step-nephews?

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ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538
step-nephews?

A bit of background info:
My sister recently moved in with a guy who has 3 sons. My sister also has 3 kids of her own, 2 girls and a boy. They live across the country from us and I have never met any her SO or his kids. This is just due to finances, I haven't seen my sister for over a year either, but we talk on the phone all the time and her kids love to talk to my DD as well. Her SO's sons are 7,5 and 3 and live with their mother during the week, coming to see their Dad on weekends and whenever else their mother needs a break. They seem to always be there for one reason or another. There is talk about going to court for true joint custody and 50-50 living situation, but due to finances right now they are trying to work with their Mother as much as they can.

So my question is: What is my role with these boys? Since I never see them I dont mean in person, I actually think this would be easier to figure out in that case, but how about in terms of gifts etc? I always send my nieces and nephews Christmas presents, and I include their birthday presents for the year in that package as well (yea, Im that kind of deadbeat aunt). So do I buy these boys birthday/Christmas presents as well, just Christmas presents, just stocking suffers, or nothing? At this point we dont know where they will be for actual Christmas morning, but I am starting my shopping so I would like to have an idea of what I should be looking for.

Sorry about the story. I am just looking for some advice and it seems that there are many eclectic families on here who might be able to help me out. THanks.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4115

"ftmom" wrote:

A bit of background info:
My sister recently moved in with a guy who has 3 sons.

This says it to me. How do you even know that it is a permanent situation or even that it will last? If they were married I would absolutely consider them as nephews and treat them accordingly, but at this point I wouldn't do anything differently to allow for kids that I had never even met. But that is just me.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

This says it to me. How do you even know that it is a permanent situation or even that it will last? If they were married I would absolutely consider them as nephews and treat them accordingly, but at this point I wouldn't do anything differently to allow for kids that I had never even met. But that is just me.

I get what you are saying, but my sister really isnt the 'Marrying kind' so to speak. She lived with her kids dad for 12ish years without getting married, and has never lived with another man before this.

And her and her current SO did buy this house together, so that indicates to me some level of commitment.

But your right, they havent even been together for a whole year at this point, and I only get to know what she tells me about their relationship.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

If you are reasonably sure this is a long-term relationship (as opposed to a relationship that will be over in a couple months), then I would treat the step-kids that same as your bio nephews. That you haven't met them doesn't make a difference, imo. This way when you do meet them, you will at least be "aunt the who got you x for Christmas" as instead of a complete stranger.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

What is my role with these boys?

I don't think you have a role, especially right now. You have no obligations/commitments to these kids unless you put them on yourself AND the dad and your sis are fine with your involvement. Would it be nice to send b-day cards or gifts? Sure. I guess time will tell what, if any, your relationship will be like with these boys. You might want to develop a relationship, but maybe the father won't want that. Not saying that's a strong possibility or anything, but who knows what makes some people tick.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

I don't think you have a role, especially right now. You have no obligations/commitments to these kids unless you put them on yourself AND the dad and your sis are fine with your involvement. Would it be nice to send b-day cards or gifts? Sure. I guess time will tell what, if any, your relationship will be like with these boys. You might want to develop a relationship, but maybe the father won't want that. Not saying that's a strong possibility or anything, but who knows what makes some people tick.

I just picture those kids opening the parcel and my nieces and nephews pulling out present after present for themselves and those 3 boys sitting there with nothing, feeling left out. I know there dad doesnt expect us to send anything, but is happy to accept it (if my parents easter package is any indication).

I guess I have already decided to send something, just not sure what. Maybe just a small present for each boy to have under the tree? Or maybe it should be something for all of them to open while the other kids open their birthday presents right away? Oy.........!

Joined: 01/06/03
Posts: 1175

I have "steps" on both sides.

Dh's brother wife has 3 kids from a previous marriage who, while they're all now in their 20's. My sister's bf (now living with him) has a dd almost the same age as my dd.

The older 3 call us aunt/uncle... but I would expect that as BIL/SIL are married and have been since those kids were fairly young. My sister's bf's dd doesn't, but they aren't married, so I wouldn't expect it.

However, I treat all 4 "steps" the exact same as I do any biological nieces/nephews. And that includes birthday/Christmas gifts/cards. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. IMO, they are part of the family and deserve to be treated as such. I would be very hurt if my children were in a situation like that and made to feel like the didn't "belong"/etc... even unwittingly... because they weren't biologically related.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

If you send presents for the biological kids, then I would send for the step kids if they will be there when the presents are opened. My MIL has foster kids and we have always given gifts for them as well as our nieces and nephews.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I'd buy something small for all 6 children and a few bigger items they can all share.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

To me it has nothing to do with the biological link with the kids that dictate how you treat them, but the fact that they are kids. I think it would be crappy and kinda mean to only send a gift to the kids that you happen to be biologically related to. Either you send nothing to everyone or something to everyone, IMO.

Honestly, and no disrespect to your sister, but I feel bad for all the kids. It's tough having to mesh family together and go through seperated parents and step parents. It sucks. Just that fact alone would make me want to treat the SO's kids with as much love and care as I do my niece and nephew.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"wlillie" wrote:

I'd buy something small for all 6 children and a few bigger items they can all share.

I think this is a great approach.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"ftmom" wrote:

I just picture those kids opening the parcel and my nieces and nephews pulling out present after present for themselves and those 3 boys sitting there with nothing, feeling left out. I know there dad doesnt expect us to send anything, but is happy to accept it (if my parents easter package is any indication).

I guess I have already decided to send something, just not sure what. Maybe just a small present for each boy to have under the tree? Or maybe it should be something for all of them to open while the other kids open their birthday presents right away? Oy.........!

I agree with you, and if I were in your position I'd probably feel the tug on the heartstrings a bit too - not wanting the boys to be left out. I'm just saying I don't think you have any obligations and shouldn't feel as if you do. I guess you can be as involved as you want to be.

We sort of have a similar thing in our lives. DH's ex-girlfriend had a little wee baby when she met my DH. They had a 9-year relationship and DH raised the girl as his own. They split, she married and had 2 more children. Although DH isn't legally obligated to her in any way, he wants to be involved in her life because she's had such a tough time these past few years.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

What I did with a similar situation, and would suggest the same, is a family gift for the SO kiddos (gift certificates, board games, art supplies.. with all three of the kiddo's names on it), till your sis and he are married, then I would make a stronger effort to give them "equal" share.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

What makes this really hard is that if I had unlimited money I would happily buy for all the kids, all year long, but unfortunately our Christmas list has grown this year (a few babies too) and our budget has shrunk. I think I will send something though, maybe ask my sister what she thinks would be appropriate, although I already know she will say that we dont need to buy them something. I know I dont 'need' too, hopefully I can get some good deals and make this stretch......

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

I think a small gift or card is a nice thing to do. It isn't an obligation though. I like to give all of the kids in my life a gift on christmas even if it is small. I also have no qualms about giving cards with money for birthdays. My grandpas girlfriend always use to give us a card with a dollar for each year. It was small but it let us know that she was thinking of us. That is what really counts in a gift.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"ftmom" wrote:

Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

What makes this really hard is that if I had unlimited money I would happily buy for all the kids, all year long, but unfortunately our Christmas list has grown this year (a few babies too) and our budget has shrunk. I think I will send something though, maybe ask my sister what she thinks would be appropriate, although I already know she will say that we dont need to buy them something. I know I dont 'need' too, hopefully I can get some good deals and make this stretch......

If you are tight on money I would definitely consider switching them to Family Gifts for Christmas, and maybe cards with gift cards or small gifts for birthdays.

Starryblue702's picture
Joined: 04/06/11
Posts: 5454

I would say (for me) because it's a pretty new relationship I wouldn't buy them anything... but then again Christmas is still five months off... so maybe? I guess if it were me, by that time and I could afford it, I would maybe send them a gift card to somewhere ($10 for Toys R Us or WalMart?) if it seems that the relationship is going to last.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm weird like this but I admit to not being a super gifter (be it family kids or my own kids) ~ knowing that the kids are only his on weekends or whatever I would not send gifts to kids I had not yet met/non marriage situation. I would talk to my sister and let her know that I was sending gifts to her kids and encourage her to open the gifts with only her own children present.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I'm also not "the marrying kind" and it bugged me to end to be excluded from (or have DH excluded from) family things for lack of a piece of paper when we'd been together for years & years. Them not being married doesn't lessen their relationship in my eyes. It it were just another boyfriend, I wouldn't feel obligated to give a gift. But it sounds to me like your sister is in a pretty solid relationship, buying a house together, seeking joint custody, etc. so I would definitely consider those boys to be family.

That said, I'm also not a gift-giving kind of person. I usually remember to call on birthdays, but I rarely send cards, and I don't give birthday gifts to anyone except my own kids. I give Christmas gifts to DH, our kids, and our parents. I give all of my minor nieces & nephews (I have two who are now adults, and they've fallen off the gift list) either something very small and/or inexpensive, or a joint family gift like a nice board game or an outdoor activity. In your case, I'd go with a family gift & address it to all of them.