My daughter got involved with a guy after having her first child. They married and she now has 2 more kids. However she found out he was having an affair and left him. My grandson is now 6. His “dad” takes his two kids to spend time with him but leaves my other grandson behind. When will be the best time to tell him that man is not his biological father?


2 Answers 2


Children need to know the truth, when it's happy, when it's sad, when, in this case, it's an ugly truth.

The man that the 6yo has lived with for years is his father, not by DNA but by the fact that this man was presented to the 6yo as his father, which has created a father-son bond in the 6yo.

The responsibility for this situation is with the man that was acting as the 6yo's father, and has left his son, and this is not something that can be changed or dressed up to be anything except exactly what it is. This is the truth that is the 6yo's reality.

The answer about timing is now. The longer the 6yo is left behind by the man he believes is his father, the more damage is done.

Start with a conversation about biological father vs the father you live with. For the 6yo, this is an important concept for him to understand as much as any 6yo can.

The 6yo needs to know that he's being rejected by a man that is not his biological father.

The 6yo needs to know why he wasn't told from the start, that this man was not his biological father.

The 6yo has a right to know the truth, but keep it simple, keep the conversation at a 6yo's level, and above all else reassure the 6yo that he is loved by adults that will never abandon him.

  • 3
    "...and above all else reassure the 6yo that he is loved by adults that will never abandon him." This strikes me as tragically ironic considering that his "dad", who supposedly loved him, has just abandoned him. Would you believe that if you were the abandoned child? A more truthful and possibly more helpful thing to stress is that the child did nothing wrong, nothing to deserve this abandonment. May 3, 2022 at 21:47
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    It's true, the 6yo will question if every adult in his life will abandon him. This is exactly why he needs to hear, today. and every day after, for as long as it takes for him to regain his trust, that his mother and his grandfather will never leave him. ~~ Of course, the 6yo needs to hear that it is not his fault. This is true, but not more true, as true as the fact that he has adults in his life that will never leave him. ~~ The 6yo will also question if it was his fault, and will need to hear, today. and every day after, for as long as it takes for him to understand, this is not his fault.
    – user42851
    May 4, 2022 at 4:56
  • If I'm reading the question right, the grandson in question is watching his (half)siblings going off with Dad on the weekends or whatever. I agree that "now" is the answer, and doubly so because he will notice very soon, if he hasn't already, that he's being treated differently for reasons he doesn't understand.
    – Valkor
    May 18, 2022 at 7:46
  • @Valkor That makes it so much worse. A divorced father disappearing is bad enough, but disappearing from his life but not from his siblings is just so much worse.
    – gnasher729
    May 26, 2022 at 22:18

A six year old doesn’t understand the difference between “dad” and “biological dad”. He does understand that he is ignored by this man who doesn’t ignore his younger siblings. And he doesn’t understand why. So you will have to tell him that this so-called “man” has decided that he is not the child’s dad anymore.

This will be very difficult to get right. Your daughter has three children being treated differently. What might help if you can do this is that you step in and compensate for the man’s behaviour. If he takes the younger two to the zoo, you take the older one. So nobody feels like he is left out.

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