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Should I tell my son the truth about his biological father?
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Should I tell my son the truth about his biological father?

My son is 12 years old and lives with the man he knows as his father, when we were divorced the judge asked me if i knew where the biological father was and since i didn't they granted my ex as the father and changed his last name to his. Now over the years little things have come out on his 4th b-day the man he knows as his father told him that he wasn't his father and so my son when he came home asked me about it and I told him the truth and told him that if he wanted me to I would find hid real daddy and he said yes. So it took me 7 years to find him which i did and told him about his son he thought i wanted money and i haven't heard from him since. In the last year my ex's mother has told my daughter who told our oldest son but not to the son thats not his. My son has made hints as to wanting to know when he can decide where he wants to live. My ex has said he will do whatever it takes for him not to find out the truth I feel that its time to tell him I have never lied to my children and he hasn't come right out and asked since he was four. So i guess my question would be would it be a good time to tell him or not he has already asked why his last name was different from the others and why he doesn't look like them. My ex was very abusive to me and disiplines the children to fear him which i don't agree with. So any thoughts would be great I am just stuck on when is a good time to tell him.
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Hello,
   the sad truth is that not everyone who fathers children is able and willing to care for them--this is the difficult concept you will have to communicate to your son. Since your son has some ideas about the truth, I believe you would be doing him a great favor by offering to answer his questions. You do not need to tell him all the nasty details about what type of man his father is, as that could be devastating for him to learn. If you offer to give the information your son wants to hear, it can be a great opportunity for healing. In the meantime, tell your relatives to stop gossiping and let you help your son understand the situation in a way that won't hurt him further.

Your son will probably want to know the answers to questions like: Why did my father leave (and was it my fault?), Can I meet him? and What is he like? The first question is the big one. You will need to let your child know that his father's absence had nothing to do with him or anything he did. Also make it clear that his father's leaving did not have anything to do with something your son did, and that you have 'left the door open' if his father becomes ready to make contact again. Let your son know that not every man can be a good father, and so you were able to find a man (your husband) who could give him the love and caring he deserves.

With respect to your son having a fantasy that he could go  live with his father, you should be honest about the fact that his father has made it clear that he does not want to be a parent. It is a common wish among young adolescents to go live with the same sex parent, so boys often have the idea that they belong with their fathers at this age. Your son probably daydreams a terrific reunification that will solve all his problems, and unfortunately this dream is not going to come true. Tell your son that it is a great shame that his father is missing out on what a great kid he has turned out to be, and emphasize how much you and his stepdad love and value him. If he wants to make contact, you might tell him that he can do so when he is 16 (or pick some age you feel comfortable with), but do set his expectations that his dad is not going to invite him to live with him or start acting like the father of his dreams.

The 80's movie Parenthood has a scene where a mother has to have just this conversation with her son, so you might rent it for some ideas for what to say.
The book Difficult Questions Kids Ask (And are Afraid to Ask) About Divorce is an excellent resource for these situations. If your son is having more problems (behavior problems, anxiety, depression, anger management issues) then I recommend finding a male therapist who can help him cope with these issues.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik

Disclaimer: These posts in response to Medhelp.com questions are intended to be informational only. They should never be considered a substitute for face-to-face medical and mental health care by a qualified practitioner. Answering Medhelp questions is not intended to create or imply a patient-clinician relationship. Information presented in posts is not intended to give or to rule-out a diagnosis.
2 Comments
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Wow, is this my mother speaking? You just told my story from my mothers point of view. When I was 14 my parents were splitting up my father became abusive when he started to drink again. From what I've been told he did not ever want me to find out that he was NOT my biological father so my mom never told me the truth.
Finally when things got so bad with him I actually had to talk my mom into leaving him.
He came over one night and broke into our home. I was talking with my mom after he and the police had left. I said something like, he's such a horrible person he can't possible be the same blood, can't be my real father. My mom looked at me shocked.
I was not saying it literally really, but then she told me that he was not. I was stund. I had been lied to my whole life. What else didn't I know? What else had I been lied to about?
Then I found out I had a different last name went I went to get my drivers license permit for Drivers Ed. More small details kept coming out and drug on the pain and frustration out.
That was 12 years ago and it still hurts, but I think the sooner the better for him to find out. I would say tell him right now, don't wait any longer. Had I found out at an earlier age I might have been able to deal with it better. I don't mean to freak you out with all of this, I hope I'm not saying too much.
In my experience, I think I would have been better off knowing earlier on in my life, maybe some people would say I was better off not knowing. Who knows though
Everyone and every situation is different. But I think before any serious situation arises, you should be honest with your son.
I think that if you are in a situation where you can sit down and talk to him in during a time that there is less or no drama in your life you should do it.
I think that he will appreciate your being honest with him. The longer you keep it from him the more time he has to be resentfull over(if that is how he might react). He might be ok with it. In some ways it was a relief to find out.

Please! This is only my experience. I am not trying to tell you what to do, just trying to give you possibly a different perspective on the situation. And my situation my be completely different than yours. And I may have been a completely different kid than yours is.

I hope other people post on this and can maybe give you more insight, or different experiences. Maybe for some people it would be best to never know and others best for them to know.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, whatever it is that you decide is best for you and your son, I wish you the best of luck!
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