Earlier today, 7 year old Syd asked me what the difference was between step brothers and sisters, and real ones. So I set about googling ways of explaining blended families to kids. Personally, I am the youngest of 6 kids. While I share a parent with all of them, one of my brothers is the step brother to the rest. With this in mind, I felt clued up enough to explain it using a quick drawing of my family tree, without google’s help.

Explaining Blended Families To Kids

Firstly, I explained that my Mum was married twice. I explained she had 4 children with her first husband. Next, I explained that my Dad, too was married twice. He had one son with his first wife. Thirdly, I explained that both marriages ended, and then my Mum and Dad met and had me.

I explained that Full brothers and sisters share both parents, while half brothers and sisters share one parent. Finally, I explained that step siblings have different mums and dads, but their parents have become a couple.

step sisters
Image Credit


I started tracing my family tree when I was 20, after stumbling across a really old photo of my Great Grandmother and her siblings from 1910. One thing I remember wondering is what that family would make of my own blended family… Things have changed so much in terms of acceptable family units. I have spent a lot of time and money on tracing my family tree since then.

One of the most interesting things I did was get a family DNA test. (You can read about my experience here). If you’re considering a DNA test to help with your family history journey, it’s worth looking at the Best Ancestry DNA Tests from DNA Weekly.

Using Genealogy To Explain Blended Families

Syd is definitely becoming more curious about blended families since her Dad and I separated. I think it’ll be a good while before the idea of step anything will enter her life, though. After our initial conversation, Syd still seemed to be struggling to grasp how the family members actually linked together, so I drew it like this for her…

Full Siblings

I explained again that full siblings (Like her and Sam) have the same Mum and Dad. Alongside this, I drew the below tree for her to help visualise it.

Explaining Blended Families To Kids - Full siblings

Half Siblings

Next, I explained that Myself and her uncle S have the same Dad, but different Mums, so we are half siblings. The below diagram helped Syd to make sense of it.

Explaining Blended Families To Kids - Half Siblings

Step Siblings

Finally, I explained that Step Siblings don’t have the same Mum or Dad, but that one of their parents has “moved in or Married” one of the other’s. I explained that Uncle S and her Auntie L are Step Siblings, and showed her this family tree to help her understand it.

Explaining Step Families To Kids

By the time Syd had looked at the diagrams and listened to me explain each term, she seemed to get it. She then went on to correctly name a friend who has a half sibling, and another with a step sibling. So I think it’s safe to assume my explanation helped her to get to grips with some of the different ways families can be blended. Do let me know in the comments if you use my diagrams or method when explaining blended families to your kids.

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