How can we make sure my step-daughter feels comfortable with our future children?

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Sibling Love © by emerille, used under Creative Commons license.
I have a step-daughter and am worried she may feel jealousy or negativity toward any children her dad and I have in the future. I also don’t want our children to resent her. I’ve searched all over parenting and family forums and I’m not getting a lot — I’ve found plenty of typical sibling rivalry stories and advice, or stories from adopted/foster children who resented their parents’ birth children. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find anything about step/half sibling issues.

How do you handle jealousy issues? What methods do you use to make sure everyone feels like an equal part of the family? If someone is feeling left out or hurt, how do you help them cope and understand? How do you go about explaing different parenting styles in a way children can understand? There’s just not a lot of nitty gritty advice for step parents out there! — Tiffany

Comments on How can we make sure my step-daughter feels comfortable with our future children?

  1. Kids are resilient and accepting of so many things we can’t wrap our heads around. Your future children will know her as a sister and never know any different. She will always be a member of the family from the time they arrive.

    The step-daughter should be slowly introduced to the idea so it’s not sprung on her. Occasionally talk about if she’d like to be a big sister and what she would like to do with future siblings. When the time comes, make her feel included. I would avoid saying half-siblings or differentiating. Just make her feel like it’s all her family.

    Try thinking of your step-daughter as one of your own and no different than future children. Getting in the mindset to do that now will help prevent differing attitudes toward the children.

    I think it’s awesome you’re concerned about her well-being now and want to prepare. If you’re on good terms with her Mom, you could occasionally check in with her to see how the step daughter is doing with the situation once new siblings arrive.

    There’s a great resource called Hybrid Homemaker about a Mom with just step-kids. And Zen Habits is written with a guy by 6 kids with stepchildren and ‘full’ children but has beautifully blended it all and just considers them all his kids.

    Good luck!

  2. My best advice? Treat them all the same. The word stepdaughter shouldn’t even be in your vocabulary…..that’s your daughter. And any kids you and your husband have? Those aren’t half-brothers and half-sisters. They’re just brothers and sisters, straight up.

    That’s the best way we’ve found to handle it. And don’t make apologies for any new babies or act like they would encroach on her space. Just be happy and excited and she’ll pick up on that too. And try and explain a little bit of what newborn care requires, but that the worst of the crying and up all night will be over in just a few months, and then things will settle back down to normal.

    • This advice is the boss. The best thing that ever happened for my blended families relationship was in dropping “step” from my vocabulary — unfortunately something I didn’t pick up until I was 17, about five years after my parents married. (I grew up with older (step-)brothers, but my parents never managed to have a child together.)

      There was definitely resentment, though; if the relationship is at all rocky — and it definitely was for us for years — I’m not sure it can be completely averted. When I was 15, I could not be convinced that my parents treated us equally. (Of course, the ridiculous part was that my eldest brother was 20 when he lived with us.)

      Edited to add: In our case, my dad wasn’t in the picture; I’m pretty sure my brothers refer to my mom as their stepmother, as her mother is still around.

  3. We’re right in the middle of this as I’m 21 weeks pregnant. Fortunately, our kiddo lives with us, she has wanted a brother or sister since kindergarten, and her bio mom even told her that her new sibling would be just brother or sister.

    Unless you already have major issues going on, I think the “regular” resources will work fine. The current child(ren) will regress a bit and they will get a little jealous. We’ve only heard anything negative when she was in trouble for something and she wanted to move the conversation away from her behavior and turn it into a “poor me” discussion. Otherwise, she’s excited, her only worry she voiced was whether they baby would like her.

    As far as same treatment, well that’s hard. I think I’m easier on my stepdaughter because she’s not mine and I still have this basic feeling deep down that I don’t have the right to parent her. I really think I will hold this next child up to higher standards of behavior. I do worry that when he or she is older they will see it and call me on it, but I can’t seem to help it. I won’t have to share my parenting as much with my second one as I do with my first. It’ll just be my husband and me, not my husband, me, her mom, her mom’s mom . . .

    As far as stepdaughter being in your vocabulary . . . . that’s situational. I am not my stepdaughter’s mom. She doesn’t call me mom and I don’t call her my daughter. I call her my kid, kiddo, child . . . I call myself one of her parents . . . but her mom is not absent and is rather supportive and generally works with us, not against us. The label of “mom” belongs to her, just as the label of “mom” will belong to me with this second child.

    • Completely agree… particulary about labels. I don’t refer to my husbands kids as my stepson and stepdaughter because I don’t want to claim them. I do it because they have a mom and it’s not me! It’s not a perjorative word if you don’t make it one, but every family has to figure out their own language. The younger the kids, the less you have to differentiate, I think. If your SD is fairly young, they won’t really percieve the difference and will just be plain old sisters.

    • One of my favorite things about Offbeat Mama was reading the words “bonus mom”. “bonus daughter” and “bonus son” in place of “step” !! Steps are rough, and tiring, even if they’re worth it, but bonuses? Always exciting 😉 Don’t remember which post had it first, but I’ve told the story to a couple of friends who’ve picked it up too!

    • Agreed. My mom died when I was 11, Dad remarried when I was 14. He insisted that my siblings and I call his new wife “Mom.” Over 15 years later, we’re all still pretty much traumatized.

      • Yes! This brings up an important point – you can call your children whatever you want, but you also need to let them pick what they are comfortable calling you. Forcing it is always a bad idea.

  4. If you’re having trouble looking, try searching for “blended families” stepchild/parent tends to carry some negative connotations in our society so it seems people are leaning more towards that term for the new combination of families that are appearing.

  5. I grew up in this situation. My sister and I are 9 years apart and incredibly close (notice I didn’t say half sister and never would). She is one of the best things ever to happen to me! However, when I was an early teenager I did feel like I was “extra” and not really part of the “true family.” Mostly this was just teenage angst, but when my mom noticed it, she would always let me vent and was respectful of feelings. This was crucial, she didn’t take it personally and made an effort to do special things with me and always include me (from the moment my sister was born). But don’t worry too much, you obviously care deeply, so these things will come naturally. And I couldn’t have asked for a better way to grow up!

  6. I have two half-sisters. The only time I actually call them that is for comments like this one, they are my sisters. I am 10 and 13 years older than them. In the beginning I was jealous, I was used to being the youngest, I was used to having lots of quality time with my parents. Over the years the jealousy went away. My stepdad always treated us the exact same way, in conversation he would tell people he had 4 daughters, never 2 daughters and 2 stepdaughters, we were all his daughters. That helped so much because we felt included. My parents included us in the naming process of both little sisters.
    They also emphasized that they love each one of us an equal amount but that you never love two people exactly the same way so there was a different dynamic between each one of us and them because they loved us as we were. The things they did for each of us to show their love were different for all of us because they tailored it to our wants and needs.
    They also made sure we would still have time devoted to just us and our parents without our siblings.
    My 3 sisters are my 3 best friends. We are all unique and have VERY different personalities but we love each other and enjoy getting to spend time together. There is no sibling rivalry anymore, we just enjoy each other. We are there for each other no matter what even when we live across the world from each other. My life is richer and more fulfilling for having my two extra sisters.

    I am pregnant with baby #2 right now. This baby will be my sons half-sister. I don’t think we will ever use that word until he asks questions. I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a child, my aunt lives with us and helps, my son has me and his bio dad, his “stepdad”, and his “stepmom.” My husband calls him his son. He doesn’t do it to make it seem like he is replacing his bio dad, he does it because he loves my son, has an active role in parenting him, and doesn’t want to differentiate between my son and the children we will have together. Family units are what we make them, it is not some random law that he can’t have two men in his life that are his dad, or two women who are his mom. It doesn’t take away from what is bio dad does, but it does recognize what his stepdad does in caring for him. I actually think he benefits from having so many people involved in his life, caring about him, loving him, and helping him succeed.

  7. The best thing I’ve done for myself since becoming a step mom is join Step Mom Magazine’s online magazine and forum. I am in no way affiliated with them except as a subscriber and I am very pleased with the community of women. The truth is that there aren’t enough resources out there for stepparents and even on this one, there will be stuff and people you don’t agree with. The point is, though, they provide sound, tried-and-true advice… but mostly importantly they can empathize. I’ve found it to be the single-most helpful thing I’ve done to help myself emotionally and psychologically.

  8. I wouldn’t say to ‘never’ use the step/half terms simply because kids like to organize their world. My older two know that the baby is their half brother, but they don’t tell people that; they just say brother. Children like the terms explained so that they aren’t confused, or feel guilty for using one term over another. I think that the less of a big deal that you make about the language the better.

    For language, we say, “my dad _______(name)” if we need to diferentiate between the two.

    How old is she? Age makes a big difference. My older two are 8 & 10 and having a baby now is very novel to them. They love playing with him and making him laugh. They’ve asked to change diapers and help with his bath. They feed him food and babysit him on Saturday mornings so we can sleep in. They sit in the back seat with him in the car and they always buckle him, so we don’t have to. I have great things to say about older siblings!

  9. In my experience kids are quite ready to accept things like this.

    I have a half-sister who I rarely refer to as “half”. I also have two step daughters (9 and 7) and I am currently 30 weeks pregnant.

    We’ve never refered to their new sibling as “half”, and their mum’s youngest child is never refered to as “half” either. She’s just their sister, and the new baby will just be their brother.

    They do understand that their little sister at their mum’s house won’t be the new baby’s sister though (as per their mothers choice, the youngest has nothing to do with my husbands family whatsoever, but that’s a whoooole different thing). Noone makes a big deal of it.

  10. This post is so very timely, as I am due in January with my son and in the car on the way to school today, my 14 year old stepson said “that’s not my brother” when I asked him if he’d tell his brother to behave (as he is still giving me major nausea…) It broke my heart, even though I know a lot of that comes from his confused teenager emotions…

    Reading comments closely…

    • ellen ~ just wanted to say i’m sorry you’re going through that, and i hope you don’t have as @#$@%-up a time with your 14 year old stepson *after* the new baby comes as i have had with my 14 year old stepdaughter. it was horrible throughout my pregnancy and for about 5-6 months after. email lkjfdas at gmail if you want to commiserate with someone!

  11. Technically my baby sister is my “half-sister”…. but I never refer to her as that… when I speak of her father (who isn’t really in the picture anymore) people always look at me with confusion because they think I’m talking about my father until I explain the family dynamics.

    I’m 8 years older than her and I think most of the distance we experienced when we were younger had more to do with the fairly substantial age gap than the family dynamics. Ultimately, whatever issues we were having, whenever it came to any of our parental figures, we tended to band together in order to rally against them.

    She’ll be 17 in a few months and I think she’s one of THE MOST kick-ass chicks I know. I’m definitely proud that she’s my sister. Regardless of us having different dads, she’s wholly my sister.

    Then again, I had been begging my mom for a sibling from the time I could talk. Generally, I think the reaction to any new additions to any family, blended or not, will be largely based on the existing kids’ views on gaining a new sibling.

  12. My advice, make sure to have an equal-ish number of visible pictures of the stepkids around the house. It seems like an obvious thing, but it’s really easy to fill the house with pictures of the new baby (especially if its your first bio-kid) and overlook pictures of the step-kids. This was a huge problem for my parents, because a lot of my childhood photos are group photos with both of my bio-parents. The ex’s presence made my parents reluctant to display these photos. Combine that with the fact that parents of multiple children can get lax over time with photos and there were very few visible photos of me in the house.

    Just make sure that people visiting when your step-kids aren’t there can tell from looking around that you have other kids.

    • Agreed, very important! I also think that removing all pictures of a kid’s bio-parent is a bad move. My stepmom did a bit of this when she moved into my dad’s house. She also was so uncomfortable with all mentions of my (late) mom that the subject quickly became a family taboo. Since my mom died when we were teenagers, not being able to discuss her made grieving much harder for me and my sister. In general I think one of the best things you can do is be totally comfortable with the idea of your partner’s ex, even if you don’t like them as a person. If it makes you awkward to even think of your partner with someone else, it will come through and the child will start to avoid mentioning early childhood stories, family history, etc. – anything that might lead to mention of the dreaded “other woman” and cause a dinner-table coldness

  13. As, the eldest of eight, three being “step-siblings” and the other four “half-siblings,” those words aren’t even in our vocabulary although we all know we don’t have same mother [or father]. To me my so called half/step siblings are my brothers and sisters even though we barely have a resemblance (and being the oldest out of them, people usually think I’m their mother.)
    When my father got with his current wife, her three children quickly started saying they were our brother and sisters from the second we all met actually. It’s a matter of how kids are raised. If raised in a healthy environment with adults that don’t differentiate between kids it should all be fine. But speaking from experience no one should make her feel like she’s an outsider and when she goes to school some of the kids might tell her something like that. With two of my siblings who have the same mother, their mom emphasizes that they’re just “half” or not even related which basically ruins it for a couple of days since they feel like they are betraying their mom. (Especially when they get dropped off they won’t hug dad’s wife in their mother’s presence or even acknowledge her existance.)But as stated before just make sure she’s always included. Maybe have a day for just you and her.(Which should be done when new babies come anyways so that the eldest feels important-because they are! And they’re loved just as much.)

  14. I have no advice, but I grew up in this situation and sadly am on the end where things didn’t work out. My half-sister (yes, I call her that, but she never really felt like my sister. We never lived together and are 14 years apart so we never had anything in common beyond being related, nor did we spend enough time with each other to find some common ground)has stopped speaking to my parents because I’m the “favorite child” and it’s not fair that they treat me better. Of course, I’m seeing it from other end where she’s 35 years old and still trying to play her mom and our dad against each other to get what she wants, but I’m really sad for her that she feels that that is true so strongly she’s stopped speaking to us. Again, I have no advice, but it really does warm my heart to hear that my family’s situation is not the norm!

    • Hi Colleen, 
      Somehow I’m glad there’s someone in the same boat as me. I’ve been reading the posts with such hope for the families involved – they seem so committed to making sure everyone feels loved. 
      My mum entered into a relationship with a man when I was 6. I never liked him, and asked her not to go out with him. Things were pretty bad – he’s an alcoholic, we ended up moving into the country and lived in a shed with a dirt floor and no power for about ten years. No, I’m not joking. He constantly made inappropriate comments to and about me and was often drunk and angry. 
      Into this environment my half brother was born. We are 13 years apart and growing up I felt more like his mother. I loved him so much but I moved out when he was 6, and even though I had him for some weekends etc, we just grew apart. 
      In the meantime he was being steadily influenced by his father. He didn’t pass any subjects at school past 8th grade, left school at 16 – his dad doesn’t think education is useful – and has been mooching off my mum pretty much ever since. (There has been a messy but well overdue divorce in the meantime, so mum is once more single). 
      Somewhere the sweet funny kid I loved has been replaced by a lazy young man who wants everything but isn’t prepared to work for it. He thinks his dad is a legend, and I have never told my brother what his dad has done to me. I hardly see my brother, he has only seen my daughter twice, and both times he had to be picked up and brought to see me and her – once was Christmas day, which he said he wasn’t attending because it was too hard to drive to my place and he’d used all his fuel doing burnouts. 
      I’d love that sweet funny kid back – I miss him – but he’s long gone. 
      I haven’t been a perfect sister – I wish I had done more for him, but it’s too late now. I can’t talk to him because he tells his dad everything I say – and I just can’t have that awful man in my life. And if I told my brother what his dad has done he wouldn’t believe me. It’s like he’s blind to his fathers faults. 
      Step families can be so hard to integrate. But the worst thing is the constant reminder that you’re just the ‘step thingy’. I just wish that mine had been different. 
      Kudos to all those mums and dads who are trying to make ALL their kids feel special, needed, loved and equal. No matter how angry, resentful or upset a kid gets, all they really want us to know they’re loved, to know their position in the world and to know their parents are there for them – and that includes the step thingys. 

  15. Treat them the same. We are adult kids now and its really that simple. Our home did not use half or step titles. Grandparents didn’t either. And if we did something we did it together.
    The “other” family used the custody arrangement to spoil their single common child meaning trips to Disney (seriously, who does that)spent the Christmas account on one kid etc…
    But really I cannot mentally separate my siblings from one another they are just my brothers and sisters and it has always been like that, even though we didn’t even all live together.
    Looking back it would have been so weird if Mom didn’t want to go to the other kids graduation, or if we didn’t wait to find Easter Baskets together. We waited until the WHOLE family was there to celebrate and sometimes this meant shifting holidays, a tradition we still embrace today for significant others and hospital employment.

  16. As a step-child and half-sister (not that I use those terms) I think this advice is all great. The key is to feel included, with my mum, stepdad and 2 half-sisters we feel like one ‘normal’ family unit, we were always seen as equals and still are. With my dad’s side, it was a bit more complex as he had 4 of us by 3 different women. The 3rd (now ex) never really made me and my half sister (from the 2nd, keeping up?) part of a family or even just equal. When she had my brothers in my late teens I really struggled with this as it felt very ‘us and them’. Even little things like seeing ‘congratulations on your 1st baby’ cards were quite hurtful and there were hardly any photos of my sister and I and none of us all together. I think we were sometimes seen as handy babysitters, but we were always happy to spend time with our brothers as we think the world of them. It’s an awful lot easier now I’m an adult but it still makes me sad when I look back on it.

    I’m now 15 weeks pregnant and all my brothers and sisters are looking forward to being uncles and aunties, this is is the first one of the next generation. My stepdad and dad’s partner are really excited too, this baby has a lot of family who love them. But even I had to be reminded about including people, my dad’s partner has 4 children, the 3 eldest are adults and do their own thing (nice people but I rarely see them) but the youngest is 11 and very quiet, I wasn’t sure what he’d think but he’s excited too so I need to remember to include him with the aunties and uncles too!

  17. When I was a step child I never felt resentment or jealousy over my half siblings. I loved them, maybe a little bit more than my full sister when we were young (I would never say I loved any of my siblings more than the others now, of course). It was my step mother who I hated. And with good cause too, that woman was … No, IS … a horrible human being. I mean, just truly awful. It’s not like I had some daddy’s little girl thing going on (my dad and I have never been close) or like I was poisoned by stories of evil step moms. She was just an awful, awful, awful person who was cruel to us and others and even her own kids eventually. She and my dad divorced when I was 16. She left him for his coworker. Lol.
    Anyway, I’d say that if you’re not a horrible person like my step mom was, you probably don’t have much to worry about. Families go through ups and downs, but as long as love and respect are present, I think it all tends to end up okay. Good luck and congrats!

    • I’m in a similar situation, though thankfully not as terrible. I love my brother and sister – they were teenagers when our parents married three years ago. But although we both try, I just can’t connect with my stepmom. She isn’t evil, just . . . strange and cold. I ask myself every time I see the family how two so kind, funny, and warm-hearted people could have come out of her!

  18. I’m the oldest of 5 and all my younger sibs are half siblings, but that idea of a half sibling was never even something I thought about until I was in high school and friends tried to figure out the connections of my big crazy family. They were my siblings. Just my brothers and sisters. We were all treated the same and there were no issues because no one even brought up the idea of there being an issue around it.

  19. You have no idea how excited I am that I don’t have have the most complicated family here! To start it out, my mother is on her 4th marriage. I am from husband #1 and my three sibs are from husband #2. I was about 5 when the first of the three was born and I never felt like a half-sibling to any of them growing up, but husband #2 legally adopted me when I was 6 so that could have been part of it. The four of us who grew up together, they are my brothers and sister. I have a half sister from my bio dad who died when I was little before I knew her. I also have 3 (though she has 5 kids) step-siblings from his current wife. Husband #4 has four children of his own and I only think of the youngest as a step-sibling as he’s been the only one I’ve really spent time with. The other 3… are just husband # 4’s kids. So for the grand total I have 3 siblings (who are all actually halves), one half sister, 4 step sibs, and 5 other kids who could be step but I don’t know them well and don’t feel comfy giving them a sibling title.

    My advice is to do your best to treat all the kids the same. They will know who has what parents and at some point put their own labels on everyone. There will be some problems regardless (you have no idea how much it bothers me to hear my mom say her 1st grandchildren are not from someone I call a sibling) but they will learn to deal with it

  20. I’m going against the grain a bit here, but my advice is NOT to treat them the same!

    My step-kids are not my natural kids, and they have their own mother. My feelings for my daughter ARE different from my feelings for them, and treating them as if they were the same would lack authenticity to me (and to them).

    That is not to say to play favourites, or to do more for one child than the others, or to treat them without equality and respect. Treatment, rules, expectations, and “stuff”, should be equal, or as equal as possible given your custody situation.

    But, kids are smart, and treating step-kids like “your own” kids is not always the best way to approach step-parenting, at least in my experience. My oldest step son is nearly 16 and would react badly to that approach, always has (since he was 8). We are very close, and have worked hard on respecting each other’s boundaries, but I don’t treat him like my own child. And he doesn’t want me to.

    My relationship to him just IS different to my relationship with my own daughter, or even to his sister (my stepdaughter) as she is high needs disabled (and with that level of care comes a more “natural parent” connection), and she was only 4 when I joined their family.

    Having said all that, all my kids (step and natural) treat each other as siblings, no “half” or anything here. We don’t mention it, we try to share the love equally, and our time the same. It’s a balancing act, but working from a position of respect goes a long way.

    • Could you maybe say “bio” instead of “natural”? I know you don’t mean anything by it, but sort of like with reference to childbirth when people start saying “natural” it starts sounding potentially judge-y. Like what about parents by adoption for instance? Just my two cents as a girl from a blended family.

      • While I can see what you mean, I don’t see an issue with “natural”. After all, “bio” doesn’t capture adoptive parents, anyway. And the question wasn’t to do with adoptive children, but stepchildren blending with biological children. I’m from a blended family, too. And have a blended family.

        I’m afraid I still use “natural” with childbirth, too. Isn’t that just what it is?

      • Some mothers take objection to “bio” also, as they feel this term is used for parents who are not involved…I’m not sure there is a win in this situation. Women stepmom chat I’m on usually use BioMom or TM for The Mom…

    • I can get on board with this Selene. My step daughters are not my daughters. I wouldn’t call them my daughters, and they wouldn’t want me to.

      They have a mother, and I’m not it. Do I call my own step-mother “mum”? No, because she isn’t. I call her Betty. Same goes for my step-dad (apart from that one time by accident!).

      People always ask me “do the girls call you mum?” Of course they don’t. They don’t call their mum’s partner “dad” either. Why? Because they HAVE a dad, and it’s not him.

      I don’t see the harm in calling a step-child a step-child. It doesn’t mean they’re treated any different.

  21. When my younger niece was born the older one said ‘she will be my half sister’ my mother in law said, she is your sister. Ok, I’m simplifying things a lot, but they were treated as sisters from the beginning and have a great relationship.

  22. I was an only child to unmarried parents. Years after my parents split, my mom had a son. I was 10. was excited for his arrival before he came, and then really strongly resented him for many years after that. I loved him, but I did not love that he took attention away from me (true only child here!).

    I didn’t have a step dad to deal with for long, so it was mostly the dynamics between my brother and I (and our mom) that I had to learn to accept. Which I have done successfully now that it’s been 19 years!

    My dad remarried and had a son when I was 15. I never lived with my dad, but my stepmom and I had a good relationship. I was also excited for this one’s arrival, and since I didn’t live with him, I had a lot less jealousy to develop.

    However, it was difficult for me to adjust to my stepmom growing close to my dad. He would say, “Sweetie”, and I’d respond, but he was really talking to her.

    I think what’s hard about blending families/family members is that people can feel threatened by each other. I felt threatened by my first brother, and by my stepmom, because I didn’t want them to take my place or for my parent connection to lose its authenticity and closeness.

    What helped me was to maintain a unique relationship with my parent. This happened for sure with my mom- the relationship she had with me was different than it was with my brother and in that way it was special. I learned to value that and not feel threatened by his relationship with our mom.

    This also happened to an extent with my dad, and up to the point that he and I did maintain a close relationship and he spent ONE ON ONE TIME WITH ME (in caps because that is SUPER IMPORTANT), I felt good about our father-daughter relationship. At some point that changed, and it was that lack of authentic connection between the two of us that made me feel slighted. So when my other brother was born a few years later, I didn’t feel threatened by him because I felt I had already lost that authentic connection with my dad.

    Now that I’m a “grown up” and almost 30 years old, I have learned to accept all of these relationship for what they are. I had a spell of jealousy when I realized my dad was/is super close with my brother in a way I am not now. But then I was able to be happy for my brother and to be happy that for whatever reason, my dad was able to build a strong emotional bond with his child. My brother is lucky to have that and he deserves it.

    Wow, heavy stuff. Bottom Line… One on one time as needed with whom it’s needed so that authentic connections can be maintained.

  23. At least I can see I’m not the only one here with a crazy family situation! I come from a blended family, as well, where my parents, and my sister’s father, all lived together with my sister and I. My sister is 7 years younger than me, but has always been “my sister” except when explaining the symantics of family dynamic. Was I jealous of her when we were young? Yes, because her father always spoiled her and my mother never disciplined her to the extent she did me. My dad is full-blooded Roman Catholic Irish, so my behind never got away with anything. It took me a long time to actually come to grips with our family dynamic and learn to not let the fact that my sister was treated like the golden child bother me. I was a good kid and I knew it, and I knew my parents loved me even if they did use an iron fist with me while my sister got the silver platter. It also helps that we are 7 years apart, so I was able to move out before my sister started getting into her rebellious teenage years, which is where she’s at now. And after a long talk filled with lots of emotion, I finally got all my feelings out to my mother that I’d repressed the last almost 15 years since my sister was born and it’s made us better as a family. So it’s very obvious that I agree with the treating the kids the same thing because you don’t want any of the children to feel they’re any less than the other.

    I am also entering a blending family. My fiance has a 2 year old son who we now have complete custody of, and he calls me mom. Has since the second time he met me, even though we referred to me as “Kitty” for the first month or so. In the end, we stopped trying because he NEEDS someone to call mom. His “mother” is one of those slightly-more-rare dead beat moms who cares more about how many guys she can sleep with to pay her bills than about her children. Prime example being last week I took /my son/ to see her for her last visitation [through children’s services, because she got him and his older half brother taken away from her last year] before she was going to move 4.5 hours away to live with some guy in the middle of this on-going children’s services custody battle, she showed up 15 minutes late. When I asked the caseworker when I should be back to get him, she told me an hour and a half to two hours. The “mother” looked at her baffled and said “What? I have to go home and pack. My ride is leaving at noon to come get me and he’ll be here by 5. I still need to go home and finish packing.” Basically, she wanted to cut the visitation short to go home and pack to move 4.5 hours away from her kids who she has no idea when she’ll get to see again. And obviously doesn’t care. There’s a lot more, but I’d be seriously hindering on this post to type it.

    And yes, I did refer to him as “my son” because he is. I’m never going to refer to him as anything else, no matter who tells me otherwise. I am a stay-at-home mom with him; I’m the one potty-training, I’m the one feeding, I’m the one doing his alphabets and numbers, I’m the one playing and dressing and bathing, I’m kissing the owies and cuddling after nightmares. Obviously his dad does all this stuff, too, when he’s not working, just making a point that this woman is not in his life and very obviously has no desire to be. Her rights will be terminated soon and once my fiance and I get married in March, I will formally adopt him. And yes, fiance and I are trying to conceive our own, but I will never differentiate in children.

    I can see why some families do differentiate, though. I have never called my sister’s father dad, though funnily enough she calls my father ‘Dad’ and her father ‘Daddy.’ It’s just always been our dynamic. You have to find what’s right for you and your family. It all depends on your situation: how old the kid(s) are, how much time the older child spends with you and your SO, whether or not their other biological parent is still in the picture, whether or not you get along with said other parent and how he/she feels. No answer here is right or wrong.

  24. I don’t have any children of my own yet, but I was brought up in a very interesting family. My dad and my bio mom split, and he remarried to my step mom, who had two children of her own. I had no clue they weren’t my blood siblings, they never brought it up at all. When we adopted children when I was a bit older (9) they were introduced as my new little brothers and sisters, as were all the foster siblings I have had over the years. I remember only one time where one of my adopted siblings commented that the other one was her brother, not mine. My dad jumped on that shit right away and made her very aware that there is no “he’s mine, not yours” in this family. I was actually closer to the brother in question at the time than she was, blood or otherwise, and I had never done anything like that about my parents to her. That was the only time something like that came up.

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