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When to tell child stepfather is not real father??

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Hi Everyone,


My nephew just turned 7 and he has a half sister who is almost 3. My sister is married to my nieces father, but has no contact with my nephews father. He is in jail in another state or something. Anyway, my nephew used to know this other guy was his dad, but then my sister, her new husband and my nephew moved out of the country for the past 3 yrs and had my niece. In the past 3 years, my nephew is no longer aware that this man is not his father. Unfortunately, he doesn't treat him well either. My nephew can clearly see the difference between he treats my niece and him. It really hurts him and I hate hearing him say his dad hates him. I think he needs to know this guy isn't his father, maybe he won't take it as personally. I don't know. How do you tell a 6 yr old this? I've talked to my sister about it and she doens't know how to deal with it, so she's just ignoring it. But he's gonna have to find out sometime. It's so hard not to say anything everything he's going on about how much his "dad" doesn't like him. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is the best thing to see a counselor?


Thanks for any advice!


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OMG.. that poor little boy!!! just reading that story I want to give that little boy a hug. WTHECK is wrong with that man that he can't love that child? And your sister is keeping quiet about it? It doesn't bother her at all? I'm shocked.


Telling the little boy should be done ASAP...and in a gentle way. And it has to come from his mother. I don't know HOW she's going to do it.. because she appears to be spineless to her husbands insensitivity to her child.


He forgets... she was a package deal. When he married her.. he married her son. He is so wrong. and it is really going to mess this kid up. He's SIX and he can articulate his step-fathers dislike of him??? thats pathetic.


I would talk to your sister about seeking out a child counselor. Have her go into talk to a professional... who can help her learn to bridge the gap NOW. If she does NOT bridge this gap now in her "FAMILY" her house of cards will blow over like a hurricaine once this boy hits puberty. She needs the know how and the gentleness of a proffesional counselor to help her wade through these deep waters.

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I agree the child should be told, but it is not your place to do it. That needs to come from his mother.


The more pressing concern is how this man treats the child though. He is doing damage to this child by his words. Even if the child knew this man was not his father, the damage will still be done.


Talk to your sister at length about it. I also think a family counselor would be a good idea.

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Is the best thing to see a counselor?


Yes yes yes. But since it sounds like your sister has her head in the sand, I don't think it'll happen.


The child should be told right away. I started learning about the bizarre dynamic of my own family when I was 7, starting with finding out that my father was not my sister's father. It scared me, but I'm glad I found out when I did.


However, you should absolutely not have anything to do with the revelation. I hate to say it, but unless the child is really being hurt, not just hurt feelings, you've got to stay out of it. If you tell this kid, you're going to look like the bad guy.


Also, this "man" being the child's biological father will not change the fact that this is the only father the child has ever known, and the child looks to him that way. His insults will not hurt less.


That poor little boy. Your niece will suffer as well... survivor syndrome. I think it's probably best, as hard as it is, to suggest a counselor and then stay out of it. Stay vigilant though - if your brother-in-law starts physically or verbally abusing your nephew, then step in.

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My brother was 12 years old when he was told. It was Grandma who told him and not mom. My mother just didn't know HOW TO handle it or when was the appropriate time.


As far as equal treatment. She nipped that in the bud right away. My brother was 5 when my dad came into the picture. And my father started to tattle on him. "Tell him not to do that...." "tell him not to do this..." I was about a year old at the time. My mother got her back up and said.. "WE were a package deal. You need to tell him yourself. And you need to treat him like your own son. He lives in your home under your roof and if you can't do that... then there is no point in us being together"..


Dad.. treated him like his own son. It still came as quite a shock to my brother when he was told. But his angst later came from NOT knowing who is real dad is. Not knowing why his real dad rejected him and NEVER tried to make contact with him. He still felt displaced and unwanted in that respect. THAT shaped my brother for the REST of his life... and NOT in a good way. The only thing differently my mother could have done is to have anticipated it.. and sent him to counseling before the issues started to become glaringly clear.


It has to come... directly from the mother. That is where the TRUST is.. and that is where the BOND is. If it comes from the mother.. the child won't feel betrayed or like his mother was hiding something from him.

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