Step/half siblings getting along
July 26, 2014 9:42 PM   Subscribe

What is the relationship between step or half siblings like as children? from parent or child perspectives

I am interested in anecdotes or resources about the relationship between step or half siblings who are close in age. I'm looking for perspective of parents who blend their families as well as children who grew up as an older or younger step or half sibling. Thank you.

I am interested because I was at a school where I encountered a blended family where the children are close in age, and they seem to have a fair relationship. I have also encountered other close half-siblings who are grew up together and have positive relationship as adults. I'd like to understand this from the parents' perspectives as well.
posted by ichomp to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have four siblings. They are all step/halves. The youngest is 10 years younger than me, the oldest is 2 months younger than me. They are my brothers and sisters. Period. I've never considered them to be anything else. My folks re-married before I was 5 years old. I presume things might be different for people who gained step/half siblings at a later age.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:15 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a different father than all my sibs. We've always considered ourselves brothers and sisters, the same as anyone else.
posted by miles1972 at 10:23 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have one brother and four half siblings. I always considered them my brothers and sister, and growing up I tried my best to treat them as such.

My mother, on the other hand, insisted that we were 'only halves' especially when we were introduced to others. Her insistence on us being 'different families' (and other things she did) has meant that as adults, we are very distant and have hardly anything to do with each other.

I am married and have a son from a previous relationship. My son has a close relationship with his dad and my husband also treats him as his own. Should I have any more children, then my son will be their brother. Should his dad have more children, they will be my son's siblings too. End of story. There will be no nonsense about 'halves' around here.
posted by RosiePosie at 10:44 PM on July 26, 2014 [8 favorites]

I have two half-sisters (we have the same mom), but I've really never thought of them as anything other than my sisters. One is 5 years older than me and is one of my best friends. The other is 9 years older than me and, although we didn't always get along well growing up, we're good now.

My mom never made it obvious or important that we're half-siblings, we were always just sisters. Now I don't think it's something that any of us really think about that often.
posted by yeahyeahrealcute at 10:58 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's who you grow up with mostly. I've got a two half-brothers and a half-sister. But I don't really see one of my half-brothers and the sister much so I do kind of think of them as half siblings. Whilst I've grown up with my other half-brother and just think about him like a brother.
posted by fallingleaves at 1:30 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a half sister I like very much, five years younger than me. We decided we'd forget about the half bit and just be brother/sister when we were like ten. It's nice, though as always the question of who is competing for the same emotional resources is gonna be the key issue.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:54 AM on July 27, 2014

We're not close in age, but I have two half brothers. Because of the age gaps (little over a decade) when they were young our relationship had a bit more of a parent/child thing, but more peer like as they hit adulthood. Ive always adored them, we all get along well and the exact amount of "blood" we share has never seemed relevant to our relationship. So yeah, just brothers.
posted by pennypiper at 5:04 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have one "real" sister, two step-brothers, and one half-sister. When my mom and stepdad remarried, we were 11, 9, 8, and 6 and we lived in the same house, although the boys spent about half their time at their mother's. My half-sister was born to my dad and stepmom when my sister and I were 15 and 17 respectively.

When my mom and stepdad first married there was a lot of tension between the kids. We would do things like set the table with certain designs at the "girl" places and others at the "boy" places, or do other things to emphasize how we were really different families. I'm not sure how much of this had to do with family-of-origin difference and gender difference. We played together and had a lot of fun together, too. We did some family therapy early on which may or may not have helped - I remember it being awful, but things did get better, so perhaps it worked. As we got older, that demarcation stuff quit, and now I refer to all my siblings as my siblings. My stepdad has always referred to my sister and I as his daughters, whereas my mother refers to my stepbrothers as her stepsons. There are a lot of complicated reasons for this, mostly to do with relationships between the four original parents - my sister and I saw our dad for visitation a few times a year, but my stepdad did the bulk of the dad-type parenting for us. My mom on the other hand had to do the bulk of the parenting of my stepbrothers since she was a SAHM, plus she had to share parenting with her husband's ex-wife, who did not make it easy on her. I know that she likes my brothers as adults more than she did when they were kids, but I also know there are some bad feelings leftover from raising them that just don't enable her to feel like they are her true sons.

I generally refer to my stepdad as my dad or jointly with my mom as my parents; though I call him by his first name. I call my stepmother by her first name, and refer to her as my stepmother. A lot of this has to do with loyalty to my mom and the fact that I never lived with my dad and stepmom.

My half-sister is more like a niece - I have never lived in the same house as her, and I am old enough to be her mother. She has grown up much more like an only child than a child with siblings.

I am not quite as close to my brothers as I am to my "real" sister, but there is a bigger age difference between us and our life experiences after high school were more different while my sister and I took a more similar path. I talk to her at least on a weekly basis, sometimes daily. I talk to my brothers a few times a year, but I am always glad to see them and the four of us make plans to get together at holidays and whatnot. I talk to my half-sister somewhat regularly - more when she was little; now she is in high school and has her own interests. I am super glad they are all in my life - I would not be who I am today without all of my siblings.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 5:27 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

It depends on the parents attitudes and the kids and how close every one is in age and how early you blend them.

My older sister is a half-sister genetically. My main feeling about the distance is faint annoyance at my mother for telling us at all since she only chose to let us know after my sister was away in university. It's notable that there was a strong divide easily perceived between her and the youngers because she was my mother's special child and the rest of us were collectively referred to as the kids when she was not, despite only four years difference in age, but we put this down to my mother's favoritism and her academic maturity and didn't have emotional distance. She was family the same way my father was family. Different but essential to us. We needed her.

She was also my father's favorite. This put a lot of pressure on her where the youngers got away relatively scot free.

If you want the kids to blend together introduce them as early as possible. Treat each one as an individual. Allow them to define the distance from each other as this will ebb and flow according to age and interests. I know plenty of families where whole siblings are completely estranged so don't assume any glitches have anything to do with the different origins.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:46 AM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have three stepbrothers (brothers to each other) that I am in the middle of age-wise, and two half sisters (also half sisters to the stepbrothers), who are quite a bit younger than us.

I think it depends a lot on custody arrangements and parenting strategies. I spent weekdays as the only child of my mom's and weekends as one of six, and treated very differently by my stepmom, who was mother to the other five and clearly considered me an intrusion. I was definitely less close with them than they were with each other, but I think with different parenting strategies we would have been more of a unit.

As grownups, I'm a little less close with my brothers than I am with my inlaws (and have a pretty typical inlaw relationship) but I like them fine and enjoy catching up on the holidays. As mentioned upthread, my relationship with my sisters has been more parental too, but now that they're becoming adults it's within the range of normal full sibling relationships that I know.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:56 AM on July 27, 2014

I have one biological sibling, a sister 7 years older than me. We never were close growing up and often fought. My dad remarried when I was 23. I now have a step-brother who is 2 months younger than me (26) and a step-sister who is three years younger (23). I get along with both of them far better than with my actual sister and am glad every day my dad got remarried. My step-brother and I are particularly close and get along very well. (Same year in school.) I think of him as my brother. There are almost no problems between us.

So, even in the 20s(!) this has potential to go well.
posted by quincunx at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2014

My dad remarried when I was 9, and my stepbrother was 7. I think of my stepbrother as my brother, but we're not close. I'm pretty sure we're not close because we have nothing in common, not because we're stepsiblings.
posted by PearlRose at 11:40 AM on July 27, 2014

My mother left my father abruptly when I was 10, and both remarried when my brother was 11 and I was 13, entering my first year of high school. My mother's new husband had three kids from a previous marriage, all younger than me between the ages of 5-11. My father's new wife had one kid from a previous relationship, 7 years old.

None of them were my siblings. I didn't want anything to do with any of the kids on either side of the equation. Neither one of my parents had done anything to help us merge together. I was insulted that we had to accommodate those spoiled little shits. With my step-father and his kids, it turned into Us vs Them very quickly. I was largely absent from my father's life while he was married to his wife, so I didn't see her son that much. I felt like my dad had replaced our old family with his new, dysfunctional one.
posted by Snacks at 5:13 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for sharing. I appreciate your answers.
posted by ichomp at 5:51 PM on July 27, 2014

My sister is 7 years older than me and has a different mom. My brothers are younger and we all have the same mom and dad. My sister lived with us every other weekend and for two weeks in the summer. Doesn't matter. She's still my sister. I would consider us close - we always have been, although as you can imagine it has changed over time (it's easier for us now that we're in our 40s - when I was 7 and she was 14 there was more of a gap, but that would have been true whether we had the same mom or not).
posted by RogueTech at 11:35 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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