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Excluding “Bonus Mom” From The Family Photos

Eleven years ago my mother passed away at the age of 55.  She left 7 kids, our dad and grandchildren. Last month my father remarried.

Six of us are married with kids (22 grandchildren). This will be the first family photo with our new step mom.

My siblings originally didn’t want her in the family photo. I disagreed. They have now said they are willing to have 1 photo with her and then take a family photo without her.  I still disagree. She is family and belongs in the family photo. I do not want to be part of a family photo that excludes.

Is this ok? Am I missing something?
Should I still show up and be in both photos?   0310-16

Your siblings are exceptionally shortsighted because they fail to see the contribution your new stepmother will make in the lives of the grandchildren.   My MIL died when I was pregnant with the second child and my FIL remarried 2 years later.    My step-MIL is the only grandmother my children really know and she’s been a dandy grandmother who treats them like her biological grandkids.   We celebrate expanding the family tent pegs to include those who have married into the family.   My husband refers to his stepmother as his “bonus mom” and she is included in everything the family does.   There was one extended family member who objected to the marriage and stepmom’s inclusion but that same person also made it known that those of us who married into the family weren’t really family members either.

Further, your siblings are shortsighted in not seeing how excluding the new wife will possibly hurt, offend and distance your father from various family members.  We figured that if Dad loved his new wife, we should follow the example and try to love her as well as a way to honor Dad’s choice in a new spouse.  My brother-in-law deeply respects and has affection for his stepmother because he, like us, believes she extended Dad’s life and made his last years very happy and pleasant and for that we are profoundly grateful.   After living near her (and my late FIL) for the last 25 years, she is moving back to her home state this summer to be closer to her extended family and we wept at the news.

You should talk with your father about the consequences of your not participating in a group photo that excludes the new stepmother.   He and his wife may not be as concerned as you about it.    One option is to take family lineage photos, i.e. grandfather>child>grandchild……or your father surrounded by all the biological kids (no spouses) but if there is to be a family photo that includes the persons who have previously married into the family, then your stepmother needs to be included as well as the newest member.


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  • Lisa H. March 11, 2016, 11:22 am

    This always amuses me…. People only want ‘blood relatives’ in photos, but there is no logic in that; unless you are going to marry your sibling, all spouses would then be considered non-blood relatives and should also be excluded. At what point do your siblings spouses become approved to be in family photos? Before marriage? While engaged? After the birth of a child? Marriage doesn’t necessarily assure that they will always be a part of the family; what if there is a divorce and a sibling remarries; will that new spouse also be excluded? I doubt it. Your siblings are very short sighted. Such a shame. I am a stepmom myself and we have lovely family photos in our home because we are a family. A blended family.

    • Green123 March 11, 2016, 2:19 pm

      I was excluded from family photos by my husband’s family until we were married. Fiances and girlfriends who had produced children were allowed in, but I was not…

      • Lady Catford March 13, 2016, 6:32 pm

        My Mother refused to acknowledge my son’s SO until after they were married. At the same time, Mother was living (in sin) with a very nice man who we were supposed to call ‘Dad”

      • PWH March 14, 2016, 9:50 am

        Green123, that is absolutely horrible. I remember how angry I was when my Husband’s new SIL excluded me from the family photos at her wedding to Husband’s brother. My Husband and I weren’t married at the time but had lived together long enough to be common law and had actually been together longer than SIL and BIL.

  • Dominic March 11, 2016, 11:23 am

    Last year my elderly father wanted to have some family portraits done while his church was offering portrait services. It was my father, the four brothers, one significant other to a brother, and the five biological grandchildren, with two significant others of theirs. We had pictures taken in several combinations, including the whole group, just the four brothers, just dad/sons/grandkids, just dad/sons, etc.

    The three significant others didn’t feel left out, and they got to have pictures together (even though some have since broken up and are no longer “part of the family), and we have pictures of “just family.” But that’s different from the new stepmother. I wouldn’t dream of excluding her in this situation, if it were my family. Yikes!

    It reminds me of the stone-cold “Mothers’ Day” card I saw two years ago, with the cheery message, “For my father’s wife …” What is unspoken there (and here) says volumes. The siblings who want to exclude “bonus mom” need some sense talked into them.

    • mark March 11, 2016, 3:01 pm

      We’ve done stuff like this at family gatherings. After about 20-30 minutes of running through combinations, I was getting pretty sick of it. But it still is a very good way of doing it.

      • Just4Kicks March 13, 2016, 11:22 am

        Years ago, my MIL’ s church had a professional photographer come in after Mothers Day services and take family photos….which I thought was lovely.
        We had two small kids at the time, and the photographer took a photo of my in-laws, my husband and I and both of our kids.
        Then, the in-laws stepped aside, and one was taken with just my husband, kids and I.
        The photographer thanked us, and we him, and we started moving to the side to let him set up for the next family in line.
        Then…..my mil said “I would like just one more, please!”
        The man said “okay….but we have to hurry….there are a lot of folks waiting, but sure I can do one more!”
        My husband said to his mom “another one?”
        And she said , “YES! I want a picture of you (my husband)….the two kids…..and ME!”
        The photographer just looked at her like “huh?!?”, and my husband said “no, mom….that’s kind of creepy…..”
        Of course, she was peeved, and grabbed her purse and left.
        Mothers Day dinner was quite chilly, as she didn’t get her way.

        • starstruck March 13, 2016, 11:42 pm

          I’m sorry ,I’m not getting what was creepy about that. Your mother in law wanted one of herself, her son and her grandkids? That would show three generations of the family. I took one of these with my mom and my grandma and it was cool. We wanted a picture of the three generations of women. When my daughter was born we took one with her and had four generations! My daughter is now a teen and we always say if she has a child and my grandma is still alive we take one with five generations!!?

          • Tanya March 14, 2016, 8:25 am

            Since the OP referred to “in laws” plural, I concluded that the husband’s father was also present. His mother didn’t ask for HIM to be in the photo, though– just her and her son and her son’s kids. If it were a generational picture you’d expect the grandfather to be in it as well, wouldn’t you?

          • Ant March 14, 2016, 10:55 am

            I think the weird bit is that granddad is there. It would be slightly less awkward to have a mother and son picture or a grandparents, son and grandkids picture (though even this is a bit odd to me). But a grandma, son and grandkids picture with granddad and wife looking on?

          • Just4Kicks March 14, 2016, 12:09 pm

            It seemed creepy because she wanted to cut myself and my father in law out of that photo.
            If it was her intention to be a generation photo, my husband’s dad should’ve been in it as well.
            No one was ever good enough for “her boys”, and she hated all of the daughter in laws, and made that fact perfectly clear over the years.
            She also always referred to our kids as “my son’s children”, like I had nothing to do with having them.
            Maybe “creepy” is the wrong word in this case, but my husband AND his dad were both like “huh”?!?

          • starstruck March 14, 2016, 9:26 pm

            Just4kicks, that does put it in perspective. Its hard when mil dont accept u. Seems to be easier with the father in laws ?.

          • Amanda H. March 14, 2016, 10:24 pm

            I would be inclined to agree, starstruck, but on the basis that my husband did one of the same photos.

            My mom was born when her mother was about 19, and I was born when my mother was about 20, so I still had two great-grandmothers (on mom’s side) alive when I had my oldest daughter. So we took 5-generation photos with them (just the direct lineage, with my grandfather sitting in place of my grandmother when his mother was in the picture). My MIL saw them (because we shared them with family), thought it was a great idea, and the next time we visited, she insisted on getting a similar (4-generation) photo with her mother, herself, my husband, and our oldest. My FIL wasn’t included in the photo, nor was I. I didn’t think it creepy at all.

            Of course, given Just4Kicks’ husband was the one to call it creepy, I would assume he knows his mother better than we do and there’s probably info involved that makes it creepier than we might otherwise think.

  • Ultrapongo March 11, 2016, 11:36 am

    The first time I heard about “Bonus” relatives, was some years ago when my aunt told about her Bonus-great-grandchildren. Since then I have used Bonus instead of “step”, “plastic” etc, as Bonus is a positive word.

    • isaidnoh March 14, 2016, 6:51 pm

      I am going to steal this and start referring to my stepdad as my Bonus dad. He has been in my life for about 35 years now, and is the grandfather that my kids know. It drives me crazy when people imply that he is their “pretend” grandfather because he is a “step”. He is their Gramps. End of story.

      I call my mom and stepdad “my parents”, because that is who they are, but now if I am pressed for details I can say bonus dad. Perfect. Thank you.

  • Phoebe161 March 11, 2016, 12:07 pm

    Once step-mom married father, she is family, and thus treated like family. End of story.

    • Michelle March 11, 2016, 4:13 pm

      This ^^

    • Amanda H. March 12, 2016, 9:55 pm

      Dangit, why is there no Like button here yet?

    • Livvy17 March 14, 2016, 2:33 pm

      Exactly. Perfectly said.

  • AnaMaria March 11, 2016, 12:09 pm

    I’m assuming that when the admin refers to “biological” children she means “all the children?” I don’t know if this applies to the OP’s family, but it is never acceptable to exclude adopted children from family photos to show “family lineage.”

    • admin March 11, 2016, 1:30 pm

      I do mean “all the children” because there are no adopted children in the family as yet.

  • NostalgicGal March 11, 2016, 12:17 pm

    Totally agree here, she joined the family, and it doesn’t sound like she’s an ogress, so it should include everyone. Back in my teen days, my paternal grandmother, her only daughter, (my aunt) and her daughter in law, along with the first of their children, another daughter… I grouped them for an all girls generational picture. DIL protested and I said you’re (great granddaughter’s) her mom, get in there. So all four sat together and I got the picture. To me, she was just as much a part of the family as her husband, my cousin… We had several remarries for divorce and widow/widower, and we always accepted the new one in–they had to survive ‘vetting’ and if they got along, they were definitely in and the addition would happen. (*vetting was always good natured, but if they had a fault or couldn’t get along, it’d show up. A few BF’s and GF’s didn’t make the cut and in hindsight it was a good thing…)

    • stacey March 14, 2016, 9:53 am

      I don’t know about the “vetting” thing… it sounds like hazing. The person who marries into a family or who is adopted in is chosen and the connection is recognized as extending to other family connections. You have no more “right” to vet a family member’s lover or spouse than you do a child or friend. The exceptions to that would be quite few, in my estimation. And I can’t help but wonder how many short-sighted family members wonder why they never achieve a close relationship with in-laws due to commencing interactions with these types of attitudes.

      • Michelle Young March 16, 2016, 8:27 pm

        When I was at college, my cousin was attending, as well. He was quite popular with the ladies.

        One Sunday, I saw him surrounded by three flirting women, and I walked up to him, greeting him cheerfully. He smiled at me, and welcomed me, and behind his back, the women GLARED at me. They thought I was competition, and made it clear that they were ready to fight for him. Then, he introduced me as his cousin, and they were all smiles and sweetness and wanted to be my best friend.

        Later, I told him about it, and he asked me to “vet” other women for him, by repeating this process. He wanted to see who was kind for real, and who was acting.

        I believe that kind of “vetting” is a good thing. People in love can be blind to their significant other’s faults, especially if the SO is actively hiding those faults. However, family and friends often have either clearer vision, or simply access to more candid behavior. If you trust your family to tell you the truth about a person, and not pre-judge, such vetting can be a huge benefit. The thing is, this vetting is merely reporting on the real behavior of the potential mate, and not in any way poking and tormenting them, in order to provoke bad behavior.

  • Dee March 11, 2016, 12:34 pm

    I don’t understand a family photo shoot with that many people where only two photos are taken. Surely, with all the wrangling and scheduling that had to occur to get all these people to show up at the appointment, there will be many photos taken. One would be with the family as a whole, one with just siblings, one with just grandkids, one with grandkids and grandparents, one with siblings and spouses, and so on. With so many photos everybody will be in some of them and everybody will be left out of some of them, just like stepmom. Nobody will be snubbed, at least not photo-wise. And the dumb siblings can make sure they order photos that leave out stepmom, if they really feel the need to, and OP can proudly display the photo with stepmom. But only getting two photos taken? That’s the mistake.

  • Huh March 11, 2016, 12:49 pm

    Take a photo of the whole family as it is now. That means you and your siblings’ spouses and your father’s spouse. But I really strongly second also taking the family lineage photo of grandpa with his kids and grandkids, no spouses. This sounds mean, but honestly, you never know when you or one of your siblings or your father, is going to get divorced and the nice family photo you have is going to turn into “your family photo with that horrid ex.”

    My last extended family photo with my grandparents has my ex in it (in a place that I cannot crop him out.) And is also marred by the memory of him pitching an epic fit that day and making everyone miserable.

    • Beth March 11, 2016, 3:57 pm

      I’m going to agree with this one. In my wedding pictures, we did a group shot of my side of the family and his side of the family. My mother’s (then) husband* (of 2 years at that point) is in ours and a big part of me didn’t want him in it but I didn’t want to say “get out!” to him, for reasons the admin mentioned. They divorced a year later and it wasn’t pretty.

      On the picture for my husband’s side, there is a former sil and two of her daughters. I knew she’d filed for divorce a few different times at this point and that they probably weren’t going to be married for long, but family is family, so in they stayed. Within six months, she’d filed for divorce, again and followed through on it.

      If only I’d had enough of a spine to say “Could we just do aunts and uncles” or “Okay siblings only!”, but then you get into the problem of “Uncle Bob and Aunt Judy have been married longer than I’ve been alive, how could I kick Aunt June out of the picture?!”

    • Devil's Advocate March 11, 2016, 5:04 pm

      POD to this comment. Take several pictures mixing up the groups. Unfortunately people do get divorced (sometimes bitterly). At our wedding, we took a big group picture with my husband’s mom’s side of the family (follow all that?). Since that picture at least two of the significant others have divorced and another is on the rocks. I think a picture of the “core” family is always a good idea, I do not feel left out when my husband’s family does this and he does not feel left out when my family does this. Do spouses’ really have to be included in everything?

      With regards to admin’s adivce. I agree you cannot leave out “bonus” mom. I think there perhaps are relationship issues we may not understand (did Dad cheat on mom with bonus mom? did dad get married three weeks after meeting “bonus” mom? Is “bonus” mom rude and disrespectful to bio mom’s memory?) These could also be factors which would change my advice, but otherwise take the picture with bonus mom, take pictures of just grandkids, take pictures of just great grandkids, take pictures with and without spouses. Have fun, enjoy it and have a plethora of pictures to remember the day.

      As a side note: while there are situations (some referenced above) where I would not include bonus mom in the picture, please be aware that this choice will affect your relationship with your father.

      • LadyV March 12, 2016, 10:14 am

        In this specific situation, considering that OP’s mom died eleven years ago, I think that if Dad had been cheating on her with Bonus Mom, he would have married BM a long time ago.

    • Michelle Young March 16, 2016, 8:31 pm

      I favor taking as many different shots as possible, with all the different permutations, including single shots for everyone. Instead of trying to edit the photos, edit the album.

    • Mags March 18, 2016, 5:47 pm

      We don’t do a lot of family photos, but when we do, they certainly try to get every permutation. Ug. So except not actually wanting to be in pictures at all, personally, I don’t see a problem with leaving out inlaws for some photos. But neither do I see the problem of including them if that’s what the family wants to do. You can also end up with blood relatives who are cut off who you don’t particularly want in the pictures either. That’s life.

  • Bellyjean March 11, 2016, 1:27 pm

    +1 for the phrase, “Bonus Mom”. That is beautiful, warm and loving.

    • Shoegal March 11, 2016, 3:40 pm

      I agree. To the OP who referred to her stepdaughter as “girl child” from the “spawn army of six” – perhaps looking at her as your bonus daughter might have been a better way to go.

    • AIP March 11, 2016, 4:59 pm

      I agree, it’s a lovely way of looking at it. Methinks Mr Admin should talk some sense into OP’s dippier siblings. The father waited 11 years to get married, which is hardly rushing into things, and I’ve found that men of that generation tend to do less well as widowers, so as Admin says the companionship is life extending as well as life-enhancing for them. Since some were evidently old enough to have had children a decade ago, they’re old enough to have sense., quite frankly.

  • edy March 11, 2016, 1:39 pm

    I agree that it would be extremely hurtful to exclude her, and should not be done.
    However, there may be a good reason to ask the photographer to do several different shots with different configurations of people. “Just the men”, “Now just the women”, “Now just the siblings”, “now dad step in” “now spouses step in”. If it’s being directed by the photographer it can be done without seeming hurtful.

    My friend’s mother married a lout on a whim, and everyone strongly believed it would not last. When friend got married shortly after, mother insisted on having lout in every photo. No surprise, those photos soon became very expensive shredder fodder, because no one wants pictures with him in them. If the photographer had been better, he would have done different configurations. (My friend did ask the photographer to do this but he didn’t, and she wisely chose not to cause a scene while in the moment.)

  • PJ March 11, 2016, 1:57 pm

    I agree with all the others. I appreciate the idea of lineage photos– grandpa with his children, grandchildren, etc. which would exclude anyone who married into the family. Otherwise, everyone is included.

    I have to wonder how this is justified in the siblings’ minds: How is it OK to exclude Dad’s wife and not OK to exclude their own spouses? Is there an age limit? A waiting period? First-marriage-only rule?

  • Semperviren March 11, 2016, 2:02 pm

    I can understand having several photos with various combinations of family, some of which will have Stepmom in them and some not.

    But to take only two pictures, one of which excludes one and only one person? That’s pretty cold.

  • Startruck March 11, 2016, 2:14 pm

    You said this will be the first family photo without your mom? That makes me throw them a little sympathy. I can’t imagine that will be easy because of what that picture will signifi . But I do think she should absolutely be in one photo. It’s a little hypocritical to not allow dads wife to be in at least one, but to expect their spouses to be in the picture . But honestly I don’t see the harm in giving in to their compromise of taking one with her and one without, as long as she is one what’s the harm? It’s what they want and their feelings shouldn’t be disregarded. And yes ma’am , you should show up and be in both photos. It’s not always about being right. Sometimes you just have to support family even when you don’t want to. This picture will mean something to them , just like it will mean something to you. Your mother must have been a great mom if they feel so strongly about this. So what’s the harm?

  • Startruck March 11, 2016, 2:17 pm

    Just wanted to add, they can do many combos of photos. Some with just kids, some with just grandkids. It doesn’t have to be just two photos.

  • Ernie March 11, 2016, 2:41 pm

    Photos don’t change or dictate truth or history. They only record it. I don’t think that hurting the new wife’s feelings and alienating her and her husband (real acutal people with real emotions and relationships) are worth whatever symblance and importance the complaining “adults” are putting into the picture.

    I put adults in quotations, as I think that resenting or not accepting a new step parent, who is otherwise a nice person, is a personality trait that people should have probably grown out of in the early teens, if not earlier.

    OP, I think you would be fine to say “I wont be in any picture that specifically excludes our new step mom, its a rediculously hurtful thing to do to her.”

  • Kay_L March 11, 2016, 3:04 pm

    If “Bonus Mom” is smart she will not only graciously allow a picture without herself, she will encourage it.

    The desire for this picture is all about mourning their mother not about rejecting Bonus Mom. Her encouraging it would be a deep show of respect for their grief. And having both pictures would be a touchstone of the mourning person’s progression and healing.

    Some may think that 11 years is enough time to put things behind them, and for the most part, it probably is. But, there are always residual feelings that persist and that show themselves in strange ways.

    My mother passed over 5 years ago and I am still dealing with large parts of my grief–mainly because I put some parts off until I could better deal with them. I have held onto a lot of her stuff to the point where I am in danger of becoming a hoarder. I am finally to the point where it is not quite so painful to let go of many of these things–where the pain is about equal with the feeling of relief that I feel as I unencumber myself.

    But, my experience has been an eye opener in how grief has so many different phases and can last so long.

    I could see someone wanting very much, in the moment, for a picture like this, that flies in the face of reality, to soothe some strange emotional bugaboo. And I can see them later thinking “what was I thinking? this is not our family now” and the picture including bonus mom will feel much more right to them.

    You can’t force someone through this process. And sometimes, its good to let nature take its course because those experiences of “what was I thinking” can be very instructive in helping someone move along emotionally.

    If it were me, I would say–no no–go ahead and take whatever photographs you wish. I would not let the request constrain me in being the step mom or bonus mom–the kinds of photographs that someone else desires, do no define me, do not define my relationships with other people. I do that!

    And I have usually found that accepting people for who they are in the moment yields a lot more good things and less drama than forcing the issue. Kind of like “you can feel how you want, but I am who I am and how you feel doesn’t change that–but go ahead and feels what you want!”

    One caveat–there shouldn’t be “one photo” that she is included in–the “one photo” should be the one she is not in. That one should be the outlier in the photo shoot. I would think that a good photographer can finesse this.

    One thing to remember–when people do ugly things to try and assuage their grief, they never find satisfaction in it. Nothing can assuage grief, especially things that fly in the face of reality. But, by encouraging it and letting it go, it doesn’t get the mileage drama wise which only feeds its need that much more.

    • Heather March 14, 2016, 5:52 am

      I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said!

      If I might just add one thing: there have been a few commenters who have mentioned not wanting pictures with people who ended up leaving the family. Of course, sometimes there are reasons why they don’t want these particular people in pictures they must look at. But in general, I don’t understand that thinking. These people were part of the family at the time, they are part of the family story. I have now been divorced for about 8 years. A few years ago, a good friend and I jointly celebrated our 50th birthday. As part of the celebration, we had a few giant photo montages made to be displayed during the party. My ex husband was in many of them. He had been a significant part of my life and journey. I’m not sure how that can simply be “erased”. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes certain people only bring the memory of pain, pain we don’t want to be reminded of… or display… in commemorative photos. The easiest thing, as many have suggested, is to have many different groupings. My experience is that this is usually done anyway. But I am replying to your comment, Kay_L, because I believe it is even handed and so insightful.

  • Lisa Hughes March 11, 2016, 4:00 pm

    Just take more pictures!
    When my parents celebrated their 60th, we had lots of pictures taken–one of just them, one of them with just their children, them with children and children-in-law, them with kids, kids-in-law, and grandkids, each family unit separately (ie, DH, me, and our kids), each family unit with Mom and Dad.
    One of your dad with just his children would be fine, but then take another one with all the people who’ve married into and enriched the family. It’s fun to have one with everyone, but it’s also nice to have smaller groupings.
    I totally agree with including her, and making sure she feels included, even if there are some pictures taken without her.

  • Dawn March 11, 2016, 4:09 pm

    My grandfather married 6 months after his wife died, to the great distress of several of the grandchildren (not his children or hers). My brother and I (the oldest grandchildren) were thrilled, seeing him happy again after his great sorrow. We understood the younger ones couldn’t relate, but it didn’t take too long before everyone was happy about it. She was part of the family, her daughters are my mom’s sisters (mom actually used to babysit for them – stepGM was a very old friend of my grandparents!). When my grandfather died, we all cared for SGM until her death.

    I still have pictures of my ex around – family photos. He is the father of my kids and a good person. I wouldn’t ask anyone to crop him out of those photos. Of course, he isn’t in new ones.

    Wedding photos will certainly include just parents, but I’m determined that there will be at least one with his new wife as a family photo. She’s part of the family too.

  • Cat March 11, 2016, 4:10 pm

    She is married to your father and that makes her a member of the family. She should be in the family picture. They can also have a photo of all the children together and then another of all the grandchildren together.
    Family has nothing to do with shared DNA. If step mom is excluded, then all the spouses of the siblings who are not yet parents should be excluded too. I hope there are no adopted children to be forced to stand aside on grounds that they are not “real relatives”.

  • andi March 11, 2016, 8:50 pm

    Beautifully put Admin.

  • Mizz Etiquette March 11, 2016, 8:55 pm

    As a Stepmom, “Bonus Mom” doesn’t really hold too much meaning for me. “Blended family” means everyone gets along. Well, unfortunately not everyone “blends” well in a step family.

    It all depends on the relationship one has with the kids.

    No two step-families are the same.

    Back to the story, the siblings who want Stepmom left out… They sound pretty horrible to even suggest such a thing. She is dads wife. You don’t have to like her but that is who he chose.

  • RooRoo March 11, 2016, 10:06 pm

    My grandfather remarried after his first wife died. My mother was 17 when her mother died.

    My mother loved Grandma (the only one we kids knew) and so did everyone that met her. And we all were welcomed into her wonderful family. She was the oldest of 5.

    Both her generation, and my mother’s, are all gone now. I miss them…

    I wonder what those silly “steps” might be missing.

  • BrownEyedGirl March 11, 2016, 10:21 pm

    ‘Bonus Mom’ is a great phrase! Very positive and inclusive.

    I agree that the OP’s siblings are being unreasonable. I believe that part of being a family means accepting new members when they come along. You know, as long as they’re not bat-poo crazies out to make life miserable for everyone.

    OP, what does your father have to say about this? I would presume that he wants his wife in the photos since she is family. Has he made his wishes known on the subject? If he says ‘my wife will be in these photos’, the siblings might back off on this. Maybe a firm statement like that will settle the issue. I definitely think that you should show up and at least be in the picture that includes your father’s wife. You sound like a caring, welcoming individual who truly wants her father to be happy. Good luck!

  • Rebecca March 11, 2016, 11:41 pm

    What they hey. Of course she should be included in all the photos. She is the father’s wife. Unless you’re going to exclude all spouses from the photos. You could have a few with Father and all 7 kids, no spouses, but as soon as you start including any spouses she does need to be included.

  • Just4Kicks March 12, 2016, 12:13 pm

    OP: My sympathy on losing your dear Mom at such an early age. That must have been very difficult for all of you.

    When my husband and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, he took me on a three day weekend to the beach….just us.
    Unbeknownst to us, my folks who were babysitting our four kids, made an appointment for a professional photo of all our kids.
    My mom called my husband’s ex wife and asked if it were possible for her to bring my step daughter along so she too could be in the photos of all our kids.
    My husband’s ex did bring her, and for years to come, commented to me just how nice of my parents to include her daughter in the photos.

    • Just4Kicks March 13, 2016, 7:47 pm

      I just passed that beautiful picture of all our kids in the hallway just now, still makes me a little teary.

    • Becca March 14, 2016, 1:45 pm

      This story makes me so happy.

      I come from a family where my dad’s mother was a real piece of work and never accepted any kid that wasn’t blood related. I still don’t want anything to do with her and she’s been dead for many years. I was her biological granddaughter and she treated me okay but also iffy because my mom had a son from a previous relationship, one that my father legally adopted as soon as they were married.

      Frequently my mom tries to give me Dad’s Mom’s things such as “Would you like Grandma’s vase?” “No, I’ll smash it on purpose but I’ll call Cousin to see if she’d like it” (Cousin had a special relationship with the woman and therefore I just shovel all the things to her that come my way, it’s much more mature than my evil ways of wanting to destroy it all!)

      So happy when folks readily treat their extended families so well, it reminds me that Dad’s Mother was just an evil old goat. Her oldest sister had a kid prior to marrying her husband too, her husband raised that kid as his own as well…so it’s not like my dad was some sort of “one off” in the family. RME.

      • Just4Kicks March 20, 2016, 4:28 am

        @Becca: thanks for the nice comment! 🙂

        My husband’s ex and I have developed a friendly relationship over the years and get along well.
        In the beginning, things were rough.
        After the infamous “you’re having another kid? My mom says that I am the ONLY kid it takes to make HER HAPPY!!!” speech to her 8 year old daughter, I was furious and when we got back to our home that day my husband had to wrestle the phone out of my hands before I could call his ex wife and ask her what the hell her problem was.
        I took my step daughter into the living room and sat her on my lap and said “Listen, sweetie, I want you to know that when you are here at daddy’s house, there are no “steps”.
        She looked at me like “huh?!?”, and I said that means you are NOT my “step daughter”…you are my daughter. Your brothers are not your “step brothers” (half actually), they are your brothers!
        Daddy and I having another baby brings MORE love into our family….it does not take away love from you.

  • viviennebzb March 12, 2016, 12:16 pm

    What heart is so stingy it can’t accept more love? I’ve never understood the mindset that newcomers to a family were a detriment instead of an addition to family unity. She’s family. Take the picture(s).

    • bern821 March 14, 2016, 4:15 pm

      Yes! Well said and I wholeheartedly agree.

  • cattlekid March 12, 2016, 5:44 pm

    It may be a good idea to write out all of the photo combinations that the group would like to have taken ahead of time and maybe even enlist someone from outside of the family to help (or pay the photographer to bring along an assistant). This way, there can be plenty of pictures taken with and without Stepmom and no one has to feel slighted that they didn’t get their “special” picture.

    My grandmother is turning 90 this summer and I feel strongly that we need a professional photographer there to make sure that we get good posed photos of everyone and also plenty of candids during the day as well. If we leave it to those in attendance, the group is large and fractured enough that some people will take over the photos and leave others out (intentionally or not).

  • NicoleK March 13, 2016, 3:45 am

    Oh whatever do different combos… Everyone, all the ladies, all the men, dad with his descendents, dad with his grandkids… Then everyone gets copies of the ones they like

  • NicoleK March 13, 2016, 3:47 am

    I get it, my grandfather remarried and got divorced a couple years later. I had a good relationship with her but I bet My aunts and uncles wish she was not in the family pictures

  • kudeebee March 13, 2016, 7:48 pm

    I don’r see anything wrong with taking a picture with new wife and one without. In fact, as long is everyone is together, I would also take the siblings alone —–father with siblings and grandchildren—-father with grandchildren only—father with new wife and grandchildren—-and any other family combos.
    You aren’t excluding new wife from the photos, just not including her in all. Same with spouses–I see nothing wrong with just family line (father, siblings, grandchildren).
    Write up a list and have the photographer–or his assistant if one is present–call the groups togehter.

  • Jd March 13, 2016, 8:35 pm

    My husband’s much older sister died after almost fifty years of marriage and her husband went into a deep depression. After some months, church friends got him into a group that included a sweet widow and just over a year after his first wife’s death he married the widow. He was 70 and not in the best of health and we didn’t fault him for marrying that soon. We weren’t sure what to call her; she was our brother in law’s new wife but the b-I-l was not my husband’s blood relative. My husband said that this man had literally been his b-I-l all his life and he wasn’t going to drop that relationship now, so we call the second wife our sister in law, which is technically incorrect but she is happy to have us call her that. We look on her as family and will always. She is always in the family photos! Op, stick to your guns.

    • PWH March 14, 2016, 9:59 am

      This sounds like my Mom with my Dad’s parents. Dad passed away 6 years ago and my Mom has since remarried. My Mom still maintains her relationship with my Grandparents (they were even at her wedding) and visits with them quite often with her new husband. My Mom and her husband took G+G out for dinner, while they were visiting and G+G ran into friends while they were out. They introduced my Mom and her husband as their Daughter and Son-in-law 🙂

    • Devin March 14, 2016, 12:20 pm

      I have an ‘ex-cousin-in-law’ that I am still quite close to years after her divorce from my cousin. Her children are still my 2nd cousins, and I have known her since I was 4. She recently remarried and the fact my parents and several other family members attended the wedding (I was invited but live several states away and couldn’t make it) ruffled a few feathers in the immediate family. She and my cousin were married for 20 years, had 3 children that they have joint custody of, and the marriage dissolved after my cousin had an affair (he is still with the woman he had an affair with 5 years later). People pick sides in family affairs and to some, sadly, they think that DNA is the only thing that matters.

  • Meb March 13, 2016, 9:30 pm

    Once married into the family, she is family. Excluding her is petty and rude. I would stand out with her a refuse to participate in such unkind behaviour.

  • Kay March 14, 2016, 1:23 am

    My father has tried to pull this with my husband and my sister’s fiance over the years…asked to have “just family” like it “used to be”. I have to remind him time and time again that our family has evolved and new traditions have replaced old ones. Rather aggravating. And rude!

  • Lex March 14, 2016, 4:02 am

    I can kinda see both sides of the argument here. On the one hand, excluding a spouse from a family photo is making a point of saying ‘You’re not one of the family’ but on the other, you have to consider that perhaps the OP’s siblings either don’t have as good a relationship with Stepmom as the OP apparently does, or they feel that they are somehow betraying the memory of their mother by ‘replacing’ her with Stepmom.

    I think both sides are equally valid (although whether or not it is cruel or hurtful depends on the attitude of both parties in handling the matter).

    Spouses of the children might ‘Marry in’ but ultimately the OP and their siblings are the children of Mom, and perhaps the idea of ‘replacing Mom’ is hurtful to the OP’s siblings, or something they find difficult?

    I suggest the most appropriate approach all ’round here would be to compromise by having both set-ups.

    I know if I were in the situation of my mother having passed away and my Father marrying again, I would struggle a LOT to cope with the presence of this ‘intruder’ in the family. I would feel angry when she tried to make changes to our childhood home because it would feel like she is trying to erase my mother. Logically, I know it’s not at all fair to expect a woman to marry a widower and not be able to make her home her own because it was once lived in by the beloved mother of her stepchildren. She would want (and quite rightly so) to make her own home and life with my Father. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. I have to grow up and accept that my father has the right to move on, but, as with all family members who marry into a family, you aren’t always going to get on with them and it isn’t a requirement of law that you like your In-laws, Step-siblings/parents.

    I think the OP here needs to understand and respect that their siblings may be finding the adjustment difficult, and work towards a compromise.

  • Marozia March 14, 2016, 5:20 am

    Did ‘step’ break up your parents’ marriage and create ill-will? If she did, I can understand why you would want her excluded.
    If she didn’t and met and married your father after you mum passed, then what’s the problem?

  • Christina March 14, 2016, 2:34 pm

    Please talk your siblings into not excluding your step mom. She is a part of the family, like it or not. If they are going to exclude her, then all spouses/in laws need excluded (and I don’t agree with that, either!)

    After my wedding last year, my MIL sent me 60 or so photos from the day of the wedding. I am in two of them, one from the ceremony and one when we were sitting down at our sweetheart table to eat. The rest were all of my husband, of course, and her other children who were all in the wedding party. And many photos of their significant others, who were just newly dating at the time, and big group shots of The entire family and SO’s together with my husband. That one hurt the most. So I was excluded, on MY (‘our day’, I know. Just making a point) day, but her kids who were dating for just a couple months are in them. I was never asked once by any of my new in laws to get a photo with them, or me with my husband. To them, I might as well not have been there that day.

    Don’t make this poor woman feel like that. She isn’t stupid. She is going to know what it means to be asked to step out of the shot. And that photo without her will be a lie. You can’t pretend she doesn’t exist.!

  • Elizabeth March 14, 2016, 2:44 pm

    By the your siblings’ logic, all spouses are excluded, correct? Of are they just excluding your Dad’s spouse but not their own?

  • Ant March 15, 2016, 5:53 am

    Two questions I have I if your mum passed away eleven years when did dad start dating new mum? If it was 10 year 11 months I can kind-of see why they might have a chip on their shoulders

    Also you mention that this will be the first family photo with our new step mom, yet they were married a month previously… why were no pictures taken at the wedding? Or were (some) of the siblings excluded from the invites? If he has not known her long and the siblings may be resentful about having not met her before the marriage.

    Neither explanation really justifies the rather childish behaviour of not treating your fathers decisions with respect but there are many ways to offend people who are still grieving

  • PWH March 16, 2016, 7:52 am

    My family is what I like to call “Super blended”. My biological father and mother separated when I was very young. My mother went on to marry an incredible man who raised me and was my father in every way that counts (S). Sadly he passed away six years ago quite suddenly. Since then my mother has remarried. I am lucky enough to have two half siblings and two step-siblings, although I call them all my brothers/sisters. I can’t imagine having a family photo without any one of them, including my step-dad. Looking at this from Step-Mom’s perspective, I can see how this would be incredibly hurtful. When my Mother got remarried (after my S’ passing), the photographer was asked to take some shots of individual groupings. One of the requests was from my Grandparents (S’ parents) to have pictures taken with their grandchildren. I had to step away for a minute, but when I came back I was incredibly disappointed and very upset to discover that the Grandparent and Grandchild photo was already taken, without me.
    OP, first of all I am so sorry for your loss. I don’t know the background of Step-mom’s relationship with you or your siblings (you seem to be on board with her being part of the family), but I hope that you might sit down with your siblings and give your POV. Maybe talking it out will encourage them to change their minds. SM is part of the family and as admin said, will likely be the only Grandma most of the grandkids will know/remember. I’d recommend taking several different groupings of photos, but at least one with everyone (SOs and children). At my wedding I had the photographer take photos of individual family units (Me and Hubby with my bio Dad, SM and Grandma, Me and Hubby with Mom, S, brothers and Grandparents, and Me and Hubby with MIL and FIL, BIL and SIL). I also had the photographer take a photo of the entire group together. This is the photo I love the most, since it shows all of my family together.