. If you prefer to speak to him first, then do so but involve your DD as soon as it is appropriate.

Don't treat this like a secret, or a big deal. Discuss it openly, as a family, with both children present. Give your children time to process the information, react in their own way, and be prepared to answer any questions honestly and openly, in a way that is appropriate for their age to understand.

It will be a big deal for your son, and he may feel unsettled for a period of time afterwards, which might manifest itself in various ways. Make sure you give both the children reasurance that nothing is going to change. Also, not sure how touchy-feely your DH is with the kids, but make sure he is particularly vocal about how much he loves DS, and how he considers DS to BE his 'real' son, etc. You get the gist. Your son will need to know that the man he considers 'Dad' is still 'Dad and loves him just the same as he always has, that nothing has changed.

You and your DH also need to consider about how you want to deal with other people knowing, as your son might ask you if he can tell his friends etc. It's not a big deal obviously but you may feel you prefer to speak to others first, plus let your respective family members know what's happened.

Another option to consider is to first consult a specialist child psychologist for advice and guidance on the best way to tell your children, and dealing with the afterwards, IYKWIM. I've used one and found it to be very helpful.

Best of luck and hope it goes well. And look, you can't possibly do any worse than my Mum, bless her, who told me 'ExpatMummy, you were conceived after Mummy had four nights of passion, but sadly Mummy doesn't know which one it was exactly'! grin

fastweb Fri 22-Jul-11 07:28:14

I would make an appointment with a child therapist and ask their advice.

Going to the "body stuff" doc is such a norm we don't think twice about it. But the "head+life" stuff, we are so much more used to managing alone that it doesn't always occur to us that we might be in over our heads.

Sometimes all the mummy instinct in the world and the seemingly perfect words thought up, are no match for years of professional training and experience.

This is a big one. It has the potential to impact something fundamental to us all, big or small, our identity.

He is your son and worth the relatively small investment of you paying for and having a chat with a professional to guide what you say and how you say it.

tb Fri 22-Jul-11 08:27:27

The only thing I would add, is for heaven's sake, don't say to him that his dad isn't his 'real' dad. If he's never seen his biological father, his step-dad IS his real dad. Casting doubt on that would, I think, have the potential to destroy their relationship for a long time, if not permanently.

Adversecamber Fri 22-Jul-11 08:41:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mummywilko Fri 22-Jul-11 09:51:23

Big thank you to everyone. I think maybe I should expand a little to explain more clearly.
Our family is my partner and I, My step daughter who is 16 and has known all along and obviously not a problem to her and 'our' youngest son who is 4 and also clueless.
My partner is amazing and closer to my son than I am!! They have a really special bond which I assume is from them being together since he was a few weeks old.
I also need to add which may sound strange to many that I actually work with the biological father! He chose not to see him, he chose not to put his name on the birth certificate and I chose not to talk openly at work about my family life. We get on as proffesionals and that is it.
I know one thing that when I was 9 my mum sat my sis and I down at home to tell us mum and dad were not living together anymore. I realise this is completley different although I remember where I was and how I felt. I also have not been affected by it as they did it in such a way that we were secure etc...
So what are your views on doing it
1, away from home so he can't connect his bedroom, kitchen or wherever to the situation
2, doing it in the school hols so he has time to adjust before going back to school
3, taking our youngest son? Like I said he is 4 and has the habit of going on and on and on therefore making any important conversation very difficult.

Sorry for going on so much I just want it to be as right as poss.
My other reason and worry is that we changed his name as a baby from my name to my partners and have a deed poll that needs to go with his birth cert.

Thanks guys

ImperialBlether Fri 22-Jul-11 10:26:36

Gosh, I don't know how you can work with the guy. Does he really never ask you questions about your son? Do you have photos on your desk?

Is he married?

It's lovely that your partner now has such a good relationship with your son. He should definitely be there when your son is told.

My problem would be that it's so painful to think of you working with his biological father who shows no interest in him at all. I think your son will struggle with this.

fastweb Fri 22-Jul-11 10:30:14

I think you have just told us all about how you feel about it and your wholesale emotional disconnect from who his (bio) father is. (probably out of necessity given bio dad's reaction to being a father)

So my advice from before, is now a little more emphatic.

Please take professional advice for a therapist who specializes in children as to how to tell your sonS (if I read the above right) the whole story about the family's bonds.

Because the ideas you have come up with do not take into account in any shape or form that the information can have a significant impact on your child's sense of identity.

I'm not having a pop, you do not come across as somebody who chose to create your son problems for your own sake, I think this situation just crept up on you from never finding the right moment. I don't think you don't care (quite the opposite actually) about the impact it will have on him.

I just don't get the impression that you are equipped to know how to tell him, recognize red flags post revelation and deal effectively with any fall out on your own.

Which puts you in the same boat as the majority of us mortals.

You would take him to the quack if he had a mystery rash right ? Well this is equally uncharted territory in terms of how to identify and deal with what could be ailing your kid, just head rather than body based.

ExpatMummyInOz Fri 22-Jul-11 10:41:22

I personally would tell him at home - it's the place he feels most secure and relaxed. I also agree that at the start of the school hols is a good idea. He will need time to process things, and hopefully you and your DH have some time off with the kids over the hols too.

As I said before, I would recommend all the siblings being present, and I still think this is important to do this as a family discussion. I wouldn't be too surprised if your DS is already aware of the fact that DH is his 'step-dad'.

I remember that my feelings and thoughts centered around how my 'Dad' felt about me, and whether he really loved me in the same way as my step-sister, who was his biological child. I understood the difference, even at 7. I gave no real thought until I was much older, I think closer to 10 or 11, about my biological father.

My point is that I think the focus at this stage should be on DH's relationship with your son. As he gets older, he will better understand the complexity of adult relationships, and it will be easier for you to explain your relationship with the biological father.

I also went through a stage of intense curiosity about my biological father, including struggling with feelings of 'rejection', as I saw it then. And that's also something to be aware of, because young children tend to see things very simply in black and white.

I expect you have already given this a great deal of thought, but if you haven't, you'll need to think carefully about whether his biological father will have any 'role' to play (and I use that very generally) as your son gets older - and whether he (the biological father) is open to that. There will come a time when your DS will start asking alot of questions, and may even want to meet his biological father.

I had to explain to my kids that their Grandmother was not my mum (different situation as my mum was dead). My stepmum was a very lovely lady and a great GM to the kids but one day my DS1 (about 6 at the time) asked me about when I was in GM tummy and so I had to explain.

My suggestion would be to make it as positive story as you can.

1. Don't criticise or sound judgemental about his bio dad as half of your son comes from him (I'm sure you weren't planning to be critical).

2. Don't use the expression "real" dad as both are "real" they just have different roles.

3. I emphasised how my stepmum had chosen to come into the family to have fun with and look after everyone and that it had been a great choice for everyone.

4. You will probably need some sort of answer as to why bio dad isn't involved. Maybe something like "He wasn't really sure how to be a Dad at the time but that's OK because DP chose to join us and he already knew how to be a Dad etc..."

5. Do it one to one with your DS (no little brother involved), early in the school hols and (this is a bit tough) try not to make a big deal out of it. See if you can engineer a conversation where is is appropriate to bring the information out rather than a scary "I've got something important to tell you ..." conversation which might worry your son.

6. Don't be surprised if he doesn't really react much when you tell him and questions bubble up days and weeks later (you may also be asked the same things a few times).

You know your son best so feel free to ignore any of the above if they are not helpful.

ExpatMummyInOz Fri 22-Jul-11 10:48:13

I also wanted to echo Fastweb's post about consulting a professional to help with this. Given the complexity of the situation, they will be able to help you and your husband decide how best to deal with all this, in a way that will be most appropriate for your son.

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