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Pro tip

Jcksjj's picture

I posted before about another lady in the parent/baby class I go to referring to her skids as her husbands kids. Today I realized I should be doing that also. 

One of the teachers asked my about my other kids and then after that stumbled awkwardly all over through the conversation trying to figure out if she should refer to SD as my daughter or what the appropriate way to act about the relationship to her was. And then complimented me on her unusual name, which isnt actually a compliment to me because BM named her and created more awkwardness because I didnt know how to respond to that either since not only did I not pick it but I dont care for it. Which is fair because she really has no way of knowing if i do consider her mine or not (I'm sure I don't have to point out here that I don't). 

On the other hand the lady that refers to her skids as her husbands kids gets way less questions about them and that same teacher just says "your husband's kids" if it does get brought up. No confusion or awkwardness. I think I'll be using that terminology instead of stepdaughter from now on.


TwoOfUs's picture

That's what I do. 

Stranger: "Do you have any kids." 

Me: "No, but my husband has three kids from a previous marriage. They're all grown now." 


OSD stopped by yesterday...she was in town for Mother's Day and we took her to a late lunch followed by some ice cream to talk about how college is going. Turns out she's graduating a semester early and I'm very proud of her for this. She asked us for help with a summer class and I said of course. She said: "Are you sure it's OK? It's kind of a lot but I'd be really grateful." It's actually not a lot but probably seems like a lot to a's about $700. She got a scholarship for part of the cost of the class, and I'm very proud of her for that as well. 

Still doesn't make her my kid...and it's still awkward when BOTH the waiter at the restaurant and the ice cream counter person said some version of: "Oh...looks like we're taking mom out for her special day!!!" 

We all just laughed about it later and decided that going out on Mother's Day is probably a dumb idea if we don't want to deal with comments like that... 

Jcksjj's picture

Well she sounds like a decent person at least. I don't foresee my SD growing up to be like that. Unless she changes drastically she would either be trying to trick the money out of is of bawling to DH about why she needs it to guilt trip him into it without even asking normally first.

TwoOfUs's picture

Oh...she wasn't always like this. She was pure evil as a tween/teen. 

I don't say that lightly. LIke...she literally told her little sister that she "shouldn't feel special just because she had Cancer" one time...and then refused to hug her in the hospital after she'd just gotten out of a 4-hour surgery. She was a little B**** with a capital "C" growing up...and I never would have imagined that she would become such a decent person. It took me by surprise at first and I assumed there was some kind of manipulation or evil behind it...but she's been this way for going on 4 years I think it's a genuine change...

Jcksjj's picture

Interesting. I'd agree four years is probably a genuine change. Not gonna hold my breath for my SD but I guess theres always some hope. 

hereiam's picture

I've been with my DH since his daughter was 5 (she's now 27) and this site is the only place I have ever referred to my SD as SD. In real life, I have always said, "DH's daughter."

If someone asks me if I have kids, I say, "No, but my husband does." I never say, "I have step kids."


tog redux's picture

Yes, I always refer to SS as "DH's son". 

"Do you have kids?" "No, but my husband has a 19-year-old son who lives with his mother". 

He's not like a son to me in any way. 

Jcksjj's picture

Yeah that's kind of the thing...she doesnt feel like a daughter in any way. She's just an inlaw to me - someone I deal with because shes part of my DHs family. 

advice.only2's picture

I used to get tangled up about this as well. Once Spawn opted out of our lives, now I feel no guilt when asked "I have two children, my DH has a daughter from a previous relationship."

somethingwicked's picture

Keep it real.You are not their bio.

There is no shame in saying I'm their step mother or referring to them as my step daughters.It's not like you are saying they are evil little cows or something ,Right?

Step mother ,step children are still acceptable terms. I think"Cinderella " the fable has tainted the label.Rhyme not intended.LOL

It is not an insult or an  awful is the truth.

AND ,too, I do not know if you have a HCGUBM in your life but if there is and she is uber territorial and it gets back to her she may ramp up the crazy thinking you are trying to replace her.



Jcksjj's picture

I've usually said stepdaughter, but then I get alot of people referring to her as just "your daughter" and acting like I'm her actual mom even though I didnt say that. 

I had a friend get super insulted once when I pointed out that I was just her stepmom and not her mom (she didnt get why I wouldn't want to give SD my wedding dress) because she had considered her stepdad her dad. So now I always have that in the back of my head too. She pretty much acted like I did say something awful by referring to her as stepdaughter.

somethingwicked's picture

Your super insulted "friend" was wrong expecting you  to have a similar outlook .She did not take into account your feelings or "blended family " situation when she placed HER values upon you and your decision not to gift your SD with your wedding dress.That's wonderful she had a relationshp with her SF that was akin to a bio father. Maybe her bio father was a real louse or absent father and her SF was  always there.

If you are uncomfortable taking the title of mother or the public assuming that you are the bio mother then DO set the record straight.

You do not have to stand on a chair and make an announcement .As others in this posting have pointed  out if you shun the "Step' title then simply say " they are my husband's kids."

The bottom line is what you feel comfortable with presenting to the world what is your relationship with the step children.

If you are happy and satisfied with accepting that others will assume you are the bio mother or are too timid to set the record  straight when it is feasible or necessary then carry on as you are.

Just be aware that there are some who also will take umbrage or get super insulted if they believe you are trying to steal the Bio Mother's position or role or insert yourself as the 'mother"  .  The Biomother herself ,if she gets  wind of these incidences or misconstrues your timidity as a willingness to assume her status,  may very well be in this group .And ,too, down the road that may cause friction even with your step children.


Jcksjj's picture

That's exactly what it was - her BD was completely absent so it was a completely different situation than SD. But then her stepdad never saw her again after divorcing her mom and she projected her feelings about that onto SD.

And I do make it clear that I'm her stepmom - but I usually dont say anything when people assume that means more than it does and is a closer relationship emotionally than it is unless I know them well. 

I have no idea how BM would react actually if she thought I was overstepping. Usually she actually tries to push more of her responsibilities on me if she can and wants me to worship SD, but I'm sure if I actually did that she would swing the other way and get upset.

TwoOfUs's picture

I don't correct people/strangers in public. I explained that to YSD once after we finished getting our nails done and the nail tech asked if we wanted "Mommy and Me" styles and kept referring to me as "Mom." 

After we left, I just said: "Hey YSD...I just want you to know that I don't corrent people and tell them I'm your stepmom because it creates unnecessary awkwardness with someone who we'll probably never see again. I know I'm not your mom...and I'd never try to act like your mom...and all the people that matter know who your mom is, too." 

She got it, even at 8. I think it's perfectly OK to have conversations like this with skids or even acknowledge to them that the situation is hard and awkward for you just like it is for them. My skids seemed to understand this (except for OSD...but she does now...she often talks to me about how "horrid" she was and thanks me for not shutting her out completely after so many years of awfulness.) 

I've also had the experience of a total stranger / acquaintance getting all bowed up by the "stepdaughter" language and telling me I should "think of her as my daughter and not a step." 

It's like...butt out already. It's none of your business. 


Jcksjj's picture

I have no idea how there are so many people with such poor interpersonal skills that they think giving their unsolicited opinion to a complete stranger is appropriate. I get that all the time with my bios actually at stores and stuff. So I guess that one isnt just limited to step issues but man when there is a kid involved everyone thinks they are the expert and that they're somehow entitled to force their opinion on you.

somethingwicked's picture

I had a HCGUBM in my former life when the EX SKids were a part of that life.

I ,too, took on responsibilities and loved my DH's kids ,happy to do and give to them, also smoothing over  that part of my DH's lack of "parent "time as he traveled in his work AND BM was  getting her masters and happy to have me pick up her slack. Typical narc user.

UNTIL one day I was mistaken for the bio mother.Then she  turned her wrath my way and PAS'd the sheet outta the girls. They turned on me ,on their father .Fun times.NOT.

And there was no way of mitigating the fallout. Just continued to get uglier .

We finally moved away to reduce his EX's meddling and toxicity. It helped.

Take a page and back away from the responsibilities and the "worshiping " of her daughter that BM should shoulder .

BM is happy you do the heavy lifting now but will claim her daughter anytime she feels she is beng usurped.And it could get ugly with your heart broken.Her father's as well.




Jcksjj's picture

Already done. I'll do things for her that are necessary for our household, but it's been a flat no anytime BM has asked me to do something that would help her. And theres definitely no worshiping. I dont think i could fake that part if I wanted to. BM will have her run up to me and make a big scene when I run into them at the kids' school (of course she doesnt tell her to say hi to her siblings, i think that's what her issue is is that even with me SD needs to be given attention above them) and it's just a polite wave/hi and I keep walking. I mean I see them nearly every day that she has her does she really expect that every time I'm going to go "omg hi SD! I'm so glad to see you" and make a huge scene over and over as if I hadnt just seen her that morning or the day before?

Petronella's picture

are not bad words. When asked about my/our children, I always say: "I have one daughter and three stepdaughters." It's simply stating facts. It's not saying that I feel super close to my SDs or that they love me like a mother. It's a neutral description of our relationship. 

If people are curious about the exact nature of our family setup, they sometimes ask me follow up questions and at that time I might add details about who lives where and how old they are, etc. I've only ever really lived with one of my SDs. But they're still my Stepkids. IMO. 

Jcksjj's picture

Just to clarify - I refer to her usually as stepdaughter to start and a lot of times people either think they need to call her my daughter even though I said SD or arent sure what exactly having a SD entails and get flustered about what to say regarding her. Usually the assume it's a "love her like my own" situation and I think "husbands daughter" would make it more clear that it's not without being overly offensive to most.

hereiam's picture

On the flip side, I don't see anything wrong with the term, "my dad's wife", either, but I've read where some SMs get bent out of shape that their step kids refer to them as, Dad's wife.

It's an antiquated term ("step mother"), used back in the days when women died and men re-married to have a mother for their children. They truly did "step" in and become the mother. That's not what happens, these days, not in most cases, anyway.

Jcksjj's picture

I'd be fine with dads wife. SD says SM which i dont care about either. I do get offended when she snottily tells people off for accidentally referring to me as her mom. I have no desire to have anyone think I'm her mom but I dont like being disrespected with an attitude like that either in public.

tog redux's picture

I'm guessing SS probably refers to me as "Dad's wife", if he ever refers to me at all. I'd be shocked if he called me his stepmother. 

TwoOfUs's picture

It depends on how it's said, though. 

I've seen plenty of skids (online and in person) who refer to SM as "her" or "dad's wife" as if that's the worst insult they can hurl at the SM. As CODs, they never consider for a moment, of course, that we couldn't care less about being connected to them in a step-parental role. They assume their blessing and presence in our lives is the greatest gift they can give and that denying us this coveted prize will break our hearts. It's kind of funny, actually. 

I'm sure there are some SMs who refer to the skids as "my husband's kids" as an insult...but most who I've encountered (online and in real life) do it out of better motives than that. To create clarity, define boundaries, ease loyalty binds, create some breathing room for everyone involved...etc. Or just as a fact.

I know I don't do it in a mean way...and sometimes I do refer to them as my stepkids. For the most part, they call me by my first name and refer to me as their stepmom to others. I'll also refer to them as "the kids" in conversations with DH, which implies care but not ownership/parentage. 

Jcksjj's picture

Oh that's 100 percent SD. I get shes not my mom, shes JUST my stepmom in the snottiest voice when people think I'm her mom. In sure it would never occur to her that I also dont want people to think that, I just dont say it in the tone of voice she does to others. 

I do think the husbands kids thing creates more clarity. I'd be lying though if I said it was just that - I dont want her lumped in with my kids and I really just dont want to talk about her like she is mine also. 

thinkthrice's picture

"I have two grown children and Chef has three"

Even though technically Chef's older children are "grown" they have the mental maturity of 4 year olds.

Cbarton12's picture

Usually I'll say "my husband has a daughter". But in public it's awkward because SD eerily resembles me so everyone thinks I am her mom. But SD calls the 4 of us her parents (DH, BM, myself, and SF). 

I really only stress that I am stepmom if someone starts to think I can make decisions and calling me SD's mom. 

Jcksjj's picture

Haha my ODS looks alot like my husband also. They actually share features that neither myself or his bio dad have oddly enough. So he gets the oh your son looks just like you a lot, but he doesnt mind. I've only heard that SD looks like me once from DHs coworker who looked at a picture of all of us. I have no idea how she thought that - we have literally completely opposite features except similar hair color but it was a black and white picture.

Cover1W's picture

Ha! I was over at a neighbor's home on Saturday evening and our other neighbors were there.  The wife asked me how "the kids" were and how old they were.  I told her and clarified "DH's kids" and she said, "Oh, the prime teen years, fantastic...(with sarcasm)!"  Followed by "Have they said the 'your not my mom' yet?"  Well, yes...LOL, the older one from the start but not the YSD....then she revealed she's a step-mom too (of two grown boys) which I did NOT know.  OH boy, she Got It.  It's always a relief - I'm betting she's got some gooooood stories.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Normally, I refer to BS14 and SS18 as my boys... In fact, my nearly my whole household  are "my boys"... There's a dog, a tortoise and a gander too... At least the cat and the goose are female! Otherwise testosterone overload!  My kids aren't all biologically mine.

Siemprematahari's picture

I also refer to them as my H's children. It pretty much shuts down a lot of questions and makes life easier for me. Nothing wrong with that.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I made the huge mistake of becoming overly involved with my DH' kids and the in-laws. So part of my disengagement process was using the correct and true names/titles for his people. This helped keep me grounded in reality, practice Acceptance, and create and maintain appropriate boundaries with a family that had all too few.

  • I'm not a SM, I'm just his wife.
  • I don't have skids, they're my husband's daughters.
  • It's not "my SIL" , but rather, " my husband's sister. Or uncle, cousin, or whatever. 

This small change paid big results in helping me distance myself from other people's problems and dysfunction. Wish I'd done it many years earlier.


Jcksjj's picture

Interesting. I've majorly disengaged from MIL. Of course now that I did that she wants to suck up to me whenever I see her. I dont mind the rest of the inlaws so much but "husbands mom" sounds good to me.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

You've got the hang of it!

She's not your mother in any way, shape, or form. "Mother" is a noun that evokes thoughts of loving support, nurturing, and loyalty. We can fool ourselves into thinking our SO's people are our allies and care about us, but as another poster said, far better to keep things real. And that means regardless of what the norm may be with your SO's people (See what I did there?). My DH's family are the type who nod and smile and call me sister, then gossip and stab me in the back. Distance is definitely my friend.

notasm3's picture

Now that SS34 is DEAD to me - when someone asks if DH and I have children I just say no.  I used to say that SS had a son.  Now I never reference him on any level.