We Need a New Term for Childless Stepparents

by childless stepparent

The names we give things are important. The words we use have a profound effect on our understanding.

Many stepparents take issue with the terms stepmom, stepdad, and stepparent because step- implies being stepped on, stepped over, “less than.” I take issue for a different reason. It’s the words mom and dad and parent in there that give me pause.

Even the well-intentioned phrase bonus mom is problematic for childless stepparents. My husband’s daughter has used it from time to time, and I know she’s being sweet, but it doesn’t work for me. I am a bonus in her life, but I am not a bonus mom. She doesn’t need another mom. She has a mom. I am something else.

As childless stepparents of children with two involved parents, we are not moms and dads. We may parent, but we are not parents.

More than 50% of all families in the U.S. are remarried or re-coupled with children. We need to find a new term for ourselves, one that accurately represents our role in our new family.