We don’t use the term ‘half-siblings’ in our family—because they're 100% whole to us

Half, step, or whole siblings it doesn't matter. The love is full no matter what.

We don’t use the term ‘half-siblings’ in our family—because they're 100% whole to us

Navigating a blended family can be complicated at times, and as with all families (blended or not), they come with a lot of quirks.

When it comes to a step-family, there's a lot of meaning behind a specific term or name. There are families where the kids call both parents 'Mom' or 'Dad,' regardless of whether they are their biological parents or not. In other families, the kids may opt to address their stepparents by their first names. Some non-biological parents will reference their non-biological children as their 'bonus kids' while others stick with the common phrasing of 'step kids.'


There's no right or wrong—each family should choose what makes everyone feel comfortable. But, in our family, there's one term that's never been up for use in our home—the phrase 'half-siblings.'

In our house, we don't differentiate between siblings regardless of who the birth parents are. We don't suggest that one sibling is more or less of a relative to each other depending on what adult they came from. Throughout five years, two sets of parents, two households, and five (half or step) siblings, I've only ever heard them call each other 'brother' or 'sister.' And why wouldn't they?

Although our kids are technically half-siblings, they're 100% whole to us because of the love they share and their bonds that deepen between them every day.

My stepdaughter is fortunate to have both a dad and mom who successfully co-parent together. They are both fully present and engaged in their child's life. I'm beyond proud to be this amazing child's stepmom.

When the time came, we discussed as a family which phrasing she would prefer and, despite the lousy rep Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters tried to give the term, we happily settled on 'stepmom' for me and 'stepdaughter' for her. This is what worked for us, and it might be different terms that work for other people. But there's one thing that remains the same—there is nothing wrong with being in a blended family.

Our blended family life can get complicated—even though we all get along—we're not perfect. There are a lot of emotions at stake and egos at play. Sometimes, despite good intentions, us parents flounder and make mistakes. While it hasn't been a completely smooth ride getting our family to this point, there's one aspect of our lives that I'm so proud of. All parents involved—both biological and step—have all managed to successfully make one thing seamless despite many stumbles and lots of chaos: keeping the kids and their feelings top-of-mind.

I try my best to respect the boundaries that exist in my role as a stepmother while also treating my stepdaughter as though we're blood. (Which is sometimes to her dismay because all of my children have to clean their rooms, do their homework, and quit the backtalk.) Because us parents are modeling this equality-promoting behavior, it makes sense that she, her brother, and her sister would treat each other the same way.

We don't differentiate between siblings because at the end of the day, it honestly doesn't matter. Half or step, they're all family members. We support and promote the loving relationship they share with each other and not only has it paid off, but it also proudly shows. My stepdaughter loves sharing how many brothers and sisters she has. She'll even break it down as to how many siblings she has at her moms and her dads. She'll even tell you the names of her dog siblings if you have the time!

Shared parenting can be challenging, but when there are kids at stake, it's easy to see who and what's important. All the parents treat all the kids the same, never excluding and always encouraging.

My son looks forward to seeing and playing with his sister's other brother while watching his big sister play soccer and my youngest daughter loves when her big sissy comes home, excitedly running down the hallway to see her when she arrives before school in the mornings.

Blended family living isn't easy for anyone, especially the kids. With the back and forth between homes, the switchover days, and the scheduled-swapping, it can be easy to feel divided or disconnected. By promoting the use of 'brother' or 'sister,' it's one way we try to help them feel connected on a regular basis.

Half, step, or whole siblings it doesn't matter. The love is full no matter what.

You might also like:

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

Keep reading Show less