Should I tell my 5 year old about her biological father?

Sarah - posted on 03/08/2014 ( 18 moms have responded )

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My daughters father didn't want to know her for first couple of years. He wanted me to have an abortion initially. I did try to get a relationship going between them. It failed. Cut a long story short I've now been in a relationship and due to be married soon, he's great with her my daughter calls him daddy. She doesn't know anything different he's all she knows.
I've recently received an email from an app on my iPhone called LinkedIn. It's from my daughters biological father. He's poured his heart out says he's been searching for her for the past 2 years. I turned up at his house today he seemed stunned but he basically said he's changed he really wants to be apart of her life. He has another son who he sees regularly. He's got a job now, years ago he wasn't willing to work at all. He says he wouldn't get in the way of my daughters and my husband to be relationship. He says he's willing to do what it takes, and he accepts my daughter calls another man dad he wouldn't want to get in the way of that.
Please help anyone got any advice. Would this completely disrupt my daughters life or will it in the future if I decide to keep things the way they are? I really want to do the right thing by my daughter I would want her to hate me later in life or hate my partner

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Abbey - posted on 03/09/2014

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A lot of people will disagree with the decision not to involve the bio dad but stay strong. He had a chance to be there for her and he wasn't and it is not fair to her for the father-daughter relationship to be on HIS time and when HE is ready. I just wanted to tell you that you will do your daughter a HUGE favor by being honest about her having a biological father even if he's not around. My dad was not around, but she always told me nice things about him and so I grew up believing that he was a good person, just not a good father. This will do wonders for her self-esteem because no one wants to grow up believing their father is a POS, and talking bad about him to her will only cause her to lose respect for you and question her value. (:

Sarah - posted on 03/12/2014

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Here is my experience when it comes to talking about bio parents. I work in adoption, so this is something that is talked about each time a family adopts. I know your situation is a bit different, but in many ways it is similar. There is still a bio dad and then another male figure that she may see as her dad. From my experience it is WORSEwhen you WAIT UNTIL LATER to talk to her about her bio dad. It then sends a sense of shame of who she is. It also then sends the notion that you keep secrets from her and this in return makes her lose trust in you. It is always best to talk about who their bio dad is right from the start. So my advise would be to talk to her now about it. When you wait you also run the risk of her learning it from someone else.....that then really makes you look like the bad guy for keeping the secret from her......and often times this is what happens. Be open and honest with her but also approach it at her age level. You don't have to give all the details, but you do need to be honest with her and let her know about her bio dad. That is a part of who she is and that is also an important part to her. By keeping that part a secret from her you then send the message that part of you is not worthy because secrets tend to send the message that it is a bad thing and a thing that should not be talked about. This then affects her self-worth. There are plenty of children's books that can help you talk to her about this. It is not as complicated as you may feel. If you are open and honest and allow her to feel comfortable asking questions as she grows she will adjust much better then if it is kept a secret and then all of a sudden told to her one day out of the blue.

Abbey - posted on 03/09/2014

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This is a *really* big decision. If her biological father has a history of not following through with his responsibilities, he is likely to leave again and your daughter will be heartbroken. Your daughter has the most to lose if he doesn't really give it 100%. I agree with Kate that he needs to demonstrate he has changed before you should reintroduce them. If it were me, it would take more than a couple visits for me to ever trust him. Perhaps he could show you he's all in by writing weekly letters to her that you hang on to, or helping support (funding) some of her extra-curricular activities. You know, doing father-like things without getting the credit just yet... if he wants to really be in her life for good, he will do whatever it takes to prove his dedication. Hope everything works out for you. My 9 year old's father is not in her life but I make it a point to talk about him in positive ways so that she is not shamed. I know how hard this must be for you. Good luck.

Kate - posted on 03/08/2014

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I would TAKE YOUR TIME on this one before you make a decision. First thing is, YOU need to see he has changed. Also, if he was drinking or involved in drugs, that makes things way different too. I MADE A BIG MISTAKE when after my daughter was born, 4 years later her biological father popped back in and said he wanted to be there for her. What ended up happening was he would be kind for the first visit or two, then started griping, then harassing, then becuase i wanted to withdrawl contact he started keying my cars, popping my tires, and hadn't changed at all. Matter of fact he was worse because of the rejection. FORTUNATELY I was seeing someone and it became serious by the time she was 5- However she always asks about her "real" dad which hurts my (now) husbands feelings because he has rasied her for the past 5 years now. If I were you, I would find out how he spends his free time, and who he spends it with. That can tell you a lot.

Andrea - posted on 03/08/2014

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Start off with a meeting at a park, kind of a meet and greet...
You don't have to explain to her right way that this is your real daddy..
Keep it simple, IE. This is a friend of Mommy's and yours from before mommy had you and he would like to visit you...
Then have meeting/ play dates where they can get to know each other and she will begin to have a relationship with him, Then as their bond starts then you can explain to her that she is very lucky to have 2 dads that love her and want to be part of her life..
Think of how you would feel if you were in her place or in the bio dads place.. { now wanting to get to know her} I know us moms have a hard time looking at things from the dads point as we become very protective of our kids is even harder when they said hurtful things or made dumb choices..
Both of her DADS need to meet before you start with anything because they will need to at least get along for her.. She needs to know that you are all their to love her and that they both want what is best for her...
Hope this is helpful... Take Care and Best Wishes...

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Dove - posted on 03/12/2014

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Does she even know that the man she calls 'Dad' is NOT her only father? I may not be in your exact situation as I've always told my kids the truth about life from the beginning and I'm not in a relationship, but my 6 year old son has only spent a grand total of 3 months of his life w/ his father... and yes, it is hard and he has some struggles and trouble, but that is his DAD and he still loves him and KNOWS who he is.... Your daughter has rights here and if he took it to court he could eventually end up w/ as much as 50/50 custody... If you are planning on keeping him away you had better hope he doesn't have a friend smart enough to tell him that.

Latasha - posted on 03/12/2014

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Hi there same situation only my daughter was 9.. Ask your daughter. children are a lot smarter the we give them credit for. give her a scenario with her dolls and see how she feels or response to it. I bet she surprises you! Good luck to all of you.

Sarah - posted on 03/12/2014

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Thankyou Marcia.
I spoke with my daughters bio dad we are meeting again this week. We have decided to leave things as they are for now, he will send letters and gifts and birthday cards Christmas cards etc. so that when me and my partner do sit down to tell her, she won't think her bio dad never cared, she'll know he's thought of her by the letters, cards and gifts. We don't want to confuse her tight now she's so settled and happy. I just feel for first nearly 3 years of her life her bio dad didn't want her and we wouldn't be in this situation now trying to decide what's best. I was forced to decide that when I met my partner 2 and a half years ago, my daughter naturally called him dad and he's raised her since. We will be married soon. I've given her bio dad my word there will be no bad words said about him. I will explain we both felt it was right at the time to let her grow up a little and know the truth when she can understand and express her feelings about her bio dad to us. I will support her if she wants to meet him one day and she can have a relationship with him, me and her dad won't get in the way of that.
Thanks for your comments

Marcia - posted on 03/11/2014

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Sarah, many many years ago I was in a similar situation with my now 24 year old son. When I found out I was pregnant the biological father wanted me to get an abortion...I told him no, but I gave him the same options I had. If I wanted an abortion and he didn't the law would have been on my side and he would not have been able to stop me. So he had the option to be involved or not, but I explained to him that his decision would be final and irreversible, just as mine would have been if I had chose the abortion. It's important to note that over the years I never went after the bio dad for a dime of child support...he was either going to be a dad 100% or not at all. From the time my son was born I never hid any information from him about who his father was. There were no lies and no secrets, my son just knew (like breathing). There was never a time I had to sit my son down to tell him the truth, it was just a fact in his life and how he came to be. He also never heard me speak one ill word about his biological father. I knew there would come a time that my son would grow older and want to meet this man. I had to let my son be able to make the unbiased decision about whether he liked him or not. From the beginning of my pregnancy I also let the bio dad know that this was going to be the way I would handle it and to not be surprised when one day our son came looking for him. I did fall in love with a wonderful man and he and I became married before my son's second birthday. This is the man my son grew up calling dad...this is my son's REAL father. And as I predicted, my son went looking for his bio dad by the time he was 16 and had his drivers license. They became very good friends but my son always called him by his name Dale and never dad. The bio dad lost his life a couple years ago to pancreatic cancer. While Dale was in the hospital, during the last hours of his life, he was surrounded by all of his other children. I received a phone call from his oldest daughter and she said her father was asking for my son. So I called my son at work and told him he should go to the hospital and to not waste any time doing so. My son was there for the last hour of his bio dads life and I know the bio dad made everyone leave the room so he could have some time alone with my son. I have never asked my son what they spoke about because it is a very personal private thing....I do know that after his bio dad passed away (my son was 22 at this time) he came to our house and fell into his fathers arms telling him how much he loved his real dad and as hard and as sad it was for my son to deal with bio dads death, he told his real dad (the man who raised him) how grateful he was that it wasn't him in that hospital bed. I know I have just went on and on with my story to you, and I'm sorry, I can be a little windy. The moral of my story is I do not believe you should withhold any information from your daughter in regards to her biological father...never is NEVER an age where they are old enough to be sat down and told the truth...I know she is 5 years old right now, but she is still young enough (the younger a child the more resilient they are) for this to be just a natural fact...like breathing. I promise you, while she may bond with her natural father (there is no such thing as a child being loved by to many people), the natural father will never have the power to replace the bond she has with her "dad". I would tell her the truth...then she will never have nothing to get used to and it certainly would not be a trigger for rebellion when she is older.

Sarah - posted on 03/09/2014

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Thank you so much abbey this really helps. I'm thinking if meeting up with her bio dad this Saturday and I'm going to ask him what he thinks is best for my daughter and for him to not think about his own feelings after all he did decide this, he did have lots of chances and didn't acknowledge his daughter at all. And now it's just not fair on my daughter really I have to keep things as they are for now. Me and my partner have decided we will be honest with her just not yet I'd like her to understand and be able to express her thoughts, feelings and us talk about it together about it and my partner

Sarah - posted on 03/09/2014

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I feel it's in my daughters best interest for now, to carry on as we are she's too young to understand and it was her bio dads choice

Sarah - posted on 03/09/2014

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I really don't want to disrupt her life when she's settled she wouldn't understand would she? She's 5 years old. Her bio dad decided he didn't want her and showed no interest for 2 and a half years. I moved away with my daughter and he suddenly wanted to have a relationship with her. How can he think that would happen my daughter first know him, it was his choice not mine.

Sarah - posted on 03/09/2014

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Thank you for the comment abbey. It is a big decision. I don't think he should be apart of her life he didn't want her and I tired for 2 years trying to get them to have relationship going, he wasn't interested at all. I decided to move on withy daughter and she's been calling my husband to be daddy since just before her 3rd birthday and she's 5 years old now, settled and happy, my daughter called him daddy by herself we didn't push or say anything to her it was natural for her.

Sarah - posted on 03/08/2014

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Thankyou. I had a visit for the first time with her bio dad today I heard him out. I've not spoken to my partner about how I'm going to deal with the situation Yet, although we have spoken about a few possibilities, I feel this advice is helpful. I know my husband to be will feel upset because he loves her and has a strong bond with her. He may be worried she's going to be affected by this.

Dove - posted on 03/08/2014

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No, I haven't been through the same. I don't know if she will be more adaptable now or not. I believe in raising children w/ the truth from the beginning in order to completely avoid the situation you are in now from ever happening.

Sarah - posted on 03/08/2014

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Yes I believe that too. I'm just scared of disrupting her life with her age. She's 5 years old .Or do you think she's be more adaptable now than later? Have you been through the same?

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