Revisiting Steps and Halves

Oh half brother! Pardon the pun. I’m sure someone somewhere is very upset. It’s, “Oh, brother!” dammit!

We’re revisiting this topic thanks to Facebook and someone’s epic tantrum because a doctor of all people referred to her children as half siblings.

It’s biology, people! Some of us are very technical. Others are very fluid. I happen to be more in the technical category. If you share one parent you’re half siblings. If you share both parents you’re full siblings. If you share no parents you’re step siblings. Why is this so very difficult? And why are people so up in arms about the correct terminology?

Well, they’re saying it to demean the relationship!

Really? You think the doctor gives two shits about your kids’ relationship? I don’t. I think he’s a doctor and he thinks in technical terms. I really don’t think his end game at your kid’s appointment is to let them know their bond is not as strong as it would have been if you had just kept fucking the same guy. My guess is that he was simply pointing out the genetic connection, seeing as how it could potentially be important in regards to medical matters.

Yes, yes, I know. Little Sophia and Olivia are sisters in every sense of the word. Don’t you dare call them half siblings! That does not, however, negate the fact that Sophia has a family history of breast cancer, thanks to her father’s side of the family, while Olivia has a family history of heart problems thanks to her father’s side of the family. I would be willing to bet that is how the doctor is looking at it.

BUT THEY’RE SISTERS!

Yes, they are. They are sisters that share only one parent. It’s why they don’t share all of their relatives. It’s why they might not spend all of their holidays together. It’s why they have different moms or dads. It’s why they might even have additional siblings that the other one doesn’t have. Why is that so hard or awful to acknowledge?

One of the best ways I’ve ever heard it explained is something along these lines: Yes, you and Olivia are half sisters. That just means you only share one parent. You’re still sisters and still love each other very much. The word “half” only describes your genetic connection.

Put another way:  Half siblings, full siblings… it doesn’t matter. The word half doesn’t describe your bond or how you feel about each other; it describes how you’re related. You still fight and laugh and play and love each other very much. You still share a room. You still share clothes. You still share your lives together. The only thing you don’t share is a father.

I think that would be a lot easier than losing your mind over the term. But not these people!

One person responded: That word STEP makes me want to vomit! I gained 3 children when I married my husband. He gained two! I didn’t gain STEP children! I just didn’t birth them but in my heart they are my children! That word is used by them & my biological children. I just say my children. One day, I hope they see that they were always siblings!

Oh, so many questions! Like, how old are these “children”? They’re old enough to insist that they are not siblings. They’re old enough to insist that the new kids are their step siblings. I’m thinking, and I know this is crazy but hear me out, that if the kids themselves don’t like the term “siblings” then maybe crazy Mom should lay off this insistence that they are siblings and always have been.

No, Randi, no they haven’t. If your two children didn’t meet these new three children until they were 10 and 12 then they have not always been siblings. They spent 10 and 12 years not even knowing that these other kids existed. That very sentence, “One day I hope they see that they were always siblings!” is a lie. It is so much more a lie than anyone saying they are step siblings. You know why? Because that’s the truth. They don’t share a parent. One set of kids’ mom married the other set’s dad. That makes them step-siblings.

You did not gain three children when you married your husband unless his wife is dead or not in the picture. They have a mother. You are not it. You did indeed gain three STEP children, despite your insistence that you did not. When you married your new husband time did not bend backwards and magically transport those three children into your uterus and out your vagina.

I don’t know how old these kids are. Maybe they’re all under the age of five. I doubt it though simply because she talks about how sad it makes her that they won’t acknowledge each other as simply siblings. Her post reeks of a newer wife completely insecure in her position in this family. The only way she can feel safe is by erasing the past and pretending that the kids’ mom doesn’t exist.

Sadly, should she and her husband ever divorce she will find out quickly that those three children are not her kids and she has absolutely no rights to those children. Which does not happen when they are actually yours, barring any extenuating circumstances, of course.

Another person wrote this: On Christmas Eve I was told our oldest wasn’t counted as my mother-in-law’s granddaughter because she isn’t blood… I was furious. My husband never refers to her as his step-daughter. Everyone, including him and her, even forgets she isn’t biologically his until we have to explain her absence at holidays/family gatherings if she is visiting her father’s family.

Wait. What? They forget they’re not biologically related until they have to explain her absence to people when she’s missing due to being with her father and his family? Don’t you think the fact that she has a father and he and his family are active in her life would pretty much rule out the fact that step-daddy is her real daddy? I could possibly understand that mindset if her biological father was out of her life but he doesn’t seem to be. Or, perhaps he is out of her life but she continues to maintain contact with his family. Nonetheless, the fact that this child has family that no one on the step-father’s side knows about, means this kid is not his biologically

I’m not anti-stepfamily. I’m dating a man who has four children. I have two of my own. If we ever marry, between the two of us we’ll have six kids. But I don’t fool myself into believing that if we marry I suddenly have six kids. No, I will have 2 children and 4 step-children. I will be the best, kindest, most supportive and loving stepmom that I can possibly be, but I will not be their mother.

I think it does a disservice to step-families when we insist upon treating them as though they’re not step-families. There’s nothing wrong with being a step-parent. It doesn’t mean you’re less than. It simply means you’ve married a person with children. How is that so incredibly difficult? Better yet, how is it insulting?

I’m not anti-half sibling either. I’ll be honest and admit I would not have liked it had Harley and Jerry Lee gone on to have children together but acknowledging that those children were my children’s half siblings isn’t about being hateful. Hell, considering he hasn’t spent a single minute with Picasso and has seen Rock Star a grand total of maybe 15 minutes since he walked away I think it would be laughable for anyone to try to insinuate that they were “just siblings” and using the half-sibling moniker was mean and horrible and degraded those precious children terribly.

If I were to go on and have more children I would have no problem with correctly identifying them as half siblings. I mean, would I say, “Hey, Rock Star, can you please go pick up your half brother?” No, I would either use his name or say brother. But I wouldn’t be gnashing my teeth and getting defensive if anyone said something about them being half siblings.

Those qualifiers explain a lot sometimes. Plus, I think there’s something inherently wrong when people try to pretend their family is something it isn’t. When you have kids that have different family members, different experiences, possibly different upbringings, you are not a tidy, nuclear family. There are steps or half siblings involved somewhere. Stop pretending they don’t exist. It’s that insistence which makes them seem shameful. They’re not. They’re normal. There’s nothing wrong with a step-sibling or a half sibling.

6 thoughts on “Revisiting Steps and Halves

  1. Thankfully my kids were older when we got divorced but if the skank had referred to my kids as her children I would have been furious! And as for the doctor, well they use technical terms don’t they. I mean, he doesn’t say, “your ex gave you a dose of the clap” does he, he will say “your ex gave you an STD” so why get so upset about him referring to half-siblings, ‘cos that’s what they are! Hope this comment goes through – so many of my comments seem to end up in cyberspace!

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    1. It made it! And I agree. I don’t want someone else laying claim to my kids and I fully expect doctor’s to be technical when they’re explaining things. I’ll never forget seeing a pediatric gastro-something or other and he told me, “Basically, she’s full of poop.” I think I actually laughed. I’m so used to hearing them say something technical that I wasn’t prepared for, “poop”.

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  2. My ex had his baby this weekend. Neither of my kids consider this new baby a sibling. He is not their brother. Not today, anyway.
    My son took the news ok, but it must hurt. He is a good kid…and is very disappointed in his dad, but sees his dad for the weak coward he is.
    My daughter is angry and hurt. It kills me.

    I was much much more sad than I expected. I knew a baby was coming. But it makes me so very angry that my kids father has hurt them. They deserve so much better from him…

    Anyway, they live far away. More messy fallout the my ex didn’t plan, but has created because of exactly that.

    Anne

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    1. I’m sorry, Anne. I don’t know how I would have reacted to Jerry Lee and Harley having a baby. Probably not well. I do already know what it’s like to have him ignore his own children while he plays Daddy of the Year to her kids. It doesn’t sit well with me and it hurts my kids, even if they won’t admit it.

      I don’t have experience with a new baby but I do remember feeling very strange when I found out he married her. It’s almost like, regardless of all the crap they’ve pulled and how much they’ve hurt you, it’s only when they remarry or go on to have children with someone else you realize, “Wow- it’s really over.” I’m probably not explaining it well, because I certainly didn’t want him back, and I know you don’t want Craig back. It’s still like a door is shut on what used to be a huge part of your life. Nothing, not even a divorce, says “We’re over and I’ve moved on; you’re yesterday’s news,” like a remarriage or a new baby.

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