Introducing Your Child to His or Her Birth Father
It isn’t too common for a child to meet her biological father later on in her life, but it does happen. While interviewing a group of parents who have had to introduce their children to their fathers, one thing became clear: no two stories were the same. As these parents shared their stories, they hoped that their experiences would help someone in the same situation.
It is important for you to know that you are not alone in this. Other people like you have been through something similar before. Each of these stories are different; one tells of a father whose absence and presence were unpredictable over the years. One explained that incarceration was the reason for absence. One father didn’t know he even had a child, while someone else searched for his child when the other parent unexpectedly moved. While no two situations are the same, there are bits of advice to be taken from each one.
In most cases, legal backing is essential, and counseling for the child, parents, or both is beneficial. In each of these situations, support from attorneys and counselors was used at some point. Aside from the help of professionals, emotional support from your friends and family will play a very important role throughout this event.
Before one of the interviewed parents allowed the father of her child an introduction, she met with him a number of times in order to establish a cooperative association and to ensure a safe environment for their child. When she felt comfortable enough for an introduction, she gave her little one an age-appropriate briefing of the situation, and when he didn‘t understand the concept of “father” she allowed him to choose a title, which was usually “friend” for a time.
Some parents weren’t as fortunate to have so much control and cooperation before an introduction took place. There was an instance where extended family members instigated a meeting between the child and the fickle father, and another where the father was the one who searched for his child. In both of these cases, the children’s parents managed the outcomes by providing love, honesty, and stability in the home, as well as a committed step-parent.
After all their stories were told, the interviewees expressed how difficult it is to advise one on how to manage their individual situation, because each one is so different. Each outcome produces its share of disappointments and satisfactions; good relationships as well as confusing ones, too. So their ultimate tip, their most important word of advice, in all its simple complexity, is to think objectively and do what is best for your child. Help her constructively apply to her life what she has learned from her experience, deliver consistent support through all of her emotions, and always, always make sure that she knows how important she is and how unconditionally you love her.