Advice on Telling Your Children They Have a Half Sister

Updated on June 10, 2009
C.D. asks from Richmond, MI
9 answers

My boyfriend dont know how to explain to his 3yr old daughter that she has a half sister. what should he tell her?

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answers from Detroit on

Since the child is just 3, I'd eliminate the "half", all she needs to know is that she has a sister. She's waaaay too young to even understand how they are sisters anyway and if she does ask, you simply explain that she (the sister) has a different mommy. Besides so many families are blended now anyway, it's kinda the norm for many. My older half sister always introduced me as her half sister when I was a kid and she would kinda make me mad doing this so I finally started responding when she did this with, what half am I? The left, right, top or bottom. Needless to say, now upon an introduction to someone new, I am her sister.

M. in Camden, MI

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answers from Detroit on

I have to agree with Mary and the others - the half part should be dropped for a few reasons - (1) the three year old won't understand, she will be happy for a sister no matter what form she comes in and will have a built in playmate (2) "half" implies "less than" (3)why complicate things when you don't have to? I am from a blended family and have a "half" brother and sister who are much younger than me (10 and 14 years respectively). We were raised together and it just felt wrong to separate and label everyone into categories that really made it seem like half meant not as important or different. I am going to get on my soapbox -children/siblings, especially in today's more complicated social settings should be treated equally and raised together to love, respect and care for each other no matter half/whole/step, etc. I know this is not always possible in every family scenario, but efforts should be made! At ages as young as your daughters, they don't know any better and can grow up together and love each other as sisters - that is the important thing really.

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answers from Detroit on

Kids are wonderful at accepting others. She'll probably be thrilled! I would drop the word "half" as it will be meaningless to her and likely pretty confusing.



answers from Detroit on

I don't think it is necessary to explain it at that age. She knows she is her sister and that's good enough for now. She's only 3 and I would wait a couple years until she is old enough to understand...



answers from Lansing on

Does she live with you? My 11 year old would be a half sister to our 6 year old and 3 year old. But our 11 year old lives with us and has known my husband basically all her life and knows her as Daddy.

Our situation may be a little different, but just in the last year we explained to our 6 year old why our 11 year old has two Daddy's (she says she does even though she never sees her biological Dad). We haven't explained it to our 3 year old. I guess because he hasn't asked and our 6 year old did. We explained how Mommy was once married to her Dad and we had her, but unfortunately we got divorced (and I had to explain what divorce was) then I encouraged her that Mommy and Daddy love each other very much and won't get divorced (I didn't want her to fear that would happen with us to her!).

Now if she doesn't live with you guys, but you see her then I would tell your daughter she has a sister. And then as she asks questions then I would get into more detail and only answer what she asks. As she gets older she'll probably have more questions and you'll have to explain more.


answers from Grand Rapids on

At that age, kids pretty much take that stuff in stride. My youngest, now six, didn't see his half sister from age 9 months to about 4 yrs. When he finally got to see her again, we told him "You have another older sister. She lives with her mom but you can talk to her whenever you want. You're going to meet her today". The meeting went smooth and he interacted with her the same as his other siblings.



answers from Detroit on

Is there a rush? She's only 3 years old. How much does your boyfriend believe she can comprehend at that age?

Wait a little



answers from Detroit on

she's 3.... Just tell her that she has a sister with a different mommy.

Keep it simple and simply answer HER questions. Don't volunteer too much info on WHY there is a different mommy...
The questions will come with time.
And arange a meeting after she accepts the info.



answers from Detroit on

Hi C.,
I am in that same situation. My husband of 17 years has an 18 yr old daughter. I have a 6 and a 4 yr old that i just told last yr. I just explained that they have another sister..that lives somewhere else. your boyfriends 3 year old may not understand just yet. my 6 yr old asks alot. my 4 year old doesnt ask too much. They have recently started seeing their big sister. ok hope this helps!

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