#191: Don’t Step on the Cousins

191.1   First off, we must ask if there is such a thing as a “step-cousin.” Just because you can say it…put the words “step” and “cousin” together…doesn’t mean you’re referring to anything real. I mean, take “step-spouse”…that would be the husband or wife of your —- your what? See, nothing comes.

191.2  But honestly, it’s reasonable to think that a step-cousin is something…after all, when you get a step-parent, that person has relatives…parents, siblings, children, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and of course, cousins…numbered and removed. So to get the lay of the land…to see what the hoi polloi  thinks…I went to Yahoo! Answers and searched questions mentioning step-cousins…which we will assume are step-1st cousins unless stated otherwise.

191.3 I looked at the first 10 “pages” of questions and answers…86 in total…and here are the results…

inset 1

It’s not surprising that almost half didn’t specific precisely what a step-cousin was supposed to be…most of the questions were about dating and/or whatever-ing a step-cousin. Only a few were concerned with what a step-cousin actually is…and they did manage to correctly identify the 3 kinds of step-cousins…altho none of the posters thought it could be more than just one single thing. Of the 10 others, each was different, and each was wrong…we’ll look at those, just for the fun of it, in a moment.

chart 674

191.4  type 1…Nephew of Step-Parent…This is pretty straightforward…you have a new mother, step-mother A…she has a sister, your step-aunt…and she also has a nephew, her sister’s son, your step-cousin. If A were your biological mother, her nephew would be your biological 1st cousin, so that checks, as far as it goes. The fact that there are 2 other kinds of step-cousins suggests we’re taking steps a little too far, but you’re perfectly free to.

191.5  In Chart 674 and the succeeding charts, your blood relatives are labelled in black, all others in yellow…also, people in green are not specifically mentioned in the original question and answers…I’ve put them there to further analyze the connections. Here, B is your step-sibling…and his 1st cousin is your step-cousin…just another way to define it.

chart 675

191.6  type 2…Uncle’s Step-Son…Again, if this person were your uncle’s biological son, he would be your 1st cousin…but he’s a step-son so your step-cousin. And he is also your cousin B‘s step-brother. Plus it’s complimentary…if somebody is your type 2, you are his type 1, and vice versa.

chart 676

191.7  type 3…Parent’s Step-Sibling’s Son…Finally, Chart 676  takes it back a generation. A is your father’s step-father…his son B is your father’s step-brother…and when brother’s have children, those children are 1st cousin. In this case, the brothers are not biological brothers but step-brothers, so the cousins are step-cousins. And unlike the other 2 types, type 3  is completely reciprocal….see today’s wicked ballsy.

191.8  At this point you might ask: if last week we found there were 2 kinds of step-uncles, and a step-cousin is a step-uncle’s son, why are there 3 types of step-cousins, not 2? Because types 1 and 2 are thru step-uncles…type 3 is thru a biological uncle. The moral is: as you extend relatives, both direct and collateral, you also increase the number of ways a given relationship can come about. For example, there is only one way you can have double 1st cousins…but for double 2nd cousins, there are 3 ways…and for double 3rd cousins, 6 ways.

191.9  As to the other 10 ways folks at Yahoo! Answers thought you could have a a step-cousin, they are a mixed bag for sure…and as I said, none of them are step-cousins….OK, one is a maybe…can you guess which?

inset 2

191.10 Spouse’s Cousin…Marriage creates 2 types of non-biological relationships…in-laws and steps. For example, if I were to marry a woman, her mother is my mother-in-law…her son is my step-son. Being a native speaker of English does not insulate you from getting these two confused, as we see here. Your spouse’s cousin is properly your cousin-in-law…altho why not just keep it simple and say: my spouse’s cousin. K.I.S.S.

191.11 …Mom’s BF’s Niece…Here they’re jumping the gun..no steps exist until somebody gets hitched. Were the Mom to marry the boyfriend, he would become your step-father…his children your step-siblings…and his nieces and nephews your step-cousins. The important thing is this: traditionally, you could not have a father and a step-father both alive…a step-relationship came about thru the death of a parent. Today of course, you can have both…and if you’re a child, the question of where you’re living becomes important. If you’re living with your father, your mother’s new husband is acting less as a step-father than if you were living with your mother. In other cases, one’s step-father might be the only father you’ve ever known, and to you be considered just your father, not really your step.

191.12  As things get more complicated, there are no hard and fast rules…at the very least many people would consider only your parent’s current spouse as your step-parent…but others would say no, you can have 3 or 4 step-fathers, depending on how things went, On the other hand, some people might consider none of their mother’s subsequent husbands as their step-father, including the current one…and how about husbands she had before your father? Can a live-in be considered as step-parent? They can certainly function as one. So you’re pretty much free to categorize them as you see fit.

191.13  …Uncle’s Adopted Son…In 191 blogs, I don’t think Related How Again? has ever touched upon adopted or foster children…for the simple reason that genealogy is primarily concerned with blood ties…and blood ties result when 2 different lines are united in an act of procreation. There is no procreation directly involved in adoption…even tho you can adopt a relative, obviously. Still, genealogy can trace other types of  family ties and connections.. “Step” is simply the wrong way to say it…”adopted” means adopted…and if you call your adopted brother simply your “brother,” that’s fine.

chart 677

191.14  …Uncle’s New Wife’s Nephew…which is to say, your uncle’s step-nephew. Now in Chart 677, X is your 1st cousin…Y is X‘s step-brother…and Y‘s 1st cousin Z could be considered X‘s step-cousin. The question is, could Z also be your step-cousin? Well, think of it this way: was the nephew of Uncle A‘s first wife also your step-cousin? They couldn’t be, because before the second marriage, there was no step-relationship between anybody! What’s more, some might argue that it’s a stretch to consider your Uncle A‘s step-son your step-cousin (as we are doing here), let alone Uncle A‘s step-nephew.

191.15  In the end, it’s how a question of how far you want to extend it…what if has a step-brother…or step-cousin, thru his father C or even thru his mother? They’re surely something to Z‘s cousin Y, but are they anything to you or to X? It’s the same sort of thing that happens with siblings-in-law. What for example would your wife’s sister’s husband be to you? Some people do extend brother-in-law out that far…the husbands of 2 sisters are brothers-in-law. But many people don’t. So what about your wife’s sister’s husband’s brother?…and his wife…and her sister? It depends on where you draw the line, but the line does get drawn, nez pah?

chart 678

191.16  …half-brother’s cousin…This one’s tricky…because if you compare Charts 678 and 674…one has your half-brother, the other has your step-brother…but your “step-cousin” in 674 is in exactly the same spot on the tree as B is in 678…so shouldn’t B be your step-cousin as well? And the truth is, he could be…yup, this is the one maybe…it would all depend on the order of your father’s 2 marriages. For example…

674 678

Now in Chart 674, with the order of your father’s wives specified, A is your “new” mother…your step-mother, and all her relatives in a sense your step-relatives…certainly her son is your step-brother. But now in Chart 678, A is nothing more than your father’s first wife…she is not your current, new, or step-mother…really, she isn’t even your “old” mother, since when you came along she was no longer married to your father. Yes, her son is your half-brother because he shares a father with you…but your half-brother’s cousin B is like your first cousin’s cousins on the “other side”…thru a side of his family to which you aren’t related. It’s a connection of sorts, but no relationship.

chart 679

191.17  …father’s half-sister’s nephew…This one is also kind of tricky…until you realize that if A is your father’s half-sibling, then the parent B of A‘s nephew D is also your father’s half-sibling…so D is not your step-cousin but your half-cousin, just as C would be…and of course both C and D would be your father’s half-nephews.

191.18   …sister’s step-son…Here they’ve got the generations wrong…your sister’s step-son would be your step-nephew, not step-cousin.

191.19   …half-cousin…Once upon a time, half- did mean the same as step-. That’s because what we would call half and full brothers were the same…if they had the same father, that was enough…whether their mothers were the same or different didn’t matter. It was kinship figured patrilineally, thru the father’s line only. But now, centuries later, we figure kinship thru both the lines of both parents….and half- means thru just one line…full means thru both lines…and half- no longer means the same as step-, which doesn’t stop people from saying one when they mean they other. And finally…

191.20  …step-brother…and…1st cousin…In these 2 cases, it was clearly a slip-up…what they described was a step-brother in one question, a 1st cousin in the other…and in each case they mistakenly called that a “step-cousin.” They weren’t paying close attention…and accidents can happen in the best regulated families, sez me. Next week, since we’ve gone this far, we might as well take a look at step-2nd-cousins…caution: not for the squeamish!


wicked ballsy


Like I said…reciprocity…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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