To hate the term birth mother when referring to step children's mother

(65 Posts)
pennypence Sat 27-Jul-13 21:20:56

Just been for a nosy on the step parents board and seen this in a few posts. I haven't seen anyone refer to the dads as birth dad. I would be incensed if someone referred to me as my children's birth mother.

WorraLiberty Sat 27-Jul-13 21:25:55

I expect it depends on the situation

If for example you've raised your stepchild from a very early age, and they have little or no contact with their Mum...birth mother is quite descriptive.

I've heard a lot of Dads being referred to as 'sperm donors' but not 'birth Dads'.

ITCouldBeWorse Sat 27-Jul-13 21:26:27

I thought it was a term more frequently used for biological mother of adopted children. Otherwise she is surely just mother?

Maybe a backlash from all the 'wicked' stepmothers who actually do quite a bit of mothering

CeliaLytton Sat 27-Jul-13 21:26:44

Personally I would refer to their mother as, well, their mother, unless she had done something truly hideous and the children wanted nothing to do with her, in which case I would let them decide how to address her.

I think it is different using the term on an internet forum though amongst people who consider themselves a parent to the children. I don't think most people would mean it to be offensive.

Are you a step parent?

allnewtaketwo Sat 27-Jul-13 21:27:12

I see dads referred to as sperm donors on here on a very very regular basis and I've never once seen anyone object to that term

wonderingsoul Sat 27-Jul-13 21:28:39

Sperm dinners are generally twats who have no contact..which they deserve the name.

If the mum has no contact its deserved again.

But if either parents. Are involved I would be disgusted to heard them that.. smacks off so little disrespect and infact they are more mum then the actually mum

BOF Sat 27-Jul-13 21:28:53

Really? There's just been a multiple paged bunfight on this very issue- it was going strong when I saw it earlier. I imagine the posters who feel most strongly have used up all their gunpowder today.

BOF Sat 27-Jul-13 21:29:36

Sperm dinners? Remind not to eat at your house! grin

qazxc Sat 27-Jul-13 21:29:45

I would assume that the birth mother would imply adoption/surrogacy if i heard people using it.

MammaTJ Sat 27-Jul-13 21:30:15

Birth mother aptly describes the woman who gave birth to my D(ex)StD. However, I was the woman most involved in her upbringing.

I cannot bring myself to take offence at this one. Sorry OP

JumpingJackSprat Sat 27-Jul-13 21:31:05

Why not avoid the step parents board then seeing as it upsets you so much?

wonderingsoul Sat 27-Jul-13 21:32:28

Yeah... it's a delicacy in some countries don't you know...

Sperm dinners... bah.. I wont be eating at mine ethier..stupider phone.

lunar1 Sat 27-Jul-13 21:34:24

I think in some cases bm is used by a step parent and no offence is meant, I think it is used in that way on lots of American forums.

Other times it is quite clearly the step parent trying to minimise the mothers relationship with her child. In these cases I think it's vile.

allnewtaketwo Sat 27-Jul-13 21:34:35

I personally haven't seen anyone use the term BM in a manner which was meant to be derogatory or offensive. Clearly some people do find it offensive, but that can be easily be dealt with by a nudge to the (usually new) poster who is unaware of the offence caused, rather than by aggressive bullying which I've seen happening a lot

pootlebug Sat 27-Jul-13 21:35:04

I can't imagine referring to my stepson's mother as 'birth mother', she's his mother.

But a friend whose son has 2 dads - his biological dad, who he seldom sees, and her husband who has adopted her son legally, is called dad by him, etc. She refers to his bio dad as such, which I guess is kind of similar to 'birth mother' - and in that scenario it makes total sense.

ChippingInHopHopHop Sat 27-Jul-13 21:37:57

... and of course this isn't anything to do with the thread that has been 'kicking off' for a couple of days... oh no.


squoosh Sat 27-Jul-13 21:40:06

I've only ever heard the term 'birth mother' used when referring to a woman who gave birth to but was not involved in the upbringing of the child.

Never had a sperm dinner, have had a few sperm hors d'oeuvres.

BeesGoBuzzzzzz Sat 27-Jul-13 21:45:18

YABU because you are deliberately going to look at something in order to get all upset and start another thread about this.

MammaTJ Sat 27-Jul-13 21:47:06

ChippingInHopHopHop what are you on about? It has passed me by completely.

IfIonlyhadsomesleep Sat 27-Jul-13 21:53:30

I do understand the term sperm donor for an absent father, but I do object to it a bit, although I appreciate I have specific and very personal reasons for the objection. My children were conceived with the help of a sperm donor and in our house that term has only positive connotations of someone who has enabled us to have our family and dh to be a father. It would be inappropriate to describe the donor as father or dad, although biologically that is true. But they didn't disappear or deny their responsibilities as is the implication when I see sperm donor used on threads on here.
Thing is, there'll be something I innocently say that will bother someone else with a specific set of circumstances. I do my best not to but it happens. I try to look at the spirit behind the semantics, not the words themselves.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 27-Jul-13 23:41:07

Using the term birth mother/ father when the child has been adopted is the correct term as the adoptive parent then becomes the legal parent and the birth parent ceases to be a parent. That's the point of adoptions.

Its also the correct term for surrogate situations.

Birth mum /sperm donor are insulting terms (but understandable ones) when used to describe none involved completely absent parents

Or its a highly positive description of someone who entered into a formal arrangement to donate sperm or womb.

They are both insulting terms when used to describe someone who is still involved in the child's life where no legal removal of parental status has happened.

Suelford Sat 27-Jul-13 23:48:22
notanyanymore Sat 27-Jul-13 23:49:31

Mum suffices (unless she's totally absent and has been for a long while).

ByTheSea Sat 27-Jul-13 23:58:16

I raised my stepsons from very young ages and the don't know her other than she gave birth to them and neglected one so badly as a baby he is permanently damage. She IS a 'birth mother,' nothing more.

ByTheSea Sun 28-Jul-13 00:00:30


deepfriedsage Sun 28-Jul-13 00:09:00

What a nasty bitchy way to speak about a Mother. A birth Mother would be someone who gave a baby up foradoadoption. Are these Step Mothers on the thread you mentioned former OW who want to take over a family or just odd bods?

notanyanymore Sun 28-Jul-13 00:09:42

Yes bythesea in those circs she is as it is akin to the child/ren being adopted.
Generally speaking tho that is not the case. It is no more ok for the new partner to refer to the children's mum as 'bm' then it would be for the mum to refer to her as 'ls' (latest shag).

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 28-Jul-13 00:14:02

Well - what would you prefer?

Birth? Biological?

I am someones step child. My step dad has as much right to call me his daughter as my dad does. He helped make me the adult I am today, wouldn't be the same person without him, I love him dearly.

TheFallenNinja Sun 28-Jul-13 00:14:30

It's just two words to differentiate between step and real mother.

This was raging on earlier, honestly cannot see what the problem is.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 28-Jul-13 00:15:55

I wasn't a very young child when he became a part of my life either.

My dad has always been a part of my life.

I have three parents and consider myself lucky.

deepfriedsage Sun 28-Jul-13 00:18:02

It would take a nasty hard nosed individual to downgrade a divorced Mother to birth Mother.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 28-Jul-13 00:18:10

I think if a sp has practically brought the child up from an early age, the mother has had little contact and the sp is raising the child then referring to their mum as bm seems quite fair to me. It is very similar to adoption, especially from the child pov.
If the mother is the main/primary carer it is out of order to refer to her as bm, she is the child's mother.

Caoilainn Sun 28-Jul-13 00:23:38

Applies in adoption. Mother, mum etc would apply for circumstances where you are living with step-son-daughter etc

IneedAyoniNickname Sun 28-Jul-13 00:25:03

I would be furious if i found out that anyone ever referred to me as my dcs birth mother, least of all their dad's gf (i don't see her as their sm, as she's been around less than a year) IMO there is no need for the 'birth' part, I am their Mum, pure and simple. In the future, his gf may well become their step mum, but I will still be their mum, with no need for the 'birth' definition.

I also differentiate between my parents by adding 'step' to my sm and sd, my parents are just mum and dad.

In the case of absent parents I agree this is different, and also appreciate that my opinions are just that, opinions. I'm in no what saying that my way is the right way.

Caoilainn Sun 28-Jul-13 00:30:49

I'm in a situation where ex partner has no contact with DS however he is not a sperm donor, he is DS's father.
I am DS's birth mother, but who calls it that?!
I'm his mum, if and when his birth father turns up he will be his dad!

My step parent would like to think she brought us up, perspective is an amazing thing!

My own situation is one where my DS1s birth father has had no contact with him since he was 4 days old. I would never refer to him as a sperm donor. He is still my DS's birth father, even though my DH has been there since DS was 1 yo, adopted him when we got married and is "Dad" in every important meaning of the word.
Birth mother, birth father should only be used in the context of totally absent parents, imo. And terms such as "sperm donor" only in cases of genuine, deliberate sperm donation. It's actually quite insulting to those men who go out of their way to make a donation to help an otherwise childless couple.

BramshawHill Sun 28-Jul-13 08:26:41

I've only ever heard birth mother be used to reference the woman who gave birth to the child before someone else stepping in and raising it.
Never in the situation of the 'birth mother' is still their actual parent and is raising them. I don't see much of a problem with it in that circumstance as it differentiates between the woman who gave birth and the woman who mothered them.

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 08:35:25

There is a thread in SP discussing the use of this very acronym, It's HUGE, it's at the top of the list, you can't miss it.

Why did you feel the need to bring it over here as well OP?

Next time you're 'having a nosy' how about opening your eyes at putting your big old wooden spoon away?

Or were you not satisfied that SPs were receiving enough of a bashing already?

superbagpuss Sun 28-Jul-13 08:40:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 08:52:41

I've been here a few years now and none of the seasoned stepmothers here I know use the acronym 'BM' (unless it is actually appriopriate in their case) because it has always and still does cause an absolute shit storm every time.

Every now and then someone new to the site or new to being a SP will come along and will unwittingly use it (as it is a widely used distinction between mother and stepmother elsewhere) and all this blows up again and it simply becomes yet another stick with which to beat stepmothers.

And that is why there is an enormous thread about it right now, calling for a talk guideline thingy at the top of the SP forum to warn of the extreme offence the term causes and only use it if you want to start a shit storm AGAIN.

But I guess you didn't read that OP, no?

ForgetfulNameChanger Sun 28-Jul-13 08:55:06

YANBU. You see it all over the place over there and not just to describe mums who aren't involved in the care of their child. A lot of them use it to describe the resident parent too. Its a shitty way to distinguish between stepmum and "real mother" because there is no need for that extra "bio" or "birth" in that context. There's stepmum and mum. Simple.

MrsDeVere Sun 28-Jul-13 08:56:54

I am a bit confused.
I have seen this debate rage on over the last couple of days.
I am not sure if: mothers who are still involved and share care of their children are referred to as Birth Mothers.
the term is only used for absent mothers.

If it is the 1st it is totally unacceptable and unnecessary
if it is the 2nd I cannot see the problem.

No one likes being referred to as a birth mother, doesn't matter how rubbish they are.
My son's birth mother doesn't like it.
In her eyes she is DS's real mummy.

She can think what she likes if it helps her. It doesn't affect me.

superbagpuss Sun 28-Jul-13 08:58:05

forgetful namechanger
please see my comments below

children should be allowed to call their mothers what they see fit

real mother is a silly term IMHO
no one is plastic

ForgetfulNameChanger Sun 28-Jul-13 09:02:59

Superbagpuss, I wasn't referring to a child choosing to call their own mother their birth mother. I was clearly referring to the adult stepmums over on that board who choose to refer to their stepchildrens mum as "birth mum" or "bio mum".

pennypence Sun 28-Jul-13 09:59:41

I'm back.

First of all no I didn't see any other thread about this subject so haven't intentionally started it on another thread to start a bun fight. So no wasn't doing it to stir Fenton!

I'm not a new poster just a name changer which I do regularly to preserve my anonymity.

I looked on the step parents forum not because I'm nosy or wish to stir but because of a situation that has come up in my life regarding my step daughter.

The posts I looked at (3) which used the term birth mother to describe the OP step child's mother only one was where the stepchild was living full time with their father and stepmother. The other 2 were where the child was living with their mother so no excuse to use such a term.

My understanding of the term is that the correct usage is to describe a parent who once conceived/give birth to the child they no longer acts as a parent to that child, whether it be because someone else is bringing the child up as in adoption or because the parent does not act like a parent, ie abusive.

Surely where the child has a mother bringing them up then the term should be 'mother'. The term birth mother or bio mother is not needed in these circumstances as I'm sure people can distinguish between stepmother and mother. Clue: the word 'step' smile

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 10:11:01

Ok if you are genuinely interested in it's use or non-use then the top thread in SP "I've asked MNHQ" discusses it at great length. It happens often that posters who have found it commonplace and accepted in other sites have made the blunder of using it here, and of course instead of getting support and advice, have created an almighty shitstorm about the use of the acronym.

The thread was started suggesting it's clear marking of just how offensive it is to use it. It's all there, no real need to bring it to AIBU, it's had plenty of traffic where it is.

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 10:12:04

Not wanting to be the thread police though, just a suggestion.

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 10:14:01

Oh and one last thing, if you go over to Lone Parents, you will see the term Bio Dad used to refer to the non-resident father.

DuttyWine Sun 28-Jul-13 10:21:36

I saw it said bm on a thread and thought it meant "baby mother"
When I realised it meant birth mother I was confused as I thought that just referred to mothers of children who had been adopted.

ForgetfulNameChanger Sun 28-Jul-13 10:27:34

Do people really use bio dad over in lone parents? I don't think I've ever seen that used there since I started posting in that section hmm

pennypence Sun 28-Jul-13 10:55:13

Fenton - thank you for your suggestion. However I'll decide whether there's a real need to bring it over to AIBU as I'm sure many people won't have seen the post on SP especially as the title doesn't give any indication of what the post is about. Plus they might not want to be accused of being nosy by going over to the SP site as I was by you.

As you say you're not the thread police so why did you feel the need to be so offensive towards me? Apparently I'm nosy and a stirrer according to you.

You could have simply posted to say that they is already a thread on SP about this subject.

As I'm not a lone parent presumably you'll also call me nosy if I go on that forum and read some of the posts?

pennypence Sun 28-Jul-13 10:56:13

Anyway I'll bow out of this post now.

Fenton Sun 28-Jul-13 12:34:30

Plus they might not want to be accused of being nosy by going over to the SP site as I was by you.

pardon me, but you said in your first post you were 'having a nosy on the step parents board'

which is why when I mentioned it in my post i put it in speech marks - your words, not mine.

So don't come over all the injured party here. I am merely sick of a whole area of this board being picked on, mocked and berated.


ReginaPhilangie Sun 28-Jul-13 12:54:26

Every situation should be looked at differently, it depends doesn't it. At my DSD's 18 birthday meal, she introduced me and her dad as "this is my stepmum and dad" and her mother as "and this is my birth mother". Says it all really doesn't it.

McNewPants2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 13:02:35

I would be hurt if I was ever referred as a birth mum, I am a mother. But it depends on where the mother is. If she is absent than the title fits perfect.

I used to hate it when his bio dad was called his real dad, until I pointed out his adoptive dad was his real dad even if you don't share DNA.

There again my DC will never have a step mum or step dad, as this is something me and DH has discussed before having children.

lljkk Sun 28-Jul-13 13:07:11

I don't get the offence, either.
I know it wouldn't bother me if DC had a step-mum.

ThisWayForCrazy Sun 28-Jul-13 13:13:08

My eldest stepson lives with us. I would refer to his Mum as his Mum generally, but many people assume I am his Mum and I need to set that straight, by saying I am his step Mum. I can't stand his Mum (nor she me) but I couldn't imagine calling her his birth mother.

My 15 year old, however, has me in his phone as "Birth Giver" hmm

I would feel pretty shit if I was referred to as my children's birth mother. I am their mother, no pre-fix necessary. It's not the end of the world, but it would feel as though his new girlfriend/wife was belittling my role in my own children's lives whilst reaffirming her own. Pretty nasty imo.

zatyaballerina Sun 28-Jul-13 14:22:48

yanbu, unless the child has been put up for adoption, it's mother.

ChippingInHopHopHop Sun 28-Jul-13 14:28:34

There again my DC will never have a step mum or step dad, as this is something me and DH has discussed before having children

McNewPants - I admire your belief in this statement, but really, don't you think 99% of now divorced/separated parents thought or said this too? It's not exactly something you set out to have.

ChippingInHopHopHop Sun 28-Jul-13 14:30:08

Regina - exactly. It has been mentioned on both threads, several times! People refusing to see that it can be both offensive and accurate given different situations are not helping.

Goooooooooooooooooooooood Sun 28-Jul-13 15:03:35

Unless it is deliberately done to offend then I can't see how it matters really.

Tuckshop Sun 28-Jul-13 16:55:23

The other thread has gone a bit weird.

I said on that, and another thread, that BM is absolutely fine in the right context. In the context of a mum who is involved then there is no need to use it at all and therefore no need to use the acronym. And while it doesn't particularly press any buttons for me, I can see why it could if it were used in an inflammatory way.

I've been a SM for many years and on here for nearly as long and not once have felt the need, when I've talked about things on threads to use anything other than dsd's mum or dh's ex or found that an acronym was helpful to avoid any confusion.

TalkativeJim Sun 28-Jul-13 18:13:06

If she's absent from the child's life and someone else has effectively been the child's mother, then the term birth mother makes sense.

If not, then all it does is make the person using the term look nasty, and if it's the step-mother/father's partner, it makes them look screamingly insecure about their place in the family set-up.

A very loaded term.

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