Label Libel?

I mentioned before that my mom is getting married again.  She made the announcement about two months ago and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing.  I don’t know the guy.  I only met him once, so it’s hella weird for me to accept the fact that this stranger is going to be my “stepfather”.  But then, I also feel a glimmer of excitement because finally there will be an Official Title assigned to someone in my F-Word(Bonus, I’m getting some stepsisters out of the deal as well.  I’ve never met them and I hope they’re nothing like Cinderella’s stepsibs)

And so it causes me to ponder these titles… labels in general… what is the stereotype?   What do they really mean?  What do they really mean to me?  Take the following:

  • Stepmother
  • Bonus Mom
  • Ex Husband
  • Co-Parent
  • Ex Wife
  • Birth Mom
  • Divorced
  • Separated
  • Broken Home
  • Bi-Nuclear Family
  • Litigation
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation

Some of these words, by definition from certain perspectives, mean the same thing.  Yet, they conjure up very different thoughts and feelings for me.   I wonder how much it matters.  How often do other people consider these things?  What judgments are they making about me based on the phrasing I use to describe my marital status and the people in my life?   Do I care?  Should I care?  Do you care? (Personally I do prefer the more positive terminology and use it wherever possible)

To bring this back to my original thought:  My “Mother’s Boyfriend” is going to become my “Stepfather”.  And that means simply that he will be married to my mom, but I wasn’t created from his DNA.   The term seems indicative of authority or guardianship…  But (at least at this point), that’s not the case for me.  He’s just some dude.

So, do I refer to him as my “Stepfather”?  Or should I axe the meaningless-to-me title and proceed with my “Mother’s Husband”?

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  1. I think that he may be more than ‘some dude’ to you if he sticks around as your f-word gets collectively older. People assume different roles in intimate relationships – roles that are relative to chronological age… he may be the first point of contact for you as your mother ages and encounters challenges. At that point perhaps his love for her (and at that point probably you) will shine through and put some resume behind the job title.

    • No doubt, Roy. I’m sure he’ll become more than just “some dude” down the road… but what is that title? And does (will?) he think of me as his “Stepdaughter”? I just wonder how the titles actually work- how do people use them? How do people feel about them? Do parents of young children who have a stepparent in another home feel a sting when that title becomes official? (reminds me of that country song “I Don’t Call Him Daddy”, by Doug Supernaw.) Do parents of youngsters feel a sense of pride in their own partner’s new title at the conclusion of a marriage ceremony? Perhaps I’m thinking too much. I never was one for labels anyway.

  2. I always favored the term I first heard in the movie Metropolitan: “Stepmonster”

    In this specific case, your “Mother’s Husband” makes the most sense, although, why label him at all? Just refer to him by name, and if anyone asks who he is, you can just say, “some dude.”

  3. I typically go the mother’s husband route and should my dad marry his new girlfriend, I’ll be going with the “dad’s wife” thing. I’m 30 years old, too old for this stepfather/stepmother junk

    • It’s funny because if my father were to marry his girlfriend, I wouldn’t think twice about referring to her as my “stepmother”. But…that probably has something to do with the fact that she cooks me dinner on a semi-regular basis 🙂

  4. My father remarried when he was 65ish (my mum passed away before then.) I typically refer to his wife by name or say my dad and his wife. Since I live in US and they lived in England, I’ve never spent that much time with my stepmum and she never felt like or acted like she wanted to be a mother-figure to me.

  5. My father remarried when I was 31. Initially, his wife was just that…*his* wife. But, that got too long when I was doing introductions. 🙂 My mother was terminally ill during that time, so that added another dynamic to the “what do I call this woman” question. Over time, though, we got closer and closer, as I was always open to having a relationship with her. I don’t think of her necessarily as a mother, but some combination of a motherish-cool aunt. Ultimately, “stepmother” started to feel more and more comfortable, and now it rolls off my tongue fluently. It was a process, though, and the label did matter to me. Today’s bottom line, though, is that I love her and whatever the label, she is my family.

  6. Pingback: TDE Gets a Stepfamily « The Divorce Encouragist

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