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Is Step-Mom just a title to you?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ok... curious on the different definitions to people on this.

Personally, I feel titles are earned and can be bestowed upon whoever fits the bill, so to speak. By law I'm not a Step-Mother yet, but be definition I most certainly am. DSD is fully integrated into my family and I help take care of her and buy her things, just like any of her other parents.

DP beleives it's just a title and it shouldn't matter to me to have it. That I should know how him and his daughter think of me, but until we are married I am not her Step-Mother.

This not only hurt me, but my Mom who he said this in front of because she was like, "so I'm not her grandmother until you are married?" Which totally devestated her because she actually got called out for a "slip" when she first found out I was pregnant and said she is going to be a grandmother, and then DP said, "well what is Alex to you? just some little girl who comes over?"

But then he turns around and says none of us have any real titles til we get married?? wtf?

So what are your opinions? Is it just a technical title? Or do you think there are actions and involvement that can happen to earn it?
post #2 of 22
DP and I have been together for 8 years, but we are not married. I do everything a stepmom would do, so it's easy to describe myself as a stepmom here on-line. I've been an active part of dsd's life since she was 7, I love her to pieces, and feel connected with her and her father regardless of the paperwork or a title.

At the same time, I wouldn't worry about dp saying "well, you are not a stepmom to dsd", because well... technically, I'm not. I WOULD be hurt if he said "you are not part of the family", which is not the case. In all of our talks DP talks of three of us as a family, so I don't care what title fits.

*hugs* I understand why it bothered you. Don't try to read into it much, soon enough you guys are fixing it, right?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

He does say we are a family... I guess it's just mind boggling, because what am I in this family? I guess I'm a type that like things spelled out properly... *shrugs*

And yeah... it will be "fixed" soon... He did admit it was really insensitive to say and he'd take it back if he could after he realized how much it upset me... but I was curious how other people define it. Or if I'm the only nut job.
post #4 of 22
For me, I see many such titles describing family relationships (including mom/dad/aunt/uncle/grandma/etc.) as having two distinct versions.

The "legal/official" title conferred only by biological and/or procedural facts and law, and the "emotional" title conferred only by the people involved and the nature of their relationship. Some people will carry both versions, while others will carry one but not the other.

You do not yet have the first version, but it sounds like you have the second.

Given a choice, I know which one I'd rather have (the second!).
post #5 of 22
Personally, I'm not in love with the title "step-mother." I have similar feelings about step son, step sister, etc. I suppose if DH were giving a formal deposition or something he would use the title SM to describe my role with his son. But it's not something we use amongst ourselves.

I am DH's wife, the mother in our household. (My DSS doesn't call me mom...well, once in a while he might, but he knows it isn't expected of him.) We call my daughters Dss's sisters and we call him their brother. We say we have 4 kids and don't distinguish that I didn't give birth to all of them or that DH is not my oldest's biological dad. Logically we all know the various blood and non-blood relationships. But we are all one family.

It's the same with you & your family. Whether you call yourself SM or not, you are still fulfilling that role. It's not like once you are married you gain any legal rights as a SM. I'm gald your DF acknowledged that his comment was insensitive.
post #6 of 22
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post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
I agree that I'm not in love with the step-mother title myself... but DP has other issues with children only having one mom and one dad, so not pushing that one... I feel I have more than earned my role as step-mom/bonus-mom though, and it hit pretty deep that he said I wasn't one... even though he was looking at it in a technical sense and not an emotional sense.

Stupid words.

I agree I'd rather the latter, so I should just let it lie... I just don't want to ever feel that I'm not somebody when we all have done so much to make them a part of our family... know what I mean?

Angilyn... that is really sad too. I'd flip on that as well. A stable older brother, even one who told jokes, whould probably be a good influence to have around.
post #8 of 22
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post #9 of 22
I totally think stepmom or stepdad refers to someone who has a long-term role in a kid's life while partners with that kid's parent. My partner and I aren't married but he's still her stepdad. And he refers to Nadya (my daughter) as his daughter and we constantly refer to "our daughter" as in Nadya - and will continue even as we have a kid together. And, to be honest, usually if someone like a dr asks if he's her dad we'll say something like, yes, one of them.

And I feel you on the grandparent thing. I'm having a new child with my partner and I'm very sensitive, like your DH, that his mom sees Nadya as her grandchild just as much. And my dad actually said something insensitive about how he always figured Sean would want his "own child" - in front of Nadya. She piped up right away with "hey, he has a child" meaning herself. Obviously, we know that there is a difference and for Sean he is having his first baby and that that is a special and new thing for him and for us together. But for Nadya it's just another brother or sister joining her big, loving, very extended family - and we want to support that idea.

But that goes both ways - so it's really messed up for him to attack your mom but then say that you're not a stepmom. Anyways, sounds like it will work out, but also sounds like your DH has some issues that are worth thinking through about the whole "1 mom and dad per child" thing. I could see that raising conflict. I personally like the concept of adding and enriching family and teaching kids that love is exponential and that she lives in a world and a social circle that has an abundance of love for her - which goes beyond family to friends as well. One book I liked was "stepfamilies". I thought it was helpful for drawing out discussion. I know as we go into this pregnancy together that my partner and I really need to continue to talk things out b/c we are adding a whole new dimension to our family.

Good luck!
post #10 of 22
I refer to my stepson as my son (it weirds me out a bit to even type stepson!). He's been with us full time since DH and I got married 11 years ago, and with dh alone for 2 years before that. He calls both me and his birth mom mom when talking with us, and he calls me mom to his friends.

My stepdad referrs to my siblings and I as his kids when introducing us. We just call him Bruce.
post #11 of 22
Language has a lot of power. SD's mom introduced me at SD's birthday party as "kid's dad's friend," and it bugged me a lot more than I should. (I'm not sure what, exactly, I expected...)

Like many of the above posters, I am not married to my partner (and I never try to hide that fact), but I do use "stepmother/stepdaughter" online because it does a good job of telegraphing the relationship.

SD is *very* precise. Her chosen titles for my parents are Almost Grandma (First Name) and Almost Grampa (First Name). (And I do worry that once we have children together, my parents will dote on the "real" grandchild and forget about SD...they've given me no reason to believe that but I guess it's a common concern.) She'll sometimes call me Mommy (her mom is Mama) when she's scared, lonely, or wants something. But if we're in public and someone refers to me as her mom, she'll launch into the long explanation (although now, she does it self-consciously..."Hey, Protolawyer and Daddy, I have to tell the story again").
post #12 of 22
Around here, we just roll with the term stepmom, even though DF and I won't be married for another couple of months. However, we didn't really start using it until last fall. That was about the time that DSD had been living with us half time for a year, and I was finally starting to take a more active roll. For many reasons, I waited longer than most stepmoms probably do before I took a more "parental" role.

DSD refers to me as her stepmom. Last night, she and I made cupcakes for her kindergarten graduation potluck, and she told me that she was going to tell her classmates that she and her stepmom made them.

Occasionally, I'll clarify with someone on the technicalities, but for the most part, I just use stepmom. To me, the term can be used two ways: 1) To denote a relationship in the technical sense (stepmom=dad's wife), or 2) To explain a relationship in the practical sense (stepmom=dad's partner/gf that acts in a parental role).
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
A lot of really good conversation here. Thanks bronxmom for the book and your love is exponetial... I really like that.

My Mom did tell DP that he has nothing to worry about that all the grandchildren will be treated equally and get as much money spent on each of them and as much love and hugs and kisses.

It just bothers me that he would think otherwise, because he sees how my family is. My Mom grew up in the Brady Bunch practically. lol She had a total of 9 siblings, half from one parent, half from the other and they formed one large family. They never referred to each other as step-siblings, they have always been brothers and sisters, and to this day we all are a very close family that do many family functions together. My Mom has always called her step-dad, Dad.

DP on the other hand also grew up in a blended family, but very different. His Mom made sure everyone was one family, but his Dad did not and he lived most of the time with his Dad unfortunately... His Dad always kept his families devided with his wives... her kids and his kids... And it has really messed DP up. But he is starting to see that it doesn't have to be like that and is probably better the way my family does it with open love.

He was blown away with how quickly Alex was accepted into our family. At our big family Christmas party, my grandparents even gave her money, with all the other little kids. That really hit him because he knew they didn't have to do that, that was one of the first times they were meeting his daughter.

Recently they offered their house to us to have her birthday party as we do not have a house of our own yet, and that even took me by surprise. lol

I am sure it will all work out... it can't be easy to re-program one's line of thinking.
post #14 of 22
I grew up in a blended family, and call my SM by her first name. I do introduce her as my SM, but her kids are my brothers and sisters... no difference from my bio- siblings.

I don't exactly like the term step-mom, but we go with it.. I did want the title because even though my kids were with me full time, their mom always said I wasn't their "real" step-mom until DH and I got married. I call them my daughter and son- no steps. They call my siblings Aunt and Uncle and my parents their grandparents.

Since my DH's death- I think their mom has realized how important it is to some kids- especially mine right now- to have titles for people. My kids were concerned that I wasn't their step-mom anymore at first. She told them I always would be in their hearts, but has since changed that tune too. I actually have legal visitation rights which is pretty uncommon for a step-parent.

The bottom line is- title or not, they are mine and I am theirs.... just the way any parent should be.
post #15 of 22
Being married to your partner doesn't give you any more legal rights regarding your step-children, so I don't really see what being married has to do with whether or not you are a step-mother in any sort of legal sense. My husband and I are married, but legally my best friend has just as many legal rights regarding my step-daughter as I do.

In our house, I became her step-mother when I committed to being my husband's life-long partner in raising her. For us that happened before we were married, and my commitment to her was not changed by my marital status.

My husband's dad got remarried when my husband was an adult. Technically she is his "step-mother" but she is certainly not more of a step-mother than ProtoLawyer or PinkSparkly or JSMa or the many others who are unmarried partners doing the daily work of raising children. To me "step-mother" is a term for a particular kind of adult-child relationship, not simply a legal term.
post #16 of 22
Originally Posted by aricha View Post
Being married to your partner doesn't give you any more legal rights regarding your step-children, so I don't really see what being married has to do with whether or not you are a step-mother in any sort of legal sense. My husband and I are married, but legally my best friend has just as many legal rights regarding my step-daughter as I do.
That actually depends on your state...although FMLA applies to stepparents/stepchildren in every state. For instance, here in WI, being married would entitle me to petition for visitation should we divorce or my partner die; I could gift my SD a car (if she was old enough) without paying a transfer tax; I could put SD on my health insurance (if I had access to family coverage, anyway). Not huge, but it's something. In some states, stepchildren count as children for intestate succession (inheritance without a will).

But *generally* speaking, stepparents have very few rights and comparatively more responsibilities to their stepchildren, whether they're married or not.

I very much appreciate your sentiment that it's the relationship that matters, as an unmarried stepparent!
post #17 of 22
I really don't like 'step' terms. i have a very trying relationship with my own stepmother ( my dad made me call her 'mom' when I was growing up - yuck) so maybe that's my problem.

When I married my husband and he made the leap from boyfriend to husband, it was actually my ex (oldest son's dad) who really pushed calling him his 'stepfather'. I revolted against it and made a big deal saying nothing had changed except on paper, and that he wouldn't be called anything different.That term bugs me, and my son as well as our other kids mainly call him by his first name. I asked him what he wants and he says he is fine with that.

I wish there was more friendly sounding terms. 'Step' words all still sound like cinderella stuff to me.

Maybe your DP doesn't like the term and that's why he is hesitant to start using it? I'm not trying to oversimplify this, but have you asked him what that word really means to him?
post #18 of 22

a hard one...

but I actually may need help here. I'm a step-mom every other weekend. I am also a bio-mother of 2 girls. The step-daughter (6yo) is hateful to my 3yo. Every other weekend, on Friday afternoon, I get a sick feeling in my stomach because I know she's going to come over that evening and be with us until Sunday. Unfortunately, I can't stand it! At first, when I met my DH about 3 years ago, she was only a little girl who was just learning to talk well and was as sweet as could be. Now, she acts like her mother (absolute b$&#*) and I can't stand to be around her. Nor do I even want my 3yo around her because I can't stand for her to learn her actions and behavior. My DH gets really upset with me, but what else can I do? I've explained that it's up to him to talk to Co-P on her side, but he's scared for some reason. I'm getting to the point where I just want to leave with my bio-daughters for those particular weekends. Would that be so wrong?
post #19 of 22
When my dss is over, I call him my son. He calls me Steppy. It's less formal then Kelly and he would never call me mom. The nickname has erased that line between us. Though we still have bonding issues, I felt the nickname was a huge step.

To me, it's not a title, it's a relationship.
post #20 of 22
As my 7year old (stepson) said it so well ..

He said to me one morning , "MOM you are over thinking this , you are my mom, period . I love you so much , period. I have 2 mom's I don't love you any less and I don't love her any less. I have more than enough love for both of you.
Stop worrying about other people, they are all crazy"..

This from a 7 year old way beyond his years ....
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