Stepsister or Half-Sister: What's the Difference
It is definitely confusing when it comes to stating the relationship of children in a blended family. While the terms stepsister and half-sister are used interchangeably, they are indeed very different.
Stepsister (no hyphen) and half-sister (hyphen), are not the same. They indicate two different relationships.
- A stepsibling is the daughter or son of a stepparent.
- A half-sibling is a blood sister who shares one of the biological parents but not both.
- Half-siblings are related, but stepsiblings are not related.
- Stepchildren of a stepfather in a blended family are not blood related to the children of their stepmother.
- Half-brothers and half-sisters share genetic data but stepbrothers and stepsisters don't.
That might be confusing. Perhaps you can understand it better by looking at some of large blended families as examples.
"The Brady Bunch"
More than likely, you are familiar with The Brady Bunch series that aired on ABC from September 26, 1969 to March 8, 1974.
The family consisted of six children. Mike Brady had three sons: Greg, Peter, and Bobby. He married Carol who had three lovely daughters: Marcia, Jan, and Cindy.
None of the children shared both parents so they were stepsisters and stepbrothers to one another.
If Mike and Carol had a baby girl together, then the baby would share both parents and would be a half-sister to the six older kids because the baby would share the girls’ mother and the boys’ father.
Another way to look at it is that your stepfather’s children are your stepsisters and brothers, and the same situation exists if you have a stepmother. There is no such thing as a half-mother or a half-father.
Let’s clarify it another way.
If two people marry with children from a previous marriage, those children will become stepchildren to each other because none of them share both parents. If the parents have a baby together, the baby would be a half-sibling of the older children.
You have probably heard about Meghan Markle's family. They have been in the news a lot recently since Meghan is getting ready to marry Prince Harry, and the relatives are bitter because they have not been invited to the wedding.
Meghan's father already had two children when he married Meghan's mother. The two children became Meghan's half-siblings because they share the same father but not the same mother.
Some newspapers and television reports get it wrong because they use both words interchangeably.
Actor Donny Wahlberg is the eighth of nine children. His siblings are Arthur, Jim, Paul, Robert, Tracey, Michelle, and Debbie (died in 2003), and Mark.
When Donny's mother, Alma Elaine, married Donny's father, Donald Edmond Wahlberg, Sr. he already had three children from his first marriage, Donna, Scott, and Buddy. The children became Donny's half-siblings.
Kardashians and Jenner Children
What about the Kardashians and the Jenners? This is a very good example of half-siblings.
Robert Kardashians and Kris Kardashians (name at the time) had four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Robert. After Robert Kardashian's death, Kris married Bruce Jenner (name at the time) who had four children of his own from two previous marriages: Burt and Casey with his first wife Chrystie Crownover and two sons, Brandon and Brody, from his marriage to Linda Thompson.
After Bruce and Kris married, the children created a blended family. This was the "Brady Brunch" scenario.
The Kardashian girls became stepchildren to Bruce and stepsiblings to Bruce's older children from his first two marriages. When Kris and Bruce had Kendall and Kylie Jenner, they became half-sisters to Kris' older children.
Half-siblings are related, but stepsiblings are not related.
A half-sibling is related by blood through one of the biological parents.
Stepfather and Stepmother
It is easier to understand about stepfathers and stepmothers because there are no half fathers and half mothers.
When a man marries a woman with children, he becomes a stepfather and the woman's children become his stepchildren. When a woman marries a man with children, she becomes a stepmother and his children become her stepchildren.
Example of stepbrother and half-brother
This is a good example of both a stepbrother an a half-brother.
Harold has a son Raymond from his wife ex-wife Marva.
Harold marries Shirley who already has a son Samuel from her marriage with David.
A son is born to Harold and Shirley who they name Leonard.
Raymond and Samuel are stepbrothers. (They do not share blood)
Raymond and Leonard are half-brothers. (They share half the blood from Harold and half the blood from Shirley).
Some stepsiblings or half-siblings do not use either of those terms. If they grew up in the same house with a biological mother and a stepfather, they still refer to the other children as their sister and brother and do not use the terms "step" or "half" at all.
One Blended Family
Comedian Steve Harvey had four children from two marriages before he married Marjorie Bridges who had three children of her own.
Harvey had three children with his first wife Marcia, twin girls Karli and Brandi, and son Steven, Jr. He and his second wife, Mary Shackelford, had one son named Wynton.
To avoid the terms, step-siblings and half-siblings, Harvey calls all seven children his own without making any distinction with them at all.