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I had a beautiful daughter with my very first boyfriend at the age of 16. He was 18 at the time and he was very careless about the whole situation. He was a high school dropout, selling and using drugs at the time as well. For that reason, my mother forced me to end my romantic relationship with him before our daughter was born. Surprisingly to my mother, I was not reluctant at all. I understood that he was not fit to run a family or a household and I wanted something better for my daughter and I.

He was very upset about my decision. His reaction didn't bother me. I was determined to finish high school and go to college to give my daughter the future that she deserved. My mother was my greatest support. One month after our daughter was born, my stepfather got a promotion at his job and we all had to move to another city 3 hours away.

Within my daughter's first few months of life, I was informed that her father got arrested for selling drugs and was going to be in jail for a few years. Fast forward 3 years, he gets released from prison. Within those few years, I have already graduated high school, attending college, married with someone else and about 4 months pregnant with my second child. I found out about my daughter's father's release from a mutual friend about a month after he had been released. He hadn't tried to see his daughter in a whole month. I brushed that thought off and I spoke to my husband about it and we decided that I should take the first step and contact him. I asked around for his phone number and I called him to try and see if he was ready to see his daughter and begin a relationship with her... that didn't go well.

He became very upset at the news of my marriage and new baby on the way. He said that I had replaced him with someone else to raise our daughter, I assured him that I was not trying to replace him as her father. He said, "It's too late, you already gave her a dad and who am I to stand in the way? You all are a happy family." I kept insisting that she needed him in her life but he just kept turning himself into the victim somehow. He walked away from his responsibilities, just like that.

As my daughter got older, my husband made sure that she never felt "fatherless". He made no difference between our own children and her. She stopped calling him by his name and began calling him "daddy" when our son began to speak and call him daddy. It was like a natural thing. He was the father that she knew and he demonstrated love to her everyday. Over the years, I never stopped contacting her biological father. Maybe about every 6 months or so. I was voluntarily sending him fotos and updates, asking if he would like to see her and not receiving any type of response except maybe "I'm too busy these days." Sometimes I could actually talk him into visiting her, especially if we were in town... conveniently enough for him, he would accept to see her. She has probably seen her biological father about a handful of times in her entire life. She is twelve years old.

My husband and I never hid the fact from her that he was not her biological father. In a way that a child could understand, we explained it to her and she always knew. We also never spoke ill of her biological father to her, never. When she asked where he was, we told her that he was "working a lot and living very far away.. and that when he had the chance to visit her, he would." We told her that he loved her very much and she believed it.

Fast forward to when my daughter was about 10 years old with a 7 year old brother and a 4 year old sister, my husband and I got divorced. He was a wonderful father to all 3 of my children, but a horribly unfaithful husband. I grew tired of his multiple affairs over the years. I decided that enough was enough and I couldn't forgive him any longer because it was just eating away at me and making me miserable.

We have been divorced for two years now and he has just been the best co-parent a person could ask for. He is and always has been a wonderful dad. I have just remarried but this has in no way changed the kind of dad that he is to the kids. We made a child support arrangement without the court/legal system involved. He pays consistently and always on time. We made visitation arrangements on our own as well, that we are both happy with. By the way, this all involves my first born. He willingly pays me child support for her and he takes her too. There was never a question about it. He says, "She is my daughter and she always will be. I raised her and I love her with all my heart. She was my first baby." My new husband and him get along well. My new husband tells me that he really respects my ex husband as a father because only a real man would do what he does for my first born. The kids watch the way all of us treat eachother and they see that we all respect eachother. That makes them happy because they just love us all, even my new husband. They approved of him on the very first day that they met him and they let me know it.Haha!

This is what I hate... Just a couple of days ago my oldest came to me and randomly asked me if I have heard from her biological father lately. I responded, "No I haven't, but he has probably been busy with work." Then she asked me send him a picture of her in her cheer uniform (because she recently became a cheerleader at school). I said ok and she literally watched as I sent it. Hours later she asked if he had responded anything and I said he hasn't. Note, he never responds to anything I send him of her, but she doesn't know that. So she asked me to send him a text to make sure it is still the correct number for him, so i did. Hours later he responded "Yes this is still my number." My daughter's face just dropped when she saw that he had not given a response to the photograph of her. She said, "That's it??" I told her that maybe he was driving or doing something that didn't allow him to text more than he wanted to. She didn't look too convinced but she let it go.

I was so angry that my daughter felt "looked over" just because that idiot couldn't even say something as small as "Wow she is beautiful" or "She is growing so fast" or even "Good luck with cheerleading" SOMETHING! I started to text him back asking him what it is that he wants me to tell his daughter when she asks about him... the photo attached is his response to that question.

Now, my question is when will it be appropriate to show these messages to my daughter? Because I have more messages from him that I have printed out years ago where he is saying that he simply doesn't want to try to be her father... etc. he basically passes the baton over to my ex-husband in these messages. I saved them because I thought that one day I'd have to tell her the truth about her biological father's lack of interest in being a part of her life. I also thought that it would be proof enough to show her that I have tried very hard to include him. In case he ever tries to tell her some fake story about me secretly pushing him away behind her back etc. Would it do her more harm than good to show her these heartless things that he has written in regards to her? Should I maybe just tell her about it right now since she is only 12 years old? Show her the messages later? Should I wait longer to even say anything to her about the person that he really is? I don't know if is the right time yet. If it is, I wouldn't know what to say. I wouldn't want to say too much. If I do say any of it to her, I am afraid of what it will do to her. Please help!enter image description here

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    This would be a lot better if you broke this up into paragraphs. Right now it is a giant wall of text and is a struggle to read. If it's easy to read, people are more likely to finish reading it and possibly give helpful answers. Also, while the whole story of this is nice, there seems to be a lot of detail that isn't really relevant to the question being asked (much of it could be summarized quickly without really losing anything). That would also help make it easier to digest. – Becuzz Oct 27 '17 at 16:12
  • Why would you even consider showing those messages? Wall of text. – paparazzo Oct 27 '17 at 19:00
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    I added the paragraphs that seemed intended. It probably could use some more editing if it isn't a duplicate. – user26011 Oct 27 '17 at 20:08
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    "I assured him that I was not trying to replace him as her father." Well, you did, and rightfully so. What did he seriously expect you to do? Put your life and your daughter's life on hold for three years waiting for a drug addict dad to get out of jail, and hope that maybe he shows an interest and maybe manages to be a useful father? – gnasher729 Apr 5 '18 at 8:50
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I think it was wrong on your part to convince your daughter that her biological father loves her but is unable to visit. Even if you had to tell her a lie, it would have been better to say that you have no contact with him and have no idea where he is.

In response to your question, I feel it's time you let your daughter know that he was never in her life. You would need to apologize to her for the deception and she may feel sad or angry for a while. But eventually, if you show her that you and your ex/current husband love her and care for her, she would come to accept it.

You have mentioned that her biological father comes across as heartless in his conversations with you. But you need to realize that he was never with you during pregnancy or after delivery. So he doesn't have any emotional bond with the child. Considering this, his message from your screenshot seems quite reasonable - however, your daughter would find it very difficult to understand or accept because of her expectations.So please don't show her any of your conversations for now as it serves no purpose.

  • " So he doesn't have any emotional bond with the child. " - doesn't mean he needed to crush her though. He could have thought of something nice to say. – bigbadmouse Dec 5 '17 at 11:22
  • This is the plain truth. The idea that she has a loving bio dad who cares about her life is a fantasy that OP created and now she must bear the weight of that choice. It was done in love, but it was still the wrong choice. It wouldn't have been if he HAD changed, but she gambled on a long shot and lost. She also needs to hear that she is probably going to have to bear the weight of her daughter's anger at being misled. Hopefully OP will be able to explain that it was a mistake born of love. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Aug 19 at 15:01
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It would not be appropriate to show her the text.

If your daughter wants anything to do with her father, it is now her burden to contact him. I found his text to be reasonable and honest ... as well as hurtful and cold. She should find out the truth for herself without an intermediary.

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    This is good advice - except that the OP had misled her daughter for years as to her biological dad's interest in her. It would probably be kinder to explain the situation - WITHOUT showing her the texts - and then let her decide whether to reach out to him on her own. – MAA Oct 28 '17 at 21:59
  • and tell bio-dad to keep himself available of course. – bigbadmouse Dec 5 '17 at 11:23
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Now, my question is when will it be appropriate to show these messages to my daughter?

Never. They are meant to be private.

Would it do her more harm than good to show her these heartless things that he has written in regards to her?

Yes, I believe so.

Show her the messages later?

It depends. I'd keep them as a last resort only for the case he'll actually try to convince her you're a bad person pushing him away behind her back.

What is the appropriate age to tell my daughter that her biological father doesn't want to be a part of her life? Should I maybe just tell her about it right now since she is only 12 years old? Should I wait longer to even say anything to her about the person that he really is?

Yes, just tell her right now that unfortunately he's not interested in staying in touch with her at all. Fair and square. She'll accept this eventually.

I have this opinion cause I was in a similar situation - my father didn't care about my existence (almost) at all. I always just took that for granted, as a natural way of things. Actually, now as I'm 31, it hurts me more than back when I was 12. Just since I have my own daughter and can't understand his attitude anymore. But back in childhood I was perfectly OK with the concept that I live with my father one week per year and at some point he even stopped calling me on my birthdays. Kids are much stronger than they seem to be.

  • "Never. They are meant to be private." The first message from the father clearly instructs to mother what to tell her daughter. That's not private between father and mother, that's between father, mother and daughter. – gnasher729 Apr 6 '18 at 17:04
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To answer this in an indirect way: this a teachable moment. Your first-born is approaching dating age. You can teach her that your 2nd and 3rd marriages were to good men: maybe your 2nd wasn't a great husband but he was a great father and that's at least half the ideal. Teach her that not all men are equally suited to be husbands or fathers. She will then have an unforgettable example of why she should be picky with her relationships, and why she should wait to find someone who will be both a good husband and father.

As a direct answer, to pull a number out of nowhere, I'd say 18 is a better age to show this kind of text. However, without telling her soon about him not being interested being her "dad" (regardless of whether you show her the messages), it'll continue to be a struggle to deflect her questions about why he isn't interested in her progress growing up.

By the way, I don't think your 1st husband's behavior is terrible (other than the fact he hasn't paid child care, I assume!). Consider things from his point of view. From your progress updates he knows you have taken good care of her and she has grown into a confident young lady. Every text is like a reminder that he is (or at least has been) a poor excuse for a man. If he isn't driven to want to be a dad, then he has no incentive to get involved. You can use this "on-the-other-hand" perspective as a counterbalance for the teachable moment above, so that it doesn't seem you are trash-talking her biological father.

  • How is the "1st husband's behavior" not terrible. I assume you are talking about the biological father, who has abandoned his own child. How is that anything other than terrible? Even if mom and biological daughter have done well without him, this is no excuse. His incentive to get involved should be that she is his daughter. If he chooses to continue to do nothing about it, then he still is a "poor excuse for a man." – user16557 Mar 28 '18 at 21:45
  • Some people aren't cut out to be parents. Would you rather he have intimidated her to prevent her leaving, then become an abusive parent? Unless he's turned around his life after prison, it seems likely it's better he hasn't been involved! But it's still terrible he hasn't (presumably) paid child support. – Matt Chambers Mar 29 '18 at 15:53
  • Not being "cut out to be parents", but having children anyway, is another way of saying that the person has made life-choices that make them unfit to be parents. If this was because of some disability or something beyond his control, fine. But his incarceration, drug trafficking and use, are all his choice. That makes his behavior terrible. It is not forced on him, it is his choice to be the kind of person that should not be around even his own kids. It is better that he is not involved at all. – user16557 Mar 29 '18 at 16:07
  • But you ask "would you rather he have ...". I would rather he start choosing to be the kind of person his kid needs him to be. Anything short of that is terrible behavior. – user16557 Mar 29 '18 at 16:08
  • It seems we have different views of free will. :) I consider him having a child in the first place a 'choice', but that there is no choice about whether someone is naturally inclined to be a good dad. Speaking of terrible, can we agree that people are generally terrible at choosing to change their personality? – Matt Chambers Mar 29 '18 at 16:32

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