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My 5-year-old son is starting to ask questions and comment on the fact that he "doesn't have a dad". His biological father and I have not spoken in years, he last saw my son when he was 6/7 months old and has not made any attempt to reach out to me since.

I have allowed my son to ask questions and explained that "some families have only moms, some only dads and some families have grandmas and grandpas. All families are different, all families are special." I have also explained that my fiancé would like to be my son's dad and when he is ready, all he has to do is say so.

I am satisfied with this explanation and have left the door open for any more questions my son may ask and have explained to family he spends time with often what we have discussed so everyone is on the same page. However, one family member in particular feels the need to push me to reach out again to my son's bio in an attempt to get him involved. I feel like this is a bad idea and waste of time, if he wanted to be involved he would be right? Should I take the step of attempting to contact him (I have no idea where he is or how at this point) or do I leave it the way it is?

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    What's the particular family member's stated reason for doing this? (Not that I think it really matters to the advice I would give you, but it may be useful to help you specifically refute their advice.) – Acire Jun 27 '17 at 19:13
  • Please use comments to ask for clarification, not for an answer. – Acire Jun 28 '17 at 19:21
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This is a very hard question, but here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Since he knows your son, he would have any chance to contact you, or not? So, unless you were moving or the dad might have for some reason no chance to contact you, I would not contact him. "No dad" can be much better than a "bad dad", and if he did not care in the last years, I do not think he would be an enrichment for your child's life. You might want to pass on a bit about why you maybe split up but do not go into detail, he is way too young to understand.

  2. Which brings me to, he might be too young to understand the whole situation anyway. He might be interested to talk about the topic because he knows other families that have both parents, but he is clearly not old enough to deal with any relationship drama. So bringing him together with a father that does not seem to care will most likely not benefit him. If you are worried about a male role model, you might rather spend some quality time with him and some other suitable male than necessarily his father. If he is not interested on his own, forget about it. If there were no major issues why you broke up, he should have contacted you by now. If he does not care, I do not think your son will benefit from it, it might actually hurt him a lot!

If he was a real nice guy and you suspect there might be something else why he does not want to keep contact, but he would be great for your son to be around, you could contact him for some chit chat see what he says, but do not mention that you are calling to setup a meeting or anything like that. If he asks then and sounds genuinely interested you might want to give it a chance.

Good Luck!

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The decision to contact your son's biological father should be made in your son's interest. There are several scenarios that I can imagine.

The first scenario is that you contact him and nothing comes of it. Your son and his biological father never meet and he never learns of the attempt.

The second scenario is that you contact him he meets with your son. They hit it off and your son becomes attached to his biological father.

The third scenario is the same as the second scenario but after some time his biological father decides he has had enough of it and disappears again.

The fourth scenario is an intermediate between the second and third and that is that his biological father appears and disappears regularly but that he cannot be relied on.

As far as I can tell only the second scenario will be any good for your son. It will, however, create some tension between biological dad and your fiance, his stepdad. But if biological dad is willing to be a part of his life then this can be managed just as with any divorce.

My guess though is that biological dad doesn't want to be part of your son's life and might even be worried about having to pay for him (he should). I think that contacting him will be detrimental to your son down the road on the off chance he decides to be a part of your son's life. Your son will want to but will not be able to form any secure attachment to someone he thinks he should and wants to love. I think that this possibility outweighs any potential benefits, if any, from the second scenario.

Regarding the family member: I would politely tell them to mind their own business and that if they decide to raise the issue in front of your son that you will cut off any contact with them. It's not healthy for your son to be confronted at such a young age with the fact that one of the persons who should love them the most in the world doesn't. This you can add as an explanation for drawing the line. It's in your son's best interest.

NOTE: I have had no prior experience with such a situation. I hope, however, that how I look at the problem will be of some use to you.

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Your instincts seem to be that a reluctant, begrudging dad might not be a better alternative to an absent dad. I can't say that those are necessarily bad instincts.

Maybe reach out one more time to see if the attitude has changed (sometimes people change and/or mature, or come to grips with their issues). If there is reluctance, or you don't feel good about the interaction you are having, just say "It's fine. I'll drop it, for good. I just wanted to make sure you weren't getting frozen out of your son's life because I had mistaken assumptions."

If you are inclined to give that chance, in terms of trying to locate him, I would make an honest, good-faith effort, but I wouldn't expend financial resources or personally move heaven and earth to do so.

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