If I marry a woman and she has a child, I am a step parent. But what if the sequence is reversed? For example, suppose I am married to a woman, get divorced and she subsequently has a child by someone else. Is there any word in the English language to describe what my relationship (if any) is to this child?

This is my situation; I'm close to this child and always at a loss to describe our situation as other than family friend. Can anyone offer another suggestion?

  • The child of your ex-wife by another man? With whom you share not legal or blood tie? There is no word for that in my American dialect.
    – swbarnes2
    Jan 29, 2014 at 19:15
  • Like "selfie" I suppose is a new word just approved last year by Oxford , I guess you could recommend some word for such a relationship to Oxford .... Situations and circumstances are the cause of words..
    – Argot
    Jan 29, 2014 at 19:56
  • I would go with "a pal", or "my favorite youngster".
    – Isaac
    Jan 29, 2014 at 21:36
  • 1
    If really pressed to describe your rapport, I'd say something like: "I used to be married to his mother" and then "The kid decided to adopt me as his uncle/grown-up friend" or something similar. (Hope this helps)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 29, 2014 at 23:40
  • My cousin, who is in such a relationship, is called Uncle by his ex-wife's child. They also share a child so his daughter is half sister to his neo-nephew. Informal and not fitting common definitions.
    – bib
    Jan 30, 2014 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


"My ex-wife's child" is the proper description for your blood-or-marriage relationship with this child.

If you are back with your ex, you can call the child your step-child. If you adopt them, they are now your son/daughter.

Unlike "Significant other" (SO), there is no terminology yet to name this particular relationship that you can use and expect to be understood exactly.

Having said that, whose business is it that you would need to explain yourself so precisely? If he loves you like a father, and you love him like a son, and the mother goes along with this, describe him as your step-son. If someone questions you, politely steer the conversation the way you want it to go. "As I was saying, it was a great game. Have you been to any games lately?"

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