I am a child of divorce so I have a lot of step in my family. But personally, I don’t like using the word step. My parents have been divorced for almost fifteen years and they’ve both been with their current spouses for about the same amount of time. I don’t consider myself to have two parents and two step-parents, I think of it as having four parents. If you think about it, I’m pretty lucky. My parents found people who make them really happy and who can be better partners to them. And because of that, I got loads of bonus family.
Combining families is hard enough without constantly separating who’s really family and who isn’t.
So I choose not to use the word step.
I think that while it might be a little more confusing to explain, I wish we could remove the word step from the equation. Why? Because of how it can sometimes cheapen the relationships that we build with these new family members.
My Mom (who is my bonus mom) and I have stumbled through introductions since she welcomed me and my siblings into her family. She will usually end up clarifying that she is my stepmom. But that doesn’t mean she’s any less my parent or disqualifies her from my life in any way.
I realize that not everyone will agree with me on this and that’s totally fine! I will admit that it’s easier to use the word step in complicated family situations. But as someone who has been referred to as a stepsister and not just a sister, I can tell you that the distinction can be hurtful.
I was talking to our boy, who is 5, about something the other day and I loved what he said. Background: he has a bonus sister from his mom’s remarriage. He referred to her as simply, his sister. And it made me really happy for him. He’s not putting boundaries, or boxes around who his original family is versus his new bonus family.
Now, if using the word step is easier for you and makes sense for you – then rock it!
If you want to use the word bonus in its place – I love it!
And if you want to try and eliminate the extra descriptor – I support you!
But for me, I’ve got more family than I could have ever imagined and two kids who I get to call my own.
What. A. Life.