large age gap: call them half siblings? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 02:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hi, i read posts in blended and step families, but haven't posted much.

my DH has older kids from his first marriage. they're 29 and 31 years old, with kids of their own. their kids are older than DH and my DD, who is three. we have a second child on the way.

most people posting here seem to be in blended families where the kids are much much closer in age. in our case, the half siblings are old enough to seem more like "aunt" and "uncle" to my children... and in fact DH's other kids are fairly close in age to me... so i'm in no way shape or form a real "parent" figure to them. although obviously i respect DH's parent relationship to them. and he considers them to be "brother and sister" to our kids.

the whole thing hasn't been much of an issue, thank god. we all get along fine and i can't say there are any problems.

recently we took DH's daughter and her son out for dinner and she ran into someone she knew, and introduced us... me as her step mom, and DD as her step sister. i was flattered to get the step mom label (although it also feels a little weird considering we are somewhat close in age). re: DD, in thinking about it (and looking it up), i know that the more "proper label" would have been "half sister" (they do share the same father). but i wasn't about to correct her, especially not in public, you know?

i guess i'm just wondering if there's anyone out there in a similar situation to mine, and how it goes for you. there's also the question of when should we start telling our DD about the exact family relationships? she knows DH's older kids quite well, but we haven't really stressed the point of them being her brother and sister. and their kids are technically DD's neice and nephew, although one of them is 14 and the other is also older than DD, so it's a bit "unconventional."

i'm not trying to worry about any of this, as i find that things have a way of working themselves out pretty well and nothing yet has been bad at all about our arrangement. i guess i'm just trying to internally plan a little for how best to communicate about any of this, and would love to hear from anyone else who can relate.

thanks!!

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#2 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 04:17 AM
 
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My sibling family: I'm the oldest of 5. I say it, that's the way it is. In reality, it's me (from Dad), step-sister (from Mom), two half brothers (from M&D) 10yrs younger than step-sister, and our adopted sister (from M&D) who's 7. The four older were all raised together, so the "step" and "half" is rarely spoken, if ever.

Our 7yr old sister, on the other hand, just knows that we're siblings, brothers & sisters. She knows she's adopted, but since that concept hasn't really "hit" her yet, the idea of step/half etc., is WAY out there. Of course since her sisters are 25+ years her senior, she pretty much thinks everyone is her sister or brother! When my sister (step-sister) had a baby and we tried to explain to the 7yr old that she's an Aunt, well, that just made no sense to her. It's her sister, just like everyone's her sister.

I think it's great that your DHD said "sister" without the half. Shows good character on her part! I get annoyed actually when people correct me and tell me my brothers are my half brothers. Half, to me, sounds like they don't know who I am.

As far as explaining the familial relationships to your little ones, I'd definitely tell them that these older people are her brother and sister, just like the new baby will be. Who doesn't want more siblings!! The neice/nephew concept might be hard to grasp until Much later though.
We thought the 7yr old would LOVE the idea of being an "aunt". Not so. She's perfectly happy with another "sister". Unless you need the correct title, your kids don't care. They just like having family around. They'll figure it out eventually, when they overhear something that doesn't make sense.

Have fun with your family outings!! certainly Fun in my family. babies here, little Chinese person there, my dad with his 60+ white hair. You can tell the servers at restaurants are totally confused :-)

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#3 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 10:14 AM
 
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I refer to both of my brothers as "my brother" - both my 26 yo biological sibling and my 5 yo brother adopted by my dad and stepmom. My 26 yo brother does the same thing. Any additional labels seem unnecessary.

If someone is really confused, I'll explain the whole thing (my littlest brother is obviously adopted because he is a different ethnicity than my dad and stepmom), but most people seem to get it.

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#4 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 11:38 AM
 
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My kids aren't that far apart (7yrs) but we refer to them as siblings, if there's a need to go into detail that's fine, but generally thee isn't.

DH is the youngest of 6. His oldest siblings are nearly 30 years older than he is. They share the same parents, but didn't really have a traditional 'sibling' relationship growing up.

I figure that as long as no one's feelings are getting hurt, people can use whatever terminology they are comfortable with.
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#5 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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My friend has a family arrangement similar to yours. She refers to her adult stepsons (who were adults when she married their father) and her own young children as "brothers and sisters." The relationship is actually more uncle-ish rather than brother-ish, but brother/sister seems to work for everyone.

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#6 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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Why not just brothers and sisters? Technically, I have a half sister and two half brothers on my Mother's side, but we've never called eachtother anything but sisters and brothers. We knew how we were related- same Mother, different Fathers- but "half" just sounds like they don't really matter, know what I mean? I remember being eight or nine and getting into an argument with one of my teachers because she insisted that my siblings were my half siblings and it just felt really demeaning- what, my siblings aren't really my siblings, they're just half mine? We have something similar in our home now- my son and my stepdaughter are technically stepbrother and stepsister. They know how they're related, but they drop the "step" unless they need to clarify how they're related, because, they say, either you're sister and brother or your not, the "step" part doesn't really matter.

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#7 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 12:59 PM
 
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I have a half brother 13 years younger than me. I always say brother, but sometimes people give me an odd look when I say I have a brother still in high school, and I explain that he's a half brother.
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#8 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 01:30 PM
 
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i am 26 and mum to a 7 year old and a 10 week old

my youngest sibling is 11months and my dads gf is pregnant.... my little brother is my brother, and thats what i refer to him as, i also call my step brother my brother

technically i only have one full brother (24)and sister (17).... 2 'half' brothers(12yr and 11 months), a step brother (18)and a half sister (16), i wouldnt call any of them 'step' or half..... they are my brothers and sisters.

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#9 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 01:30 PM
 
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Did I read that wrong? She reffered to her as a "stepsister"? that isnt correct at all as step implies no blood relation and they certainly are!

I was raised with my half brother adn Ive never called him that, hes my brother. For that matter I have several half sisters by my dad that I wasnt raised with, one I didnt even meet until we were both grown and I still refer to them just as "sisters". My mom remarried and gave me three stepsiblings and I also call them brother and sister. I dotn think the exactly relationship matters unless it comes up somehow in conversation. Just for introducing people, Id definately say "this is my brother" adn leave it at that. If she introed you as stepmom, then anyone would realize the sister was a "half" but it isnt necesary to say it, imo.

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#10 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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My children range in age from 16 to 2 and are all brothers and sisters: we have never used the word half-.

My boys' dad has at least one other child that we know of and we haven't seen her for more than 10 years. I don't think my boys think of her as any kind of sister because they don't have a face to face relationship with her. In the futre this may change though for any number of reasons.
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#11 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 02:30 PM
 
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It could have been a slip of the tounge..........step mom -- step sibling.

It could have been a slip of the mind.

My younger siblings are 13, 21, 22 years younger than I am.

My brother that is 21 years younger than me is only 2 mths older than my son -- In conversations like that you can get going and mess the prefixes up. It is not done purposely.

It also can be that she doesn't feel a sisterly connection to him either. No harm done. No big deal. More harm will be done if she or your child feels pressure to feel "love" or "bond" that they don't feel.
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#12 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 04:49 PM
 
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Ooh, I read that wrong... she said "step-sister". I agree with MarsupialMom that it could've been a slip of the tongue, or that she doesn't feel a sisterly connection. I would recommend mentioning it, or maybe not even that... just when you're around both, You make the effort of calling your DD her sister, see if the term gets picked up by DSD. Ultimately, it is her decision what label she puts on her "half-sister", even if it's the wrong label. But you could encourage the sisterly term. Especially if you're telling your younger children that the older ones are their bro/sis... it'd be nice if everyone's on the same page.
It could just be something right now... that if she hears the little ones calling her "sister", she might feel a stronger connection.

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#13 of 30 Old 05-31-2009, 10:30 PM
 
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I only refer to my son's father's other children as "half" to other adults when it's relevant to the conversation to let them know that these are siblings who are not my children or living in my home. My son did have to figure out at five why he visited them but they didn't come stay with us, and that's when we explained about them being the ex's wife's kids but not mine but all of them being his.
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#14 of 30 Old 06-01-2009, 10:18 AM
 
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Personally, I am one of 5. I have two "step sisters" and two "half brothers" by technical terms, but as far as I'm concerned I have two sisters and two brothers. I grew up with my sisters in my life from about 8 years old on (when dad married their mom). I have not grown up with either of my brothers. One grew up with his mom and we (as a family) did not have contact until he was about 18. The other brother is MUCH younger and is actually one month and one day older than my second child (only 12 right now). As far as we are concerned we are all just brothers and sisters and never use the "step" or "half" labels.
For our kids now, DH and I feel the same way. I have four kids from a previous marriage, DH has one and we have twins together. All the kids are just plain brothers and sisters. I have always felt that differentiating who is what is sort of rude/hurtful. The kids love one another as siblings, fight with one as other as siblings and view one another as siblings. And that is what they are; brothers and sisters.
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#15 of 30 Old 06-01-2009, 01:16 PM
 
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We don't use "step" or "half" terms here except maybe for situations like medical histories or something where the distinction is necesary.
We have a large age gap here also.
DH's oldest kids are nearly my age, and they are amrried with 5 total kids of their own ages 0-5, and my own kids are ages 1 and 4, and the kids all play together like cousins, but techniaclly, my kids are the other kids aunt and uncle. My 4 year old knows her oldest sister and brother and her sister and brother, but she also knows they are "big like mommy and daddy" and fuinctioanlly, they are like aunts and uncls, you know?
then, there are the middle boys..ages 11, 13 and 16. To my kids, those are the "big brothers." and because they live with us part of the time, the relationship is more like a sibling relationship.
My 4 yo can name ALL her brothers and sisters, but at the same time, she knows that only she and her baby brother live in this house all the time and have mommy(me) as the mommy.
to complicate matters more, each "set" of dh's kids has a different religion, LOL!

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#16 of 30 Old 06-01-2009, 01:33 PM
 
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we refer to all 3 girls as sisters and I refer to their step-brother at their dad's house as their brother. We only use step if needing to explaing the legal relationship for some reason. dh also has an almost 20 year old daughter who lives states away with her mom. Maia and Sage have never met her, Madison has only seen her 2 times I think, but they all still refer to her as their sister, not half for Madison or Step for Maia and Sage
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#17 of 30 Old 06-01-2009, 11:49 PM
 
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I agree with an earlier poster that "half" makes it sound like only "half" a person. . . . I think stepsister may be even worse b/c then there's no blood conection acknowledged at all.
I am relieved that my steps have always called my daughter their sister. . . . THey're the only sibs she's going to get, so they are "full" in my mind.
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#18 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 11:41 AM
 
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I've been lucky enough to come to a place in my life where I simply refer to all my step and half siblings as my 'brothers and sisters'. If someone needs more clarification I give it to them, but in my heart, that's what they are. It's just a label anyway.
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#19 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 11:57 AM
 
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They are not "step" siblings. If she has to put any label on it, it should be half.

My oldest daughter is 24yo and my youngest is 2yo. They have different fathers, but they are sisters. We don't use half sister, they are sisters plain and simple The twins whom we have adopted are their brother and sister also.

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#20 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hi, i'm the OP. yes, DSD referred to our DD as her step sister; the correct relationship is half sister, but as others suggested could also just be sister.

don't know why she said it, could well be that she's never considered what the difference is. (ie, not my kid from a previous relationship, my kid with her dad.) i don't want to correct her b/c i just don't want to be insulting (ie, don't you know the difference) - i think i will just use the word "sister" to introduce her re: my daughter as the occasion arises in the future, and hope it sinks in.

her dad and i were together for more than 10 years before our child was born, but we didn't marry until almost a year after DD was born. so i didn't become her SM or her my DSD until her "half" sibling was born.

again, there is no real problem going on, and i sure don't want to be making issues where there aren't any, KWIM?

i guess i posted because in reading through this forum, i've become more sensitive and aware of blended family issues. thanks for your ideas!

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#21 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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My dh's children are older than me. Dh and I have two children together. We're not close at all (nothing to do with us-they've have't had a good relationship in some years) so I honetly consider them nothing to my children.

My dd (10) gets PISSED OFF if someone says they are her "half sisters." She quickly sets them straight and lets them know they are her "sisters." Period.

I have a technical half-sister who I am 16yo older than her. She's not my "half-sister" she's my "sister." Period.

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#22 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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2Pinks: i'm a little confused... are you saying that your DH's children are nothing to your children, but your own daughter is pissed off if someone calls her younger sisters "half"?

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#23 of 30 Old 06-02-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post
2Pinks: i'm a little confused... are you saying that your DH's children are nothing to your children, but your own daughter is pissed off if someone calls her younger sisters "half"?
nothing to be confused about. my dh's children know of our children together and have NEVER publicly or privately acknowledged them in any way, shape, or form. Same goes for our marriage. So absolutely, they are NOTHING to my children. Never will be. I've already informed my dh that if his relationship with his children improve (and I sincerely hope it does. I've been trying to get my dh to email them but I don't think he has) that they will have nothing to do with our children. My 10yo worships and adores her sisters and they love her to pieces as well.

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#24 of 30 Old 06-04-2009, 11:29 AM
 
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I personally take offense to being informed that my siblings are half/step or adopted. They are my brothers and sisters! I don't think the blood matters and really why should anyone else care about the blood relation. I mean friends know if they need to or if it comes up. But as far as introductions I would never, even to a friend that already knows that a sister is a "half" sister, introduce my sister as a step sister or a half sister. It takes away from it...like they are less than the real thing. I don't have a 100% blood sibling. I have a brother adopted by only my mom, 3 half sisters from my mom, 3 half sisters from my dad, two step brothers, two step sisters, and three half brothers from my dad. Now seriously who cares who is what to whom! I can hardly keep it straight.

Oh and the age range is my being the oldest at 30 down to 5ish...I think

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#25 of 30 Old 06-04-2009, 11:48 AM
 
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I have 2 sisters and 1 brother... and am 13 years older than the oldest of those 3. When I introduce them, they are introduced as brother and sisters. When I think of them, I think of them as brother and sisters.

Technically, they are "halfs" (different genetic father). When I have to explain the technicallity for some reason, I often slip up and call them "steps". Simply because explaining that technicality usually comes immediately after I've had to clarify that the man I think of and refer to as "dad" is really my stepdad, and I have a different father too.

In my case, it is not lack of knowledge of the reality of our legal relationship. It is a slip of the tongue caused precisely by the fact that that particular legal distinction ("half" vs. "step") is of no bearing on our relationship, emotionally irrevelant, and not part of how I think of any of them (siblings and dad).
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#26 of 30 Old 06-06-2009, 06:24 AM
 
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My step daughter is a bit older than my bio kids but not as much as yours (10 yrs). She called her (half) brother a step brother for a long time, and I think in her case it was a bit of passive aggression re: the siblings she never wanted. But in your case it sounds like possibly a slip of the tongue. I wouldn't address it with her but I would use the term "sister" around her to normalize the relationship.
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#27 of 30 Old 06-06-2009, 08:14 AM
 
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I have an adult step-daughter as well. When we have children I will refer to her as their sister in day to day conversation because I don't see a need to constantly draw attention to the "half". However we will make it clear to our children that she has a different mother and when talking to adults I would refer to her as their half-sister or my step daughter out of respect to her mother.

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#28 of 30 Old 06-06-2009, 09:30 PM
 
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Really, I think it depends on the relationship. My father has a daughter the same age as my daughter with his girlfriend. I was never close to my father and am not close to his daughter. I don't think of her as a sister. I refer to her as my father's daughter.
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#29 of 30 Old 06-07-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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DS is 3 1/2 and DSD is almost 12. DS knows that his sister has a different mommy, but she is his sister (or "Sissy" as he calls her). We have never used the word half with him. DSD calls him her brother when she is around us, but I know she calls him her half-brother when she is with her mother/at school. It's fine. All 4 of DSD's siblings are technically halfs to her, but the three on her mother's side she refers to as just sisters/brother. She is not as bonded to DS as she is to her siblings on her mom's side, mostly because she was 8 years old when DS was born, and does not live with us full-time, so it is hard to bond. She is good to him, though, and would never use the world half in talking to him, or at our house at all.
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#30 of 30 Old 06-13-2009, 06:42 AM
 
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My wife has a 1 and 3 year old little sister from step mom and dad. I'm not going to lie, it's strange with everyone. Sure we all act like its normal but it's more like they are nieces than sisters. We are having a girl in two weeks and I'm sure that is going to be strange.

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