Posts Tagged ‘ step parent ’

Origin of the term “step-child”

Is the word “Step” in relation to families a “…rose by any other name…?”

Old English. steop-, with connotations of “loss,” in combinations like steopcild “orphan,” related to astiepan, bestiepan “to bereave, to deprive of parents or children,” from P.Gmc. *steupa- “bereft” (cf. O.Fris. stiap-, O.N. stjup-, Swed. styv-, M.L.G. stef-, Du. stief-, O.H.G. stiof-, Ger. stief-), lit. “pushed out,” from PIE *steup-, from base *(s)teu- (see steep (adj.)). Etymologically, a stepfather or stepmother is one who becomes father or mother to an orphan, but the notion of orphanage faded in 20c. For sense evolution, cf. L. privignus “stepson,” related to privus “deprived.”

In my previous blog contribution I considered the origins of the word “family”.  I  concluded that the concept of family as a nuclear, genetically-linked group is a relatively modern concept emerging sometime in the 17th century and culminating in such pop-cultural jargon as “family values”, an undefined but politically-charged term emerging sometime during the political campaigning of the 1960’s.


Although there have been several notable attempts to provide a better name for “modern” families, “Step” continues to be the prefix of choice.  Unfortunately it doesn’t mean “take a step in the right direction” as though it were a part of a larger and progressive process.  Unfortunately, although ancient in origin, the concepts of sad and deprived children, as demonstrated by the etymology, are all too often reflected in today’s reconstituted families.


Just in case you think I’m spending way too much time worrying about the ideas behind these adoption-related words, apparently I’m not the only other person thinking about this stuff:


Raising funds for Kaley to keep her family together!

Raising funds for Kayla to keep her family together!

Dear Friends and Families,
I have a client whose husband passed away tragically before we could finish the paperwork for their step-parent adoption.
The parents of her deceased husband are trying to take one of the children away from her (she has a 4 year old son that she is a stepparent to and a 5 month son). The paternal grandparents are taking her to Court to try and get custody of the 4 yr old. My client, Kaley, was a stay-at-home mom and does not have the money for a lawyer. We are raising money to help pay for these costs. Please consider donating by going to our website and clicking the “donate” button.


Help us to help Kaley keep her family together during this dreadful time in their lives!

This article is about Kaley’s husband:

Local Business Women get together to put on Tradeshow

Small Miracles Adoption is participating as a vendor, for the second year in a row, at the Bossy Mama Flaunt!

Support local women, in Edmonton Alberta,Canada, while you shop and taste wine/beer/goodies and watch a fashion show. This all takes place on September 25, 2011 and is the second annual Bossy Mama Flaunt!

To learn more visit

Admission is free as long as you bring a donation of diapers or monetary in support of Terra Centre for Pregnant and Parenting Teens.