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My husband and I have been married for 10 years, and we have three kids. He is not the biological father of my oldest son, who is 6. I am confused about the best way to talk to my son about his parentage.

  • The biological father of my son is black. My husband is white. Naturally, my oldest looks very different from his brother and sister, who have blond hair/blue eyes. Because of his different coloring, my son has had people ask him if he is adopted. As he gets older the difference between him and the other kids only becomes more pronounced.

  • I have no contact with the biological father. The biological father does not know my son exists. It was an isolated incident about which I have some personal confusion. I was overseas away from my husband. I was very drunk, I told the biological father I didn't want sex, but he had sex with me anyway. I have wondered if I was raped, but to call it rape seems like a cop-out since I was acting horribly and am responsible for being in that situation in the first place.

  • I have thought about the fact that if I call it rape, then that looks better socially for me (with my in-laws, etc). But then what does it feel like for my son to eventually hear that his biological father raped me? Besides, as I said, I was very drunk and cannot be 100% certain that it was rape. I also want to make allowances for the possibility that my son way want to contact his biological father when he grows up.

  • My husband and I reconciled shortly after I found out I was pregnant. He is wonderful and loves my son as his own. He is the only father my son has ever known.

  • I am biracial myself. When my son was born we thought his darker coloring might be due to my mixed heritage. However the subsequent birth of two very white children now has everyone wondering. When my mother in law suggested my husband might not be his father, my husband got angry and basically told her to mind her own business...which she does for now. I don't think we can avoid it forever and and still have a relationship, though. Especially if the child himself knows.

I am feeling very confused by all this. Please, does anyone have suggestions about a non-damaging way to explain to a 6-year-old why he looks so different from his dad, brother, and sister?

  • "I have thought about the fact that if I call it rape, then that looks better socially for me (with my in-laws, etc.)" Has this not come up yet? If it has come up with adults, how did you handle it, and can you handle it the same way with your son? – anongoodnurse Mar 5 '17 at 18:28
  • Also, please see parenting.stackexchange.com/q/29007/9327 – anongoodnurse Mar 5 '17 at 18:32
  • I am biracial myself. When my son was born we thought his darker coloring might be due to my mixed heritage. However the subsequent birth of two very white children now has everyone wondering. When my mother in law suggested my husband might not be his father, my husband got angry and basically told her to mind her own business...which she does for now. I don't think we can avoid it forever and and still have a relationship, though. Especially if the child himself knows. – Teresa Mar 5 '17 at 22:02
  • Just because you should have acted more responsibly doesn't mean that it wasn't rape. – forest May 7 at 3:32
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While non-consent does equal rape, I understand completely that this is not how you wish to present this to your son. If you walk naked down the road, it is still rape if you do not give permission. Not the smartest choice? Certainly. We've all made bad choices and some of us have been lucky not to pay so extremely for them.

Also, you and your husband have already worked this out. Involving other family seems moot to me. It isn't their business.

If there even a slight chance that the biological dad will ever be in the picture, then you must keep that in mind before you decide what to do. Lying never seems to be the right answer, but non-disclosure is also impossible, in view of his different heritage.

I think (based on what you've said -- obviously I don't know much,) that I would sit down with your son and your husband. Tell him that you and Daddy were not together when you were conceived, but that "Daddy chose to be your father and has been here every single day for you." If you can say that his biological father did not know about your son and that you have no way to contact the man, then your son may feel sad, but not hurt by the man not having anything to do with his son. I'd suggest you make sure there are no distractions, that it is just the three of you (the other kids are occupied elsewhere) and that his dad does the talking. "I chose you to be my son." I think that will carry the weight and show the care and safety that your little guy will be looking for.

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    Nice answer 👍🏾 – Rishi Mar 6 '17 at 10:19
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First I want to say that what happened to you was rape, and also it was not your fault! I need to stress that you are not responsible if you did not give consent. The fact that you had something to drink does not change that. You should not blame yourself or think that you did anything wrong! I've known and supported many rape victims and they often place blame on themselves, thinking they did something wrong by befriending someone who would rape them or not saying no forcefully enough, and in every case I stress that it doesn't matter what they did, at no point does a man have the right to rape a women! Do not blame yourself for what someone else did! It is not your fault and it's important you accept that and don't blame yourself for what someone else did to you without your consent!

Having said that your real question was about what to tell your son. I think that this will not be as hard as you think, because kids don't ask nearly as many questions as you would expect from these sort of situations. I would tell him the same thing that Willow suggested. Explain that you were not with your husband and you conceived with another man, but that your husband wanted to be your father and choose to be. That he looks different because of that, but it doesn't change who his real parents are, you and your husband.

If he asks who the biological father is just explain that he isn't involved because your husband chose to be his father instead. There is a reasonable chance he won't ask much more then that at this age, your would be surprised how little kids can care about the biological parentage compared to who their real parents and care givers are. if he does ask more simply say that the biological father wasn't fit to be a good father and you can't contact him (assuming that is true). I wouldn't explain about the rape or any of the specifics of how the conception happened, only that he isn't fit to be a father and that's why your husband is his father.

As long as you stress that your husband loves him and considers himself the child's father that is all that matters. I've known many children in many differnt alternative families, foster situations, etc. In every case the children always agree it's the people that love and care for them that are their parents, not the biological ones.

I would also point out that you may get casual questions in the future, as he grows older and becomes more capable of understanding the distinction. in every case I would try to answer as truthfully as you can. I wouldn't explain the rape, just that it was a one time thing and that you didn't love each other, and leave it at that. Try to be as open as you can in answering the child's questions though, make it known that he is welcome to ask questions and your answer them as truthfully as you can, he likely won't ask many but keeping the open communication that he feels he can ask them is important anyways.

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