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Children & Parenting
Hmm...family trees.
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Tue May 27, 2014 12:26 PM
Edited by Theresa (28613) on 2014-05-27 12:28:03 edit!
Locked by Theresa (28613) on 2014-09-25 06:21:49 locked!

So, here's the situation;

I've told this story on here before, but for those who don't know; the man I refer to as my dad, the guy who's in my cell phone as "dad", the guy James calls grampa...isn't my real dad. He and my mom married when I was four. He's raised me as my own. He cosigned the loan for my first car. When I danced on a team that the instructor got the brilliant idea to drive us 20 hours for a dance competition, he wrote the checks. He is in every single way my dad...except biologically.

James knows none of this. All James knows is that he's my dad, and that that's his grampa.

James has gotten really interested lately in tinkering with ancestry.com, and trying to figure out his family tree.

See my problem?

I've either got to lie, and put my step-dad down, or I've got to explain the real dad to him. And there's a part of me that doesn't want to lie, because I feel like that'd be awful to have to explain it now, and then go back later and go "Oh, right...all of that? It was crap.", but at the same time, I don't want to tell him the truth, because I don't want him to question my dad.

And regardless of what I do, the only way it'd come out would be through my mother in law - she does this sort of thing as her hobby, and she added in James and I to the family tree when James was born. And she's traced WAAAAY back (for example, she's traced far enough back to know that her family was instrumental in discovering the state of Illinois. She's gone that far back), and so we've told her he could go to her, because she has pictures of a lot of this kind of stuff too.

Jim didn't offer an opinion, but didn't understand why I thought this was so problematic.

Thoughts? Lie now and confess later, or be honest now and confess now? LOL...

And just for the sake of comparison - we see my real dad a couple of times a year, and talk to him whenever we think to call. He lives 12 hours away. I haven't seen my actual bio-dad in ...12 years, and he's never met James.

9 Replies to Hmm...family trees.

re: Hmm...family trees.
By majeremember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5889, member since Sat Sep 29, 2007
On Tue May 27, 2014 12:46 PM
My grandfather is my moms step-dad. I don't remember when she told me that, but it was no big deal. Her real dad left and was not a part of her life.

My moms Uncle (who is one year older than her) does not know that the guy he thinks is his dad isn't his dad. No one is going to tell him, I don't know why my mom told me. He is in his 40's what good is it going to do him to learn that? Both of them are dead now and he prides himself on his name.

It just depends on what you think is right. I never viewed my mom's step-dad as anything other than my grandfather.
re: Hmm...family trees.
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Tue May 27, 2014 12:56 PM
Edited by YumYumDoughnut (99333) on 2014-05-27 12:58:46
Edited by YumYumDoughnut (99333) on 2014-05-27 13:18:45
I can't remember how old he is. About 8?

I found out when I was about 8 years old, that my grandpa wasn't biological. My brother found out when he was 6, and kept saying " fake grandpa". I clearly remember feeling betrayed and I couldn't trust my parents for the long time after they " lied" to me for so long. I felt the same way about Santa Clause lol.

I think as an adult, I totally understand why they didn't tell me until I was 8, but at the time, I had a hard time trusting my parents and I remember feeling so alone.
I was quite an analytical kid and I always tested way above my grade level in standard testing, I have a feeling that James is the same way, although you know your son better than any of us. If he is ahead of his age and curiosity is really getting to him, it might be a good idea to talk to your mom and how she feels about telling him.

I think you should explain that love is what matters, and his grandpa loves him very very much. Even after I found out that my grandpa wasn't related to me, I always thought of him as my real grandpa. I never questioned it. I think it is normal for kids to be curious. I think you should tell him because he is already showing an interest in family trees. For him to take such an interest in something, and to find out that he was lied too could be really devastating.
But on the other hand, he might turn out like my brother and call him a " fake grandpa".

I just wanted to give a bit of my own insight on how I felt when I was finally told at the age of 8.
What a tough situation for you to be in.

* or time it out so you tell him in his teens and he can comprehend why you " lied" to him. You don't want to have him stumble on it, on his own.
re: Hmm...family trees. (karma: 1)
By SaraTheGrouchmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 8600, member since Thu Apr 17, 2003
On Tue May 27, 2014 01:28 PM
It's not a lie. Your dad is your dad, biological or not. Who cares that he isn't the actual sperm donor? If he looks like a dad and quacks like a dad, then guess what? He's dad!

At some point in time, my brother put two and two together and asked someone, probably my stepmother, why we have different moms. He got wind that we're actually half siblings, and referred to me as his half sister to my face once, and I nearly strangled the kid. I explained that he was as much my brother as my full brother is and that I never wanted to hear him say "half" sister again.

At 8ish, he won't truly comprehend real dad, step dad, fake dad, blue dad, etc. He knows grampa and that's what's important. If later down the road you tell him that grampa isn't biologically related, that's fine, I'm sure James won't even blink. It's the man and his character that matter, not the DNA.
re: Hmm...family trees.
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Tue May 27, 2014 01:40 PM
Just for the sake of clarity, I never refer to them as "real dad" and "step dad", unless I'm in situations like this, where I have to talk about them both in the same story. When my brothers depression kicks up, he'll call our dad his step dad. We have no idea how or why, and we've all throttled him for it, it's just one of those things. I tested out calling him step dad in front of my mom once, when I was like 13, and too cool for the room (as all 13 year olds are...), and was lucky to walk away with my life. I never did that again...
re: Hmm...family trees. (karma: 4)
By Sumayah Comments: 6876, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Tue May 27, 2014 01:41 PM
Don't lie.

Stepfamilies and adoptions are common enough that this really isn't the big deal you're making it out to be. I've mentioned before on here that my mom was adopted. Like, adopted from an orphanage in the 50's that later burned down along with all the records, so we have NO idea what her genetic history is at all. So when I made a family tree in elementary school, I listed my mom's adoptive parents and their genealogy. I have no blood relationship to that family, but they're my family. I have also never met B's father because "he's dead", i.e. B cut him out of his life and chooses not to acknowledge him based on his life choices. It is what it is.

Why not just tell James that his grandad isn't related to him by blood, but instead by love. He loved you and your mom so much that he wanted to become your family, and he is James' family as well. The man you share a biological link with is not someone you associate with, nor is he someone you consider family. If James wants to trace his genealogy, he can do so through his family as it stands, or if he wishes to include your biological father he may, but that he isn't someone you identify nor wish to be associated with. You have nothing to do with this man and at some point when James is an adult, if he wishes to get in contact with him, you will give him that information, but not til such a time as James is capable of making a relationship with him aside from your interaction.

James is a smart kid. It's better to lay the truth out, he may shrug it off. It's not like it's weird nowadays to have family with someone who is not biologically related to you. If you lie, you're setting yourself up for a huge blowout later when someone slips up and says something. It's better he understand the situation from you on your terms, then accidentally hearing about it from another source and feeling the anger and hurt that comes from being lied to. Up til now you had no reason to bring your biodad up, so you didn't. He's not a part of your life. You haven't been lying to James yet, so why start now?
re: Hmm...family trees.
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Tue May 27, 2014 02:09 PM
James is intelligent and mature enough to understand. All you have to say is "Grandpa is my dad and your grandpa. There is this other guy that was with Grandma when I was born, but he isn't part of our family. Grandpa is."

"Any man can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a Dad".
re: Hmm...family trees.
By hummingbird Comments: 10418, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Tue May 27, 2014 03:02 PM
My husband isn't my eldest sons father, we married when he was still preschool, in fact he was still pre preschool. He's never known another father figure, but we never lied to him either. When he was younger we told him he had a dad and a father, we explained to him what this meant and as he grew older we answered the questions as they came.

You don't always have to go into the full details now, but he does deserve your honesty.
re: Hmm...family trees.
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Tue May 27, 2014 05:46 PM
I agree - don't lie. From what you've posted, James is a smart kid, and I'm sure he's got friends who have blended or step families, so he should be able to understand it.

Even though you haven't seen him in 12 years, no matter what your own feelings towards this man are, try and be as neutral as possible when telling James - he may want to research his family tree through him as well. And keep referring to your Dad/James' Grandpa by their proper titles (Dad/Grandpa) rather than step-dad. Your dad raised you, he's the real-dad, not bio-dad.

I think Nyssa's wording is perfect, as is Sumayah's if you James wants more detail.
re: Hmm...family trees.
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6817, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Tue May 27, 2014 09:55 PM
I have several similar situations at my studio. The thing is this...

In all these cases, the "grandpa", is the REAL grandpa. The parent's long lost sperm donor was never a significant part of the child's experience and "blood" means nothing to children. I agree that it is unnecessary to "lie" but perhaps coming at the truth from a different POV might ease any confusion.

I think I'd say, "Grandma married grandpa when I was 4 years old. He's been my only real dad ever since I can remember but when I was born, grandma's first husband's name was on my birth certificate. His name was Gone N. Soon (or whatever)so it may show up on some of your research, but Grandpa is your "real" grandpa."

There may be questions but I doubt they will be difficult. However, by putting it out there, you take away any possibility of this seeming more important than it is later on. He will know it isn't any big deal (just about every family I know has something like this going on)and if he has questions as he gets older (most likely just out of curiosity as he tries to figure out the world...)he will be more comfortable just asking you things as they occur to him... no biggie.

Good luck

Keep On Dancing*

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