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Extended Family Relationship After Bio Mom Deceased

packbunny's picture

This is my first time here. Sought this site out because I needed to talk to people who could relate. I'm a stepmother to a 22 yo SS from my husband's first marriage to a German woman. SS was raised in Germany with only some summers and holidays with us. DH and I have been together 17 years/married for 11. We are 51. I have no children of my own. SS has a half-brother who is 30. Also in Germany. They are fine young men who just lost their mother. She died of pancreatic cancer this past June. I was at her bedside, having met her in person just as she was dying.

Here is my problem. I have always positioned myself as a friend to my stepson(s). The younger one asked me (when he was 11) if I would please refer to him as my "son." I think it was because at that age he didn't like to have any special attention when out in public. Plus, he liked being part of a two-parent household. Loved a regular schedule, meals around the table, helping me cook, saying grace...very traditions loving child.

Anyway, his mother passed away one year after her diagnosis. She and I were always respectful to each other, talking on the phone, but never meeting in person until the week of her death.

This past weekend, my SS got a Facebook account. I then, signed up my husband (his dad). His father referred to his two children (bio son and step son) and, because Facebook doesn't have any terms for extended family (like stepchildren, etc.), I added the boys as my "sons." I emailed them and told them that what I was doing, asked was it okay and told them how much I respected their mother. Youngest one responded not to my email, but added his father and me as his "parents." He did not add his bio mother - I think because she is deceased, and obviously has no Facebook account to link to.

WELLLL. His aunt, his mother's sister, got a Facebook account this weekend, too. She saw SS's listing and evidently fussed at him. "How dare she try to take your mother's place." It was apparently a big scene. My husband found out this morning when he called SS.

I totally understand her taking offense at my actions. But how do I make it right? I have limited skills in German. Aunt speaks no English. She has only met me her sister was dying. Aunt has no children either.

DH wanted to send an email saying how sorry I was (I have already removed the offending post), but he forbid any discussion of deceased bio mother because it would upset Aunt. WHAT? I can only explain myself in terms of my relationship to bio mom and her sons. My primary relationship in the family was never Aunt. She is evidently quite emotional by nature and has been possessive of the boys in the past because they spent a lot of time at her house growing up.

I am so hurt over this. I feel misunderstood and like my husband doesn't want to help me explain myself in my own words, just in a way that appeases Aunt.

Would love comments or advice.

oneoffour's picture

You can add familial connections. I have my sisters first names without links because I don't include their full names.

He can add his mother and (RIP mum, I love you) or something like that. And they can add you as "*first name* stepmum"

I can understnad the sister being upset. Her sister has recently died and in her grief this 'other woman' tries to take her sisters place.

I think your DH should email her and tell her is was a misunderstanding and it will be corrected and you are not taking over as their mother. This would leave the ball in her court.

packbunny's picture

Thank you so much. I may be FB clumsy, but I don't see a listing for step relatives. And DH and I have barely spoken since I posted the first message. Sad

Added: I'm wondering whether FB has different features in different countries?

anita...sigh's picture

Hi! Having married a German straight off the boat, I can understand. Language barrier can be huge and (trying not to stereotype) Germans take offense easily and hold on for a long time.

Your best bet, if hubby can speak and write German, would be to have him send a simple note of explaining the facebook situation and how sorry you are, they will get over it in time. After that, I really won't spend much time worrying about it. Honestly, honest mistakes happen.

skylarksms's picture

Haha - this is great. I've been told numerous times by my H that I am too sensitive. Now I know, it's not that I am too sensitive, it's that I am GERMAN!! (Born in Stuttgart) Smile

anita...sigh's picture

Smile LOL. Yes, you darn Germans need to learn to relax and go with the floowwww... hehe

packbunny's picture

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I sent SS (younger one that is DH's bio son) an email yesterday, explaining I meant no harm and removed he and his brother from my family connections. BTW, SS had earlier said he had no problem with me listing him as "son" or him listing me as "parent/mother.") DH does speak German fluently, but is so mad that I didn't want to use his words, he has barely spoken to me in three days.

packbunny's picture

Thank you for responding to my post and for understanding the difficulty of my formal meeting with Bio Mom. I'm still not over it.

I wish I had know to add a comment. I've told everybody I understand the "misunderstanding" and anger/hurt in Aunt. I also think DH is feeling awkward and uncomfortable because of what I did. He has been very distant for last three days. I don't know if he will send his own email. I've now sent one to his bio son; haven't had reply. He very often doesn't reply. so...

Justwantsomepeace's picture

I have made a suggestion to Facebook that the add "steps" to the family choices. If others would do the same, maybe they will change it so we can avoid the uncomfortable situation.

packbunny's picture

Thank you for suggesting that to FB! I have done the same and got a generic reply. The matter is also addressed in the FAQs.

caregiver1127's picture

Really the only people that it matters to about your FB is you and your SS and he added you as his parent - I say don't apologize to aunt yes she is hurting that her sister died and I am very close to my sister so I would be devastated as well but with that being said this is not her business - tell your SS you are honored that he considers you his mom and leave it at that. The aunt needs to get over it - it is not her FB it is her nephews and how dare she make him feel bad that someone who he has known for most of his life and he considers a mother figure that that is something to be reprimanded for - this is one good story about a blended family and of course someone who is not in the immediate family of BM, SM, BF, and skids needs to ruin it.

Go on living your life and let the FB stay as it is - you know your SS loved his mother - he knows he loved his mother and thankfully he has a stepmother that he can lean on in this hard time and someone he can call because his mother is not there anymore. No you are not his bio mom but he has considered you a mother figure for quite a while!!

packbunny's picture

Thank you so much. Your words are very sweet and comforting. This is a process. DH is peeved with me (times like this I feel like there is nothing I can do right!), so hopefully, this too shall pass. I did write SS. No reply, which is not unusual for him. Didn't talk to SS this weekend as usual. Sad I'm having to sort of give this up.

BTW, Aunt literally speaks no German. While I used to be fairly competent as a child (I took it for 6 years while growing up), I speak very little and can write even less.