Freaking Out

Chantell - posted on 07/07/2013 ( 10 moms have responded )

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Hi everyone I am in desperate need of some advice please! My ex and I have three children together, we split close to 10 years ago, he moved out the day after my youngest child's 1st birthday and my other two children who are twins were 3 years old at the time, also during this time child support payments have been very sporadic because he changes jobs often and lies about his earnings which landed him $16,000 in cs arrears over the years. About six months later I met my current partner and we have had a child also. My problem starts with the fact my older three children think my current partner is their biological dad because they never had any contact with their real father after we split except for about the two months following in which he was very unreliable, lied about not being able to have the kids for whatever reason etc. I did get one phone call the day I came home from hospital after having my fourth child but nothing came of it. So for the past ten years he has basically not even existed to us. So this is my first dilemma, how do I tell them the man that has raised you isn't your biological father and then to answer all the other questions that will no doubt come with it. My second problem is that recently got two friend request on Facebook from my ex, which I deleted but yesterday went into my 'others folder' and found a msg from him asking to contact our three kids. This msg has literally made me sick with worry (I also suffer depression and extreme anxiety) as I don't know what to do, say or expect, I haven't even told my partner yet as I know he will be deverstated, or anyone else. Help I don't know what to do!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Michelle - posted on 07/07/2013

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The children need to know the truth. You and your husband should have been honest with them from the start but you can't go back now.
Sit them down and explain to them that they have a real Daddy but your husband chose to help you raise them. Don't put down their real Father as that's not fair on them.
Just because your ex hasn't been around for the last 10 years doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to get to know his children (and them him). You should open up the lines of communication rather than let it get ugly and him take you to court.

Auntie - posted on 07/08/2013

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Chantelle, You may not like what the other parents are saying and you are obviously very hurt regarding the whole situation.

The thing I think you need to be mindful of is what do your children want, you can make that decision for them but when they reach 16 and find out the truth what will they think when they find out that years previously their real father wanted to get to know them and you wouldn't allow it. At this time they will realise that their Step-Dad is not their real father and they could end up resenting you for telling them lies. My advice would be to let them know and let them decide. I had a friend who was the child in this very same scenario, his dad wasn't his real dad and his mum lied to him about it. He is now 30 and hasn't seen his mum for several years because he is hurting inside, these kind of lies can have a tremendous effect on the mental well being of person for years to come. He loved his Step-Father and his Mother, what he couldn't handle was the fact that his own Mum was willing to lie to him over something so important simply to protect herself. You owe your children the truth, I know this situation was created with your childrens best interests at heart but the truth will always come out. Be the person that your kids see as the honest influence in their life and not the one who stopped them knowing the truth. Our comments are only advice as you had asked, but the choice is ultimately yours, but when you make that choice please consider the future consequences of your Children and their happiness as they are more important than, you, your husband and your ex.

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2013

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I understand it is difficult to be honest with children that age. But it really does depend on the circumstances. My ex and I split when my son was 2, and he KNEW who his father was at that age. Even when he didn't see his father for 6 months after that, he knew who his father was. So I don't believe a 3 year old couldn't know.

Having read your most recent post, I can understand your anger. Yes, it is frustrating when you have done all the work, and now he wants all the glory. I have picked up the pieces all my child's life.....from the times his father decided to move interstate, quit his job to avoid child support, and all the rest. But when it all comes down to it, it isn't about me. My child has a right to get to know his father.

In your situation, you need to give it a chance. In the Australian legal system, he is still the biological father and has not given up his rights, your current partner has not adopted them, and your oldest children are now over 12. Once a child is 12, they also have a legal right to have an opinion on their wishes. If you have lied to them about who their father is all their life, and still refuse to be honest with them, then that's not going to look good. It's time to have the conversation with them and ask THEM what they would like. And make sure your conversation is unbiased (i.e don't tell them what a deadbeat he is, and how he abandoned them, etc). You can't have the conversation without putting him down or putting yourself down. Tell them that at the time, maybe he wasn't ready to be a daddy, that you were both young, and their dad struggled with the responsibility at the time, but now he would like to get to know them.

If they decide they don't want to, then fine, that's their wish, but you need to be careful that you are not influencing that decision. This isn't about you or him, but them and their needs. If they believe, in ANY way, that you have deliberately kept their father from them, it could really backfire on you. I am not saying this to be negative, but to make sure you look at all your options.

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Leela - posted on 07/10/2013

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My brother and his wife were in a similar situation. They decided to tell their daughter. It was incredibly difficult for my bro but the end result was that bio dad decided he didn't want to parent and their daughter loves and accepts my bro as her 'real' dad. Be honest and don't delay. Have faith in your kids.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 07/08/2013

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As usual, Jodi understands fully, and has offered the most concise advice.

I can only add this: Stop putting this off. Your older children deserve to know their father, and he has a right to get to know his kids.

If your partner/current husband, whatever, is upset, tough. He can be protective all he wants, but he has absolutely no right, legal, moral, or otherwise, to keep those kids from their dad. And as harsh as Michelle's post was, it was true and to the point. It never gets easier to give your kids harsh news. You should have handled this up front...regardless of their ages.

Enna - posted on 07/08/2013

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It would be hard to find the "right time" to tell small children. It was your decision to make. Why upset your kids about a father that didn't want anything to do with them. The kids are old enough now for you to explain the situation and decide for themselves if they want to meet him. I would tell them that you tried really hard to make him involved in their life when they were younger, and explain exactly what you did. Definitely don't say anything bad about their father. Just tell the truth and answer their questions. And if they ask why you didn't tell them sooner, explain truthfully and calmly. I think you know what to do.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/08/2013

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Actually, I think Michelles post was very helpful. It may not be want you want to hear, but it is all truth. Lying to your kids about who their biological father is, is never a good idea and always becomes trouble. They have every right to know who their father is, even if he is not around....because one day they will find out.

As far as your husband being devastated about their bio father wanting contact, that is very selfish. He is not the bio father, but has become a parent. I am sure he wants to protect the kids as much as you do, but he has no right to prevent the bio father from knowing his kids. He is not a "sperm donor" as you put it. You chose to have 3 kids with him, and had a long relationship with the bio father. It is not fair to your children to call him a sperm donor when you both decided to have the children. Be fair to your kids, and stop worrying about how it will only affect you and your current husband, be more concerned about nurturing a new relationship with the bio father. Sit the kids down, and tell them the truth. They deserve it. Wouldn't you want to know?

Chantell - posted on 07/08/2013

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Hi Jodi, it's a bit hard to be honest with a one year old and two three year olds and then before you know it life has settled into a comfortable routine and the subject has never really come up plus the fact I never really new what to tell them. I never made it difficult for him to see them, I even took them to his house for him on many occasions only for him to not be there and give me excuses like he was at work so I would go to his work and his boss hadn't seen him all day and didn't know what he was on about. It did become an issue when I seen how he was living, in a share house with his mates who were drinking and smoking weed and I didn't know who was coming or going in the house and the kids didn't have a bed room. The past ten years he has been happily going on holidays, buying motorbikes and picking up different women, jumping from job to job, moving around and not paying child support, I have always been contactable as my parents have lived in the same house with the same phone number for all these years when we were together, in fact when I had my third child we had to move in with them because we were young and he was never around and wasn't helping. I believe he is now planning on getting married and that's why he wants contact, I have no ill feeling toward him just his previous behaviour thus my reluctance for contact as it is me who will be picking up the pieces when it all falls apart. I am angry that I have done all the hard yards raising my kids with many sacrifices, but that's ok cause I love my kids, I just can't fathom why he should be aloud to just walk back in, my kids wouldn't even know him if they walked straight past him and it's ok that basically they have to spend time with a complete stranger? I'm pretty sure in the Australian legal system that if you don't have or attempted to have contact with your children after such a long period of time they class it as 'parental abandonment' and would rule in my favour until the kids turn 16 then it is up to the child. But I am going to contact a lawyer and see where I stand. I really thought people on this site would be more understanding but obviously not so I think I might just delete my account.

Jodi - posted on 07/08/2013

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Chantell, she didn't put down your parenting skills, she merely commented that you should have been honest with them in the first place. I must admit, it always baffles me how people think that keeping the truth from children is protecting them, when eventually, they WILL find out the truth and then have to deal with the fact that you lied to them all their life.

Now, back to your situation, unless you have a court order saying otherwise, he does have the right to waltz in and out of their life. I think you need to ask yourself who you are doing this for....them or you? I know you will again think this is not a helpful response, but it is a VERY real question. You haven't had contact with him in 10 years - do you really know he isn't genuine in wanting to get to know his children?

I totally get your anger. I guess my biggest question is, do you know why he has had no contact with the kids in all these years? Did he know where you were all this time? In those first couple of years, did you make it difficult for him to have contact? I am not trying to blame you, but often, there is a pride factor involved, and if he had to practically beg to have time with them, he probably gave up. You haven't given a great deal of information, but given he wants to have contact with them now, I think you should allow it. The children have a right to know the truth.

Chantell - posted on 07/08/2013

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Wow what a horrible and unhelpful thing to say. For starters I wasn't asking for criticism on my parenting skills, I choose to keep the truth from them to protect them and I stand by my decision. And in my opinion you have to earn the right to be called a 'daddy' which my partner has done not their biological sperm donor. I wouldn't put him down because if they eventually meet him he will do it all himself and they can see for themselves what sort of person he is and they can ask him why he abandoned them. And no he hasn't been around for ten years so yes I kind of think he has lost his right to just waltz in the door after all the hard work is done an expect me to just be okay with it. And as far as getting ugly and going to court then I am ready because I would do anything to protect my children. So really I don't know why I bothered with this post because I just answered my own questions, would have been nice to speak to other parents who have been through the same thing. So Michelle Waldbillig please don't bother responding as I don't require your uncompassionate negative judgemental opinion!

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