27 answers

How to Explain Dad Is Really Step-dad

i have a complicated situation and i am not sure what to do.

My 7 year old doesn't realize that Daddy isn't his real dad. when we started out it wasn't an issue my husband and i started dating my son was barely two and for the longest time called him by his first name and understood that his daddy wasn't here. We would see his dad a couple times a year but he is a druggy and basic loser who really doesnt' care that he has a son so for the most part we just visit the grandparents and aunts.
When our 7 year old was almost 4 my husband and i got married and shortly there after came along little brother. Being busy working and having 2 kids i didn't make it down to see the loser very often and every one was now calling my husband Daddy. We still aren't sure exactlly when it happened but our 7 year old now thinks that my husband is Daddy.

Legally my husband has formally adopted him and his last name is the same as everyone elses but we still feel we need to explain the situation soon before it gets more confusing. His "real dad" has two other kids, who he doesn't provide for either. The kids mom wants our 7 year old to be a part of her kids life, which i am not completely opposed to but he has to understand everything first.

I am just not even sure how to start the explaination, he doesn't understand the birds and the bees so will he understand how some one is or isn't a dad. Plus he has been having major behavior issues and is in the phase where everyone is out to get him and the world jsut isn't fair. I just don't want to turn his world upside down and cause any issues between my son and husband. My husband and his family treat him like a natural born member and everyone supports us in every way they can.

Has any one been through this, is there a good time or way to start the conversation?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi C.,
My Daughter is in a similar situation. Her husband just tells the story of how he fell in love with mommy and him when he was 2 and then they became a happy family. later in life they will explain that he has a real daddy and a biological dad. good luck,

WHY say anything???WAIT for him to ASK!!! Then you know IF he asks he at an age he can handle the answers..and it's NOT lieing...All you need to say (when he asks) is I was waiting for you to be old enough..and when he is old enough to ask he is old enough to realize HOW much his step dad WAS there for him all those years and a GOOD DAD!!(No matter what the title)

C., first of all, remember a dad is someone who is there and who loves you , any one can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad, dad is just a term that can apply to many, my child was in a stable home with a real mom and dad, and yet called other freinds close to him dad, no need for explanations, they will understand it later in life, dad is a loving term , i would let him use it and eventually no matter wether he is a step dad or not, it is dad to him, and always will be, just enjoy life and dont fret over little words, D. s

More Answers

Tell him that he has a birth Dad and a real Dad. When he was born his birth Dad was with him but that he is sick and God knew that he wouldn't be able to help take care of him so God sent him one that could.

2 moms found this helpful


My mom remarried when I was four or five. She included me in the wedding and I totally thought "we" were getting married. Your son is lucky that he has been adopted. I have always been sad that my dad wasn't allowed to adopt me. I've wanted to be adopted since they married. I actually changed my name legally when I was 18 and presented dad with the certificate and gave him a card and balloon congratulating him on his new baby girl.

I would tell your son right away. I would tell him that his stepdad (is he a stepdad if he adopted him?) wanted him so badly that he adopted him to make him his real son. Maybe you could start having a birthday party to celebrate his adoption. Some kind of ceremony would be nice to make your son feel special and wanted.

If he asks about his bio-dad maybe you can tell him that he wasn't meant to have kids but he helped create him so that someone special could take care of him - something like that. I don't know if that's exactly how you'd say it but hopefully you get my point.

Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

That's great you are open to telling your son the truth about his biological father, because hiding facts like this from a child only creates shame for the child and that has lifelong ramifications for a person. However, I think you might want to wait for your son to ask about it before you start discussing it with him.

I would suggest you answer all of his questions when he asks them. If he and his (stepfather) Dad have a healthy father-son bond, you really don't need to bring up the issue of who he really comes from. Bringing it up without his asking about it may compel him to develop a sense of alienation from his (stepfather) Dad.

My husband has been in my son's life since he was 6 months old. My first husband and I split up when my son was 3 weeks old for the same reasons, drugs and alcohol on his part. My husband adopted my son when he was 2 and is dad. I never hid the fact that daddy adopted him and never made a big deal over it. I just would tell him that his biological dad had problems with loving himself and made bad choices in his life. When he was quite a bit older, preteen, I explained that his biological father got involved in drugs and alcohol and I couldn't raise him with that kind of life. It never seemed to be a problem. My husband was adopted when he was a baby also so it is a normal thing in our household. My guess is that your son remembers some of the visits and the adoption to a point. He probably just isn't thinking much of it all. Don't fret so much on this, if there is questions, answer them. Don't try to hide it either though

i have a 8 yr old son and i am in the same situation. my son thinks my husband is his daddy too. my husband has not adopted my son yet, he wants my son to decide what he wants. so my son has a different last name than the rest of us. i think u need to talk in his language and be simple. we have been talking alot about step parents lately and it has helped cuz my parents are divorced and re-married. but i dont know, my son has asked some questions but we have pacified him with simple answers. this mite not be much help but thought id give my two cents. =)

My son is the same age and was also two when I met my husband. However, he sees his biological father 2-3 times a week, so our situation is a bit different.

I started out by reading the book "Why Was I Adopted" by Carole Livingston with my son when he was five (I was adopted when I was 2, and this was given to me by my new family). I didn't want to get into the nitty gritty details of reproduction, so I simply said that everyone starts out with a Mommy Person and a Daddy Person. They're the ones who gave you life. Your parents are the ones who raise you, love you, play with you, feed you, etc. Sometimes they are the same, sometimes they are different. In my son's case and mine, they were different.

I let him ask me all sorts of questions about my adoption and about why he has both his biological father and my husband. I also brought up the fact that he's a very lucky boy to have so many people who love him. He took it very well and it's never been an issue since. It's a tough subject, good luck and just remember that sometimes it's better to listen than to keep explaining. Kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for. :)

My son was 4 when my ex came back into his life. My husband had been helping me raise my son since he was 2. So my husband was dad cause that was the only dad he had ever known. I sat him down and showed him pictures of my ex and asked if he knew who that was. I told him my ex's name and explained to him there are different kinds of daddies. There are the kind that help make you and the kind that help raise you. Sometimes one person does both of those things and sometimes it is two people. I told him my ex helped me make him and my husband helps me raise him. That seemed to be good enough for him. I didn't have to go into explaining how we made him and the birds and the bees and all of that stuff. Now although my son still does not have a good relationship with my ex he at least gets to see his little sister and brother. Which I think is very important. It would be nice to keep my son just in our little family circle. But that would not be fair to my son and I would never want him to resent me later in life for keeping his family from him. They may not be my family but they are my son's family and out of love and respect for my son I am happy to let them share in his life. It is the right thing to do. I have an older half brother I have never met and I am still angry at my mother for keeping my father's side of the family from me.

my kids wish they could get adopted more than anything else in the world. It isn't that my husband wouldn't but the ex will not sign over (even though he's done with other children) just because he wants to be a jerk.
my kids don't ever refer to that guy as their dad. my husband is their dad. to them he is their dad and the bio donor is just that and most of the time not even thought of as that.

My son was talking about an accident that daughter had years ago. it happened before my husband and were dating. Ds asked where was Dad? then immediately answered himself with oh that's right, he was at work. He filled in the blank the way he preferred. He would rather remember that Daddy was at work and thats why he wasn't there instead of just not being ther at all. He knew that it happened long enough before that dh wasn't here yet, but the way he wants to remember it was nicer than the truth. I'm not saying lie. Don't ever do that to your kids. But I've come to learn that some things are just not worth correcting them for.

Now dh and I have had three kids together but WE have 5 kids. He loves them like they were always his kids. DD and DS have the knowledge that he isn't biologically their father but they love him as if they had been born to him. DD had even told the bio that her spirit was meant for my dh and not him.
our oldest kids never consider their younger siblings to be half brothers and sister. what a horrible word when talking about your family. that implies that they are less and that's just not true. They all love each other all the same.

when you talk to your son about it maybe you could ask him what the word Father or Dad means to him. let him know that even if your husband didn't help to make his body he is there for him as his dad every day to make sure he is safe and happy and that he is there to help him to grow to be a good man.
the fact that the man he calls dad wasn't there to help make him but he is here now means more. Your husband is his daddy by choice not by obligation and that means way more.

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