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How to talk to 5 year old about my parentage

  • 24-11-2020 10:01am
    Registered Users Posts: 132 ✭✭

    Hi all,

    My mum got pregnant at 19 with me. My biological father did not want anything to do with the situation, and in fact started his own family at around the same time. My mum married my step dad and all was good.

    I had no contact with him as I was growing up. Fast forward to much later in life. He makes contact with me shortly after I get married. I start getting to know him, and to be honest we get on grand.

    He is now a part of my kids lives, and is very good to them. The kids have essentially 3 grandads now, my stepdad, my wifes dad and my biological father.

    Today leaving my 5 year at school today she asks why she has 3 granddads. I'm stumped for an answer! I guess I knew it would come but thought I would have longer to mull it over.

    So I don't want to lie to her, but not exactly sure how to explain it to her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,037 ✭✭✭✭ted1

    keep it simple: well granny loves granddad and they got married. but before she loved granddad her boyfriend was granddad #2

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,703 ✭✭✭Xterminator

    Hi Op

    in school today the nuclear family is not the dominant family configuration. there are single parents, unmarried parents, step parents, children living with relatives in the school left right and centre. This is the norm today.

    So this is not something that will vex your child greatly or needs to be a secret. I 100% agree you should not lie, and i don't think there is any reason to make this a big deal - simply your mum got remarried and now your child is lucky enough to have 3 granny/grandads.

    I suspect if you approach this in a very straightforward way, you will have no problem. If asked why mum and dad split up i would simply say that happens sometimes, and ask the child if anyone in their class had a stepdad or mum, and say "it is like that". You have a step dad and a dad. now your child is very lucky they have 3 grandparents.

    The issues your parents had really do not need to be shared, and if you don't bring it up then it won't be an issue for a 5 year old. Again don't lie, if you are asked simply give simple honest answers. EG they were not married and they split up. Mum found a man she loved and married him. I would caution you against making emotive answers, simply state the facts.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,175 Mod ✭✭✭✭HildaOgdenx

    ted1 wrote: »
    keep it simple: well granny loves granddad and they got married. but before she loved granddad her boyfriend was granddad #2

    Yes, just very simple, high level explanation. And add something like 'aren't you so lucky to have three grandads.'

    Chances are she will have forgotten she asked by the time she comes home.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,094 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    Never lie to children, no matter what the situation. But small children don't need details. Explain that your Mother loved him enough to have you but they were young and didn't stay together.

    I'm glad you have a relationship with him and you seem to have embraced him into your whole family.
    Does your father get on well with your mother, or is there a problem with that relationship?

    Be prepared for questions about his other family in the future. Again just give the bare facts as you know them and explain that relationship as necessary.

    Children take things in their stride if they don't feel facts are being hidden or they suspect lies.

  • Registered Users Posts: 132 ✭✭elvis83

    wildwillow wrote: »

    Does your father get on well with your mother, or is there a problem with that relationship?

    That's a further wrinkle as my mother is dead. She was very bitter and angry at him. That relationship was never good.

    Anyway thanks for the solid advice, I think I have a good idea how to talk about it now. Fully agree with the not lying to kids, I didn't know about this until I was well into my teens so understand that side of it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,094 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    I'm sorry your mother has died. It does however mean the bitterness has died with her and won't be an issue for your child.

    My mantra is always tell the truth and you can't go wrong.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,342 ✭✭✭tara73

    I think it's pretty simple and I'm not sure why/about what you lied..?

    Tell your child your 'real' father got together with somebody else, then your mother got together with your stepdad. Your wifes dad, there's no explanation about, it's just her dad.

    Your kid might be the only one in their class at the moment with officially 3 granddads, but I would be really surprised there are no other classmates with stepdads/split up parents, just that they don't get along altogether, so no unusual stuff here for your child.

    Be proud you managed it all so well and having that good relationship with all involved. Transmit that message over to your kid and he will also tell the others proudly off if someone mocks him about having 3 granddads.

  • Registered Users Posts: 132 ✭✭elvis83

    tara73 wrote: »
    I think it's pretty simple and I'm not sure why/about what you lied..?

    I don't think I said I lied about anything? I think other posters were simply saying not to lie to her, which I think is good advice.

    Again thanks all for the advice

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    5 year olds are just curious. He's asking simply to have it explained. Same way he might ask why nanny is so old, or why you have hair coming out your nose!

    My children have a half sister. Around that age they needed to get their head around how she was related to them, but I wasn't her mam. They often spoke about their dad's other wife. It took a bit of explaining that he didn't have an other wife. But he had a gf before he met me and they had a baby together.

    As they got older they understood the situation better, but at that age they were just curious. Children don't have the hangups that adults do around relationships etc. They just want to know how it came about. Once it's explained in simple terms they're pretty happy because they understand and can then explain it to someone else.

    He won't be the only child in his class with 3 grandads!