My son & the mother of my grandchild were never married. They are no longer a couple but enjoy a very comfortable co-parenting relationship. When they broke up she and I did not! Although she was never my official daughter-in-law, that is the type of relationship we had and continue to have. Introducing her is always painful. She was never my daughter-in-law so she isn't my ex daughter-in-law - and even if she were that term is not acceptable to me -- she isn't my ex. The only phrases I am even partially comfortable with are "______'s Mom" and "the mother of my grandchild." It explains the blood-line, but it just doesn't capture the spirit of our bond. Are there words from other languages that might express the spirit of this relationship?

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    @mahmudkoya Sorry, but calling the relationship "illegitimate" comes off as either judgemental or old-fashioned. Mar 10, 2017 at 17:24
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    As a comment, since I cannot speak to the question of words in other languages. When I was a child my father took up with a woman and they are, after so many years "common-law." But during those early years, my sibling and I simply referred to her children as "step-brother" etc. in conversation, because, really, the details are cumbersome and unimportant. You might simply say: "this is my ex-daughter-in-law and good friend," which is to the point and finishes with the important bit.
    – Yorik
    Mar 10, 2017 at 21:49
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    @mahmudkoya the expression illegitimate has very negative connotations in English (not only) and using this expression for long term romantic relationships does sound judgmental to English native speakers. To say to any grandparent, but especially to a grandmother, that their grandchild was fruit of an illegitimate relation is insensitive, and frankly untrue. It is not "illegitimate" to live with a same sex partner, or a hetereosexual couple and for them to grow a family. The law (in the west) does not demand that children be born in wedlock.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 11, 2017 at 7:47
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    @mahmudkoya Note that the OP did not use the term illegitimate to describe the relationship between her son and the mother of her grandchild, precisely because it has very negative connotations. The expression "bastard child" used to be common, it was used in law courts but then it became an insult, and it is now considered, rightly so, derogatory. Although the term illegitimate is listed in the dictionary, it is not acceptable to call any child that name. Not outside of a law of justice, in any case.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 11, 2017 at 8:45
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    The relationship between two consenting adults was not illegitimate. There is no law prohibiting two adults to have a sexual romantic relationship. This discussion is doomed to get overlong and complicated. I am merely explaining in greater detail what might have prompted Cascabel's comment.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 11, 2017 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


The OP asks about terms in other languages that might define her relationship with the mother of her grandchild. That is beyond the scope of ELU and my knowledge, but I can say with confidence that there is no English word or term for the OP's situation. English does not have an elaborate suite of words to describe complicated family relationships.

What English speakers (at least in much of the US) do is simplify, co-opt or make up terms to express not blood or legal relationships, but emotional relationships.

For example, my mother's best friend was Auntie Helen (later Aunt Helen) to me and everyone in our circle knew that. "Will your Auntie Helen be at your recital?"

As another example, a friend calls a woman who was close to him and his family when he was growing up "my other mother". I'm not sure of the actual relationship -- sister or cousin of one of his parents or maybe his mother's closest friend -- but it doesn't matter; she was his "other mother" and the listener would have to be dense indeed not to infer the love he felt for her, and her closeness to his entire family.

Thus, the OP can call this young woman whatever both feel comfortable with, and is not required to explain anything, although she may occasionally want to.

There's only one circumstance I can think of where the OP might have to back off from a title that implies a legal family relationship: if the young lady is in hospital and the docs are seeking permission for a medical procedure from a family member. Other than that, it is really no one's business but yours and the mother of your grandchild.

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