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When do we tell our 4 year old DD that her daddy isn't her 'bio dad?'

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Background: I was with a young man from the time we were both 17 until about 23. During this time, we had 2 children, a boy and a girl. When DS was about 4 and DD was 12 months, their father and I split up and he was forced to move to Colorado for legal trouble (he wasn't exactly a moral or intelligent person, to say the least).

I stayed in Oregon, and I was a single mom for a while until I started dating again. I dated my DH for a year, then we got married. DH is very loyal, caring, supportive and he provides wonderfully for us. He thinks of DS and DD as his own children.

My DS (who is now 7) remembers his 'real' dad, and has always called DH by his first name, although there are times when he'll call him dad. We've made it pefectly clear to DS that he can call DH by his first name OR dad - it's completely up to him. My DD, however, does not remember her biological dad, and has grown up calling DH 'daddy'. To her, he IS her daddy. She has no idea that another man exists.

The bio dad calls every one in awhile, but only talks to DS. I don't really have a problem with him talking to DD, but since she has no clue who he is, I figure what's the point. Bio dad has not sent us a dime in support, partially because he's been in and out of jail, and partialy because he's a loser and an idiot (and no, I absolutely do not say these things in front of DS. He has never heard me say a negative things about his father).

But now it looks like bio dad may be coming back to Oregon within a few months. How do I approach this topic with my DD? My DH and I are just fine with letting her think that DH is her daddy, but of course I know that that really isn't fair and she's going to have to know sometime. But when is it a good time to tell her? I don't want her to be confused. And how do we tell her? I want to be honest with her, but I also don't want her to stop calling DH daddy or stop thinking of him as her real dad.

Sorry this is long -- I would appreciate any advice you could give.
post #2 of 17
The sooner you tell the better I think. I have never been in a situation like this so I can't imiagine how hard this must be. What you don't want is your child thinking she was lied to about who her "real" dad is. I had a friend who had a situation similar to this. She was raped and it resulted in a pregnancy. While she was pregnant, she married her best friend. When I knew them, the boy was 12 years old. He knew that he was half of his mom and half of someone who was not his dad (dad referring to the man who raised him as his own). They were very honest with him about this his whole life and it was never an issue.
post #3 of 17
There was a thread on this a while ago with great responses (looking at pictures of you and dc when she was a baby and explaining casually - that was before dh came into our lives).

I think teh key is to weave it into the fabric of your life - no "come sit down, let's talk" kinda thing. Your dh is her dad, so nothing will changed. My mom maried my dad when my half-sister was two. The fact of her paternity was always a part of our lives (she is in the wedding photo), but it was never a big deal at all for that reason. My dad and sister are way closer than me and my brother are to our dad.
post #4 of 17
Subbing because I'm really interested to hear the responses...
post #5 of 17
DP and I have talked about this same thing (the boys were 7 & 10 months when DP and I got together) - DS 1 calls DP "first name" or "dad" depending on his mood. DS 2 knows DP only as "daddy!" and is still too young to really know any different.

I think we've decided to just deal with it frankly and honestly when and if the time arrises (which doesn't seem likely given my ex's). Ds 1 has met his father and refers to him like this:

DS: is that my dad in that picture?
me: yep
DS: I mean my "dad-dad", you know, the guy that helped you make the baby?
me: yes, honey, that's him
post #6 of 17
your son is 7? are you sure he hasnt talked to her about it before? she may know more than you think, just from casual conversation with her brother.

good luck. im sure you will find the right words, although im sorry i am no help in finding them.
post #7 of 17
: DP and I had the same thought when we first started discussing this. We knew it was only a matter of time before DS1 got mad at something and uttered those famous words: "YOU'RE NOT MY *REAL DAD*" and DS2 would be like

I think it's best to be open about it. I don't know if we'll bring it up, but we'll be kind of matter-of-fact about it when it comes up. In our family, we believe you CAN have 2 dad's (I consider my s-dad my second father) - so we'll frame it like that.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
your son is 7? are you sure he hasnt talked to her about it before? she may know more than you think, just from casual conversation with her brother.
You may be right, although I've never heard DS talk about his real dad before to anyone. But both kids spend time with their bio grandma on their dad's side, and although DD has never talked about having another dad, their grandma has probably mentioned something about it.

Quote:
I think teh key is to weave it into the fabric of your life - no "come sit down, let's talk" kinda thing.
I like this idea. Thanks! I'll definently approach it in a more casual fashion rather than act like it's a huge deal.


Quote:
What you don't want is your child thinking she was lied to about who her "real" dad is.
You're right, this is exactly what I don't want. I'd hate for her to resent me or DH for not being totally honest with her.

Thank you for all your replies! DH is out of town on business, but when he returns I'll have him read your responses, then we'll start slowly talking to DD about things.
post #9 of 17
hey there...here to support!!! i havent seen my bio dad since i was around 4 and i wouldnt remember him if it wasnt for my big brother who is 2.5 years older and does remember. my daddy adopted me when i was in 1st grade and i didnt get it for a while! i remember the judge asking us if we wanted him to be our daddy forever and i looked at him like he was stupid and said yes...hes our daddy already! haha...then over the years i caught on to my mom and dad making jokes about how amazing it was that i looked like daddy. people would pick him as my parent but not my mom...eventually i asked why it was so amazing that i looked like him. they said my daddy chose to be my daddy. he wasnt there to make me but he was there to raise me and be my dad. from then on that was all i needed. i found bio *idiot* father when i was 15...BIG mistake. i am LUCKY to have been picked by my daddy...bio dad was an idiot!!!
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricaE View Post
[
But now it looks like bio dad may be coming back to Oregon within a few months. How do I approach this topic with my DD? My DH and I are just fine with letting her think that DH is her daddy, but of course I know that that really isn't fair and she's going to have to know sometime. But when is it a good time to tell her? I don't want her to be confused. And how do we tell her? I want to be honest with her, but I also don't want her to stop calling DH daddy or stop thinking of him as her real dad.

Sorry this is long -- I would appreciate any advice you could give. [/COLOR][/FONT]
Tell her asap, because she will figure it out anyway given that brother knows, your DH knows, and her bio-dad knows. However, I think this is important to say: Your DH IS her daddy and he IS her "real dad." The other guy's a sperm shooter.
post #11 of 17
Yep, tell your dd. I agree no big sit down talk but casually mention it.
My DH adopted his ex's dd. It's been really hard for her once she found out (her mom never wanted to tell her) Especially since both your dc have the same father I think it will be "easier" for her to understand. Dh's dd has a bio-father, adopted father, and a step-dad. I think that when she realized she was the only sibling that didn't have contact with her bio-father it affected her self-esteem.
post #12 of 17
Show her some pictures. Tel her some stories. Decide what to call him (daddy-whatever or dad or papa or something else?) and tell her no so she has time to get used to the idea. I think 4 is a good age because what she learns at four will just become part of her knowledge (I mean, I don't remeber being 4 or anything so if youtell her now, she'll know and she probably won' t grow up remembering what if felt like when you told her). If you wait too long she may feel tricked or decived.
post #13 of 17
It would be so much easier to explain if biodad was a constant part of dd's life...but when he's not, what are you supposed to do? My plan is to make a scrapbook of her life that we add to together and to include a picture of him, the man that helped to make her in the beginning with the pregnant photos of myself and then pictures of dh and I (he's been in her life since dd was about a month old and is the only daddy she knows) and explain that while one man helped me make her, dh chose to be her daddy because he loves us all so much and couldn't live without us. I keep a picture of her biodad on her wall with her other family photos and tell her who he is, but at this point she's still so young that it's not really sunk in (she'll be 2 soon). Hope this helps.
post #14 of 17
My husband found out when he was 27 that the man who raised him isn't his real father. It completely tore him apart. He says that now a lot of things make sense but now he can never know his bio father. His mother and step dad say horrible things about his bio dad but my husband will never know this for himself because his mother refuses to tell him who the man is. My husband also has health issues which his doctor states are genetic. If he knew who his bio father was he would know about all of these problems to test for them early for himself and for his children. My husband says there was always tension between him and his step dad and there was always favoritism toward his younger brother who actually is the step dad's bio child. Even my husband's babysitter when he was a child told me that his step dad never treated my husband as well as he treated the younger brother. I feel so bad for my husband and so helpless to do anything to ease his frustration. Please, tell your child before anything like this happens to you.
post #15 of 17
My daughter has known that her Daddy is not her biological parent since day 1. He came into our lives when she was 18 months old. We got married when she was 3.5, had her baby sister 6 weeks before she turned 4 and 3 weeks before her fourth birthday there was a beautiful adoption ceremony in a local court house.

I'm all about children knowing where they come from and it hasn't been an issue because she has known since "day 1" that she came from my first marriage.
post #16 of 17
I didn't read all of the replies, but just wanted to share my personal experience....

My oldest ds was raised by my ex dh. I told him when he was 7 that ex dh was not his real dad. I also had 2 other children (younger) by ex dh at that time. I tried to explain it on a childs level, and he understood what I was saying without coming out and exactly saying, "Daddy isn't your real daddy." What I said to him was that his 2 younger brothers has mommy and daddys blood and he only had mommys blood. Mommy wasn't married to daddy when I had you, but we were shortly thereafter. So, you have mommy's blood and another daddy's blood. but, it is great for you, because you really have 2 daddy's. If you would like to meet your other daddy, I will be more than happy to have him come over one afternoon to play with you. He wanted to see him, so I set it up for him to come to our home and see ds. My ds kept contact with him for about a year, gradually going over to his house, and he actually spent the night one time. After that, he didn't go anymore. he came to realize (at about 8.5 yo) that his grandfather and my ex dh was much more important to him than a man that had been out of his life for 7 years and not tried to contact him. DS is now 13 and sometimes he will make a comment about his "real" father, but it is not normally a nice comment. I do think that it has hurt him a little, but I couldn't live that "lie" anymore. I don't ever regret telling him, but I do regret keeping it from him for so long. If I had taken action sooner, maybe things would have turned out differently.
post #17 of 17
Just another story as I was in the same situation as the OP, just I was the child who had no clue.

I was in 4th grade when I figured it out, I found out on my own. We had these censious cards to fill out, it wanted to know if either the SP or BIO parents were ever in the service.
Well when I read mine for whatever reason it said (the man I thought was my DAD) was my Step-dad. I say the man I thought, only because he wasnt the greatest in the world, in fact he was down right horrible at times. He did things to me and my brother that were completely horrible and never to be fogiven for.
My mother lied to me till I showed her how I knew, from that ppoint forward, I have not forgiven her, she wouldnt talk to me about it, made me not talk about it to anyone at all. My grandmother had pictures of their wedding that I had, my Mom took them and threw them in the trash.
When I finally decided enough was enough and I moved out of the house because of things that were being done, I found my BIO DAD, ( I was 23 when we finally met) it was rough and heartbreaking at first but has gotten better and I miss him very much and wish he was closer to me and found out my mom had in fact lied about alot of things to me in regards to him.
So, PLEASE be careful on how and when you do it, but when she does find out, let her talk about it and let her vent/cry/or whatever she needs to do when she understands the story.

Good luck and as long as you show her support and honesty, it will be ok.
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