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to be annoyed at DS's teachers

(39 Posts)
missymarmite Thu 04-Oct-12 14:54:24

This comes on the back of an earlier thread where several posters were quite nasty and somehow made out that if you aren't married you are just "shacked-up" and your relationship with your partner's kids is somehow inferior to what it would be if you are married.

BTW, DS's father (who I was married to) buggered off and left us destitute. Marriage wasn't much of a commitment to him, was it? Didn't make him a very good dad.

I walked away from that thread because I felt some of the posts were unnecessary and verging on abusive. But it highlighted an incident that happened shortly afterwards and although I suspect many people will have quite different view from mine, I thought I'd risk the fray once more.

A couple of weeks ago DP and I went to DC 1 + 2's parent's evening at their primary school. I introduced DP as DS's stepdad. DP also introduced me to DSD's teacher as her step-mum.

Now, I know that we aren't married, but we are in a committed relationship. We both gave up a lot to live together, and we both agreed that we are a family.

I have had a few not so good boyfriends. I always knew quite early on that something wasn't quite right, so I was cautious. However, with DP I have no fears about the stability of our relationship. DP is my best friend, and I know he feels the same. We are soul mates. Whatever happens in the future, we will be there for each other, and we will care for our partner's children as our own. I know this because he isn't a vindictive person, and has a civil, if cold relationship with his ex. Our parents live locally and also refer to ALL the children as "grandchildren". DP's kids also refer to their mum's partner as their step-dad too, so she seems happy with that.

I know several families where the parents aren't married, and yet the respective kids/parents etc are referred to as step-whatever. So it just seemed normal for us to be step-mum, step-dad, rather than "my mum's boyfriend" or whatever which is a mouthful at best and doesn't at all reflect the relationship that we have with the kids or each other. I mean, it's fine in a short term relationship, but once you are committed, it's a bit rubbish really, especially in the long run.

So AIBU to be a tad miffed at DS's teacher, for telling my DS that he hasn't got a step family at all because we aren't married, just days after being introduced to DP as step-dad?

And, isn't it a bit old fashioned?

GoSakuramachi Thu 04-Oct-12 14:56:27

Step refers to the spouse of the parent.

And can you link to the previous thread, because with the large amount of unmarried parents on here, I have real trouble believing it went the way you describe.

Feminine Thu 04-Oct-12 14:57:51

Have you been with your DP long?

Perhaps the school are just learning about it?

Its not something to worry about IMO, they will get the family picture soon enough!

missymarmite Thu 04-Oct-12 15:08:15

That's the whole point, feminine, the school know all about it, addresses changed, and partner introduced as "step-father".

I just don't agree with the idea that only by signing a piece of paper are you a step parent. Perhaps in law this is so, but emotionally and morally?

However close you are, however much you love your partner's kids?

Is there a time period? Like 2 years or something? I mean that I could understand. But NEVER? Like when the kids grow up and leave home (having been cared for an nurtured by this person most of their lives) they still only refer to each other as "boyfriend's son/daughter"????

I don't think it can be right.

purplehouse Thu 04-Oct-12 15:22:10

The teacher was a bit out of line, there was no need to go into such technicalities with your ds.

However, you sound like you don't see the value of marriage, just because your xh didn't. Technically the teacher is correct but I don't really see why it needed to be conmunicated to your ds. Why don't you get married to your dp? It sounds like the reason is that your xh was a jerk.

WorraLiberty England Thu 04-Oct-12 15:26:29

So AIBU to be a tad miffed at DS's teacher, for telling my DS that he hasn't got a step family at all because we aren't married, just days after being introduced to DP as step-dad?

How did the conversation come about? Most teachers won't know off the top of their heads what the marital status of their pupil's parents is confused

IloveJudgeJudy Thu 04-Oct-12 15:27:25

I think that stepdad is a legal term, though, isn't it, like "married".

Hippolyta20 Thu 04-Oct-12 15:36:46

To be honest, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

If you are happy and committed and your children are happy then whatever label you want to put on your relationship is really secondary to that.

What context was the teacher talking in? Technically they are correct but what were they explaining? I doubt they were trying to undermine your relationship or make it less meaningful to your children as I don't see the benefit of that to anyone?

If it really bothers you, you could have a quite word with the teacher and say you would prefer it if they called your DP the step father as it helps make your children more secure.

Over and above that I would just enjoy your new relationship and make whatever personal decision you want on how to refer to each other.

missymoomoomee Thu 04-Oct-12 17:11:04

Aren't you the poster that decided to potty train your dps daughter despite the mother not wanting to then started slagging the mother off? And if i remember correctly you have only been seeing each other for a few months anyway.

If so no-one said you were inferior at all, no-one said you were 'shacked up' most of the the thread was pure shock that you made and 'executive decision' about someone elses daughter.

Sorry if you aren't that poster but I think I recognise the name.

WelshMaenad Thu 04-Oct-12 17:31:23

If you want to use the terms stepdad and stepmum, the school should follow your lead. Really, it's like getting pedantic over someone calling their partner's mum 'MIL' when they're not married. Petty pedantics.

CheeseandPickledOnion Thu 04-Oct-12 17:35:49

Essentially the teacher is right. Step-parent refers to the married partner.

It does not refer to the in-a-relationship parter. So technically she is right.

Realistically, people don't use it in that manner, but it is correct.

Whitecherry Thu 04-Oct-12 18:29:56

I think the teacher was right too...

IsabelleRinging Thu 04-Oct-12 18:34:59

Maybe the teacher was just pointing it out, doesn't mean she meant anything negative about it.

GoSakuramachi Thu 04-Oct-12 18:35:57

But haven't you only been together a very short time? Maybe the teacher knows that......

StrawberryMojito Thu 04-Oct-12 18:37:33

Tbh, it's hard to judge the teacher without knowing the context of the conversation. Presumably your DS has told you how the conversation came about and what was said?

As far as I know step parent actually refers to parents partner who has been given parental responsibility in legal terms. It is used freely every day to mean parents oh and I would say you use it when you're ready or the child feels comfortable using it. My dss would refer to me at his stepmum although we are married but I'm sure he would have before we were married if he's been asked. I don't think it's up to a teacher to tell a child what kind of family they have or do not have if they've been told otherwise by parents though.

WofflingOn Thu 04-Oct-12 18:38:39

Seems a particularly odd thing for a teacher to have said, and a very dodgy area to be poking around in.
Most of us would keep our opinions and irrelevant facts to ourselves when it comes to real-life situations.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Thu 04-Oct-12 18:45:00

The teacher was out of order to tell your child that he doesn't have a step family if he believes he does, she should have just said nothing.

But this is a minefield for other people. I used to hate it with a passion when people referred to my Mums partner as my step dad. They weren't married, and as far as I was concerned he wasn't my step dad. But my Mum liked to play happy families so she would introduce him and refer to him as my step Dad, I think partly because she felt it was more respectable. I have more respect for her for the fact that she didn't marry him when I was a child and waited until I had a child of my own, because she didn't want to be that committed to someone who wasn't my Father or to make her name different to mine.

My children have a step dad, and it was a special part of our wedding day when he officially became my dcs step dad. It was part of what made the day about all four of us, not just me and DH. I didn't like it when people referred to my then dp as step dad because it felt like it was taking something away from our wedding day when we made the actual commitment. It woudo have meant less to my dc if he had been their step dad as soon as I decided he was a keeper.

I think yabu to expect that other people should refer to your dp as a step dad, because whether you like it or not, he isn't until you are married.

perfumedlife Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:42

I'm sure schools have to cover themselves legally. What if your soul mate turned up at school to take them without your permission? Or prior warning to them? Would he be down on the paperwork as their next of kin? They have to keep themselves right. If you just introduced him a few days ago to the school, how long has been in your kid's lives?

tiggytape Thu 04-Oct-12 19:10:33

Agree the teacher shouldn't be remarking on your family in that way at all. But if directly asked, she would be correct to say DP is not a step father. It is a term that means being married to a child's mother but it doesn't mean more committed or less committed (people marry after 2 weeks or 20 years).
Just like if you said DP was your husband, you may mean that you are committed to each other and he is your partner forever as far as you are concerned but it still wouldn't be an accurate description.

NeDeLaMer Thu 04-Oct-12 19:13:07

What Cinnamondgreyhound said (except I don't have step kids!). Lots of things aren't 'legally' correct, but are common useage (as someone else said, MIL when you aren't married). It conveys the meaning of the relationship and that is what it needs to do, day to day, you only need to worry about the 'legality' of it, for 'legal' issues.

However, if you --are the one making executive decisions about a child you haven't known very long, then you have bigger things to worry about--haven't been seeing your DP very long, I am surprised you have rushed into him being 'step dad' to your kids.

Diamondsareagirls Thu 04-Oct-12 19:15:18

It doesn't sound like we have got the true picture of how the conversation went here without the context. As a teacher it is really tricky to negotiate the range of family situations you come across so maybe she was just referring to the legal status of your relationship - I doubt she was commenting on if you were soul mates or not. Yabu.

NeDeLaMer Thu 04-Oct-12 19:17:11

Outraged - I can totally understand why you didn't want someone to be called your step-dad when you didn't feel that relationship was there, but I feel you are being a bit one sided, if that relationship is there and both the adult and the child want to refer to each other as 'step/parent/child' then that is up to them - it is daft to say it's not legally so, so it's not allowed IMO.

NeDeLaMer Thu 04-Oct-12 19:19:24

Diamonds - the teacher has been introduced to him as the childs step-dad, it is not up to her to tell the child that he doesn't have a step family (whether she agrees or not).

lakeofshiningwaters Thu 04-Oct-12 19:19:40

Sounds like an odd comment from the teacher, but she is right. Not a step-parent till married. From your other recent thread, I recall you have not been together particularly long and surely there's no rush to use 'step' and be upset if it is not used.

Also, I would be a bit concerned if the school were allowing you to sit in on your DP's son's meeting, and him your dd's without permission from the other parent (assuming your exP still has parental responsibility?). I haven't taken a Parent's Evening in 3 years, but that was something we were not allowed to do.

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