Counseling/Discussing conception with rape-conceived child
QUESTION: Hi Deneen,
My daughter, who is six years old at the moment, was conceived through rape. I love her very much, have been in therapy to work through the trauma and have generally accepted the situation. I have chosen to remain single for many reasons, including the risk of sexual abuse that may come with a step father.
We have many two-parent families (married and not married) in our circle of friends and relatives, as well as quite a few one-parent families. My daughter has no idea that everyone has a biological father. She never asked why family make-up varies from family to family, and simply accepts that every family is different.
I know she will find out about the process of conception at some point, and am aware that she should not permanently be deprived of this basic knowledge because of the circumstances in which she was conceived. I am also sure that I've sent out subconscious signals that this is a taboo subject, and that my daughter will never start asking these questions herself.
Do you have any advice on how to tackle this?
ANSWER: Hi Natasa,
While this is understandably a sensitive subject for you, I think that you should wait until she is a late teen or even an adult to talk about this with her. Reason being is because children do not care about so many things, they just want to be kids. We as adults put things into their heads then they become inquisitive.
Racism for instance: children do not care what color the children they play with are, they could care less. Also, as you mentioned about the many two-parent families around. Children do not make these things issues, adults do. So, if its talked about at home, then it starts to affect the child. Do you get what I am saying?
For a rape situation, she is not old enough (mature) to really understand. Which is why I suggest you wait to tell her, especially if she isn't asking about it. She does not need to know how she was conceived at this age, let her be the free spirited child she is.
When the time comes to tell her, hopefully later on. Make sure you express that you love her so much regardless of how she was conceived.
I hope this helped. Please do not forget to rate my answer.
Deneen M Scott, M.A., HS-BCP
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks for being so quick with your reply! I think I should clarify that I wasn't entertaining any thoughts of telling my daughter how she was conceived, certainly not now and perhaps never at all. I hold the view that emotional well-being is more important than truth in this matter.
What I am struggling with is how I should react the moment she realizes that every human has two biological parents, and whether it is in her interest to keep THAT bit of basic information from her. Yet the moment she realizes that it takes a sperm cell to create any and every individual, questions must follow. How does one react then?
At six, this is something she will learn from her peer group soon enough, even if I do not tell her. What's your opinion?
Sorry for the confusion.
Always remain calm and honesty is always the best policy. Children pick up on their parents reaction easy, so if she notices you tense up, she will know something is wrong. I think you will do fine. You seem like you have prepared ahead of time and that will help you to be calm. While when she does ask, I would not get in depth with your answer. Say a little of whatever you have prepared to tell, then ask her if she wants to go get some ice cream or something.
I am saying this based on email only and I do not know the whole situation. I would suggest asking your therapist if you still go to therapy. Especially since she is familiar with you and the situation.
Be strong, you will be fine. I have been through something very similar. I've always been honest with my daughter, although sometimes waiting for more appropriate times and ages.
Deneen M Scott, M.A., HS-BCP