When and how should I tell my daughter about her biological father?

Amanda - posted on 02/01/2013 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I dated a guy for 3 years, we were high school sweethearts, and I became pregnant with his child 2 years in and he forced me to abort (he threatened me and told me I would end up alone and unloved if I didn't) again in the 3rd year of our relationship I became pregnant and he tried to force me to abort again but I couldn't, so I left him and he tried coming after me and it got so bad I had to get a restraining order. A few months later, I met and fell in love with a strong courageous man who wanted to help me raise my fatherless child. We were married in September and the child came in November. She is now 2 1/2 months old and I fear the day when she asks why she looks nothing like me or daddy. (Her bio father is Italian with olive skin, black hair and brown eyes, my husband and I are both strawberry blondes, with blue/green eyes, fair skin and freckles) I'm afraid if she tries to find him, he might hurt her. He's not just physically abusive, but very verbally abusive as well. I've kept an eye on him through facebook and he is becoming an alcoholic, a heavy smoker and now has a very foul mouth. How and when do I tell her and should I deter her from contacting him and how would I do that? I've been stressing over this since the day she was born.

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Dove - posted on 02/01/2013

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Raise her with the truth and you won't have a 'day to dread' when she eventually learns the truth anyway.

Not that he's abusive, of course, but just that she has a father that was unable to care for her and has a Daddy that took the job.

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Diana - posted on 10/10/2013

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I am from my mother's first marriage to a man who was mostly mentally abusive towards my mother although physically abusive towards animals. She was 16 when she started dating him and my grandmother begged her not to marry him. She split from him & divorced when I was around 18 months. When I was about 3-4 yrs. old, he committed suicide. I still remember him coming to visit me occasionally before he died (I learned later that all visits were highly supervised). She then met a wonderful man who was thrilled to have another daughter (his were all grown). He was the dad that I knew even though I was not biologically his. He had 2 more children with my mom after me and I have to say that he treated each of us like his favorite. He passed away when I was 11, but my grandmother used to tell me that He would tell her that having children around the house was truly living...that's why he used to call me "Piano" - the sound of my laughter was music to his ears after living by himself for so long. Lol.

My mother was always honest with me from the time I was small about my biological father. I knew that I was from my mom's first relationship and that "Daddy" adopted me. As a matter of fact, I remember the day we went to the courthouse for the adoption. She never dwelt on it or made a big deal out of it. Mostly I didn't really care because I already had a Daddy who took care of me & loved me. She told me that not all people had a sickness that you could see like when you have a cold or get a booboo. Some sicknesses make it so that your brain doesn't work the way that it should. She said that these sicknesses weren't something that you could catch, but something that you were born with. She also told me that not everyone is able to be a good parent, not because they don't want to, but because they aren't able to because of the sickness. It was enough to satisfy any questions that I may have had. When you're little it's more of a curiosity than anything else. I had no real feelings for him because I didn't see him any more often than I would have a distant cousin or family friend. As long as you & your husband raise her in a loving home, she may never care about meeting her father.

As I got older she would tell me a little more. She never bashed him. As an adult now knowing the details of the hell she lived through, it is something that I admire her for immensely. As I got older it would occasionally come up (not that often really). Like I said, it was more of a curiosity sort of thing. I would ask my grandmother (my mom's mom) about their relationship. She used the opportunity as a learning lesson. She said that my mom was so anxious to grow up that she clung to my natural father who was a few years older and at that time friends with my uncle. She said that he would pull mean pranks on my mom when they were dating, but my mom was so in love she never saw it as mean and wouldn't listen to my grandmother's advice. (My grandmother was the kindest, wisest woman that I've ever known.)

I would say to be honest with her from the beginning about your husband not being her father. You don't have to dwell on it and beat it home. Keep it matter of fact like "Your biological daddy, that means someone who gave a little bit of himself, gave his little bit to me so that I could have you. That's where your brown eyes & hair come from. And I loved you so much and you were so special that when I met your daddy that we live with now, I had to share you so we could be a family." Not everyone is capable of being a parent, but then there are those people who excel at it. When she is older, share with her what you learned from your experiences (not all of the details are necessary). Keep it less about the person himself & more about how you felt & what you learned.

Karen - posted on 10/06/2013

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Well this sounds like my life,don't tell her till she asks in her late teens and if she looks him up she will be smart enough to see him for who he is.My Daughter did and said Mom am so glad you did not marry him.Best thing I ever did.

JPatrick - posted on 10/04/2013

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Does your new man have any intention of adopting your daughter? Is your ex (child's bio-dad) paying support or is there any type of court order establishing paternity? If your current boyfriend/husband wants to, he can adopt your child and allow the ex to waive his parental rights -- sounds like the only reason he would 'go after' her anyway is b/c he resents her being around. That would resolve the issue b/c you could never go after the ex for support, if that's his worry. Also your new man would be the 'real dad' legally speaking, so you could eventually tell her that she had a different bio-dad and he went away ("wasn't ready to be a daddy" or "couldnt help take care of her" are good terms to use), and that's why she has her current daddy in her life.

Leeann - posted on 10/01/2013

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Amanda,
I question my Mom several times growing up about why I looked different and built different than my Dad and siblings but she always gave me the same answer, your being silly. My parent divorced when I was young and my Dad remarried and moved 2,000 miles away so I never really saw him much after that. I accepted that I am who I am and my life moved on . My Dad, stepmom and brothers moved back to our area when I was pregnant with my first child! Our relationship was strained but my sister and my dads relationship seemed to blossom. He always treated me the same as my siblings, calling me his baby girl. He was so proud of his first grandchild and visited me weekly, willing to wash dishes, change diapers or simply watch his granddaughter so I could go to the grocery. My stepmom was very stand offish with us but never mean (just cold). My dad died of a heart attack when my daughter was five. At his funeral as we were all saying our final goodbyes, I hugged my stepmom and she whispered in my ear, "he always loved you like you was his very own" !!!!!!!! Not sure if it was the grief or the shock of what said but I didn't say a word back.
Days later, I told my mom about it and she acted like the woman must be insane, but in that instant...... I knew with every fiber of my being that she wasn't being honest !
My sister knew the struggle I was having and suggested we do a DNA test to put my mind at ease or to confront the truth. The Truth was we had different fathers. My mom lived hundreds of miles from me and this wasn't a conversation I wanted to have over the phone, so my very supportive husband said, " get in your car, DNA results in hand and drive to your moms. I did just that, with no warning what so ever. I knocked on her door and when she saw me I was shaking with fear. I told her to sit down because we needed to have a heart to heart talk! I laid the DNA papers on the table in front of her and said, "I need the truth and I need it now" . I felt betrayed by the one person in the world that was suppose to protect me . I wasn't even sure if I ever wanted to speak to her again because I was so hurt. She stood up and said let me get something for you!
She returned with a large shoe box and handed it to me. When I opened it i saw almost one hundred letters with my name on them. She said to start with the first one.
It started out, my sweet baby girl, you are a blessing to me and your dad, however when you are old enough to understand we will tell you about another man that was part of your birth. Letters from when I was a teenager said, I want to tell you about your biological father but your so emotional sometimes that I'm afraid you will hate me.
The day of my wedding said, your a beautiful bride and now that you are a woman , I will tell you soon!!!!!
The letters went on up until a month before I found out!
How could I be angry at my mother once I had seen and read all the pain in those many many letters! She had decided to take the secret to her grave she explained in a letter a few years before because she couldn't bare to see the hurt and disappointment I would have in her, but she had left the letters for me so I would know the truth after she passed..
We cried for hours , I felt no resentment whatsoever toward her ! I felt bad that she had carried that burden every single day for sooo many years!
I'm not sure when the best time to tell a child the truth is! I don't think there is a magic age or event that is set in stone. I do however believe you should start writing her letters so that when the time does come, she can see that it wasn't easy and that all you did was try and protect her!
I hope this has helped

Tracy - posted on 02/04/2013

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If you always are honest about it all, that by blood her daddy isn't daddy but that he picked to be her before she was ever even born, then you shouldn't have any problems at least until teen years (if ever). Be open for her age. Teach her what makes a REAL mommy and a REAL daddy. That it's about being there to tuck you in at night, hugging away nightmares, teaching her new things, kissing boo boos and cheering as birthday candles are blown out. THOSE are the things that make a daddy. One day she may want to know more about the blood running through her veins. She may ask questions about her bio dad. Again, open and honest as best as possible. He wasn't much of a nice guy at the time and you wanted to protect her, so you left. You were lucky to meet a very nice man who wanted to not only be *a* daddy but wanted to be *her* daddy. If she ever decides that she wants to meet him, then you need to be prepared - including legally so that he doesn't get visitation rights by default. Don't ever seal off the idea that she COULD meet him, but let her know that you need to protect her physically and emotionally first and foremost. Then just go from there.

(I wasn't in the exact situation you are, but my son's father left after I married my husband. My son's father wasn't much of a nice guy but not as bad as your ex. My son is now 16 and has, at times, wanted contact with his bio dad despite being adopted by my husband and considers him dad. Those very brief bits of contact always ended with my son cutting contact because his bio dad wasn't living up to HIS standards.)

**I wanted to edit and add this. I have kept a few pictures around the house but not prominently displayed of his bio dad. I think it helped him to not think of it as such a mystery. He could see what he looked like. ***

Dee Dee - posted on 02/03/2013

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I am with Amanda. Truth and honesty is good idea. Every time she asks you about her Bio-dad, tells her more. tells her what she wants to know, not all the things he did to you. If something you think she must know. By all means, tells her. If she can't understand your answer she imay get more currious than she can handle. You may want to do something about your fear or strong emotion about her bio-dad. he is not in your life anymore, but you still live under his shadow. I would move on with your wonderful life like he never existed. did you say that she has olive skin, black hair and brown eyes. How beautiful she is? she is going to be a pretty girl. I won't worry about that she looks different unless she got his family illness and must find him to save your daughter's life. lol, sometime, even bio-child could look very different. and we don't know why. Both my husband and my family women has size B or C cup breast. my daughter has size G and going on H size breast. she has no doubt that she is our child because our faces look like twins.

Amanda - posted on 02/02/2013

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I was in a similar situation and I actually just told my 6yr old son that his Daddy was not his biological father. My advice, tell her when she's young, it will end up being something normal. Don't use terms like 'real father' when speaking about the biological father, as this adds to the perception that her Daddy isn't her real Daddy.

After we told my son he asked the name of the biological father, I told him when he's older we'll talk about it. I don't want to give him a name and allow him to fantasize over meeting a man who may never want to know him. When my son asked why the bio-father wasn't around I told him "He wasn't ready to be a Daddy."

Bio-donor also demanded I get an abortion, that's not something I want my son to know until he's old enough to understand that the fact that I love him is more important than his bio-father not wanting him. I stressed over it as well, for a very long time, and then stressed more when I had children with my husband because I didn't want my son to think he meant any less to us than our biological children.

After we told him though, when all was said and done, it didn't phase him. So I advise telling her, it won't make her Daddy any less her Daddy. It just adds another dimension to who she is.

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