One of most challenging parts of being a stepparent, for me, has been the labels. I hate calling them my stepkids, and calling them my husband's kids makes me feel like I'm not really part of their lives -- which couldn't be farther from the truth. But I didn't want the kids to feel like I was trying to replace their mom (and I certainly didn't want their mom to feel like I was trying to usurp her role as their mother). In the "Parenting Traps" column of today's Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, I write about the name game:
Early on, we exchanged ideas about what they should call me: a variation of "Mom"? No, that might hurt their mother's feelings. "Bonus Mom"? Accurate, but awkward. "Extra Mom"? Ditto. So I call them "my big kids," and they use my first name. If pressed, they add, "She's my stepmom." None of us like the label or the baggage that comes with it, but it requires the least amount of explanation -- and, oddly enough, the people who question us are almost always adults. Children don't seem to care how I'm related to my kids. ... [More]
Read the whole thing online at Boston.com/Magazine, and if you're a stepchild or a stepparent, weigh in: How did you handle the label?