Gabrielle Union is the mother of four: Kaavia James, 2, whom she shares with husband Dwyane Wade, and his three children from his previous relationships, Zaire, 19, Zaya, 14, and Xavier, 7.

While the “L.A.’s Finest” star is technically stepmother to Wade’s three oldest children, that’s a term she refuses to use.

“The stepparent label was put on me by the kids’ school because you have to describe yourself: Who are you if you’re not their mother? It’s very annoying,” she said during an appearance on the “We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle” podcast, via Yahoo! Entertainment. “It’s not a word that I use.”

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Union herself was “an adult child of divorce,” Union said, explaining that her parents divorced when she was in college, after being married for 30 years. Referring to her father’s second wife, she said, “To this day, I refer to her as my dad’s wife and her name. I don’t use the phrase stepmom.”

It was that experience, she explained, that influenced the relationship she developed with Wade’s children.

“When I first started dating Dwayne, obviously I knew he had children,” she said.

“To this day, I’m kinda like, this is wild. You’re a single NBA player who got full custody of small children. It’s not common. So all of a sudden, it was Monday and we were just this carefree couple. I’d gotten divorced a few years prior and I was enjoying my life. We were fully enjoying all the things. And then on Tuesday, the kids arrived on a dime. The ruling came down and here are these kids. They need guidance and they need parenting. And we weren’t married at that point so I was just the additional adult in their life,” Union continued.

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“I wanted to make sure I was consistent in their lives. Whatever personality I was trying on that day, or whoever I was, I just needed to be consistent so they can get used to me. They’ve already gone through so much upheaval, moving states away, not knowing anyone, having gone through a divorce. I knew I needed to be consistent. I just didn’t know what my role was,” she added.

“I knew that when I married him, I was married to them,” she explained. “What I realized very quickly is you will never, ever, I don’t care if the other parent is dead, you will never be able to replace the other parent/ Don’t try to replace the other parent. That is not your job. Your job is to be consistent. If you’re a disciplinarian in your own life, continue to be that. Just be consistent so they know who you are… and kids adapt.”