I know you've seen it. The people who end up being parents to kids who aren't biologically theirs. The "step" parents of our society. Here's the deal. A parent is just a parent. Bottom line. End of story. So, why do we insist on demeaning that? Why do we make that distinction? When a person takes over the role of parent for the absent or missing parent, they become the parent. There is no such thing as a step-parent.
I feel like when we make that distinction between parent and step-parent we are discriminating against someone who has stepped up to be there for a child. When we force a kid to say, "This is my step-mom," it's almost like that mom becomes less of a parent than the biological mother. This is completely insane, and I think there is no reason for it. For me, if you are in someone's life as their parent, you are their parent. Blood means nothing when it comes to emotional connections.
Let's say a single mom remarries who already has kids. The man she marries becomes their dad. Yeah, they might get two dads if both men are involved, but so what? This distinction between dad and step-dad is ridiculous. If you care for that child and are a part of that child's life, lose the step. Just be a dad.
Now, I know someone out there is going to say it. If they have two of the same parents, how do we keep them straight? Use alternative names. A biological mom could stick with MOM. A second mom could be Mum, Mummy, Mam, Mammy, Mother, Ma, Madre, Mama, or even Maw. There are ways to lose the step in step-parent if you really want to.
When a child chooses to care for you nothing can take that away. But someone specifying you are not their real parent can make everyone feel bad or uncomfortable, especially in social situations. When someone takes a place as a parent they shouldn't be looked down upon, they should be praised for bringing more love, care, and happiness to the child.
Personally, my biological mother has been out of my life for years, but I still have a mom and she has more than earned her place.