My new husband treats my son like his own.
He's a very loving and caring father. I couldn’t be happier.
However, my child's "father" (I use the term loosely) is still alive and well. I haven't heard from him for most of my child's life (a good thing).
But when do I tell my son? When he asks whether his dad is really his dad? Or at a certain age?
My son’s only three and a half, but I'm afraid one of his classmates will point out that he and my husband don't look alike.
I don't want my child involved with my ex at all. I won’t describe how horrible a person he was, but simply say, "we didn't get along."
When To Tell?
Be prepared, not scared. He could ask any time.
There are bitter feelings evident in your email. You have your reasons, but when your son first starts to inquire, you’ll need to keep them from your voice and facial expressions.
You don’t want him to feel connected to people or events that harmed you.
It’s not too soon to talk to a professional guide on this topic – e.g. a family counsellor, or a psychologist.
Your husband should also be aware of what’s advised re: how much information to divulge at what age.
Reader’s Commentary “I work as a medical interpreter, trained to interpret what’s said - word for word - with impartiality and confidentially.
“During a recent assignment, I was mortified by two young doctors (“Doctor A” and “Doctor B,” who’s a resident in training) who made a home visit to a man, 58, with cancer and on palliative care.
“The patient's wife was clear at the beginning, that the man didn’t want to discuss anything about his imminent death, only pain management and his personal care.
“As “Doctor B” bombarded him with questions, such as "how do you feel having to depend on your wife?" “Doctor A” propped her feet on the patient's bed while taking notes.
“She then asked the patient if he wanted to be revived when his heart stopped. He hadn’t wanted this discussion, but responded yes, he’d like to be revived.
“Doctor A” argued that he shouldn’t be revived because since he was so ill, why not let nature take its course?
“How dare she be so disrespectful?
“She then went into detail on how much worse his life would be if he were revived... he might’ve become brain-damaged, etc. I had to interpret all of that.
“It was a horror show.
“Those doctors need a healthy dosage of manners, sensitivity, common sense, and human respect.”
I agree that those doctors’ manners were insensitive and disrespectful regarding the wife’s instructions. You’ve raised an upsetting complaint, which will undoubtedly prompt readers’ responses.
You could take it to your employer and/or report to the oversight board in your area that deals with doctors’ behaviour.
Dealing with dying patients isn’t easy on any professional involved. Eventually, the wife’s request had to be met by someone explaining some realities to be faced.
She should’ve been asked when the patient (or she, if she has power of attorney) would be able to consider end-of-life decisions.
However, the doctor’s point wasn’t inaccurate: If a dying person is revived from heart failure, then found to be severely brain-damaged, the caregiver/family must ultimately think about choice, even if the patient won’t.
Then, legal and moral issues get weighed, according to the jurisdiction where they live.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother worried about her twin teenage daughter who’s cutting herself (May 6):
Reader – “I have an identical twin brother. I'll share some of my experiences.
“We were always dressed the same, our relatives always sent a single birthday card addressed to both. We constantly received single gifts and one birthday cake meant for both.
“Even when we were in University, my youngest sibling bought one birthday gift for both of us, and my sister's boyfriend gave us a single gift.
“This young lady is possibly experiencing an identity crisis that started at birth.
“People are probably always asking her how her twin is or what her sister is doing.
“People perhaps do not see her as an individual.
“She’s struggling with this and looking for attention directed at her alone, even if it’s negative attention.
“She may be struggling with her lack of an independent identity separate from her sister.”
Tip of the day:
Every child who wants to know about his/her biological parent deserves an age-appropriate answer.