Our oldest daughter was ten when it happened. We were at the pediatrician’s office and her baby brother had just been born. He was with us in his car seat. The pediatrician was asking her who the members of her family were. She listed myself, her dad (who happens to be her step-father), her brother who is three years younger than her, and her baby brother.
At that moment the pediatrician corrected her. ‘Well, the baby is your half-brother. Not your brother.’ I was completely taken aback. To this day I am ashamed that I didn’t immediately put him in his place. Instead, our TEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER did it for me. As soon as those words left his mouth, her face filled with indignation. ‘He is my brother. Not my half-brother. My brother! And that is what you will call him.’
Even if he had been a good pediatrician, and he wasn’t, there is no way we would’ve stayed with his office. In that moment both my daughter and I had lost any respect we may have had for him. As well as any trust in his ability to take care of us. It was the first time that anyone had referred to my sweet new baby as anyone’s ‘half-brother’ and it stung.
I left an extremely toxic and unhealthy marriage with my two oldest children. They were eight and five at the time. Very shortly after we met MY NOW HUSBAND. He immediately became a father to our two oldest. All in, no looking back. They were his and he was theirs. We became a family. Then we added two more children. All of us together. A family. Whole. Nothing ‘half’ about it.
The word ‘half’ indicates that something is not whole. The other half is missing, or doesn’t exist. That’s fine when we are dealing with cake or how much cream you want in your coffee. It isn’t ok when you are dealing with human beings. Especially human beings who have siblings they love very much.
And yes, I do understand that biologically speaking we are dealing with half of someone’s genetics being shared while half are not. However, I can think of only one circumstance where that needs to be discussed at all. Medical History. There is no other reason ever for someone to go out of their way to point out to siblings that they are not ‘whole.’
This is 2020. FAMILIES BECOME FAMILIES in countless ways. It doesn’t matter one little bit what those ways are. All that matters is the love they have for each other. Half siblings, step-siblings, foster siblings. To those children and to those families they are siblings.
So let’s stop labeling half siblings or any kind of siblings, shall we?
Unless you are researching their ancestry or determining who may or may not be genetically predisposed to something, it’s completely unnecessary. Unnecessary and quite honestly no one’s darn business.
Calling a child a ‘half’ anything makes them feel like less than a whole. It sounds as though they are only a half member of their family. It makes a completely unnecessary distinction.
Family is family. Siblings are siblings. As long as children are growing together in a secure environment, surrounded by people who love them, labeling those relationships serves no purpose. Half siblings are siblings. Period.