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Children, Should You Tell Your Child the Truth About Who Their Parent Is

Updated on June 13, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Why create this hub?


With people these days often having many relationships throughout their lives and bearing children out of wedlock the true parentage of a child is often a mystery. Knowing at least two couples who have chosen to keep one of their children's parentage a secret I have given this subject some thought.

As with most things in this life it is down to individual choice and what will ultimately be best for the child. However no matter how much I think about this matter I cannot see that it is right and proper to keep such information withheld from a child.

Yes, there may be instances where:-

  • The actual parent's identity is unknown
  • The child is the result of a rape or an attack
  • The parent is a totally horrible person.

On the whole though I think, if possible, that it is important to be honest with children. Whatever you decide though it will not be easy.

Personal thoughts-Secrets and Lies

Nine times out of ten it seems that it will be the father's identity that is not known. A woman and her baby may move in with a new partner and the child may then never know any difference.

If this relationship is successful and marriage or a long term relationship ensues then other children may follow. Here to my mind lies some of the biggest problems. So often the father will find it hard not to treat his own blood relative in a different manner to his partner's child.

I can understand why, in such cases, the parents want to wait until such a time as the child is an appropriate age to understand the information that she or he is being told. However, deciding what the right time and age will be is a nightmare. If you are not careful the child may discover their true identity long before you can be up front with them.

In the past I have known someone who discovered her parentage by stumbling across her birth certificate when, as a nosy 11 year old, she was searching through cupboards. How devastating. It was something which screwed her up for years and she never really came to terms with.

I have also known someone who found out, that the person she knew and loved as Dad was not her father, when her mother, in a temper, blurted out the truth to her one sad day. Fancy keeping a secret 16 years only to reveal it in such a terrible way, and in anger. Another poor soul left with a scrambled mind.

Finally, I came across a person who said that, a member of her own family had told the child the truth about who his Dad was, when she had fallen out with the woman. How cruel and nasty. This woman was going to tell her little boy when he was a little older but instead he had to hear it in such a way. Suffice to say the relationship between this Mum and Son is strained to say the least.

Deciding on the right time and age will not be easy. However hopefully my instances will make you think carefully about whether it is right to withhold such information in the long run.

No doubt there will be some who withhold such information as it is easier for them and because it seems much too hard to be honest. However, if you love your child you must want to do what is best for them.

Think ahead to when the child is an adult. For example, the child may have a health issue that needs a full family health record. Then again the birth certificate will maybe hold part of the true story and so will ultimately be accessed.

Even if the child is an adult before he or she discovers the truth they may be able to cope with the information. However some do not cope well when eventually told. I have known a grown man who, when he found out in later years that he had been adopted, spent all of his time looking at people and wondering if they were his real parents. Adoption these days though is less fraught with such problems. The Law has changed and children, after a certain age, have a right to certain information.

In Conclusion.

This hub offers little in the way of answers, I am afraid. Hopefully it has given you something to think about, especially if you are directly concerned with such issues.

What my gut instinct says is think very carefully before you decide how to handle such a situation. Remember that other people will no doubt know the truth also. Remember also that people do fall out big style and then do hateful things to each other, so there is really no-one that you can rely on 100% to keep your secret.

Of course there will be some cases where the child was actually fathered by someone else and the father, and perhaps, the mother does not know this. This is a whole different ball game. However remember that especially in respect to health the true parentage could be important knowledge in the years to come.

What do you think?

Should parents reveal the identity of the true parent?

See results

© 2009 Ethel Smith


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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Tess this shows prefectly how difficult it can be to make the right choice in this matter. We all say things in anger that we regreat later. If the person loves you they understand

    • profile image

      Tess Watson 

      9 years ago

      A few years back my brother and I were talking and he informed me that my dad wasn't my dad I told him that he was wrong and that that wasn't very nice. Well he wasn't lying and when I told my mom she finally told me about the name that was on my birth certificate. She told me that he didn't want me and that his family even offered her money to get rid of me. I told her that I really didn't even want to know about him and that my dad was my dad. I was daddy's girl that was all that mattered to me and that he loved me very much. Just before my dad got sick we had a very huge argument and I told him out of anger that he had no right and that he wasn't my dad. Those words still haunt me today. Even though we apol.ogized to each other and my dad didn't hold it against me but I regret ever saying it and shortly after the argument my dad died. Anyone can make a baby but it takes a wonderful man like my dad to raise and claim a child that isn't theirs. To this day my mom treats me differently than my sisters and it feels like I am the unlovable reject that no one wants.Recently out of spite more than anything I tried to find the donor only to find out that he had died last June. I didn't care if he accepted me or claimed me I only wanted some answers and hopefully some honest ones. I chose not to ask my mom the questions since I don't even know if she would tell me the truth, since she lied to me for so long. It's like my whole life was built on lies and I felt as if it was time to bury the lies and hopewfully bring some light into my life once and for all not feel like I am some dirty little secret or as if I am my mom's biggest mistake.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Good luck with your search Damien and thanks for the input

    • profile image

      Damian Flynn 

      10 years ago

      Dear Ethel,

      For writing and having published a beautiful, insightful article, thank you.

      I have begun to try to find out if I have a daughter. I did not know that this child had been conceived, until I found out about one and a half years ago, and the child is now about six years old. The child's mother is now married, and the child’s best interests are important. Perhaps better said, the child is loved, is loved by her father, her mother, and her guardian.

      It could be said that that the potential victims in a situation where the resultant male guardian of the child was not informed before the child was born that the he was not the father of the child, are the child, the father of the child, and the guardian of the child.

      I think most mothers love their children, and it is important, regardless of whether a particular mother makes the right decision (i.e., to be honest), to consider the child's best interests (although I would prefer a more appropriate law to be written in the family laws that are created by our lawmakers [i.e., that the child should be loved by the child’s father and mother, where both the father and mother of the child are living]).

      I agree that a child should be told, in a peaceful or loving way. It is terrible that a mother has thought it may be better to wait until the child is of a certain age (e.g., 7, 16, 18, 21, or 25), before telling that child the name of that child's father. But I suppose it is also important to many mothers to take care of themselves, so they can take care of their children. This makes sense, I suppose, but loving yourself and your children would result in a better outcome.

      I don't mean to offend anybody, and in some cases, it must be terribly difficult for a mother (e.g., loving her child, after her child was adopted by other parents, and waiting for a long time, before telling the child, because she thought this was best). In some cases, it may appear to be the right path, and it could be said that blame should not be attributed to women who have decided that this is the correct course of action, due to personal problems or as the result of being misguided. In any case, this wouldn’t help the child, if the mother was victimized.

      From a father’s rights perspective (and for our lawmakers), the following should be a crime: that a father, being a man who loves a child that he is the father of, is intentionally excluded by the child’s mother from being the father of the child. Also, the loving father of a child should not be excluded from spending time with the child.

      Moreover, I think it may be due to hatred, or absence of wisdom among some decision makers, that loving fathers are intentionally excluded from spending time with their children.

      Family laws should be revised.


      Damian Flynn.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for thr input Eileen. Yes a hard one to call. On the whole though I think children deserve honesty. Finding out any other way is cruel.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Very good article and I think you have covered all the important issues. It is terrible that children will never know who their parents are, especially if it is simply because the mother has not bothered to take protection.

      Then in the instance of rape, well that is another kettle of fish. In some cases the child may be better off in not knowing who the father is. That one is a hard decision for anyone to make under those circumstances

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for the input christalluna, I am inclined to agree with you

    • christalluna1124 profile image


      11 years ago from Dallas Texas


      What an important article. It is very important that a child know who both of their parents are. Not just for medical issues but because not knowing the child will grow up not knowing a very important part of their heritage and who they are.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for the personal input Anthony and welcome to HubPages. Words are too futile for me to pass on your comment but I hope others reading it may take heed. Honesty really is the best policy it would seem. It makes me wonder yet again if sometimes the truth is witheld as it is easier for the adults.

    • Anthony Hillelson profile image

      Anthony Hillelson 

      11 years ago from Texas

      Ethel, Thank you for bridging a difficult topic. You did it with such grace and nonjudgement. I was adopted at three years old, so I always knew. What I didn't know from 6 months to 3.5 years old was that my foster parents were not my real parents. This set me up for another huge loss of a mother whom I was very close. That day of tragedy has lived with me ever since. I am 57 years old, raised my own son, become successful in life and I can still recall that frightening day almost as clearly as if it had just happened.

      It took a lot of work on myself and therapy, but I no longer live the emotional drama surrounding that terrifying day when some strange woman in black (literally) pulled me out of my mother's arms, as I was screaming and fighting with all my might, then drove off with me, never to see what I believed was my mother, ever again.

      That day I lost a sense of security that only a child who believes himself to belong to a loving family receives in childhood and that carries him throughout his life. It no longer defines my life, yet when anyone asks me, my answer to the debate is, "Please, tell the child the truth from the beginning even if the child is too young to fully understand." Graping the truth a little at a time is far healthier than the cruelness of it being forced upon you in any manner.

      Tough subject that you presented quite well. Thanks for sharing.


      (I've just become a member today and look forward to finishing my first hub and making friends along the way)

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for the comments Maggs. These things are often hard to express I know. I hope this hub and everyone's incite may help someone reading who is undecided on the best course of action. I think it is best to be upfront. The lies can do more damage than the truth.

      Yes I will read your hub and link it to this one, if that's OK?

    • maggs224 profile image


      11 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I was adopted and I have always known this fact, I did not know the details until I was a mother myself and I was talking with my mum about a fear I had and she laughed and then she told me about the circumstances. That was one of the few times we spoke of this I wish that she was still alive as I would love to speak to her more about this.

      I think we should be told the facts about our parentage even when the circumstances of our conception are not very nice, I am a product of incest and my mum was only twelve when she gave birth to me but inspite of that I still think it is better to know these things. If you are interested I have written a hub about this

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I tend to agree Vizey but have found some young couples still keep such things a secret. To each his own I know but personally I think they are storing up trouble for later years.

    • Vizey profile image


      11 years ago

      Time is changing and people are changing. People should tell their kids that who their parent is. They will become more strong and accept the reality of the world right from the childhood.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks RNMSN. You are too kind.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Az


    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      James so you know all too well what I mean. Sometimes families keep secrets with all of the best intentions but secrets have a way of coming out. As you say the result can be devastating.

      Jaspal, yes I think it is so important to try to handle these things well and not just thrust on a child.

    • Jaspal profile image


      11 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very interesting subject ... I would think it is important that a child is informed of his parentage if it is different from what seems obvious to him at home. But, simultaneously, he should also be explained the circumstances and he should also be made comfortable in the knowledge that he is very much loved ...

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      11 years ago from Chicago

      What a sad reflection on our culture that so many women don't know who fathered their child. We should really think about what that says about our society.

      I had 2 of my 5 sisters in this situation. I come from a very fractured family. My parents have been married 10 times between them. My 7 brothers and sisters are all half-siblings—nothing wrong with that. It ends up 2 of them are not blood relatives at all, though this was hidden from them (in one case) and all of us (in the other). In both, the truth came out during an angry argument.

      One of my sisters was adopted at birth my mom from a prostitute she had been acquainted with since grade school. When my sister was about 16 this woman surfaced and she and my mom quarreled. In her anger, she called my sister and told her she was her mother and there was no telling who was her father. My sister was devastated. Us older kids knew about this but were sworn to secrecy. My sister has never been the same.

      My other sister reached her mid-twenties when, during an argument with her mother (my ex-step-mother) her mom told her that my dad was not her dad—as she had always thought: as all of us had always thought. My dad knew the truth but nobody else did, that she had an affair while they were married and my sister was the result of adultery. She was devastated and has never been the same since.


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