My son's biological father passed away when I was three months pregnant. My now husband stepped into the picture when my son was eight months old. My son has always known my husband as his dad but I feel beyond guilty for lying to him. My son is amazing. He's so smart and such a good boy. I believe in busting kids butts when they do wrong but I can count on my fingers how many times I've had to do it. He's really an amazing son. It's making me feel so guilty every time I hear him say dad, especially since my other son really does belong to my husband. I feel like I'm lying to one of the people I love the most in this world. He doesn't deserve to be the last to know. I am telling him soon, I just don't know what to say. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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    Is there some reason you did not want to tell him right from the beginning? Perhaps your husband did not like the idea or the rest of the family did not know? I think this an interesting question.
    – WRX
    Feb 18, 2017 at 22:55
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    My husband didn't agree with telling him at all. We have argued over the past 9 years on whether or not to tell him. I've always wanted to tell him but my husband thought we could get by without any questions. Now my son is asking questions like why doesn't he look like his dad and I have decided his dad has to deal with me telling him. Feb 18, 2017 at 23:42
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    Related, possibly duplicate: parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/18874/…
    – Stephie
    Feb 19, 2017 at 7:22
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    Another related question: When is the right time to tell my daughter she's not my biological child? - similar, but from the POV of the father.
    – sleske
    Feb 20, 2017 at 8:13
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    I agree that emotionally it could be a solution to not tell him, like your husband wants to. But there is a throwback on this. There are (genetic) conditions that might or might not turn up in your son or maybe even only in his future children. Having a "wrong" family tree might lead to a diagnosis not to be made (correctly) or awkward situations after testing in the way of "we have to tell you your dad is not your dad". Also, dealing with legal things at some point he might find out there is a different name on his birth certificate. It is not a good idea to never tell him.
    – skymningen
    Feb 20, 2017 at 13:38

4 Answers 4


The best thing would be if your husband would tell him with you.

He says something like: "We both love you very much. I have loved you since before you were born and was there right from the start. You are my son and that is how I think about you, but now that you are nine and old enough to understand, it is time that we tell you that I adopted you because your biological father died before you were born. Your mom is your biological mother but I chose you to be my son."

You sit there and hold your son's hand and your husband's if they let you. You answer any and all questions honestly, even the hard ones. You might want to think up all the questions your son might have and prepare answers.

If your husband refuses to help, then you tell your son virtually the same thing. However your husband may not want to talk about it and that would be less than ideal.

I hope you can persuade your husband that this works better for everyone if he can support it and help.

On Edit: In thinking this over, there's another pov -- if no one in your family nor among your friends knows, the risk of your son finding out on his own is reduced. I am not saying you should not tell him, imo, you should. However, if others do know, hiding it can lead to ongoing problems.

My uncle committed suicide when my cousin and I were both three. We had "no need to know at that age", so we were not told. One day at school someone who did know, decided to tell us. We did not believe him but imagine how we felt when we were told at 10, that he had died by his own hand. It was devastating -- especially for my cousin who then wondered who knew and who didn't. I don't think she ever forgave her mother and from that point on -- her step-father was the enemy. He had been her father's doctor. Life has a way of happening without neat lines and pretty bows.

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    This sounds like a good way to tell him. Your "dad" is the one who raised you. I have one friend who calls her son's biological father his "bio-dad", and my husband & I refer to our children's biological father as their "birth father". Your son deserves to have a living "dad" and your husband to have two sons, not just one. That being said, your son is old enough to know the truth and comprehend it, and it's better that he hear it from his parents when he's young enough to adjust. At this age it can be a curiosity rather than a crisis. I would not recommend waiting until the teenage years. Feb 20, 2017 at 20:22

How do I tell my nine year old that his dad isn't his dad?

You "don't". At least not with those words.

From your son's point of view, his dad is his dad.
His dad has cared for him and loved him as far as he can possibly remember, and he has loved his dad and played with his dad and is happy with his dad.

And similarly, your husband is your son's dad.
Your husband loves you and loves your son, he has cared for you both since your son came into his life. He got worried when your son had a fever, he rejoiced when your son did well at school, he teaches him and comforts him when your son needs it.

How do I tell my nine year old that his biological father died before he was born?

It just happens that your son had another dad, who also loved him very much, but sadly died before he could express this love to your child. And it's sad that he died and that your son didn't get to know him, but it also is a sign of how much love there is in his life, since he got two dads to love him.
And that is great! You and your husband can show him some photographs of his biological dad, tell him stories about things he did when he was young, etc.

It is important that both you and your husband are OK with telling him, and both of you tell him. Else your son might feel that you're keeping some kind of secret from dad, or that you think his dad is an outsider. This is not the best for his little mind.

  • While this contains some good advice, you have not answered the OP's question anywhere; you are simply disagreeing with the premise, which is not policy on this site. Unless you edit to directly answer the question, this answer will be removed. Thanks. Feb 21, 2017 at 17:30
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    This isn't disagreeing with the premise, it's giving very good advice on how to word the discussion the OP asked about. Feb 21, 2017 at 22:02
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    @anongoodnurse I edited my answer as far as I could without changing its point, by which I stand: you shouldn't get a 9yo kid and tell him his dad is not his dad. It's bad for the kid, disrespectful to the dad, and straight bad parenting. You can tell him about his other/biological dad, though. If this advice is against some site policy, that's for you to consider if it is still worthy or not.
    – walen
    Feb 22, 2017 at 0:04

He is going to find out some day and it should come from you.

He can still have a dad even if his biological father is dead. Give him the option to call your husband dad if he wants to. Let your husband ask if it is OK for him to him son.

You and your husband should tell him together. Doing this against you husbands will is not a good plan. Your husband should not feel like he is losing a son.

You also need to be concerned with your other son. I know lie is strong word but you have also lied to him. You should tell him directly rather than have this come from his brother.


As someone who was told at age 12 while my alleged parents were going through a divorce I can say you have really messed up not telling him from the start. When you do tell him you have to be prepared for it to erase the trust you have build over his life. Everything he thinks he knows is a lie and its come from the most important people in his life. YOU BOTH REALLY MESSED UP. But your relationship can be saved if you just admit that you were completely in the wrong and that you will work through it with him openly and without ANY defensiveness. Then book a therapist. Your son will be at a massive disadvantage in life if you don't get this sorted. I would advise booking therapy for you and your husband so a professional can tell you both the psychological effects to expect and if he still doesn't want to tell him after hearing what damage it will do if you are not honest then book another session for him. You all sound like good people with good intentions but they don't mean a thing in the face of consequences. Your sons relationship with his children will suffer too.

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