48 answers

Need New Way to Introduce My Step-daughter

I have been married for 8yrs. My husband has a daughter from his first marriage. She will be 14 in August. My quandry is this...I don't like the term "step"-daughter. It is a term that I have always dispiesed. We will have custody of her this coming August and will be us, thus having alot more introductions. Does anyone have any other way that they themselves introduce their "step" children to others? Having her call me "mom' is not an option, out of respect for her mom.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I was so happily over-whelmed by all the responses I received. And it seems to be the general concensus is to ask her what she is most comfortable with. She will be with us on Sunday and her dad and I are going to sit with her and ask her how she feels about it. It was just so wonderful to know that there are soo many of you out there who cared enough to help me out. I will check back once we have had our talk. Thanks, Pam

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My step daughters are my "bonus kids" and call me their "bonus mom" as in, not everyone is fortunate enough to have more wonderful people in their lives -and they really are the best.

2 moms found this helpful

she's old enough to ask directly how she would like to be introduced in relation to you. Include her. It's the best idea for the beginning of a wonderful relationship in which you want her to feel you value her and her thoughts. good luck xo

My husband has always called my child from a previous marriage his son, even though my son calls him by his first name, not Dad. But he does refer to him as his dad, to the point where sometimes people are confused when other dad shows up. However, the main point is, he is his son as well as his bio dad's son. There's no reason to make a differentiation that will make the child feel bad, different, or lesser than. Blended families are so common these days anyway, it's ridiculous.

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My step daughters are my "bonus kids" and call me their "bonus mom" as in, not everyone is fortunate enough to have more wonderful people in their lives -and they really are the best.

2 moms found this helpful

Ask you step daughter if it is Ok that you introduce her as your daughter. She will tell you how she feels.
You also do not have to say this is Jane my step-daughter. You could just say I would like to introduce you to Jane and if some one asks, "who is JANE?" then say, this is my step-daughter, other wise just leave it at a basic introduction. If you get custody most people you are acquainted with will know who she is in a short time.


1 mom found this helpful

Pam, I agree. My husband has a son from a previous marriage and I cant bring myself to call him my step son. It feels cold in my mouth and I simply cannot form the word. I call him my son. If people ask me if he's my biological son ( not many will) I just say I did not carry him under my heart for 9 months but it doesn't make any difference to me. Michael came into my life when he was 10 and he lives in another state. so we do not see each other alot, but when he does come here, he is my son and when he leaves I miss him dearly.

1 mom found this helpful

Why not just introduce her as "OUR daughter"? Do you treat her as well as you would one of your own children? If so, then she is your daughter as well. She is just blessed enough to have another mother-figure love her in addition to her own mother. How lucky is she? There are so many children with biological parents that don't love them as well as they deserve; she can count her blessings that she has two women to love her.

If anyone questions the introduction, you can say that you were so lucky to gain a beautiful daughter when you married your husband. That should satisfy anyone's curosity.

I am a "step daughter", and my "step-father" has always treated & loved me as his own. He has never introduced me as anything but his "oldest daughter"/"Our daughter". We had a saying in our house; the only steps in our house were on the staircase- not in our hearts.

When my mother and he married, he & I came up with a special "name" for him, not dad. Maybe your "daughter" may like to do the same.

Most importantly, why don't you ask her how she would like to be introduced? It should be a family discussion, and everyone should feel comfortable with what you decide collectively. She is plenty old enough to have a say in all of this, and ultimately, you should reinforce that she is just as important in your family as your twins are. That your family would not be complete without her, but you will not serve as a "replacement mother", but an "additional parent-figure", a "god-mother" of sorts. Let her make the final call....

Just speaking from experience... best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I would talk to your step-daughter and your husband together and see what makes her most comfortable. My 10 year old step-daughter calls me by my first name out of respect for her mom and she prefers that people know that she is my step-daughter so that her mom doesn't get upset with her. Her mom plays a lot of head games with her and throws extreme fits so for her to call me her mom worries her about what her mom will say and do.

I'm super involved in her life anyway so everyone knows who I am and what kind of relationship that we have. Sometimes I feel like I offend other step-parents who say things to me like, "I JUST REFER TO MY STEP-DAUGHTER AS MY OWN CHILD NOT AS A STEP-CHILD!"........I treat my step-daughter w/the same love and discipline as my own son and I don't care about what those other step-parents think, I care about what is best for my family and what makes my step-daughter comfortable.

My step son is 13 and I have known him since he was 4. He used to call me by my name. then, When my husband and I had children, they are 3 and 5, we thought it was confusing for my step son to call me by name. About 4 years ago we asked him what he would like to call me, what he would feel comfortable with. He came up with mamma he says it in a sort of european way with an accent at the end. It works great. the kids consider him just his brother, not half, we never use that term. As far as introducing him I just say his name sometimes I just say my son. We decided that although it is clear that I am not his mother and I would never pretend to be it was okay because he knows that his mom is his mom. there is no confusion or hard feelings.
I guess I suggest talking with her and coming up with a solution together. This way it is respectful to her feelings and everything is out in the open. You'd be surprised at how candid and wonderful these kids can be. Good luck.


I am a step mother of a 5 year old girl. I also have a hard time with the word step. I basically have asked my step daughter what language she wants to use. I do whatever she is most comfortable with and I check in with her every so often just to make sure I am on the right track with the titles. I think that her comfort is the most important so I just follow her lead.
Hope it helps,

Ask her what she would like. My husband has a son from his first marriage and always pressured his son to call me mom and also for me to introduce him as my son. Now his son did call me mom unless he was mad at me then it was Cheryl. When he got older we talked and he knew it was his decision not mine.

Is it just respect for her mom? I am recently divorced and we have it written into our agreement that our kids CAN NOT call anyone else "mom, mommy, mama, or any likeness". Just wondering if it is just a respect thing or a legal thing? If just respect; then ask her. If it is also legal; then maybe come up with something else.

As a "step-daughter" myself, I say with all due respect: get over it. Think of it as a "step" up, if you must.

I have a bit of background with this issue. My step-mother talks all the time about how she doesn't believe in the "step" vernacular, and would introduce herself by saying, "Oh, we all handle the parenting around here!" Oh, really? Where was she when my bio mom was on an alcoholic rampage, or I spiked 106-degree fevers without medical care, or when I was going through a suicidal depression in my mid-teens? Oh, I know! She was still working on her SECOND marriage! My DAD wasn't even there for me, and she has the gall to take any of the credit for parenting? Did anyone even bother to ask my brother and me how WE wanted to be introduced? I mean, I'm sure you are more honest and compassionate than my step-mother, but my point is, you weren't there. It's not through any fault of your own; it's just the series of events.

Regardless of what you call yourself, it sounds like you'll do a bang-up job as a parental unit. Your husband's daughter is lucky to have you in her life. Best to you and your family.

Hi P.,

I think a good place to start would be for you to be as specific as possible about what the word "step" means to you so you could figure out why you so despise it.

THEN,once you know why, you can come up with some other term...whatever term that you find comfortable.

You might also ask this girl how she would like to be introduced. That way you would be including her in the family and taking account of her feelings as well.

Best regards,

R. Katz, Psy.D.

I am also a step parent to my husbands 14 year old boy. I asked him what he wants to call me and he said Mommy. I have been around him for 9 years and he has always called me mommy...even before mike and i got married. Why don't you ask HER. That way, it is her decision. My husbands son is always going to be my son...always. He is a part of the family and the word STEP doesn't enter into anything. I understand where you might have the 'mom' thing out of respect for her mother but you are her mom too. Come real soon, you will be her full time mom. My 'son' is the eldest of three boys. They all get along like peas in a pod. They are ages 14,7,6. When he is with him mom and her family, he calls me by my first name or step mom because that is how his mom whats it at her house. But he tells everyone that he has two families and two moms. One is his biological mom and the other is his forever mom. Kind of cool when you think about it.

I do agree with all - your step daughter is old enough to have a part in this decision. You obviously love her enough to be sensitive to her feelings and to be taking actual custody of her. If she were adopted you would not feel the need to clarify such in an introduction, so why is the step thing anyone's business?? If your daughter is comfortable calling you mom she should. It would only show disrespect if she chose not to call her biological mom "mom". It would also be less confusing to your younger children. I have step parents, step siblings, half siblings, etc. and none of us refers to the others as less than family. Some of us have more than one "mom" or "dad" and my brothers and sisters are just that, not "step" or "half" anything. But, that's what we are comfortable with. Ultimately, the choice should be between you, your husband and your daughter. Just keep in mind that the biology is really nobody's business, just the love!!!

Introduce her as your daughter no matter what she refers to you as. My husband and I were married when my son was 7 years old. My son has always called my husband by his first name, and when talking to his friends refers to him as his father. My husband says, "he is my son...I am raising him and I take care of him". Being a father has nothing to do with who made the child...

My father re-married 10 years ago and his wife refers to me as her daughter upon introductions!

C. T.

Hi P., Having been down this road already I can confidently say - if you want your step-daughter to feel part of the family and not the "fifth wheel" always introduce her as "my daughter" or "our daughter". She is old enough for you to discuss this with her. I have 3 children from my husband's first marriage and never use the word "step" when referring to them at all. To this day I am very glad I did this as we are very close. As to "Mom" not being an option, is that your option or hers? All my kids call me Mom and sometimes Mom 2. Again, you can discuss this with her also. "Mom" would be her option unless you are really, really uncomfortable with her feelings. Remember she is and always will be a part of two families, so make her as welcome as possible.

I completely understand the term step children bothers me too. My husband has 2 children from a previous relationship and I have 2 from a previous relationship and we have 1 together. I always just introduce them as my daughter and son, and on the rare occasion someone wonders about if they are mine I say they are my husbands from a previous relationship and that is usually all they say. My Husbands kids do not call me mom either and for the same reason respect for their mother. I hope I helped, if not I am sorry.

stay at home mother to 2 boys and 3 girls

My 9 yo stepson came to live with us when he was 4. He calls me by my first name, but when talking to others, he referes to me as his mom, sometimes stepmom. I almost always call him my son, unless the topic of conversation requires me to refer to him as my step. For example, I am pregnant with my first child and conceived after 18 months of trying, so when talking about pregnancy and such and the fact that it would (and now is) my first pregnancy, letting people know he is not my biological child makes for less confusion.

I disagree with the PP who said that calling a stepparent by their first name is disrespectful. That is my name, after all. I know that he respects me, simplt because he referes to me as his mother (even when he talks to his real mom). DSS knew me by M. before he lived with us (he moved in with us before we actually got married, so I started out as his daddy's girlfriend). Once, when he was in kindergarten, one of his friend asked him "who's M.?" He answered, "she's my mom." The girl asked him why he called me M.. He said, "that's her name!" TOO CUTE!!!

My dad remarried when I was 25, and my stepmother calls me and my siblings her children. And I refer to her and my dad as my parents and to my mom as my mom.

You could ask her how she would like to be introduced. But if you are a family why not just say my daughter. I have a young lady that I have taken under my wing. She knows me only by Auntie Barb. When I introduce her I just say this is my niece. It makes her feel very special, very connected to me since she has a terrible home life. Give it a try.
Barb R.

Can you just say "this is my husband's daughter?" When my dad got re-married, I never felt comfortable calling his wife my stepmom, so I always introduced her as "my dad's wife"....maybe impersonal but that's what I felt comfortable with...I was also much older than your hubby's dd.

definitely talk it over with her as to what she would like. i have a step daughter would would have been 16(she passed in nov.). she always called me by my first name. after a couple years i became "mama J." and i refered to her as my very first child. the confusion was lessened by what she called me. i could say my daughter and she would come up and say mama J.. most people are smart enough to see that she isn't mine. making a "pet name for yourself will help so much in the confusion. good luck.

My son was nine when I remarried. We don't like the term either so we simply introduce people to him as son. They don't need to know more than that. We don't feel we have to explain our life to everyone and it's our business. We differenciate by saying 'dad' and 'birthdad', and in the beggining he called both his dads 'daddymike' and 'daddybill'. But now my son has chosen to call them both dad. We included our son in on the decision making by asking him 'what are you comfortable with calling them' and he chose to call them both dad.


I have a step-daughter so I understand that you want to be sensitive to her, as you welcome her into your daily family life. Since she is a teen, you might talk with her about this and get her input - I introduce my step-daughter as my daughter. Everyone who knows us knows that she is my husband's daughter and to others there is no explanation needed if she calls me by name. As far as her not calling you Mom - I did the same thing and knowing what I know...I would have her call me Mom, if she wanted to. The word Mom is a word of respect and love and has a special meaning. May you be blessed...

I wish my step mom had been this thoughtful about things and I congratulate you for thinking about this. I would talk to her and just ask her how she feels about it and what she would like for you to call her when you introduce her.

You could say something like, I want you to feel comfortable with this and wanted your input on how you would like me to introduce you to others. I really feel close to you and I don't particulary like the term Step-daughter but if you are okay with this I would like to introduce you as ?

At this age I think she would really appreciate you talking to her and asking for her opinion on it.

I know it sounds so simple but just refer to her as your "daughter" as long as she is comfortable with that. I am a step-mom for over 17 years now and we also have had my step-daughter living with us for the last 8 years. She doesn't call me mom but I love her, have been a "mom" figure in her life and I consider her my daughter. I did ask my step-daughter if that was o.k. with her and we both agreed that it is just easier in social siutations especially if you have other children and if anyone questions it further, you can respond by saying she is my husband's daughter from his first marriage and end it at that. Hope this helps.

just call her your daughter. my son calls me and his step mom "mom". we have enough respect for each other to not get jealous that he has given us both this title.
he also has two dads. my husband has always introduced my son as his, even before we got married.
kids will only find a problem with this arrangement if the adults involved give them reason to.

My brother had similar situation and thought he handled it well. His wife had daughter from previous relationship, and always just introduced her same as his own twin boys...ie, "these are our children....." She did at the start refer to my brother by his first name, but after a few years of being the constant male influence in her life, she, herself, began to call him Dad. She simply called both men Dad. (her biological father had visitations periodically). She does refer to my brother with father-type questions, as they have built a solid relationship - with mutual respect. Hope this helps.

Hi P.,

I would not make a big deal out of an introduction -- by sharing "too" much information... I would just introduce her as "my daughter." You might want to let your close friends know in advance that you will be introducing her in that way... etc. I understand the "out of respect" for her mom, stuff, but also--"out of respect" for YOU not being her mom but being in the place of her mom or "a mom" she should not call you by your 1st name either. That might be what needs to be addressed--thinking of something she could call you... Nana or Mother.... I don't know- but I think it's just a big a disrespect to the step-parent as the child feels in showing respect to her parent.

Work it out!

Mrs. Maul

how does SHE want to be introduced? i think that's the most important part, especially for a teen-ager. my sister and i were always introduced just as part of "these are our daughters/kids." i introduce my foster children the same way, and my fiance does the same for my daughter.

I grew up in a step family situation and totally agree with you. My parents played the "favorites" game which hurt us all greatly.

Currently my husband and I have my older daughter from a previous marriage and our younger daughter from our marriage.

He always introduces her as "This is my daughter, Kelsey."


No "steps", no "complicated laying out of names".

Besides this - my daughter loves that she is referred to this way.

She still introduces him as her "step dad". My husband doesn't get hurt by this or anything else. Why? Because she's a kid. 10 years from now she will remember that he always referred to her as his daughter, not step-daughter. They have built a close and special relationship because of all this.

If she's living in your home, my advice is to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE not distinguish her differently than your own children. She will always feel resented if you do. Just refer to her and treat her exactly as your own children - no matter how she behaves. If she is an ornery kid who has gone through a lot, she will need this reassurance.

My step mom would insist she treated us all the same, but then would always complain to others about me. I was a straight A student who never (and I mean NEVER) got into trouble. Her kids barely got through high school, smoked pot, caused all kinds of trouble - - they were still favored and treated better. So your step-daughter will quickly catch on if you play favorites and will suffer self-esteem issues.

My advice - since you're asking - is to treat her as your own. Call her "your daughter". Give her lots of love and attn, just like you would yours.

She will grow up and have better self-esteem and respect you for it in the end. She'll look back when she's my age - 41 - and be immensely grateful.

Best wishes,


Go for daughter as long as she is comfortable with it. Otherwise, come up with some term of endearment (i.e....."my favorite teen"...."my favorite girl" I'm sure you'll come up with better!) in those instances where you don't need to share so much information and people don't need to know your business. Sometimes I refer to my daughter as "my favorite girl" - technically, no one has ever asked me to expound on that. Hope the transition works out well for you. Good luck!


She is your daughter. Simply introduce her as 'Our daughter'. I've been there. In the beginning it was a challenge. However, I've always introduced and call her my daughter or my child. Now My (step) daughter is now 26 years of age and calls me 'Mama M.'. She choose to do this.


I would talk to her and your husband together and see what makes her comfortable, but I can tell your from 33 years of experience that I still hate it when my step mom says this is Ricks daughter. Like it's some plague or something. Although I don't call her mom and never will because of too many hard feelings, but that's a long story. But for the most part I lived with my mom and step dad, and when he introduced me to people he would say this is my daughter.
Why is it disrespectful to her mom for her to call you mom? If that is what she would like to call you it should be up to her. Doesn't mean she loves her mom less, just means she loves you too. If I had a step child and they call me mom I would be honored that I have obviously treated them in the right way that they feel comfortable calling me that. After all you are still her mom just not her biological mom.
Sorry not trying to be harsh or anything or sound grouchy just a perspective from a child of a divorce. I'm 35 my parents were divorced when I was 2 1/2 and my dad was remarried when I turned 3.

Well I remember my Pastor one time talking about the topic of step children. And he touched on just that topic and he made alot of sense what he said was to just introduce your step children as you sons or daughters. People do not need to know that they are your step children most of the time they won't mind because they just want to feel accepted by you even if they don't show it. When you marry someone you become one so whatever is his becomes yours so your step children you are excepting as your own. Of course you do not take the place of their mother but they need to feel that there is no difference on how you see them. It is just like if you were to adopt a child you would not keep introducing to everyone that he is your adopted child most likely people would say that is my son or daughter well it is the same as a step child. I hope this helps God Bless.

Introduce her as your daughter--you may want to talk it over with her first

just say "hi" and they people probably already know your husband..you remember FRANK? This is his daughter, G.....whatever their names are.

Try "daughter by marriage"

I am a "step"child and have been since I was 2. (my birth mother passed away) and i always called my stepmother Mom because she was the only mother I knew. But, the correct way to describe our relationship came up when her mother passed away. The minister officiating the service suggested listing me as a "grandchild by marriage" instep of "step"

We also used the "mother by marriage" on our wedding program so that I could honor both my Moms.

Hope this helps.

Just a thought - have you asked your step-daughter how she would like to be introduced?

she's old enough to ask directly how she would like to be introduced in relation to you. Include her. It's the best idea for the beginning of a wonderful relationship in which you want her to feel you value her and her thoughts. good luck xo

I have a friend who married a man with 3 sons. Their Mom died and my friend has the boys call her by her first name rather than Mom out of respect for their Mom and her family, who they still see on a regular basis. My friend refers to the boys as her bonus children.

Hi P.. :) I agree with many of the others. I would talk with your daughter and ask her what she would like you to refer to her as. Maybe you can ask her if she is okay with you calling her your daughter. Explain to her why you would like to call her this over step-daughter. Best wishes. :)

Hi, Pam! You are so wonderful to be as thoughtful as you are! Coming from a family with a lot of divorce and step- and half children ... we have just dropped the formalities altogether! After a long talk with my step-brothers and their wives, we thought it was just silly to be so specific. I mean, who cares? So, even though my dad is remarried (this happened in my very adult years), I jsut call him and his wife "my parents" when I introduce them and don't get into the details. So, introduce your children as "our kids" or think of the big picture and say "our family." If anyone asks about your oldest, just say that she was living with her mom and you are so happy that she is able to be a big sister to the twins. There really is a great opportunity to show her how "family" -- regardless if you are blood-related or not -- can be. You may just want to talk it through with your daughter so she can tell you how she would like to be addressed. And, let your daughter know how you want to be addressed -- "your dad's wife," "the twins' mom," "step-mom," "mom number two," or by your first name. Good luck -- I hope you two can find a happy medium that makes you both feel connected in a sincere and loving way.

My husband calls my son his "son", but my son calls my husband by his first name, out of respect to his father, my ex-husband. I think if refer to her as your daughter, that's fine. If people say that they didn't know you had a daughter so old, just say that she's from your husband's first marriage. With all the blended families these days, it's not so odd to have a child from previous marriages in the equation. Good luck and just do what you want!

My sister in law has 2 step kids plus 3 of her own. When people ask her how many kids she has, she just says 5. She never really refers to them as step kids..but they are older and living on their own now.

Have you talked with her about how she would like you to introduce her? She's old enough to be part of the decision. If she's comfortable being introduced as your daughter (without the step) then I'd do it b/c it doesn't seperate her from her siblings. If she'd rather be called step daughter, then that's ok too. Or maybe she just wants to be introduced by her name... anyways, try having a conversation with her about it and see how that goes. Good luck!

Being a step daughter myself and being remarried with a daughter of a previous marriage I understand your problem. Since your husbands daughter is 13 and old enough to have a conversation about this I would talk to her about it. I would just let her know that out of respect for her mom you never expect her to call you mom but if she decides to do that on her own that's fine. My daughter started calling her stepfather "dad" after three years on her own because she loves him and wanted to. As for introducing her to people, I would just ask her if it would offend her when you make introductions if it's ok to introduce her as your daughter. You'd be surprised to find out that she might like that and it might make her feel more included. If people are courteous they wouldn't ask you until a later time about her and you can always say she's your husbands daughter from a previous marriage. This is really a hard situation. My husband has introduced my daughter as his own since day one and it really made her feel like part of the family especially when we had two more children. Best of luck!!!

My husband has always called my child from a previous marriage his son, even though my son calls him by his first name, not Dad. But he does refer to him as his dad, to the point where sometimes people are confused when other dad shows up. However, the main point is, he is his son as well as his bio dad's son. There's no reason to make a differentiation that will make the child feel bad, different, or lesser than. Blended families are so common these days anyway, it's ridiculous.

I am a step-daughte, and my step dad has always introduced me as "R." or "his daughter." SImple as that. And he is "Pop" to us.

I think I got this way from my mother but I hate the words half or step brother/sister. My oldest son's biological mother has never contributed to his upbringing so I am his mother as far as I'm concerned. Although he has never called me mom (my mother in law made him feel guilty for doing so), I have always referred to him as my son for the 15 years that his dad and I have been together. He just turned 23 this week and I just heard him refer to me as "our mom" to someone the other day.

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